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Education Programming Apple

Learn To Code, It's More Important Than English as a Second Language, Says Apple CEO (cnbc.com) 296

Apple CEO Tim Cook says it is more important to learn how to code than it is to learn English as a second language. From a report: The tech executive made the remarks to French outlet Konbini while in the country for a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, who has called for tech companies to pay higher taxes in Europe. "If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important for me to learn coding than English. I'm not telling people not to learn English in some form -- but I think you understand what I am saying is that this is a language that you can [use to] express yourself to 7 billion people in the world," Cook tells Konbini. "I think that coding should be required in every public school in the world. [...] It's the language that everyone needs, and not just for the computer scientists. It's for all of us."
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Learn To Code, It's More Important Than English as a Second Language, Says Apple CEO

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  • Fully agree (Score:5, Funny)

    by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Thursday October 12, 2017 @03:25PM (#55358413)
    • Re: Fully agree (Score:2, Insightful)

      There is nothing funny about this; it is 100% insightful. Cool should stick to what he understands. The minute people start spouting this "everyone should know how to code" bullshit, or start talking about computer languages as options to human ones, they immediately identify themselves who don't have the slightest clue about software.
      • Re: Fully agree (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Friday October 13, 2017 @12:26AM (#55360645) Homepage

        Sorry but Tim Cook is living in a bubble, the majority of people are totally unfit to code. From my own experiences math geeks tend to do the best at it, that peculiar genetic mind set seems to really suit it. There are other really smart people, really smart and they are still crap and coding. All sorts of problems crop up. For me, presented a problem, all sorts of coding solutions would pop up, and unfortunately I would try to implement all of them at the same time, each part works on it's own but the combination, what a mess and it takes forever to dig out because each bit works, fix it sure but most certainly not productively or efficiently.

        By far the bulk of the population will never ever be able to code productively, no matter how hard you try to force it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          the majority of people are totally unfit to code.

          I'm sure this view is based on rigorous scientific studies and you have submitted a meta-analysis paper in Nature. Perhaps you would share with us the scientific articles that have studied the programming abilities of wide range of populations?

          If there is no scientific backing of what you said, what you said is hardly credible. You use weasel words all over the place: “unfit to code”, “peculiar genetic mind set”, “really smart people”, “crap at coding”,

          • Re: Fully agree (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Friday October 13, 2017 @04:54AM (#55361095) Homepage
            There isn't a professional with any significant amount of experience in the field who doesn't know that many, many people are not able to competently do our job, because we have worked with many of them. You wouldn't complain if we said not everyone can be a doctor or a physicist, but coding? Anyone can do that! It's easy. The fact you think we need studies to show that such an idea is ludicrous makes you one of the people unqualified for the job.
        • Re: Fully agree (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Mordaximus ( 566304 ) on Friday October 13, 2017 @05:01AM (#55361111)

          Sorry but Tim Cook is living in a bubble, the majority of people are totally unfit to code.

          The majority of people are unfit to write professionally. Does this mean they shouldn't learn a language? I don't think the intent is that everyone become a professional programmer. But gaining some knowledge into how, and why a computer works would certainly be valuable.

          That doesn't even address people coding as a hobby, or out of self interests (Maybe writing a quick python script to solve a particular one-off problem.

          • by cstacy ( 534252 )

            But gaining some knowledge into how, and why a computer works would certainly be valuable.

            Absolutely. But that's not the same as "learning to code", and isn't what Cook was advocating.

  • Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Thursday October 12, 2017 @03:25PM (#55358415)

    That will improve communication in international development teams -- not having a common language to speak to each other in. I'm sure that will have no impact on the final product.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ravenshrike ( 808508 )

      Just look at the success the Germans and French had with Airbus.

      • >"Just look at the success the Germans and French had with Airbus."

        Which is due primarily to knowing English.

    • Not to mention the enormous amounts of information that is available to programmers in ENGLISH.
    • I'm sure that will have no impact on the final product.

      Of course not because all the best programmers avoid commenting their code.

      • Of course not because all the best programmers avoid commenting their code.

        Well, at any rate, many people who think of themselves as the best programmers avoid commenting their code.

