Print 32 comment(s) - last by JonnyDough.. on Mar 10 at 11:10 AM

This search engine is straight out of Star Trek!

The internet is littered with search engines, from past greats like AOL and AskJeeves to current market leaders like Yahoo and Google.  In order to stand out in such a saturated market, you really need a pretty unique product.  That's exactly what computer researcher Stephen Wolfram plans to deliver with his new search engine that literally answers some of your tough questions.

Wolfram Alpha is what Mr. Wolfram describes as a "computational knowledge engine."  It breaks down questions in English and parses them into searches.   For example, you can ask it "why is the sky blue?" or "how many bones are in the human body?" and it will be able to give you a factual answer.

Such computers have long been a staple of science fiction.  On shows such as Star Trek, users can query computers with the toughest questions in science hand have them respond within the scope of society's current knowledge.  While the internet has long brought us a step closer to that via traditional searches, it has lacked an algorithmic factual search.

The system obviously cannot answer non-factual questions.  So if you wanted to ask it “how good a job is President Obama doing?”, or “what is the greater religious truth?”, you may be disappointed

The downside is that Wolfram Alpha is perhaps not all it could be.  Rather than directly trying to parse online resources -- a mighty challenge -- the software instead relies on libraries of knowledge based on Wolfram's math and science products (namely, Mathematica and A New Kind of Science).  Wolfram created algorithms to parse through these libraries and convert them to queryable knowledge.

This means that while users can still add new content, similar to a wiki page, doing so may require a good deal of programming experience and may not be as accessible to an average user.

The engine will launch in May 2009.  Many are already speculating that Google will snatch up some of its ideas and incorporate it into its seemingly all-encompassing array of internet suites.  For now, though, Wolfram Alpha will provide an interesting a unique internet source resource, even if it ultimately falls short of tapping the multitude of knowledge on the internet.

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First question
By Spivonious on 3/9/2009 10:09:47 AM , Rating: 4
"Computer, where is Captain Picard?"

RE: First question
By saiga6360 on 3/9/2009 10:10:12 AM , Rating: 5
Scratch that. Computer, where is my porn?

RE: First question
By RandallMoore on 3/9/09, Rating: -1
RE: First question
By MrAlexander006 on 3/9/2009 12:12:20 PM , Rating: 5
"Your porn is in Holodeck 3."

RE: First question
By Motoman on 3/9/2009 1:50:48 PM , Rating: 5
...with Captain Picard.

RE: First question
By JonnyDough on 3/9/2009 2:53:08 PM , Rating: 2
But what if the Captain...IS my porn?

It's true. His balding head and fearless leadership get to me.

RE: First question
By Bremen7000 on 3/9/2009 7:48:16 PM , Rating: 2
And then her clothes fell off! She tried to cover up, but it was too late; I'd seen everything.

RE: First question
By lco45 on 3/10/2009 4:04:52 AM , Rating: 2
Nice Extras reference, classic episode.

RE: First question
By Spivonious on 3/10/2009 9:48:56 AM , Rating: 2
Ya havin' a laugh?

By JonnyDough on 3/9/09, Rating: 0
RE: Great
By Kibbles on 3/9/2009 11:11:01 AM , Rating: 5
That's obvious for even those who do not believe Christianity: He performed it after miracle #4.

RE: Great
By callmeroy on 3/9/2009 11:42:14 AM , Rating: 2
How come nut job, crazy, freak, etc. is always almost without question or disclaimer attached to the notion of believing?

Yes, I do believe in God. No I am no nut job (a geek and computer gaming nerd -- you got me....but no religious nut job).

I'd probably shock the heck out of you to if you knew what I did or didn't believe in too --- hint: I don't believe in the literally translation of the bible.

RE: Great
By JonnyDough on 3/9/2009 2:34:15 PM , Rating: 1
Those of us who are more informed believe in science and don't need to know everything. We understand human tendencies and we retain as fact that religious human beings are simply allowing themselves to be emotionally fallible and we know that you are a product of your time and place.

