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AI Engineer World's Fair (2024)

Deep Dive: The AI emperor has no DAUs: why most devs still don't use code AI


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Quinn Slack @sqs / Sourcegraph
Watch it on YouTube | AI.Engineer Talk Details

Quinn Slack, CEO and co-founder of Sourcegraph, gave a thought-provoking talk on the current state of Code AI adoption and the challenges facing the industry. His main argument was that despite the hype, most developers still don't use Code AI tools regularly.

Key Statistics


  • Only about 5% of professional developers use Code AI tools
  • Total recurring revenue from Code AI usage is estimated at around $300 million ARR
  • This represents only about 1/120th of Salesforce's annual revenue

The Reality of Code AI Adoption


Quinn presented data showing that while there's a lot of excitement around Code AI, actual usage is much lower than many people realize. He emphasized the gap between perception and reality in the industry.

Building Successful Code AI Products


Drawing from Sourcegraph's experience with their Cody product, Quinn shared several insights:

  • The importance of dogfooding: If you're not using your own product daily, it won't succeed
  • Avoiding hype-driven development: Focus on real user needs, not buzzwords
  • The "freakish" success of AI code completion and why other features are harder to get right

Product Development Framework


Quinn introduced a 4-box model for evaluating AI features:

He stressed the importance of aiming for features in the top-right quadrant: high frequency of use and high accuracy/ease of verification.

Future Directions


  • Searching for the "next autocomplete" - a highly impactful Code AI modality
  • Exploring chat-oriented programming (CHOP) as a potential paradigm shift
  • Building manual, explicit features first before adding "magic"


This talk provided a sobering but insightful look at the current state of Code AI adoption. Quinn's focus on real-world usage and practical product development strategies offers valuable lessons for anyone working in the AI tooling space.