What if all programmers disappeared?

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 13 Sept 2019

Today marks International Programmers’ Day, when programmers across the globe are acknowledged for their hard work and contribution to the digital world.

International Programmers’ Day is an international professional day celebrated on the 256th day of each year.

In 2009, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree for the “Day of the Programmer” to be celebrated on this day.

The day was chosen because the number 256 is the number of distinct values that can be represented with an eight-bit byte, and the highest power of two which is less than 365.

Since Friday the 13th is considered unlucky, global Web hosting company Hostinger International urged people to imagine what would happen if all programmers would disappear this Friday, as a way to highlight their importance in our everyday lives.

Ram Kezel, author and spokespersonat Hostinger International, believes that if programmers disappeared, initially most company systems would work on their own for a while; however, problems would begin after the first bugs or power outages.

“Programmers take care of many daily objects around us; they deal with bugs and help systems to get back on track after something happens. Without them, computer systems would become unstable one by one, affecting productivity. Modern elevators would stop working. So every day would be a leg day with all those stairs. Without programmers, the company’s smart coffeemaker won’t be able to prepare coffee, and even a smartwatch won’t be that smart anymore,” Kezel points out.

With a lot of information about everything we know having been stored online, without programmers most Web sites would become unavailable over time. This means all information that was kept online would be unavailable too, notes Kezel.

Without Google search and Wikipedia, people would have no choice but to resort to traditional resources such as text books and encyclopaedias.

According to IDC, in 2018 the number of software developers in the world grew to 22 million, while in 2014 there were only around 19 million programmers.

The Asia/Pacific region accounts for 10.24 million of the world's developers, while the EMEA and Americas regions represent seven million and five million, respectively.

According to e-learning platform Heytutor, as the world moves towards a more technologically advanced ecosystem, the dire need for programmers will continue to grow into 2019 and beyond.

“Programs are found in everything from video games to Web sites and phone apps, and that pool of products is growing. Without programmers writing programs telling computers and other technological devices what to do, they would literally be doing nothing and none of us would be able to enjoy any of the luxuries technology has to offer.”

Without proper maintenance from programmers, most mobile apps would stop working pretty soon, says Kezel.

“The first individual drawbacks would come from mobile phones. The phone itself would still work, but the apps would lose functionality. Forget the Uber app and better check the local taxi phone number. E-banking services would get stuck, so customers would have to use cash. And if you feel like sharing that cute pic of your puppy on social media, you should print it first.”

Without programmers, traffic lights would come to a halt, resulting in traffic jams across the globe.

There are a lot of promising innovations in various sectors, notes Kezel, but they still need some finishing touches. And with no programmers to be found, all those self-driving cars and flying skateboards and innovative drone delivery postal services would remain a dream.

“All these examples are just the tip of an iceberg. It is possible that if programmers would disappear, it would affect our lives in unthinkable ways. But luckily it is not the case. So this Friday is a perfect day to thank all the programmers for the easier life they gave us.”