Nov 9, 2012

A Creation That Could Change The Internet Forever

Even though the system is still new, it has already produced massive interest and excitement with technology experts and internet aficionados.

Computer professionals believe that the new search engine could be an extraordinary leap in the advancement of the internet. Nova Spivack, an internet and computer expert, advised that Wolfram Alpha could prove just as significant as Google. "It is really impressive and significant," he wrote. "In fact it may be as important for the web (and the world) as Google, but for a different purpose."

Tom Simpson, of the blog, said: "What are the wider implications exactly? A new paradigm for using computers and the web? Probably. Emerging artificial intelligence and a step towards a self-organizing internet? Possibly... I think this could be big."

Wolfram Alpha can not only provide a straight answer to queries such as "how high is Mount Everest?", but it will also produce a organized page of related information all properly sourced such as geographical location and nearby towns, and other mountains, complete with charts and graphs.

The real innovation, however, is in its ability to figure information out "on the fly", according to its British inventor, Dr Stephen Wolfram. If you ask it to compare the height of Mount Everest to the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, it will tell you. Or ask what the weather was like in London on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, it will cross-check and provide the answer. Ask it about D sharp major, it will play the scale. Type in "10 flips for four heads" and it will determine that you want to get the probability of coin-tossing. If you want to know when the next solar eclipse over Chicago is, or the precise current location of the International Space Station, it can work it out.

Dr. Wolfram, an award-winning physicist who is equations.

"I've wanted to make the knowledge we've accumulated in our civilization computable," he said last week. "I was not sure it was possible. I'm a little surprised it worked out so well."

Dr. Wolfram, 49, who was educated at Eton and had completed his PhD in particle physics by the age of 20, added that the debut of Wolfram Alpha later this month would be just the beginning of the project.

"It will understand what you are talking about," he said. "We are just at the beginning. I think we've got a reasonable start on 90 per cent of the shelves in a typical reference library."

The engine, which will be free to use, computes by drawing on the knowledge of the internet, as well as private databases. Dr. Wolfram said he predicted that about 1,000 employees would be required to keep its databases current with the latest discoveries and information.

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