Tanmay Bakshi is nothing like the average child you would meet. The twelve year old was first drawn to programming languages, when he was but five and wondered how his name could be displayed on his dad's computer screen. He set out on a quest to solve simple mysteries that intrigued him and started programming with his father’s help, and he is now one of the youngest app developers in the world today.
The hits and misses
Tanmay lives in Brampton, Canada, and built his first app for the iPhone when he was only nine years old. He might be jet-setting around the world today, delivering key-note addresses and demonstrating his apps before awestruck audiences, but recognition and success didn’t come easy. The whizkid faced several rejections before his app finally got published on the app store on Valentine's Day 2013, marking the beginning of what seems to be Tanmay’s promising love story with tech.
Since then, he has continued to develop at an astonishing rate as he acquired more programming languages. He is fluent in most, if not all, of the major codes in use today.
In his address at IBM DeveloperConnect in Bengaluru on Friday he demonstrated his algorithm called 'AskTanmay,' which he described as "the world's first web-based NLQA system, built using IBM Watson's Cognitive Capabilities." The eight-step algorithm can solve queries related to a 'PERSON,' 'ORGANIZATION,' 'LOCATION,' or 'DATE' answer type.
Not your average 12 year old
The 12 year old is currently studying in the seventh grade and is being home-schooled to optimise his time better. Going by his repertoire you might assume Tanmay to be coding away in a secluded corner at home but that is far from the truth!
“I code in my free time and love it so much that it helps me take my mind off things,” the little man explains.
An avid reader and sports enthusiast, Tanmay loves biking and playing table tennis with his friends, and has also authored a book called Hello Swift, which is about iOS programming techniques for kids and developers.
“The world needs more developers,” says Tanmay and is doing his bit to help increase the number. To everyone’s surprise at the IBMDevConnect, Tanmay open-sourced his app on stage, a move to make it more accessible to the developer community. Through his YouTube channel ‘Tanmay Teaches’, he also imparts programming knowledge and clears tech doubts of over a thousand of his subscribers who are as young as fifteen and as old as forty!
So, from whom does this wonder kid draw inspiration? “I look up to Steve Jobs never giving up on his passion and I want to get my book signed by Mr. Amitabh Bachchan,” he says.
Tanmay is currently trying to figure out how to get the Apple Watch to work independently from the iPhone, a few apps for iOSX, and an app to help college students and developers look up algorithms. However, he holds hope for a “really powerful answering system” in “many years” with “100 percent accuracy.” He is also working on updates for ‘Ask Tanmay,’ including different question styles, higher accuracy, improving its engine and making it faster.
Tanmay prefers working on IBM Watson’s API and wants to develop an app that will allow businesses to analyse social media better and target better audiences, and is looking to get into the B2B side of things.
Having accomplished so much in so little time, what is Tanmay looking to do next?
“I want to become a better developer, write more books, deliver more keynote addresses and share my knowledge through my YouTube channel,” he quips.
And as he continues to take the world by storm, he also has some advice for his contemporaries,
Follow your heart and passion. It could be anything, just practice and get better at it!