Artificial Intelligence’s Impact on the Future of Testing
When we talk about the future of software testing, the conversation often veers toward the correct balance between manual testers and automation, or perhaps if there even is a need for human testers in 2016.
Agile, as well as the mobile revolution, has fundamentally changed the way we talk about testing. However, something that isn’t discussed as often, yet might be just as critical to the future direction of the industry, is artificial intelligence.
Now, AI is a broad term, to say the least. In this specific context, we’re looking at the ability for a machine to understand an environment, perform what we’d call “intelligent” actions, and go on to improve itself automatically.
In the world of testing, it’s easy to see how AI can be exceptionally useful. In a recent interview with StickyMinds, Appdiff’s Jason Arbon explained how we can leverage AI to help better (and more easily) test applications.
“Testing is a ripe field for applying AI because testing is fundamentally about inputs and expected outputs—the same things needed to train bots,” he said. “Testing combines lots of human and machine-generated data. Folks in testing often don't have much exposure to AI, but that will change quickly, just like everyone else in the world is waking up to the power of AI.”
AI bots can tap, type, and swipe through an app just like any living, breathing user, and by continuing to teach the AI how to take that data and apply it in an intelligent way, you have yourself an invaluable tool in a world of mobile applications that require rapid, agile solutions.
But here’s the critical piece of data for testers—and maybe more importantly, managers—to understand: AI can, and should, work alongside human testers. This isn’t about replacing what we have. With AI, Arbon strongly believes we can make the testers we already have more effective.
“More than 80 percent of testing is repetitive. You’re often just checking that things work the same way they did yesterday. This work is solvable by AI and automation,” Arbon continued. “That other 20 percent of a tester’s time today, the creative, questioning, reasoning part—that is what people should really be doing, and that rarely happens in today’s fast moving and agile app teams."
“Working alongside AI, testers in the near future will be able to focus on the most interesting and valued aspects of software testing.”
AI isn’t here to replace human testers. We continue to see the narrative that “testing is dead,” but over and over again, data is coming out that shows the continued need for manual testers. Instead of looking at how we can move on from human testers, now’s the time to understand how automation and AI, in conjunction with real people, can make testing more powerful than ever.