By Gabriel Olawale
For many centuries, the game of chess was regarded as the zenith of human cognitive ability. To master the game, one requires near ingenuity and supreme intellectual ability.
However, in the year 2017, Google’s AlphaZero AI program defeated the world’s best computer chess program after only four hours of learning and creating unique chess moves – all without any human interference!
Such is the power of Artificial Intelligence. 10-year-old Emmanuella Mayaki is, however, rewriting the script and setting new milestones.
At age seven, she had already earned a proficiency certificate in all major Microsoft programs and now, at 10, after building and launching a website entirely on her own, she has now acquired knowledge and competence in Java and Python coder to the degree where she teaches other kids her age at a Code Club in the United Kingdom. The After School Code Club, organised by Southfields Primary School Coventry England where Emmanuella is a student, offered her the chance to teach following the discovery of her rare talent and enthusiasm, as well as patience, to transfer her knowledge on to others.
Deepening her knowledge
Martin Benbridge, an instructor at the club, described Emmanuella as the school’s shining star in the area of technology considering her superior skill, great attitude, and passion for sharing her knowledge, all of which culminated in her selection as a teacher.
Her body of work and knowledge of internet operations, networking, Dreamweaver, Python and Java Coder, amongst others at the age of nine, have filled several analysts and tech coaches with confidence that she can achieve this in a few years from now.
This view is further corroborated by the fact that despite the remarkable progress she has made at such a tender age, Emmanuella is showing no signs of slowing down. R, Lisp, Prolog are programming languages she intends to take on soon, in addition to deepening her knowledge of Java and Python Coder.
Indeed such diversification is needed in Nigeria, Emmanuella’s home country, where an exclusive focus on oil as the sole revenue resource has made the economy vulnerable and stymied growth.
In 2013, Oxford Economics found that innovation, research, and technology, which Emmanuella majors in, contributed over 30 billion pounds to the United Kingdom’s economy, a figure higher than Nigeria’s 2018 national budget.
She has shown what is possible with the right education and guidance and her story is something she wishes other kids, especially in Nigeria, get to share.
Skills and practice
Emmanuella told Sunday Vanguard that she wants the Nigerian government to set up infrastructure to enable the country’s kids learn basic computing skills and practice coding because this, in her well-considered view supported by data, is the future.
She explained her position thus: “I want to become a machine learning engineer because I have experience in programming and my job is to program a machine to perform specific tasks. My knowledge of modern software such as Eclipse, which I use to program Java applications, is also part of the reasons I want to be a machine learning engineer.’’
On how she became a tech teacher at a young age, Emmanuella said: “I have always wanted to pass on my knowledge to other children as I believe that technology is the future of tomorrow and it is better to start today than to start tomorrow. I am also aware that the fields of technology are so vast, the more people my age learning to participate in it, the better for us all and the society at large.
“In the Code Club, I am teaching HTML and CSS, also Graphics because if you build a website you need some graphics to add on to the page. In the Club, there are currently about nine pupils. Hopefully, the club will increase its members in September.
“In the first week, I was pretty nervous because I had never taught a group of children. Although, my experience was sublime because I gained experience and I also enriched my skills. My observations were that not everyone grasps how to do it on their first try and there are some that they rush through it in a breeze.
Java and Python certification
Getting certified in high core programming languages was like a dream come true for me, I always thought Python and Java were hard and it won’t be easy for me to grasp how to do it, but I motivated myself with the belief that it is just about trying until you get it. However, to my surprise, when I commenced lessons, I found it very easy. Moreover, Machine Learning deals with high core programming languages like Python, Java, C++, C# among others.
“Since my dream job is to be a Machine Learning Engineer, I would like to learn R, Lisp, Prolog and go deep into Python and Java as these languages are used to program machines to perform tasks. My ultimate goal is to become a machine learning engineer, an emerging field of tech generally involving the application of Artificial Intelligence that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from previous experience without being explicitly programmed. In simple language, it involves equipping computer systems with the ability to learn on its own and figure out ways to perform new tasks – an upgrade on robotics where computers mindlessly perform specific tasks repeatedly without consideration of intervening circumstances.’’
On Nigerian children and government
“All I have to say to the Nigerian children is that it is never too early to start as anything can happen at any time. I also want to urge the Nigerian government to set up infrastructure so that the Nigerian children learn how to code, learn the basic computing skills and also receive a better education because we are the future leaders of tomorrow and nothing should hinder us from achieving our goals.
“I think it’s wrong for parents not to allow a child that is up to six or seven years to go near their computer, fearing that they will spoil it because part of what helped me was privileged of accessibility. Today, My Academy App among others is already on Google play store where I pass on knowledge of coding and graphics. I remember at age seven, I set a target to become a professional web designer and analyst at age nine, and I have accomplished it.’’