The youngest computer programmer in the world wants to help children enter the job market

Indian schoolboy Kautilya Katariya is not your usual 8-year-old.

Like many boys his age, he loves getting into mischief and playing house with his little brother, but he’s also an IBM-certified artificial intelligence professional and the world’s youngest computer programmer.

Two years after breaking the record for the youngest coder on the planet, Kautilya has developed its own chatbot and an image recognition system that allows cameras to identify fire and smoke to alert emergency services.

If the house was on fire, it wouldn’t matter because he would still be reading his book.

Ishwari Prasad Katariya, father of Kautilya

The youngster, who lives in Northampton, England, is a Microsoft Technology Associate and competes with international computing and programming students.

He will put his impressive talent to the test at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Wednesday to explain how governments can help children learn programming.

“I’m going to explain why I became a programmer, why kids should become programmers, and how the government can support kids like me who are interested in technology,” he said.

“It develops problem-solving skills. I first became interested in it when my father gave me a wonderful book on building a program. I liked it so much that I finished it in one day.

“That’s when I started to like computers, and I was 5 and a half.”

Kautilya went through his English school’s math curriculum while learning at home during the pandemic.

The pint-sized genius now takes four math lessons at school, a special class in Year 3 as well as math lessons in Years 10, 11 and occasionally Year 12.

When he’s not explaining to adults the intricacies of how AI will change the world, Kautilya enjoys riding bikes, puzzles and making paper animals out of origami.

Like many parents during pandemic homeschooling, her mother and father struggled to keep up with Kautilya’s homework.

But when they struggled to feed his voracious appetite for books, they soon realized he might not be like other 5-year-olds.

They searched online to find the age of the youngest programmer and found they might have a home record holder.

“He was a normal kid but he was really interested at age 5 in reading books and had incredible concentration,” said dad Ishwari Prasad Katariya, a computer engineer.

“If the house was on fire, it wouldn’t matter because he would still be reading his book.

“It got to the stage where I was bringing home a new book every week and he was showing a real interest in programming.

“Once he got his hands on a laptop, he was able to apply the information he had learned – nothing could stop him.

“His teachers are very happy with him and the Covid situation has given him more of a chance to read at home.”

The schoolboy, who unsurprisingly wants to become a computer scientist, is to address the RTA Hall of the World Government Summit at Dubai Expo 2020 on the future of learning and talent.

Despite an audience of thousands, he’s not intimidated by the prospect.

“It’s fun to learn with older kids, I like that,” he said of his older classmates, some of whom are 17.

“Governments can support us by raising awareness of technology and providing learning resources.

“They can also provide access to laboratories and research centers. AI and technology should be added to the curriculum.

Updated: March 30, 2022, 03:30

About Mariel Baker

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