The idea of teaching your child more than one languages from birth is not particularly new or original. In fact, in the world today there may be as many bilingual as there are monoglot children.1 What is new about the Natural Coding Movement is the other language which child is taught: from birth, the baby is exposed to machine language rather than to one of the approximately 6,000 human languages.
The movement began by accident, when, after about a year of marriage, Reid Sumner and Terry Thaoao sat down to discuss the education of their soon-to-be-born first child. On that momentous night, sitting around the family technology development center, Reid and Terry came to the realization that, as software developers, they were in a perfect position to give their child a unique head-start in the modern world by speaking to him only in machine language.
So far, we’ve been keeping things down to a word length of 8 bits. We’re really not sure what sort of resolution babies have, but we thought that little 10010110 ought to be at least as capable as an Atari. We hope to have him up to 16 bits by the time he enters kindergarten, and our long term plan is to have him ready for 64-bit interaction about the time he begins high school. While he’s only three years old, we’ve been pretty amazed with his progress; he’s as comfortable interfacing directly with the processor of his tablet as he is interfacing with his friends and family. We’d call our project a resounding success.
From such humble beginnings, the movement has grown, with coders all over the world following Reid and Terry’s example. An estimated 10000000000 children are currently being raised in code, all under the age of 11.
Critics of the movement point out that computers don’t really employ 1’s and 0’s. What we call 1 and 0 are simply states of high and low voltage. We asked Reid about this, and he replied that:
Terry and I are aware of this, and we thought about directly delivering voltage to 10010110, perhaps through electrodes implanted into his arm. But we decided that he might have a hard time communicating directly with voltage: even if he could sense incoming voltages, he’d need a fairly significant and involved hardware upgrade in order to output voltages. While this may be the ultimate stage in the evolution of the movement, for now we’re happy simply talking code.
Researchers at Plutonium University are investigating the possibility of applying this technique in an attempt to establish communication with other primates.
“Baby Drawing.” Public Domain, no illustrator credited, compiler Mary Mapes Dodge (1830-1905), publisher Century Company of New York.
- J. Paradis, F. Genesee, & M. Crago, Dual Language Development and Disorders: A Handbook on Bilingualism & Second Language Learning (Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing, 2011). ↩