Six Questions for Tanmay Bakshi, author of Hello Swift!

Tanmay Bakshi is a fifteen-year-old Canadian coder who works in AI and ML. He has addressed over 200,000 people at international conferences, schools, universities, and corporations, and has delivered keynotes at the United Nations, Linux Foundation, Apple, IBM, and more. Find him at @TajyMany on Twitter and Tanmay Teaches on YouTube.

 


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You developed your first iOS app at age nine. How old are you now, and how many apps have you developed?
 

I’m fifteen years old. I have five apps on the iOS App Store that I uploaded years ago, however, the vast majority of my projects/applications are open source and can be obtained via GitHub, my YouTube channel, and the free online courses I offer. I do this so that more and more people can learn from the code that I write, and use it where they believe it’s important and will make an impact. Or, they can even extend my code to create better and more useful apps in the fields they’re passionate about.

 

You have a pretty heavy event schedule, with meetings, workshops, and conferences around the world. How do you find time to go to school?
 

I find time to go to school because I live there! I’m homeschooled, and so my travel becomes a part of my schooling in a way, and they flow together in a symbiotic manner. This way, I’m also able to focus on the subjects that I love most, like mathematics, science, and of course, technology.

 

Tell us about your goal to teach 100,000 people to code. Why is this important to you? And what are you doing to achieve it?
 

This goal is dear to me because I’ve seen, first hand, two things: first, technology can have a huge impact on the way people live their lives; and second, there are people who are genuinely passionate about technology but simply aren’t able to learn about it because of a lack of resources. Since I love to work with technology, I thought why not provide people with simple resources which they can use to communicate with tech and to solve problems that society is facing?  To achieve this, I’m working towards numerous streams of content: books, like Hello, Swift!; my YouTube channel, Tanmay Teaches; and the workshops and seminars that I conduct at schools, universities, and conferences all over the world.

 

Is your book, Hello Swift!, one of the ways you are reaching that 100,000 mark?
 

Absolutely! Hello, Swift! is special since it’s the first book that I’ve written and is my first major effort to scale up the number of people I’m able to reach out to. It’s written for learners of ALL AGES who want to get into the world of programming, and to create apps for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. When you boil down a concept to its fundamentals (like boiling down programming to learning computational thinking) and when you describe those fundamentals in a certain way (like through real world, hands-on examples), the material becomes accessible to a broad demographic. For young people, this book contains enough information to keep them curious and get them started the right way on a longer and consistent journey. For adults, this book is sufficient to engage them, teach them the necessary concepts, and give them a jumpstart on their journey to code with a purpose. Both kids and adults will appreciate getting to build their first simple app right away, in Chapter 2!

I’ve started to notice through social media that the book is already doing wonders. Adults and kids love it, are learning from it, and recommend it to others.

 

You’re an IBM Cloud Champion and a Bloomberg Young Entrepreneur, you’ve given a TED talk, and created the world’s first IBM Watson-powered Natural Language Question Answering System, called AskTanmay. It doesn’t seem humanly possible to achieve all this at your age. How do we know you’re not a bot?
 

Because, in my head, I can’t automatically find and implement the 2nd integral of:

func squareRoot(x xi: Float) -> Float {
    var x = xi
    for i in 1...500 {
        x = 0.5 * (xi + x / xi)
    }
    return x
}
How about sharing something that you find challenging, or are maybe not so good at? Like maybe you have bad handwriting, or are a terrible cook?
 

Well… there’re lots of things I’m not great at! Your guess about my handwriting is correct, it’s not great, to say the least. I’d also say I’m not very patient, at times: I find it very hard to wait for things. If I start coding something, I have to finish it; I can’t sleep until it’s done. Another situation that I’m not good at dealing with is that if I buy something online (that’s related to tech), it has to reach me as fast as physically possible 🙂