Low-code and no-code software development tools pending

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Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: why low-code and no-code software development tools haven’t yet found their stride, why everyone freaked out about Google’s so-called “sensitive” AI last weekend, and the latest funding rounds raised by enterprise tech startups.

Low-code/no-code has yet to reach its peak

The developer shortage may have spurred investment in low-code and no-code software development tools, but VCs and tech giants are still waiting for the industry’s breakout moment.

If you listen to its proponents, the low-code/no-code movement has taken the enterprise technology industry by storm.

  • A wave of startups including Builder.ai and Genesis Global have raised $100 million or more, and SaaS giants from ServiceNow and Salesforce to Microsoft have built their own brand of low-code and no-code development features.
  • Late last year, there were “over 200 low-code and no-code startups, vendors, large enterprises like us in this market,” said Marcus Torres, vice president of the platform. low-code App Engine form of ServiceNow.

But despite market activity, industry experts and practitioners disagree on the true value of the industry.

  • Most of the companies Protocol spoke to agree that these tools make the coding process less time-consuming for development teams.
  • But former developer-turned-VC Mackey Craven disagreed that developers are the best target market for these tools. “For me, it’s a bit more about taking someone who [doesn’t have] the full level of specialized skills to be developers themselves and provide them with more capabilities to solve their own problems,” he said.

The question also remains whether standalone low-code and no-code platform vendors or players will capture the market.

  • Even though companies like Mendix, OutSystems, and Retool have found some success as standalone development platforms, some industry professionals don’t believe these types of companies will survive in the longer term.
  • “I think the industry is changing to the point where you can’t stand on your own anymore,” said Matt Calkins, founder and CEO of low-code platform Appian.

One thing seems certain, though: low-code and no-code development isn’t going away anytime soon, and the industry continues to move toward its breakout moment. “I think within companies, they’re at the forefront and they’re exploding now, but it’s still early days,” said Chris Yin, director of Scale Venture Partners. “We always expect more.”

Read the full story here.

— Aisha counts (E-mail | Twitter)

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Why AI Twitter Freaked Out About ‘Sensitive’ AI

Twitter was on fire this weekend, but it had nothing to do with Amber Heard. Instead, tech geeks railed against a Googler’s claim that a natural language processing model developed by the company is “sentient” and therefore may have reached the holy grail of AI: artificial general intelligence.

Blake Lemoine, a Google engineer and philosophical agitator who was the subject of a Washington Post profile, thinks Google’s LaMDA model might have a mind of its own. Some people who read the article worried about the implications for humanity if AI became self-aware. Meanwhile, AI ethicists and pragmatists have dismissed Lemoine’s claim.

“‘Sentient’ is misapplied by many ML people,” tweeted Thomas Dietterich, an AI professor at Oregon State University. Author and NYU AI professor Gary Marcus agreed, noting, “[L]The language spoken by these systems actually means nothing at all. And that certainly doesn’t mean these systems are sensitive.

Lemoine thinks Google should be more open about LaMDA’s capabilities. He even spoke to a member of the House Judiciary Committee about Google’s “unethical activities” and was placed on administrative leave by the company as a result.

Meanwhile, some AI ethicists, including former Googlers Timnit Gebru and Meredith Whittaker highlighted profit-driven AI business models as the main reason for the AGI hype.

While machine learning models are probably a far cry from general intelligence, there is one thing Lemoine pushed for that might matter sooner: the notion of legal personality for LaMDA. If AI-based technology is considered a person in the eyes of the law, it could have significant legal implications for liability, copyright, and other issues.

-Kate Kaye (E-mail | Twitter)

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Thanks for reading – see you tomorrow!

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