Documenting the Coming Singularity

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wolfram Alfa wants to be an artificial general intelligence when it grows up

NewScientist - 11.17.2009 by Justin Mullins

When the search engine Wolfram Alpha launched earlier this year, the interest was huge. Enticed by a well-oiled publicity machine, web users swamped the site and its servers were overwhelmed. Then everything went quiet – so quiet that it was easy to imagine that Alpha would follow countless Google wannabes to the great search engine directory in the sky.

That was to reckon without Stephen Wolfram, a physicist famous for creating and selling the mathematics software Mathematica and for his pioneering but controversial work on cellular automata.

In the past few months, Wolfram has been plotting the future of Alpha. Last Thursday, we saw the first stage of his plan with the link-up between Alpha and Microsoft's search engine Bing. That's just the beginning, however. Wolfram's plans for Alpha are much more ambitious.

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