AI + a16z

Developer Tool UX in the Age of Generative AI

Alasdair Monk, Yoko Li, and Derrick Harris

Posted June 21, 2024

In this episode of the AI + a16z podcast, design engineer Alasdair Monk joins a16z’s Yoko Li and Derrick Harris to discuss how generative AI is changing how developers — and the those building for developers — interact with the tools of their trade. Alasdair’s journey includes stints at dev-centric companies such as Heroku/Salesforce, and he’s presently leading user experience and design for Poolside, an AI programming startup.

Here’s a sample of Alasdair discussing the future of the prompt bar in generative coding tools:

 “When interacting with machine learning models, we’ve almost thrown away 30 years of human-computer interaction knowledge and kind of reverted to using a terminal circa 1980 to interact with computer, or the prompt bar. This very plain-text way to interact with AI is really interesting. 

“I think it’s very different when you can’t predict what a user interface is going to look like. What an LLM can spit out is basically unpredictable or non-deterministic, and so how do you design for that or how do you design around the guardrails for that are the really interesting things that I think everyone who works in the industry right now is trying to figure out. And I think it’s pretty clear to a lot of people that sometimes you want to chat to the computer as if it’s the rubber duck.

“I think a lot of where AI is going to really help us, particularly with engineering, is going to be in the interactions that aren’t that at all, and will actually probably look much more like interacting with traditional software today, where I interact with it via windows and buttons and all sorts of GUI elements.”

More About This Podcast

Artificial intelligence is changing everything from art to enterprise IT, and a16z is watching all of it with a close eye. This podcast features discussions with leading AI engineers, founders, and experts, as well as our general partners, about where the technology and industry are heading.

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