RE: Great
By Murst on 3/10/2009 10:52:28 AM , Rating: 2
Many scientists believe in God.

After all, the world and its rules probably had to come from somewhere. And if you believe that it just spontaneously appeared or that it has always existed... well, that's probably even more silly than believing in God. :)

RE: Great
By JonnyDough on 3/9/2009 2:36:14 PM , Rating: 2
The difference is that without science, you say there is a God. Without proof. I, on the other just poke holes in your uneducated theory which you claim is fact. That's the difference between blind unwavering belief and logic.

RE: Great
By JonnyDough on 3/9/2009 2:43:58 PM , Rating: 2
I might also add that it is one thing to claim in the possibility of a higher being, but altogether another to say that there is one like it is fact.

When you can prove to me that one exists without simply conjecturing what is in your head I will listen.

A non-literal translation of the Bible means that you can take everything in it with a grain of salt. Using that, you could "derive whatever truth you want from it." What a great guidebook for life and the masses.

No thanks. I'll keep my feet on the ground. Just because something tugs at my heart strings doesn't mean I need to pick up a bible and start waving it around.

Kind of like the overwhelming call to war after 911. Instead of anyone saying "why?"

If we had asked why, then maybe it would have been determined that it was a religious war, or a war against a previous administration. Thereby, instead of all of us taking arms, maybe just Christians or the first Bush's supporters could have gone to Afghanistan. Might have saved good honest hardworking atheists like me some tax dollars. I say we should let the church fund their crusades.

And I know someone is going to bring up the argument about Muslims wanting to kill all infidels who don't believe as they do...

There are two sides to every coin, and sometimes three. I'd love to throw you all into one nation so you can duke it out and leave logical people to live in peace.

RE: Great
By callmeroy on 3/9/2009 2:59:50 PM , Rating: 1
You are a babbling idiot. I made a single short post and you boil over with your rhetoric as if you are as angry as the sun is hot...not once but you post 3 times before I even replied once.

If you would have bothered to shelf your disdain for those of use who believe (it's so obvious it must seep through your pores) could have asked me some questions and you'd have found out I believe in science as well. What? Wait a minute ---- yep I happen to believe , and quite comfortable and sure of myself in both, that both logic (btw I am a very logical based person) or science AND God co-exist. I also find little difficulty at all in this fact and it just astounds me that some are so narrow that its a "one or nothing" kind of stance.

I'll close with the most common observation I've ever noted with non-believers and believers (minus the zealots of course) --- non believers are MUCH more ready to argue, slam, degrade -- in short spark up the "fight" than believers are. But yet part of the non believers argument is that the believer is more or less "naive, stupid, ridiculous".

Seems kind of reversed if you ask me. :)

RE: Great
By elT on 3/9/2009 3:34:34 PM , Rating: 2
"Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind." - Albert Einstein

RE: Great
By tedrodai on 3/9/2009 5:30:48 PM , Rating: 2
I'm assuming by "non-believers" you mean atheists, but I suppose it's possible you're refering to non-Christians. Regardless, any form of atheism is a belief as much as the belief in any one religion. As an atheist, for instance, how am I to prove to you that your god doesn't exist? I can not...I can only say "there is no proof that he DOES exist." However, just because I've not found sufficient empirical evidence doesn't mean there is no possibility. I don't know how scientific your observations have been, but this response is from a "non believer" who could care less about forcing my views on others or making people feel inferior because of their personal beliefs. And there are plenty more "non believers" who act the same way. But how often are you going to hear from someone with such a passive belief? You'll never catch me jumping into a serious debate about the existence of god or gods, because neither side can prove their point, and so it's just not that important to me. I'm just dissapointed that such a logical-based person would respond to this oppinionated hot-head with a couple of negative stereotypes. It makes me think you view "non-believers" as inherently inferior. What was Jonny's fallacy again?...

Summary: ignore the trolls.

RE: Great
By JonnyDough on 3/9/2009 8:36:26 PM , Rating: 2
any form of atheism is a belief as much as the belief in any one religion

We don't get nearly enough stage time.

