Features Interviews

Tanmay Bakshi at 12, A Prodigy who not only Codes, but Inspires.

Last week at the IBM developer Summit, I had a chance to chat with a young champ called Tanmay Bakshi. Tanmay is 12 year old and he is the world’s youngest IBM Watson Programmer. He isn’t just a software developer but also an Author, Keynote Speaker and a Honorary IBM Cloud Advisor. Tanmay had his first iOS app, tTables, accepted by Apple when he was just 9 years old. Let us read Tanmay Bakshi’s Interview.

What got Tanmay to Technology and Coding?

He started coding when he was 5 years old. I was amazed when I heard him say that; For a moment, I couldn’t even remember, what I was doing at 5. Today, Kids have great access to Technology and Gadgets. When groomed well, it empowers you to do something super awesome!

Like it does for many of us, Technology excites Tanmay as well. He didn’t just stop at being amazed, but took a step to learn and create something which is phenomenal. At first, he was super excited to first see his name on screen and whatever he types on screen. It was just a magic for him.

He couldn’t stop laughing while he explained about how he helped fix his teacher’s computer in his senior kindergarten.

His first app, tTables was primarily designed for children: You answer multiplication questions and, depending on your knowledge, you hear applause or the ominous buzzing of bees.

Tanmay says, Swift is his most favourite. Scripting languages aren’t very powerful with Syntaxes. However, you end up using them because performance matters. Swift is a perfect mix of everything. You can either use it like a full fledge programming language or you can use it like a scripting language like Ruby or Python. Swift is even cross platform now and that gives it an edge among other programming languages at this moment.

How should Kids approach Programming?

According to Tanmay, Dedication and never give-up attitude is what matters than anything else. One has to solve problems and learn new things. Start with one language and others will be easy to pick up. Coding isn’t all that difficult, he says! Tanmay has also written a book called “Hello Swift!: iOS programming for kids and other beginners”.

This year’s Apple WWDC also saw the company showcasing Swift Playgrounds, an interactive app for iPad which helps kids and aspiring developers to learn Swift Programming easily through activities and games.

Tanmay Bakshi's Interview

What does Tanmay like to do?

While I asked, if he loved creating games or tools? His answer quite amazed me. He says – “I like making open source tool which can be useful for the developer community and also general public. Something like AskTanmay, where you get answers to questions asked and not just documents like Google does”.

This documentary on IBM Watson: Smartest Machine ever built influenced Tanmay on his research; and his tool, AskTanmay is a web based NLQA system built of IBM Watson’s Cognitive Capabilities in the NL Field.

Tanmay has learned most of the coding on his own, playing on his computer and online tutorials after school. Learning from Videos has definitely helped him and he believes in giving back to the community. He runs a YouTube channel which has over 89 videos on technology learning and he spends time with his subscribers to solve their problems related to programming, Watson, Maths and Science.

Role of Parents, How did they really help him?

Tanmay’s parents do encourage Tanmay’s ambitions and are a part of his efforts in problem solving. While many parents are worried about the screen time their children get, Puneet says – Tanmay isn’t using computers aimlessly; He has a motive and we would always support him for what he does. As a parent, you need to understand kids. They have open minds and lots of time. They can think fearlessly.

Tanmay-Bakshi-ParentsPuneet further added in – we adults have a fear of losing; whereas with kids, thats not the case. Tanmay doesn’t even care if his program is going to crash the computer. He just plays with his code and his machine. He loves doing that.

“Provide the right set of resources to your kids, and while you give, you also monitor if they are using it right. That’s a very important thing to do. If it is heading in the right direction, provide even more resources so that, they can excel in what they are doing”, says Puneet.

What next for Tanmay?

Tanmay is currently working with his mentors from IBM on creating various IoT enabled devices. He wants to continue making videos for his YouTube channel and build more and more applications. He also wants to write more books on Swift, Cognitive Computing, Machine Learning, IBM Watson and more. Tanmay is also a huge Amitabh Bachchan fan and hopes to get his book autographed by the legendary bollywood actor.

While we were having this conversation, his hand gestures and confidence was worth admiring. I wasn’t getting a feel of talking to a kid anymore. All I could see was an App inventor sitting beside me, explaining about technology and how it is going to touch lives. Yes, I was inspired as well.

Hope you enjoyed reading Tanmay Bakshi’s interview. Let us know your thoughts.