while True: learn()

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
while True: learn() App Poster Image
Creative AI introduction would benefit from in-game hints.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn more about machine learning, coding, and logic. They can test hypotheses and make adjustments. 

Ease of Play

Tutorial covers only the basics. New concepts/tools are required without introduction. Help is available only through a separate Discord forum.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while True: learn() is a simulation that helps kids learn about machine learning. Despite the initial tutorial levels, the app's lacking in help and doesn't cover all of the features. For help, users need to sign up for Discord, a communication platform that requires users to be ages 13 and up. The app also links out to YouTube and other websites for information. It's easy to get stuck on a puzzle, especially as some new concepts appear without introduction. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

WHILE TRUE: LEARN() casts you in the role of a machine learning specialist with a focus on neural networks, working long hours to solve complex problems. You take break from a challenging bit of code one evening, only to return and find the perfect solution -- written by your cat. This inspires you to create your own cat language translation software. And with this unusual beginning, players set out to learn more about machine learning through contract job requests and start up opportunities. 

Players work their way through increasingly difficult puzzles that mimic real-world machine learning challenges. The goal in each is to process data using artificial intelligence to make decisions. Applications include sorting conference attendees by their badge level and helping a self-driving car stay safe on the road. For those who are interested in learning more, there are also historical bits about machine learning, and links to videos and other websites that explain concepts in more depth. There's no in-game help, but players can search for and request help in a separate Discord forum. Over time, players save up money to buy faster and more accurate equipment, household decor, and gifts for their cat. Each puzzle has a set of requirements/restrictions that typically include a limit to the number of command modules, a time limit, expectations on accuracy of results, and the cost to process. Players can receive bronze, silver, or gold medals based on their performance.

Is it any good?

This quirky simulation game brings an impressive realism to the coding game genre, but still struggles in some key areas. While True: learn() is a strange game based on an even stranger premise. This brings a certain whimsy to the complex realm of machine learning that makes it feel more accessible than it otherwise would be. It doesn't require constant backtracking and recoding like some coding apps and assumes players have some knowledge. The downside of this assumption is that it doesn't give you any help at all after the initial tutorial. It never prompts you to upgrade your equipment or shows you how to use the area where you code your own functions. There's little-to-no warning that a pre-designed function may perform better than the parts would individually. On some levels you might try every string of commands you can imagine, only to figure out that you need a function instead. Or a perfect score may require a command you haven't yet unlocked. Hints would make this so much more pleasant because searching through Discord for tips is often not productive. It's also easy to click through on an instruction or tip (when a new tool is introduced), only to never be able to find it again. This is a challenging, educational, and engaging app for those who "get it." For those who need a little more guidance, it will become frustrating and tedious. It's just difficult to know in advance which camp you'll fall into.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about machine learning and artificial intelligence while using while True: learn(). How are they implemented in things we use in our daily lives? Can you imagine any creative uses for machine learning?

  • Families can talk about learning with apps. Do you think this is a good app for learning? Why or why not? What can you learn?

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coding and STEM

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