When I woke, one last knock died through the wooden door, into my room."Thomas, c'est Youssef ! Réveille-toi !"
My mind took some time to piece it all together. Youssef, that was one of the kids I had met during the scouting romp 2 days ago. End of high-school with a brain the size of half planet according to his family, friends and teachers, self-taught programmer, beginner maker, he had shown me some of his projects but shy as he was, our interview didn't last much. I patted around for my gla****, found them on the bedside, got a light on and opened the door in a yawn.
The kid was litterally jumping up and down, holding an old rugged laptop in his hands, typical recycled processing power kids in India, Tibet, all of third world had done wonders. Youssef was holding it against his chest real hard, talking in quick approximative French that concluded with a "C'est génial, non ?"
A silence, and a smile. There was something going on there that should be worth losing a few hours of sleep. "Would you say all that again, slower this time ?" and as I grabbed a pen and notebook to write down details, he walked me through his objective, his thoughts, his programming - and boy was it the good stuff.
What Youssef showed me was a program that he had been working on for about a year now : based on a barebones open-source Artificial Intelligence engine, it would collate data from different sources and put it in wiki form automatically. In a country that still knew how precious bandwidth time was and that had been struck so hard, like so many others, by the 2016 famines that it had needed as many young workers as possible to get on with the farming, it made sense that one of them would develop something capable of mining separate sources of data and making something meaningful out of it.
"It's all about statistics and building models and choosing your sources, but that way we can set the program to a dedicated task, like, collecting information on the most cost-efficient way to set up solar panels in the area and it'll scan the web for the information, filter it, tag it with the source and date of extraction and put it in wiki form. Or it can do the same from a wiki that already exists !
- Can it now...Are you confident that your program works ?
- YES ! 100% !
- Works for me. Set it to..." And we set it up.
10 minutes of turning on and off switches on the settings file and the copy of the Network collaborative wiki on my computer started rearranging itself into an orderly, relentlessly creative chaos. I clicked the odd stray link into place after reviewing it, only to see a warning pop-up : pattern acquired
. "It learns how you write and organize stuff", added Youssef with a smile.
I grinned big and sent a message to Fiacre
after Youssef left. He and his Librarians team
would have one hell of a time helping Youssef tweak his system and clean up his code the way a programmer should - but it would all be for the best. In the end, maybe they could even have him help with the expert system they were putting together from the GEAS and Network data. There was a ton of applications to imagine there.
Teenage inventors are awesome.FACT :
In 2009, Tibetan teenager Milan Karki invented a solar panel including human...
, that could be sold for 23$ and help developing countries with their energy needs for the years to come if massively scaled and deployed. Everywhere around the world including in developing countries, the challenges of energy force people to come up with innovative solutions to their problems. Young inventors and teenagers look at problems with new eyes, providing answers more experienced inventors wouldn't have thought of. In return, we can teach them how to make the best out of their inventivity by giving them access to better hardware, different techniques and an access to the works of others they sometimes lack.