Theory about Wolfram Alpha

So there’s been a breathless post on the Wolfram Blog about something that is, well, mysterious:

Fifty years ago, when computers were young, people assumed that they’d quickly be able to handle all these kinds of things.

And that one would be able to ask a computer any factual question, and have it compute the answer.

But it didn’t work out that way. Computers have been able to do many remarkable and unexpected things. But not that.

I’d always thought, though, that eventually it should be possible. And a few years ago, I realized that I was finally in a position to try to do it.

Here’s the website in question. Here’s my hope of what it will do: you type in any data query, and automatically get a graph in response.

That is, one could type “show me the stock market from the last 50 years correlated with GNP” or “plot CD sales versus MP3 sales for 2008 and 2009” and get something intelligent.

Either that, or it’s the real life version of The Glass Bead Game.

ADD: Let me explain the Glass Bead Game remark (which was a joke … I think). The Glass Bead Game is a Herman Hesse book with a “game of games” where in playing it the entirety of knowledge is explored. Imagine moving pawn to king’s rook 3 being equivalent to proving a theorem, or bishop to king’s knight 2 being a philosophical argument.

One Response

  1. Love the Herman Hesse reference. Magister Ludi Wolfram. Well, if he can show something that is even 1% as good as what he claims, it will at least be interesting.

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