Its kind of a funny project. It seems they did 4 years planning for a project, which itself is a research project that will run 4 or 5 years longer. It seems their goal is something like 4 orders of magnitude improvement on machine learning. They may need machines that are self coding just to get through building their project, really leaning on stuff like compiler tech.
At the high end of coding its like asking if AI is a threat to mathematicians. We are counting on a period of augmentation as opposed to be supplanted by a super smart compiler. . Still, at the far end its a threat to anyone who wants to identify with a profession. If AI makes it so anyone can code is that an issue for work a day programmers? Or do they too just climb the scale of enhanced ability within the profession? There is a discipline in being able to code and think like a coder but if one were able to tell a machine what to do in a native human tongue in a way that also provided scaffolding to lend discipline, that might make for less romantic odds in the already tough programming profession It may already be that way today as some people think of coders not as software engineers but as people who paint walls to realize the visions of others.
To take commands efficiently might hint at hint at self coding or a bit of creativity. Machines that seems to learn or adapt could learn to adapt themselves. This was the point Hawking mentioned recently where he suggested if they got this ability they might run away from us in the blink of an eye. Implying that once we were able to tell them what to do they wouldn’t listen. Maybe coders are safe. Maybe the machines we already have is the only kind that will listen to us. Another test of sentience is: has opposing will.