Federico Morello, born in the Friuli region of Italy, was 15-years-old when he managed to bring Internet where it wasn’t yet. Nick D’Aloisio, British of Australian origin, will turn 19 in November but is already “one of the most influential teens in the world”, thanks to his Summly app, which was sold to Yahoo for 30 million dollars.Grant Goodman, at 14, is already at his third successful patent and also managed to put Apple and Google in competition by inventing apps for all of their products. This is the new generation of prodigies 2.0. IT giants know that the new geniuses are still sitting at classroom desks. But the only ones who don’t seem to notice the human potential in front of them are teachers (not all of them but most).
Baby boomers vs. Millennials
The average age of inventors is getting increasing younger: now a nerd 13-year-olds is competing with 20-year-old. It is a “war” between the baby boomer generation and the millenials. At the international technological conferences where new projects are presented, there are an increasing number of children between 11 and 18 years of age who are participating and whose apps are showing up on our tablets and smartphones. In San Francisco last June Google organized its annual I/O conference dedicated to inventors who develop new software and there were 200 very young participants. Some of them even 11 years old. They are ready to enter the market, to earn money thanks to technology.
Millionaires at 17 and with a job at Yahoo
Nick D’Aloisio became a millionaire at 17 years of age and he found a job at Yahoo: he works from London while he continues his high school studies. His app, which summarizes news articles for small screens, was recognized as one of the best apps of 2012. His story is like many others: when he was 12 years old he began to create apps for mobile phones. He earned 79 pounds from his first game. And at that point his enthusiasm took over. Last January at the CES in Las Vegas, eh announced his latest product: Yahoo News Digest, a direct evolution of Summly. Product manager of the new entrepreneurial initiative, Nick was immediately acclaimed by critics who defined the app as the “boldest and most visually impressive” that Yahoo has recently released.
The new 2.0 child prodigies
Over the next few years schools should be able to include what is necessary to be at the levels of these students. Apple has already understood this and, two years ago, lowered the minimum age required to participate in developer conferences from 18 to 13 years. The teenagers register their activities in the names of their grandparents or parents to avoid the red tape and legal impediments due to their age.
While psychiatrist Manfred Spitzer, director of the center for neuroscience at ULM university, makes a strong criticism in his book Digital Dementia of the fact that in the U.S., for example, children spend more time – over 7.5 hours per day – using digital media than sleeping, young “nerds” are now starting to earn a lot of money with all of this time spent in front of a computer. And these questions must also include the role that school has. How can education in Italy, and beyond, best use these human resources? Can schools be an incubator for enterprises?