has emerged that aims to include some
computing in everyone’s K– 12 education or professional development.
We note that the CS for All movement does not advocate that every
single child should learn to program
for the sake of becoming a professional programmer or software engineer.
Computing occupations are projected
to grow at a higher rate than all other
STEM areas combined. By one estimate, more than 7. 7 million Americans
use computers in complex ways in their
jobs, almost half of them in fields that
are not directly related to STEM.a Regardless of their career, many professionals
will be using computer science at work.
WHEN MANY OF us were in school, we were given definitions of computerscience such as “the study of information processes and their transformations” or “the study of phenomena
arising around computers.” But when
we entered the world of professional
practice, we experienced computer science in a completely different way from
these abstract definitions.
In our professional world, our ability
to obtain a job depends on how well we
display competence in using computational methods and tools to solve problems of interest to our employers. We have
to be able to create small apps on the fly
with no more effort than writing a Post-It
note. We discover that we have customers who can be satisfied or not with our
work—and that our professional advancement depends on an ever-expand-ing legacy of satisfied customers. We
discover that over time we become proficient and our peers and bosses call on us
to solve ever more complex problems. We
are beset with unpredictable surprises
and contingencies not covered in school
or our previous experience—and yet we
must deal with them effectively.
As an example, the current surge
of deep-learning AI technologies has
generated many benefits and created
well-paying new jobs for data analysts
and software designers who automate
some mental tasks. These technologies
are permanently displacing workers
who used to do those tasks manually.
Many readers of this column are well-
paid designers and yet even they worry
that a technology surprise might push
them overnight into the unemployed.
Our Internet technology has facilitated
globalization of labor and raised living
standards everywhere, yet has stimulat-
ed a backlash of anti-immigration, an-
ti-trade sentiment. Our Internet tech-
nology has also developed a dark side
that includes hackers, data and iden-
tity thieves, scammers, polarizing web-
sites, terrorists, and more. To help us
cope with all this change and churn we
have organized ourselves into several
hundred professional specialty groups
hosted by ACM, IEEE, and others.
Because computing is so intimately
involved with many fields, an educa-
tional movement called “CS for All”
The Profession of IT
Common misconceptions about computer science hinder
professional growth and harm the identity of computing.