Your first reaction when you hear something like, “Emerging artificial intelligence and a step towards a self-organizing internet,” might be to cower under your desk and await the robot uprising. Well, take a deep breath, because we aren’t quite there yet. However, we could be on the verge of seeing a technological revolution on par with Google and, perhaps, even the Internet itself…Sort of.
It’s called Wolfram Alpha, and it’s a new search engine set for release in a few weeks. Of course, the term “search engine” might be a bit too ubiquitous and uninspired to really do this project justice, but it will have to do for now. If you want the full-blown rundown of the project, I suggest watching this video presentation conducted by the service’s creator Dr. Stephen Wolfram.
Basically, the search engine, which is mainly intended for data computation and retrieval, uses a complex and expertly authorized series of databases to let you find precisely what you are looking for by essentially “understanding” what you’re asking and then making the appropriate computations to provide that information. That might sound like your typical search engine, but when you see it in action, it immediately becomes apparent why many experts are referring to Wolfram Alpha as the “Holy Grail."
For instance, type in, “weather in Lexington, Massachusetts on (enter your birthday here),” and your answer, along with enough graphs, statistical comparisons and loads of other data, will pop out. Want to find out what the GDP of Italy divided by the GDP of France? Done. Sure it's mainly data driven, but it's implications are pretty compelling.
It seems for now at least, Google doesn’t really have anything to worry about, since Wolfram Alpha is mainly designed to provide cold, hard data and lots of it. Casual internet searches aren’t really its strong suit, but Dr. Wolfram told The Independent that he’s hoping to secure partnering deals with sites like Google and Wikipedia to boost the engine's "narrative" capabilities. Once that happens, then you can feel free to find a nice place to hide, because the Internet will be coming for you.
Could this be the beginning of the Internet’s next great age?