    • Obviously. The code documents itself, so who needs comments?
  • So wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Thursday October 12, 2017 @03:27PM (#55358437)

    The idea that everybody needs to learn to code is ridiculous. It's like saying that everybody needs to learn how to build a house, or how to build a car, etc.

    Just like learning basic carpentry or basic auto repair is a useful life skill, so are basic computer skills. But if programming isn't your thing, then learning it isn't going to do you a lot of good in your life.

    • I agree. When cars came out people were saying everybody will need to learn how to repair cars. Sure, people will need to know how to use a computer. I have worked as a programmer, and I have three children. Trying to teach them to code would be a waste of time and effort. What we need to teach everyone is critical thinking. Coding is not even on the list.
      • What we need to teach everyone is critical thinking. Coding is not even on the list.

        The point that this clown is making is that he wants mindless code monkeys, a dime a dozen. Code monkeys do not need any critical thinking capabilities; in fact, they are better without them.

    • You don't understand, EVERYONE should be writing apps for our app machines.

    • by imgod2u ( 812837 )

      At some point, the same was said about reading and writing. Or basic math skills. Or basic understanding of physics.

      Not everyone needs to learn the Linux kernel or even how to write an app in Swift/ObjectiveC.

      But knowing how to understand and even communicate using pseudo-code is a much more precise, concise and robust way of communicating for many many many many things people encounter in life.

      If all people were taught the basics of understanding if-statements, loops, look-up-tables, functions, procedural

      • Re:So wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Thursday October 12, 2017 @03:49PM (#55358687)

        What you're arguing for is teaching algorithmics, and I agree. But that's different from teaching programming (programming, along with a lot of other fields, is built on top of algorithmics).

        My kids have been out of school for a while now, so things may have changed, but algorithmics used to be taught as part of the standard curriculum in both math and science classes. They didn't call it that, but that's what it was.

        • by imgod2u ( 812837 )

          And how do you teach algorithmics? More importantly, do current curriculum that teach what you would assume to be "algorithmics" teach the necessary mechanisms to communicate using it? Because that's what programming (even if you call it "algorithmics using pseudo-code" or some such) teaches primarily. At least, introductory programming courses.

          You can make it less about the machine if you want and more of a language and communications class. But having the machine makes it more fun and interactive as you h

          • do current curriculum that teach what you would assume to be "algorithmics" teach the necessary mechanisms to communicate using it?

            I don't know if they currently teach it at all. My experience with the school system is about 15 years out (and that was as the parent to schoolchildren, not sitting in the classroom myself), and I don't know what changes have been made.

            But yes, in the "old days" they certainly taught how to communicate it. It would be useless if they didn't. Conceptually, this is done with "pseudocode" (meaning high-level abstraction that isn't picky about syntax).

            The exact notation varies from field to field, of course. I

            • I don't know if they currently teach it at all.

              Well it makes sense that a logical way to do it would be through practical application. i.e. write code that you can execute.

              Where I am skeptical is that I don't think there's a single notation that is simple and clear for everybody, or that can express the concepts of every field in a simple and clear manner.

              I think it's pretty clear that there isn't one, that's why we have so many programming languages but we don't eschew say MATLAB or Mathematica in education just because it isn't all things to all people in all fields.

              You can argue it's all too hard if you want but in the end if they do something and it provides at least some value then that's good even if it isn't the non-existent (or

      • You're implying that people would communicate and even *think* in a structured and logical fashion? Good luck with that.

    • Plumbing ;) lol lets see them outsource that to be done remotely! Although some may dream of being remote while doing it ;) lol
      • by imgod2u ( 812837 )

        While not remote, one of the demo ideas for hololens was to allow a master plumber to guide people remotely to do the job. Either the homeowner themselves or a novice whose time costs 1/10th the master plumber's.

        • Will not work. I recently replaced the seals in my polaris booster pump. I watched a couple utubs. They were helpful up until the bolts were frozen on the case, the old seal was a mf to get out, the new seal did not drop in like they showed either. All in all the utube was like 4 minutes long and looked trivial. I spent 4 hours doing it. I've found this to be true of most of the plumbing stuff I've done. In theory it is easy, but having the prior experience to know just how to hit the old seal to dislodge o

          • by imgod2u ( 812837 )

            The demo doesn't involve pre-recorded instructions. You literally have a plumber sitting in his office with a hololens guiding some guy at the house. Saves commute time and he can multiplex between multiple houses when there's downtime.

