Meet IBM's 12-Year-Old Watson Programmer, Tanmay Bakshi

30/06/2016 6:01 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
IBM Connect

What were you doing when you were 12? Playing cricket in the street outside or watching cartoons, when you should have been doing your homework? Meet Tanmay Bakshi who is 12 and who writes computer programs in his spare time.

Bakshi already has a couple apps in the Apple app store. He is also the world's youngest IBM Watson programmer. IBM Watson is an intelligence engine which handles Artificial Intelligence (AI) as well as the Internet of Things (IoT). Bakshi has spoken at many conferences about programming. Additionally, he also has a YouTube channel where he shares videos on computing. He can code in swift, VB, Java, C# among many other languages.

When did you start programming?

I was 5 years old when I got curious. My dad used to do a lot of programming. So that intrigued me. Then I started creating my first programs, such as displaying "Hello World" in the Windows bash command line. Later, I picked up more languages in terms of programming.

What was the first app that you built and released?

I had built an app called tTables which helps you in learning multiplication tables. I released it in the app store when I was 9 years old. Funnily, it was accepted in the app store on Valentine's day of 2013.

What is your daily routine like?

The biggest advantage I have is that I am home schooled. So I can align my coding with the things I learn. So, if there is a maths concept I need to learn, I use an algorithm to make an application out of it. I spend 40 percent of my day in programming.

You are quite active on your YouTube Channel. Do you like creating videos?

I like algorithms a lot in general. If you see my YouTube Channel, most of the videos are about different kinds of algorithms. I also like to spread the knowledge that I have, so I create as many videos as possible to help others understand these concepts. Recently, my channel hit the 2000 subscriber mark. Soon, I will release more videos on Watson, Swift (Programming language for iOS) and IoT.

What do you do in your free time?

I love to play table tennis. I have one in my house where I can either practice against the wall or play with a friend. If I am not doing that, I go to field trips or hangout with friends around my home.

What gadgets do you use?

Last year, I bought a new iMac with 5K retina display and i7 processor. The system came with an 8 GB RAM but since I do a lot of programming I decided to upgrade the system to 64 GB RAM. Alternatively, I use Macbook Air as my laptop. I use an Apple watch and iPhone as well.

What would be the one dream gadget you would like to have?

Right now, Microsoft's HoloLens is something which interests me the most. Seeing the technology immersing with our real lives is really fascinating. On the same line, Oculus Rift is a great device as well.

Your thoughts about future technologies such as AI and VR (Virtual Reality)?

Artificial Intelligence is great. I watched a documentary a few months ago on YouTube and that is what attracted me to code on the IBM Watson platform. I also don't understand why people are afraid of AI. It is created by humans to help humans, we pull the plug when we want to. AI is already helping in medical science, social media, research, education and many more sectors.

Talking about VR, it is really the most fun technology out there. It is so immersive. In future, children can use it in the classroom. This would benefit people like me as content creators as well.

Tell me about AskTanmay, your Watson based program?

This is a first web-based Natural Language Question Answer program developed with the help of Watson. You can right now compare it with Siri or Google Now, but it is really different. I want it to evolve into a more sophisticated solution. And this program is open sourced. I have placed this on GitHub for everyone to access. I also want my program to play KBC (Kaun Banega Crorepati) with Amitabh Bachchan.

What are your future plans? Job, Startup?

I haven't given much thought to it. Right now, I want to continue doing more projects and attend more conferences to gain experience and knowledge. I also want to make more videos and more books. Plus, I want to my current book to be signed by Amitabh Bachchan.

We wish best of luck to Tanmay!

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