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WolframAlpha

Stephen Wolfram, no stranger to bold claims, is about to launch the next generation of search engine – if it works. From May, WolframAlpha will answer your questions with computed answers.

Why is this new? While Google simply responds with documents that might contain the answers you’re looking for, and PowerSet (bought by Microsoft) attempts to parse natural language and then return documents, WolframAlpha actually understands your question and then computes an answer. Apparently.

The service has huge amounts of facts, scientific models, algorithms and so on, and computes answers using a system that synthesises complex computations from simple ones – in a similar way to his ‘New Kind of Science’.

If it works – and early reviewers say it does – it is a huge step forward in building Artificial Intelligence, and does so in a new way, without the need for the unfeasibly large and complex systems that are usually tried.

Google looks like a brute force bully next to this system – but we’ll have to wait and see.