Wolfram Alpha has Google's attention

Wolfram Alpha has Google's attention

Summary: The "founder's letter" this year written by Google's Sergey Brin seemed to have undertones of skepticism -- potentially in regards to the imminent release of Wolfram|Alpha.

TOPICS: Google, Browser

The "founder's letter" this year written by Google's Sergey Brin seemed to have undertones of skepticism -- potentially in regards to the imminent release of Wolfram|Alpha. Referring to search engines that understand more documents and queries using Artificial Intelligence, Brin says:

Others claim to have accomplished this, and Google’s systems have more smarts behind the curtains than may be apparent from the outside, but the field as a whole is still shy of where I would have expected it to be.

Larry Dignan has a feeling that this is a "veiled reference" to Wolfram|Alpha, and I wouldn't disagree. The buzz surrounding this new service is incredible, and I for one am looking forward to trying it out.

But does Google have to worry? Not a chance -- if anyone should worry, it's Wolfram|Alpha. The size and quality of Google's search index is nearly impossible to match, and would take many years and incredible amounts of money to get right. Look at Microsoft's failed efforts -- if they can't bring down Google with a Billion dollars a year, (maybe) nobody can.

On the flip side, now that Google's seen what Wolfram|Alpha is all about, there are plenty of smart people at Google that will no doubt think something similar might make a good 20% time project. I do have to admit though, I'm far more excited about this service than I ever was things like Wikia Search -- what do you think?

Topics: Google, Browser

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  • Wolfram|Alpha

    I am excited to see what Wolfram|Alpha is all
    about. Unfortunately, I fear that it will turn
    out to be nothing more than a glorified "Google
    Calculator". Google already has functions
    within Google Spreadsheets which allow you to
    pull data regarding population, unemployment
    rates, etc...

    I feel that when Wolfram|Alpha comes out, you
    will be able to enter a query such as "The
    population of California in 1982 multiplied by
    the number of stories of the empire state
    building." It will come back with the result.
    Awesome, but, so what?

    I am sure the scientific community will find
    that it shaves 10 seconds on an otherwise 2
    minute research project, but that's about it.
    If you type "Britney Spears" into
    Wolfram|Alpha, it isn't likely going to tell
    you the latest news about Britney Spears. If
    you type "flu symptoms" into Wolfram|Alpha it
    likely isn't going to give you qualified sites
    that list the various symptoms of the flu. If
    you type "How old is Bill Murray?" into
    Wolfram|Alpha it IS likely to give you the
    direct answer. Of course, so does Google.

    So, really... I think that a lot of the basic
    queries one might ask a search engine, Google
    is already capable of answering directly. I
    think more complex queries of information that
    a statistician might ask, Google Spreadsheets
    already does a decent job. And for the typical
    searches that people perform, Google will far
    exceed Wolfram|Alpha. Where Wolfram|Alpha will
    shine is when you have scientists trying to
    crunch a lot of really unusual figures. Not
    exactly exciting news for the typical person.

    Who knows. I could be wrong. However, I wrote
    an AI program 20 years ago. It collected basic
    facts from complex text, then retrieved these
    facts in response to natural language
    questions. It worked. But beyond this, most
    people treated it as a novelty. It entertained
    them more than anything.

    So, as soon as Wolfram|Alpha is open to the
    public, everyone will take their turns
    playing... until the cool factor wears off.
    Then, the Cuil factor will set in, and it will
    be long forgotten.
  • I'm surprised the blogger can't see it

    He dismisses it so quickly you got to wonder if he's wearing his rose colored Google glasses too much?

    It [i]definately[/i] got Google's attention to the point where one of the [b]founders[/b] has to point to all these "hidden things we never get to see", with the "been there, done that" tone. Could be a bead of sweat we'll see on his brow one day soon?

    I did like the part where Garett tried to place the thought in people's head that MS spends a billion dollars a year on it.

    If Wolfram is everything they believe it is, I can see Google spending twice that amount trying to copy it. Or buying it so MS or Yahoo can't

    This'll be very interesting to watch.
    John Zern
  • Good to know the alternatives

    Competition is always a good thing, just like what Google said. It should embrace its coming competitor by being more open minded.
  • RE: Wolfram Alpha has Google's attention

    The scary ghost of Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science" ensures quite a bit of skepticism about this. Google has always been competing with rival search engines. The $64,000 question is can Alpha generate revenue anywhere close to Google? Actually, I see Alpha as more of a threat to Wikipedia than Google, and it's about time!
  • Wolfram Alpha - check this out!