Stephen Wolfram’s Mathematica-based
tool has skyrocketed in traffic and is the home page for millions. His Alpha search engine is its logical extension–
from the highly specialized user to a wider audience.
More than merely retrieving stored data,
Alpha performs various calculations on the data, and displays the results in graphs and tables that can be easily comprehended.
It’s like plugging into a vast electronic
brain. To a wide range of questions asked in different ways, it provides impressive and thorough answers. It computes the
answers in real time– it doesn’t merely look them up in a big database.
Comparisons with Google are beside the point.
Google simply retrieves documents based on keyword searches; it doesn’t understand the question or the answer–
and it doesn’t compute answers based on models of various fields of human knowledge.
Alpha stores a torrent of information, but
it’s not artificial intelligence-- and not a simulation of the human mind. It’s just the best knowledge base available
for answers to your unambiguous, i.e. computable, questions.
There are a large range of queries it can’t
parse. Dr. Wolfram and his team are chipping away at the natural language blocks, at the holes in the curated data repository,
and at increasing the type and depth of logical combination of constituents, one by one, in priority. It’s awesome to
contemplate what it’s range and popularity will be in the coming years.
Wolfram is a physicist and cosmologist,
creator of Mathematica, CEO of Wolfram Research, and author of "A New Kind of Science."