    • ^^^ This.

      Vocational schools are highly under-rated. Not everyone has an interest or ability in STEM or even any of the other standard 4-year educational paths, and forcing them into it is what produces mediocrity. There's nothing wrong with being an electrician making $60 and up, and I know plumbers that are well into the lower six figures without much effort, and good for them because I don't care to wade around knee-deep in other people's shit so I will gladly pay someone else to do it.

    • There is a good reason why everybody should have some basic coding skills (just like everybody learns some basic math, history, geography, science, etc. at school): A lot of businesses and government agencies have problems that can be easily solved by software. Coding illiterate managers are the single biggest obstacle to solving those problems properly for two reasons: 1) They either can't even imagine the problem being solved by software in the first place, or 2) if they can, they'll end up buying some ov
    • No, it's closer to saying everyone needs to learn to type.

      I'm a magician to my fellow Mechanical engineers because I know some Regex. Nothing fancy. No massive libraries just a simple tool to change some data. In the future if you don't have a minimum level of competency in typ^H^H^H programming of some sort you'll be near useless.

      How many engineers these days will get hired saying they can't type? It'll be that way in 20 years if not sooner.

    • The more people that learn to code the less Apple, and other companies, will need to pay for software development, due to someone always willing to work for less money than the next person.
    • The idea that everybody needs to learn to code is ridiculous. It's like saying that everybody needs to learn how to build a house, or how to build a car, etc.

      Just like learning basic carpentry or basic auto repair is a useful life skill, so are basic computer skills. But if programming isn't your thing, then learning it isn't going to do you a lot of good in your life.

      That maybe true but he still has a point. People who think they can pull off something like Brexit or MAGA, seal their borders, isolate themselves from the outside world and that this will bring a golden flood of high paying jobs for unskilled labour are deluding themselves even if it is an idea that is extremely to sell. Getting a higher level education is essential, building up your national education system is essential to national success in 21st century and is more important that practically anything e

    • Not everyone needs to be a mechanic, but it's good to know one. When auto manufacturers insist that cars only be serviced by dealer-authorized mechanics, there must be a adequately-sized population of people to rebel. It's kind of like herd immunity. Same thing with Free software. Enough people out there should be programmers, using GNU/Linux, etc. to keep alive the possibility for total computer ownership by end-owners. Knowing how to code, or being aware that it's a popular form of knowledge can deliver p
    • The people saying this are people who would benefit from programmer pay going down. Supply and demand works.
  • Code using what ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by psergiu ( 67614 ) on Thursday October 12, 2017 @03:29PM (#55358455)

    Code using what programming language ?
    Swift ?
    Whose keywords are english words ? And most of the documentation is in english ?

    The french should sue Apple for not releasing the programming language "Rapide" - where all the keywords are in french. And it understands the following:

    laisser a=quatre-vingt-dix-huit

  • Not everyone needs to know how to code. Not everyone has the talent for it. Adding more and more subpar coders is only going to make stuff worse, not better.
    • Cook does not say in what language, of which there are very many; or
    • that most of those languages use English words, meaning that you will still have to learn at least minimal English — especially if you write comments in your code; or
    • that his ultimate goal is to flood the market with programmers and thereby push down the average wage that they earn — which in turn will drive the truly talented to look for other careers.

    This seems like Cook is looking to turn the States into a land of cheap prog

    • This seems like Cook is looking to turn the States into a land of cheap programming labor, like those lands that corporate America enjoy today.

      Code and fast pizza delivery. They're the only thing that the US can do better than anybody else any more.

  • Because, you know, we don't need any other services in this world. We will code the trash pick up.
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Thursday October 12, 2017 @03:42PM (#55358631)

    Anyone know? Or was he simply reading off some prepared script or a teleprompter?

  • And learn to haggle in some language not your own. In my set of engineers scientists lawyers and physicians do you know who has his own jet? The dumb one who took Mandarin and set up a business importing Jeans.
    And also it is a real problem in France not to have mastery of the world's second language.

  • "Everyone needs to learn how to code so I can grow my business and pay my programmers the absolute bare minimum because there are so many programmers and I sense a certain administration closing the noose on the previous methods of reducing wage costs."

