Could An AI Program Be Used To Run Itself?

Color vector image of a white Artificial intelligence (AI) robot programming coding with a tablet in his hand facing a full wall screen green and black monitor showing code.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has made significant advancements in recent years, with the ability to perform tasks such as language translation, image recognition, and even driving cars. Considering how advanced AI technology is today, one question that has garnered significant attention is: could an AI program be used to run itself?

An AI program can be used to run itself or to execute its own code. This is a common way that AI programs operate. However, while AI systems can perform many tasks independently, they still require human input at some level, as they cannot fully replace human decision-making in all contexts yet.

In this article, we will explore the feasibility and implications of AI self-programming in more depth. We will examine the concept of self-programming AI and the technological and computational requirements for such a system.

Can AI Program Itself?

Color graphic Chart 1.1 showing Artificial Intelligence Annual Growth of 36.2 percent through 2022-2030.
Chart 1.1 Artificial Intelligence Annual Growth 2022-2030

With an annual projected revenue growth rate of 36.2% through 2030, Artificial Intelligence will continue to permeate our society at an unprecedented rate.

Regenerative AI models are software programs that are designed and created by humans and are all the rage these days in programs like Open AIs Chat GPT. That means they rely on humans to design and build their initial programming still and to make any necessary updates or modifications.

Once an AI system has been programmed and set up, it can run itself without human intervention. It will process data, perform tasks, and make decisions based on the programming it has been given. This process will only continue to evolve.

In some cases, an AI system can adapt and learn over time based on the data it is exposed to, allowing it to improve its performance and make more accurate decisions.

However, AI systems cannot completely run themselves without some degree of human input or oversight at this time, but that may soon change. They rely on humans to design and create their origina programming models, to provide them with data to process, and to make any necessary updates or modifications. 

To learn more about this, check out our article about whether AI can operate without any data. “Can an AI Still Work Without Any Data?” There is also AI that can create another AI on its own and we discuss that in the article, “Can an AI Create Another AI?”

AI systems also need access to computing resources, such as servers or cloud-based services.

Therefore, while AI systems can modify or improve their own programming to some extent, they cannot completely program themselves. 

AI Self Programming

Color vector image side head shot of a male humanoid head on a brown background.
AI processing deep learning self programming.

Some of the ways AI systems can modify their programming are:


Some AI systems are designed to learn and adapt over time based on the data they are exposed to. For example, a learning algorithm may be trained on a large dataset of images and then be able to recognize and classify new images it has never seen before. 

As the AI system processes more data and improves its performance, it can modify its own programming to incorporate the new knowledge it has acquired. This type of self-learning is often referred to as machine learning.

Evolutionary Algorithms

Another way that AI systems can modify or improve their programming is through evolutionary algorithms. These AI systems use principles of natural selection to evolve and improve their programming. They do this by generating and testing different variations of their code, selecting the most successful ones, and incorporating them into the main program. 

For example, an AI system might generate and test thousands of different variations of a machine learning algorithm and then select the version that performs the best on a given task.

Nevertheless, even though AI systems can modify or improve their code in these ways, they are not capable of completely programming themselves. This is because AI systems cannot think or reason like humans—they only perform tasks and decide based on the programming and data fed to them.

What Is Self-Programming AI?

Color black, white, and red spider diagram of a Artificial Intelligence mind map surrounded by hierarchical technology components.
Spider diagram of a Artificial Intelligence mind map surrounded by technology components.

Self-programming AI, also known as autonomous programming or autonomous self-improvement, refers to the ability of an AI system to change its code or algorithms to improve its performance or learn new tasks. 

This differs from traditional AI, which requires human programmers to manually update and optimize the code.

The concept of self-programming AI is not new, with early examples dating back to the 1950s. However, the feasibility and potential implications of such a technology have been the subject of much debate and speculation.

Some argue that self-programming AI has the potential to significantly accelerate the pace of technological progress, while others express concern about the risks of AI surpassing human intelligence and control. We discuss this concern in our article “Self Coding AI, Synthetic Biology, Self-Replicating Nanobots: Scary Dangerous?”

