Opinion | Software Ate the World, and Soon It Will Write Itself

‘Software is eating the world,” tech investor Marc Andreessenobserved in these pages in 2011. Now software is writing itself.

Mr. Andreessen’s point was that the commoditization and miniaturization of computer hardware was allowing software to run nearly everything. Since then, software has penetrated every aspect of life, from cameras to health care and even social interactions.

While software allowed hardware to be manufactured automatically, software itself continued to be built by hand. As a result, software development struggled to keep pace with demand. The cobbler’s children need shoes.

But software production is beginning to benefit from the automation that has driven the production of hardware. Artificial intelligence, a broad category of software that mimics human intelligence, is being applied to basic, repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Get ready for an explosion of software-written software.

The trend is triggering a complete makeover of the information-technology industry. Writing software quickly is a critical competitive market advantage in any industry. Established companies are being eaten alive by new competitors employing automated strategies to write software faster, shipping updates every day to deliver new capabilities to customers. Netflix deploys new code an average of 4,000 times a day.

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