    Does anyone want to guess how much steam the Apple engine has left now that Tim has been slowly rehashing every idea Steve came up with?

  • This is pretty remarkable... I had no idea that humans were able to communication with each other universally using code!

    Let's see....

    if (!this->stdout)
            buffer_overflow()
    else
            aaaaahhhhhhh()

    Everyone understood that, right?

  • Given how many bugs macOS and iOS now have, I think that'll be a skill even more in demand.
  • I'm not telling people not to learn English in some form -- but I think you understand what I am saying is that this is a language that you can [use to] express yourself to 7 billion people in the world,

    Considering Google's recent offering [newscientist.com], it would probably be even better if you can express yourself clearly and completely in your own native language.

  • What you think the following words were 'universal'?

    If
    Then
    Until
    While
    else

    It's written left to right, the non-letter characters are also from english.

    You want to learn to code? Learn English first.

    • by imgod2u ( 812837 )

      Well, you need to learn *those* english words. Probably a few subsets as well. That's really about it.

      There's a vast difference between understanding the words in programming syntax -- which more often than not are not contextual and have a 1-to-1 transliteration with whatever language you know -- than it is to understand why "10k spoons when all you need is a knife" is not ironic.

      • Well, you need to learn *those* english words. Probably a few subsets as well. That's really about it.

        This. And technically, you don't even need to know what they mean as English words. You can treat them as tokens.

      • and only just enough english to read and understand all the language and library documentation, which is all in english.
        So basically, you should learn english, because the common programming languages are documented in english.

      • 90% of programmers use google to fix coding problems. Try to do it in Spanish.

        Then come back and talk to me.

        Is it impossible to learn to code without first learning English? No.

        But note that most coders can at least read and write English.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Thursday October 12, 2017 @03:54PM (#55358737)

    Seriously, it does not. The level most people can learn to code on (with significant effort) is maybe comparable to being able to order a beer or to say "thank you" in a foreign language. Coding is an experts-only game and it will remain that. You would not seriously advise people to "learn to do mathematical proofs", would you? Coding on any level where it is worthwhile doing is on that level and often even harder, since you need to understand the machine you are coding for.

    Of course, Cook will likely know that very well and just wants to assure a steady supply of cheap, low-quality coders. The stupidity here is with those that believe such statements.

    • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Thursday October 12, 2017 @04:05PM (#55358815)

      Coding is an experts-only game and it will remain that.

      Well, I wouldn't put it exactly like that, but I have noticed something in common with all of the truly excellent software engineers I've worked with:

      all of them loved programming from a very early age, and taught themselves how to do it. All of them were producing working programs in grade school, well before any formal programming classes were available.

      What distinguishes a real expert (in any field, I think) is not intelligence, formal training, or job experience. It's interest. If you love doing something, you will do it a lot -- and the only road to being an expert is a ton of practice.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Well, this is type of interest is certainly required. It is _the_ distinguishing factor. In order to become really good, however, that intelligence, formal training and experience, and some special type of talent apart from intelligence, is required as well. Of course, intelligence, formal training and experience are not worth much without that type of interest. That is why the best software engineers will often have those academic credentials, but you also find many not very good software engineers that ba

  • I was looking at university catalogs in the mid-1990's. Many were willing to waive the foreign language requirement if a programming language course was taken. Pascal and C were popular programming languages. I've never heard anyone speak Pascal or C. That gibberish sounded like Greek anyway.
    • Equating learning a programming language with learning a human language is nonsensical, in my opinion. Despite the fact that the word "language" is used for both of those things, the two things are very, very different. They use different mental skills and address very different problems.

    • Dreamed of X86 Assembler speaking aliens. Though once they had defined their data section, I knew everything they could possibly say to me.

  • Wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Thursday October 12, 2017 @04:09PM (#55358861)

    >"Apple CEO Tim Cook says it is more important to learn how to code than it is to learn English as a second language."

    And that just shows how ignorant he really is. Knowing English is far, far, more important than learning coding. It is useful in just about every single field out there and give you the ability to communicate to nearly anyone on Earth, certainly any place that has a strong economy and/or strong educational system. But most importantly, communication language is something best learned when very young. The brain designed to be wide open and ready for communication language ability. Computer coding is something the brain is NOT really ready for when very young- that comes later with logic, reasoning, math, etc. And keep in mind that while all humans can easily learn English [when young], that is NOT true for coding- there is a large portion, perhaps a majority, of people who will never really learn or master coding at ANY age.

