Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Your kids' homework just got easier.

FTA: Most search engines like Google and Yahoo scan through billions of web pages for keywords or phrases and return a series of documents that may contain the answer to your question., or point you in the right direction.
'We can only answer questions that have been literally asked before. We can look things up, but we can’t figure anything new out,' Professor Wolfram said.
However, the London-born physicist claims his website 'Wolfram Alpha' can understand what you are looking for and calculate a precise answer.
So in theory it will be able to answer questions such as 'What is the location of Timbuktu?', 'How many protons are in the hydrogen atom?' and 'Where is the International Space Station?'

This is excellent. This is something that AI will clearly need in order for it to be useful to the majority of people. Personally, I think if we get AI/AGI, it won't come from full brain emulations, at least not any time soon, but rather by understanding the brain well enough to see what is needed to achieve intelligence and then breaking that down a part at a time and creating a system just for that part. Then, once enough systems have been created, create a system to govern those systems- this is Gall's Law at work.

OK, well it looks like another piece of the puzzle is within reach. What's next?


  1. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/09/better-search-doesnt-mean-beating-google/?scp=1&sq=wolfram&st=cse

  2. Interesting- but its not the application of Wolfram's work for search engines that I'm intrigued by, but the massive advance it makes in how humans will interact with machines. This and the work of Peter Voss are bringing us closer to being able to have more of a conversation with technology- to having our technology adapt to us rather than the other way around- allowing anyone who is able to communicate to get their desired results from a computer.