Hello World for the Next Generation

I sit next to my daughter, showing her programming for the first time.

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(+ 1 1)

“Now press enter.”

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2

“Pretty cool, huh?”

She looks unimpressed. I fear I’m losing her. How can I explain that this is just a small tip of something so much bigger?

You can make the code sing to you.

You can take these numbers, turn them into notes, and line them up with the beat of your heart. Bring in the melody and chorus and build them up to a crescendo. Let it crash in waves and then

You can make the code dance for you.

You can create delicate swirls and patterns with mathematical expressions. Have them pulse to the music in a never ending prism of fractals, flexing your control with confidence because

You can make the code lift you up.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t look like them. It doesn’t matter if they think you don’t belong. They can’t hold you back. You’re smart and strong and

You can make the code create your life.

You can solve problems for people. Make things work better and faster. Keep the data flowing. Make a company for yourself. Watch that company and your power and influence in the world grow until nothing feels out of reach and then, if you’re not careful

You can make the code hard and cruel.

You can automate hate. Use the latest AI to keep them in control. Watch them with never sleeping eyes. Steal their money and point guns at them with armed robots. Then, late at night, you can think how

You can let the code control you.

You can forget the important things in life. Turn away from family and friends. Lose yourself in some self created digital representation of yourself that never feels smart enough and leaves you grasping for more. Until that day, when you walk the streets with a deadened heart and you see the sad faces all around and you remember that

You can let the code make them smile.

You can use your skills to brighten dark days. Use your programs to make them laugh. When you have their attention, inspire them to dream with you of a better world and next

You can make the code save lives.

You can turn those algorithms to heal. Dive in and join the battle against death and disease. Make sense of all the data. Then lift your head to the sky and

You can make the code reach the stars.

You can see the surface of Mars. Pick up a rock from a planet that was unimaginable generations before. Look out at what is beyond our solar system and peer into the mysteries of the beginning of time.

You can.

All these things are yours now. The terrible and beautiful power of it.

I reach down to type the code that distills my hopes and fears for the next generation.

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(println "Hello World")

Then I slide the keyboard over to her, a tear sliding down my cheek, and lean over to whisper the only advice that I can form into words,

“Don’t forget the closing parens.”

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