    Knowing both (English and Coding) is great. But if you have to choose one, make it English and teach it young. If you can do both, teach coding later, after English.

    • Re:Wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday October 12, 2017 @05:40PM (#55359469)

      To add some European context, a few months ago I drove 3 hours in the car. In those 3 hours I passed through 4 areas with 4 different native languages (Dutch, French, German, Luxembourgish) broken up into 8 different dialects. None of this included English as a primary, yet that is the only language I could rely on to use at every step of my trip.

      If I had anything to say in response to Apple's CEO using code I'd write it in Brainfuck since that seems to be the only thing that would make sense to him.

    • that just shows how ignorant he really is

      Of course but he didn't say that because he really thought that was true, he said that for the purpose of marketing .

  • Computers might be the ones who need to learn how to code. SPOOKY as hell because when you set the task of communication computer to computer in terms of AI it can cause the creation of new language [forbes.com]. I know this is different from being self aware and codex ergo sum is not that same as je pense, donc je suis but perhaps it is a start and it is a related first step. Tim Cook is wrong here the future of computer coding might very well be by humans not creating the complete algorithms.

    After all, a complicated

  • Let me translate (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kaatochacha ( 651922 )

    "If everyone learns to code, then we can pay programmers less. Thank you!"

  • The job growth is NOT in IT! Go learn a trade.
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Thursday October 12, 2017 @04:36PM (#55359063) Journal

    Seriously ... I've never heard a reference to any software he developed before?

    Bill Gates, by contrast, actually DID write some code, including part of the BASIC operating system that was used in some of the old Radio Shack TRS-80 computers.

    It seems to me like if you haven't learned to code yourself, it's pretty hypocritical to declare that all students need to learn it now.

    • It seems to me like if you haven't learned to code yourself, it's pretty hypocritical to declare that all students need to learn it now.

      Well, no, I don't think Tim Cook ever wrote any code. His claim to fame was the business guy that went to Asia and secured the supply chain to make sure that not only could Apple build as many iPhones as they wanted, but also tied up all stock of component parts so that nobody else could build a competitor phone with the same or better parts. Here he is, as a business man, telling the French that between learning English or learning a skill, particularly one that the US is currently known for, they'd be bet

  • Comparing coding to language is an exercise in shortsightedness.

  • This idea that learning to code is analogous to learning a natural language is a stupid one, usually promulgated by red-state xenophobes who really just want to cut funding for foreign language instruction, and send everyone to YouTube for a free Intro to Java tutorial and pretend it's just as good.

    Seriously. It's bullshit. Just stop. Please.

  • Here : https://developer.apple.com/do... [apple.com]
    I see a button for Chinese, Japanese, Korean. The rest is in English. There is nothing in French.
    So how am I supposed to know what your system does if I can't read English Mr. Cook? Maybe I should learn Chinese?

    Languages other than English are always second class in computing. You can't code effectively without at least some basic English skills. Though if the point is to teach code as a support for logical reasoning, then why not, but in that case, it is much closer

  • Mandarin Chinese 1.09 billion speakers
    English 983 million speakers ...
    French 229 million speakers

    If you know Chinese or English, you can determine the requirements of nearly a billion people for any code you write. If you know English, 611 million of those people could be outside the US and England.

    If you know Mandarin Chinese, only about 100 million speakers would be outside of "greater China" (PRC/HK/ROC/other Asian Ethnic Chinese)

    Now it is true that 115 million African people spread across 31 Francophon

  • Says the native english speaker who can't code.

    Well done Mr Cook!

  • So, how does he expect to be understood by the French? In code?
  • This is all just trite "tech is great and important" cheerleader noiseâ" unless and until Apple bundles a modern version of Hypercard with OSX and IOS.

    How about it, Tim?

  • Another clown who wants plenty of code monkeys to select from.
  • by ChunderDownunder ( 709234 ) on Friday October 13, 2017 @02:32AM (#55360871)

    when XCode runs on an iPad.

    Otherwise, your $500 iPad that my niece's parents were forced to buy for her schooling is not fit for purpose.

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