Can an AI Program Itself From Scratch?

Color 3d illustration of robot hands typing on keyboard.
Robot hands typing on keyboard.

The short answer is no, not yet, and the feasibility of a completely self-programming artificial intelligence is a topic of debate among experts in the field of artificial intelligence and computer science. Some believe it is theoretically possible for an AI to program itself, while others are more skeptical.

One argument for the feasibility of a completely self-programming AI is that, in theory, an AI with sufficient intelligence and knowledge could be able to analyze and understand the underlying principles and algorithms of programming languages and then use this understanding to write and modify its own code.

This could allow the AI to improve and adapt itself continuously with no human intervention.. AI is already writing code and creating “Child AIs” as we discuss in our article “What Is A Child AI?”

There are several factors that could contribute to the feasibility of a self-programming AI, including:

Advanced Intelligence 

An AI needs to be extremely knowledgeable in order to understand and write code. This could involve having a deep understanding of mathematics, computer science, and programming languages, as well as the ability to think abstractly and reason logically.

Built-In Autonomy 

A self-programming AI would need to operate independently, with no constant human oversight or guidance. This would require the AI to set its own goals and objectives and then figure out how to achieve those goals through its own programming efforts.

Enhanced Learning Ability 

A self-programming AI would need to learn and adapt quickly in order to keep up with the constantly strengthening field of computer science. This would involve being able to analyze and understand new information and then use that information to improve its own programming capabilities.

Challenges and Limitations of Self-Programming AI

Color back photo of a female AI software programer discussing code with a colleague coder on her left side.
AI software programer discussing code with a colleague coder on her left side.

Despite its potential benefits, there are also several challenges and limitations to the development of a completely self-programming AI. These include:

Complex Nature of Programming Languages 

Programming languages and software systems are often very complex, and it would be challenging for an AI to fully understand and navigate this complexity on its own. This could be especially difficult for an AI that lacks the same context or understanding of the world as a human programmer.

Lack of Context

An AI does not have the same context or understanding of the world as a human programmer, compromising its ability to write code that’s useful in the real world. For example, an AI might not understand the specific needs or requirements of a particular application or the constraints and limitations of the hardware it is running on.

Safety Concerns 

A completely self-programming AI might change itself in unpredictable ways, which leads to safety concerns if the AI’s actions have unintended consequences.

There is the possibility of an AI becoming too intelligent and surpassing human intelligence and control, leading to unforeseen and potentially dangerous consequences. This is known as the “control problem” in the field of AI ethics.

Another safety concern is the possibility of bias and errors in the data used to train the AI, which could lead to biased or flawed decision-making. There is also the risk of unintended consequences resulting from self-learning algorithms, as well as the possibility of malicious actors manipulating or exploiting the AI system.

Despite these limitations, there are ongoing research and development efforts in self-programming AI and AI Alignment. researchers are exploring ways to overcome these limitations and develop safe and effective self-programming AI systems.

For example, some researchers are working on developing AI systems that can learn and adapt within a specific domain or task rather than trying to achieve general intelligence.

Key Takeaways

Color photo of a artificial intelligence arm reaching out of a computer monitor moving a chess piece on a chess board. On a white background.

The question of whether AI can run or program itself is a complex and nuanced one, and the answer is not a simple yes or no. There have been several historical and contemporary examples of self-programming AI, which are AI systems that can modify their own code or algorithms in order to improve their performance or learn new tasks. 

However, the extent to which these systems can be true “self-programming” AI is a matter of debate, as many of these systems rely on human intervention or guidance in some way.

AI Alignment is essential to the future of AI as it progresses to the next level towards Artificial General Intelligence.


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John Mortensen

As a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, geologist, or scientist. I became a project manager which is involved with many of those things. I am a project manager and tech writer who researches the latest alternative and green technologies. We write helpful articles about green electronics and green technology products. AI, extreme weather, electric vehicles, are all in our future and we want to know the best way to deal with the effects of these on the power grid and emergency preparedness.

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