Can Devin AI Replace Product Managers?

Published on
March 13th, 2024
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In the fall of last year, I wrote about whether AI could replace product managers. I tried to use ChatGPT for product management tasks.
As part of my conclusion, I wrote:
Perhaps this means the age of AI will equip each product manager with an artificial associate—one who automatically hears of new initiatives and has a PRD draft in your inbox the minute you arrive in Notion in the morning.
Devin transformed my opinion on this. Devin is an AI software engineer recently unveiled by Cognition Labs. When I say “software engineer,” I don’t mean another super-powered autocomplete that suggests code snippets and spots errors.
It’s hard to explain everything the model does. Just watch Scott Wu, the CEO of Cognition AI, present what Devin can do:
According to Cognition Labs, Devin has already completed tasks on Upwork and passed technical coding tests. I heard the next version can even yell at StackOverflow users to use the search function!
It feels like a few months ago, the main AI narrative was that nobody would lose their job. Instead, we’d all just get AI superpowers that let us skip the boring stuff and do what matters.
Devin makes me think this was too optimistic. If Devin works that well on any given coding task (a genuine question, given that tech demos are usually presented under ideal circumstances), it obviates the need for at least a junior software engineer.
If we can build this for code, what else can we build it for? Product management is top of mind for me. My experiment last year was done purely in ChatGPT and leveraged none of the AI agent models or product-specific AI tools.
Could a “Devin for PMs” make product managers obsolete? Here’s why it might happen—and why not:

AI can do most PM tasks

Many product management tasks can be done by LLMs: Writing tickets, user stories, spec docs, strategy memos, analyzing data, summarizing user feedback.
If you include agent models, AI could even research competitors or update projects and tickets. All of these can already be done.
All that’s missing is the ability to use Jira/Linear and other tools and to maintain specific knowledge across tools/domains. This might not be an easy problem to solve, but tools like Devin make me think it’s easier than it looks.

But PMing is all too human

If you’ve been a PM for more than 10 minutes, you know that the user stories, product specs, and Jira tickets aren’t the most important part. Not even the strategic analysis (which AI agents could conceivably do).
The hardest (and most valuable) job of product managers is often taming leadership’s expectations and keeping engineers/designers motivated. It’s talking to users to discover their pain points. It’s being decisive and rallying a team behind those decisions to make sure they’re implemented.
At their core, these tasks are human relationship issues AI can’t tackle.
But models like Devin show us that product management will change. Here are some I could see happen:

Evolution of the PM role

Whether or not we ever see a “Devin for product management,” this model could affect PMs in a big way. How much would your job change if you had access to Devin?
Every product creates eng work most engineers hate. You can probably hear your eng team sigh just reading the words rearchitect, tech debt, or debugging. What if you could simply tell an AI to do those things?
Even though it does none of your product management tasks, Devin would change how you work. Now imagine adding “Devin for PMs” to that.
What if competitive research, writing spec docs, analyzing data, or updating tickets required a simple text prompt and 10 minutes of waiting?
Sure, none of this is reality yet. And I’m certain we’ll see technical, practical and regulatory roadblocks on the way to any of this becoming more than a sci-fi vision.
But we went from ChatGPT making up facts about radio towers in Lithuania to fully automated software engineers in less than two years. And AI shows no signs of slowing!
One company building AI tooling specifically for PMs is Yana Welinder's Kraftful (which describes itself as a copilot for product teams) : While it doesn't offer an autonomous agent like Devin, it automates much of the manual work product managers do—reading surveys, writing user stories, surfacing insights from interview transcripts...
If agent-based models like Devin become more common, Kraftful is in a perfect place to infuse its product with the power to execute the follow-on workflows: It already has all the training data it'd need and the API access the AI agent would navigate.
All of this makes me think that what happened to physical labor in the age of machines happens to knowledge work in the age of AI: We can get far more done with far smaller teams.
If the engineering and product teams we have today are like a workforce harvesting with scythes, AI is the combined harvest, allowing one person to harvest the entire field while listening to podcasts.
This article originally appeared on

About the author: Finn’s passion for technology started early, when he appointed himself chief installer of bloated freeware on the family computer. Since then, his taste in products has improved (no more browser toolbars!) while his research skills still serve him well as a writer and all around creative person at CommandBar. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him climbing, hiking or reading about obscure parts of history.
Comments (4)
Dr. Nadeem, M.
Wonderful article, Finn. I feel a "reasonable size" of PMs will continue to stay relevant in some capacity as they master the AI. Moreover, I believe as we reflect on the remarkable success of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in driving growth for products, brands, and services across all areas of our lives, it's crucial to recognize the key factor behind its success - the "Human Element." For corporate PM's and brands looking to boost their marketing strategies, the key is to combine the power of AI and Emotional Intelligence (EI) with human expertise. While AI and EI offer valuable tools and insights, the PM's human touch ensures any strategy's effectiveness. Marketing history teaches us that human emotions play a crucial role. Although AI can analyze data and provide valuable insights, it is essential to remember that PM's [human] brains deeply understand complex emotions, making them an invaluable asset in various fields. EI enables PM's to interpret emotional nuances, adjust strategies, and make empathetic decisions. Creativity and storytelling are also vital components of marketing that are often overlooked amid AI. We know AI can assist with data analysis and content generation. However, PM's are unmatched when crafting emotionally resonant stories that engage consumers personally. Over the years, corporate leaders adjusted their AI-based cultural sensitivity training programs to ensure they respect cultural sensitivities. However, PM's human element possess cultural awareness and adaptability to ensure that marketing campaigns resonate with diverse customers. In the era of social media, marketing executives have adopted empathy as a critical element in their interactions with customers. As AI handles routine inquiries, PM's are essential for complex, emotionally charged interactions that require empathy and understanding. The PM's human brain also provides strategic vision and context for AI-driven initiatives such as public blockchains, robotics, multi-sequencing, and energy storage while aligning AI recommendations with broader business objectives and adapting strategies based on market dynamics. Relationship building with Gen Z and Millennials is another vital area where humans excel. The disruptive or transformative innovation current value of the global equity market is roughly $13T and may scale to $200T in the next few years. Hence, as AI helps manage relationships at scale, human PM's are essential for cultivating deep, meaningful relationships with the customer. Moreover, ethics must be maintained at the center of the development of AI. A human PM will ensure that AI technologies are developed and deployed ethically and responsibly. As we move forward into the future of AI this year, 2024 and beyond, with governments incentivizing specific industries, we should remember that the human PM brain is essential to success.The handshake between AI, EI, and human PM expertise is a powerful formula for boosting innovative and emotionally resonant marketing strategies!
Lily Collins
Thanks for sharing! While AI can excel at many PM tasks, the essence of product management lies in human relationships and nuanced decision-making. Yet, the potential incredibox for AI to streamline workflows and automate repetitive tasks is undeniable, raising questions about the evolving nature of the PM role.
beryl bruse
It's amazing! Your article is very good and very useful to us! Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us! Have a good time with uno online free.
Magnet Alice
Product management often involves creativity and innovation, Friday Night Funkin such as brainstorming new product ideas, envisioning user experiences, and solving complex problems.