Star Trek predicting the future vol.4?

Amazon Alexa is programmers’ new best friend

machine learning
© Shutterstock / Curti

Amazon Alexa sets a course to boldly go where no programmer has gone before! A team of scientists at the University of British Columbia led a fascinating project to task the virtual assistant with performing all the mundane programming tasks, speeding up workflow and increasing efficiency and productivity.

Computer. *chime* Access all available files on ancient programming history.

Is this what our future interaction with computers and programming will be like? Is Star Trek predicting the future once again?

After tablets, ebooks and cell phones, is this what comes next?

Certainly seems like it!


Nick Bradley, tired of how complicated it can get to switch between all the different tools computer engineers use for a project, led a fascinating work during his Master’s research in computer science at UBC: turn Amazon Alexa into a tool for software engineers, tasking the virtual assistant with mundane programming tasks, helping increase productivity and speed up workflow.


To start testing this exciting prospect, Bradley and computer science professors Reid Holmes and Thomas Fritz, apart from teaching Alexa some key phrases and how to map different commands, they also had to figure out common multi-step tasks, that engineers are performing, and build a system that could automate those tasks.

After 21 engineers tested it, the verdict was unanimous: We want this!


There was only a small problem left to figure out. Voice commands could be very distracting for the surrounding coworkers. So the team’s next step will be to create a chat bot to fulfill a similar function so engineers can type minimal requests and have the system perform their multi-step tasks.


But this project’s applications are not limited to the programming world. The researchers believe that these virtual assistants could be programmed for a variety of occupations including medicine, law, or accounting.

SEE ALSO: The Future of IDEs

“You can imagine a situation where a lawyer is reading a legal brief and asks Alexa to find relevant cases on similar topics to help with research”

Reid Holmes.


The study will be presented this week at the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE) in Gothenburg, Sweden.

If you are interested in getting more in-depth knowledge on this project, I strongly recommend reading this fascinating paper.

Set a course for the future. Warp 9.0!


Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou
Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou is an editor for Just finished her masters in Modern East Asian Studies and plans to continue with her old hobby that is computer science.

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