RE: Great
By callmeroy on 3/10/2009 9:04:38 AM , Rating: 2
Lesson learned and point are correct - I chose my words poorly in that it sent the wrong message that all non-believers are in the same boat or should be cast in the same light. That's not true, clearly there are folks I know (in fact its increasingly easy to find Atheists these days) that don't share my beliefs at all but yet they don't slam me for it in harsh ways and I don't slam them either we just debate about it a bit once either of us feels its getting to heated its on to other conversation like sports or movies or the like.

I have no problem at all with those that don't believe, I only have a problem when those that don't believe know nothing about me or HOW I believe or came to believe and then they want to slander that and walk all over it - that's just wrong. But with that said my previous post could of came off better because it seems it was hypocritical to what I just said.

In the end "beliefs" are kind of silly to fight over unless its a belief that directly causes harm to others. Because if you don't believe but you aren't violent -- why do I care? Likewise, if I do believe but that believe is not causing you or your family any impact or harm -- why do YOU care?

One constant is true -- we all will die one day.

RE: Great
By JonnyDough on 3/10/2009 11:10:12 AM , Rating: 2
I have no problem at all with those that don't believe, I only have a problem when those that don't believe know nothing about me or HOW I believe or came to believe and then they want to slander that and walk all over it

I find that a bit hard to believe.

The church is known for holy wars.

If you pay tithings, then you support missionaries who spread the gospel all over the world as truth.

You obviously think anyone who doesn't share your beliefs is wrong, as they are going to go to Hell for eternity.

You either believe the Bible or you don't. How anyone can be so blind is beyond me. I grew up in the church, my father was a pastor for about a decade. I moved around the midwest going to church my entire life until I was old enough to not be told what to do at the good old ripe age of 18. Protestant churches. The Catholics/Lutherans have their own issues.

The Downside
By GaryJohnson on 3/9/2009 10:10:02 AM , Rating: 5
The downside is that Wolfram Alpha is perhaps not all it could be. Rather than directly trying to parse online resources -- a mighty challenge -- the software instead relies on libraries of knowledge based on Wolfram's math and science products

So the downside of this new internet search engine is that it's not an internet search engine? I think 'downside' may be a bit too soft a word.

RE: The Downside
By omnicronx on 3/9/2009 10:28:07 AM , Rating: 5
It very much so is search engine, its just not a webcrawler. This will be a great resource for science students.

RE: The Downside
By jithvk on 3/9/2009 11:44:41 AM , Rating: 2
well.. the same applies when u search at wiki.. still its many peoples favorite.

The ultimate question
By mrmuffins on 3/9/2009 2:01:36 PM , Rating: 2
"Computer, what is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything?"


RE: The ultimate question
By acase on 3/10/2009 8:19:10 AM , Rating: 2
"Just wait a sodding minute! You want a question that goes with the answer for 42? Well, how about what's six times seven? Or how many Vogons does it take to change a lightbulb? Here's one! How many roads must a man walk down?"

I guess we'll see
By nafhan on 3/9/2009 10:43:52 AM , Rating: 2
The two example questions (why is the sky blue? and how many bones...) both get answered within the first couple of results with a google search.
At best, this could become a supplement to doing a google search. At worst (and more likely, I think), this will quickly become irrelevant and disappear.
I guess we'll see once it becomes generally available.

Can we give it a sexy voice?
By omgwtf8888 on 3/9/2009 12:00:26 PM , Rating: 2
So if we add the sexy voice and can program we can redirect the phone porn business to this "search" engine.

Computer, what does a moan sound like?

By kyleb2112 on 3/9/2009 12:49:25 PM , Rating: 2
AskJeeves wasn't getting it done?

Been there...
By Visual on 3/10/2009 4:36:32 AM , Rating: 2
"Ask Jeeves" did this a long time ago. Well, just today.
Google also had an ad campaign once talking about how you can enter complete questions in its search.

By majorpain on 3/9/2009 10:32:29 AM , Rating: 1
"Why so serious??"

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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