Our teams are working hard to meet our goal of having Wolfram|Alpha ready for you in just a few weeks.
Since Stephen Wolfram’s initial announcement, we’ve had the opportunity to show Wolfram|Alpha to some of the thousands of you who contacted us. Many interesting questions surfaced. We plan to use this blog to address those questions and the many more we expect you’ll have as you think about how you too can use Wolfram|Alpha.
We’ll also let you know about upcoming events around Wolfram|Alpha—like the first public preview that Stephen is giving this afternoon at Harvard Law School. Information on participating in the webcast and Q&A can be found here.
Finally, we’ll use this space to talk about ourselves, giving you a peek into our world, what we’re working on, what we’re thinking, and what you can expect from us as the stewards of this project.
So what is Wolfram|Alpha? To begin, we’ve named it a computational knowledge engine.
The heart of Wolfram|Alpha is a computational engine able to draw on terabytes of curated data and synthesize it into entirely new combinations and presentations. The stock of systematic, structured data in the world is vast, but finite, and the efficient processes developed for Wolfram|Alpha have allowed us to make real progress towards the goal of incorporating all of it.
Our overarching goal, the “higher purpose” of this project, is to make all computable, factual knowledge available to everyone. What Wolfram|Alpha does is compute on top of those facts—answering questions, solving equations, providing insights, projecting future behaviors, and more.
We believe the result is an extremely powerful way of harnessing the world’s knowledge and making it possible for anyone to benefit from that power.
Now, that said, Wolfram|Alpha doesn’t yet have all the systematic, structured, factual information on the planet, just a good start at some of the data—including that likely to be of high priority to professionals in various fields like chemistry, physics, biology, or engineering.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll start to share a few of the many uses of Wolfram|Alpha with you, and at launch, the product will be yours to explore. We’re certain that you can find innumerable ways to use Wolfram|Alpha, and we look forward to hearing about this.
We approach this project with a long-term horizon, a 20+ year timeline. We believe Wolfram|Alpha is always going to be a work in progress. And we’re going to be relying on you, our community of users, to point us in the directions of highest priority.
Many of the questions we’re getting right now have to do with the fidelity of our data and our ability to ferret out and relay truth. In a subsequent post we’ll talk quite a bit more about how we’re considering this task and the steps that we are taking to ensure that Wolfram|Alpha delivers on its promise to democratize knowledge for everyone. And we look forward to your feedback on that front as well.
In the meantime, please take the time to follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook, or grab this blog’s RSS feed. Again, your participation and feedback is going to help us shape Wolfram|Alpha for years to come, and we thank you in advance.
As Hugh McLeod has said, “The market for something to believe in is infinite.” We are very thankful for all of your interest thus far. The number of you who are willing to believe in what we are building has been a real inspiration to us.
Welcome aboard this great adventure with us!