This topic keeps coming up in various discussions so here are some thoughts on what I think a future may hold for us one day. What does it mean to predict the future? Does it mean it is inevitable? If it is something appealing, maybe it is something we can work towards.
What does it mean to talk about the Future of Software Testing without talking about "Quality" (whatever that is)? I believe that Testing is a means to helping you attain the desired quality but that on its own it is not an indicator of what the delivered quality will be. I think it is fair to speculate on the practice of Testing in isolation of the idea of Quality. Just like it is fair to speculate on the kind of vehicles you use for travel without saying it is a clear indicator of the quality of the journey.
When it comes to predicting the future, how far ahead do we look? It used to bother me that H.G. Wells chose to go 800,000 years in the future in his famous work, The Time Machine. Some authors go 100 years or even just 5 or 10 to tell their tale. I will not be writing about what will happen in 5 years time and I really hope it doesn't take 100 years. I don't know how long some of these events will take to manifest. I do have some idea of 'markers' that we may see along the way though.
When it comes to Software Testing, two thoughts jump immediately to mind: 1) Software Testing is an inseparable part of the creative Software/Solution Development process; and 2) there will be many different possible futures depending on how you do testing today. Put another way, there is no one right way to solve a problem, and creating software is a complex problem-solving activity performed in shifting organisations of human interaction so there are many ways to do it. In my opinion, the technical 'fiddly bits' like code, tests and user documentation pale in comparison to the difficulty of those two primary challenges: (1) solving the real problem, and (2) working with others to get the job done.
When we ask what is the future of software testing, we are really asking what is the future of software development. So what will Testing look like in the future? Well, what does Testing look like today? What does Development look like today?