Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tomorrow is Here Today!

A few days ago, I watched a sneak preview of WolframAlpha and my brain is still spinning. Now some would say that my mind is already fried, but WA will challenge even the most balanced individual.

It could well be the most significant piece of technology to appear in the last decade. If the project succeeds, it has implications for education that dwarf anything that has yet come along.

Today, regardless of what search engine you use, your query will result in a long list of web sites that may contain the information you seek. Wouldn't it be nice if you could type in a query and then have the computer figure out what you mean and provide you with an answer? Well in a sense, that's what WA does.

Stephen Wolfram the creator of Mathmatica has used his symbolic language along with something a New Kind of Science to create the world's first Computational Knowledge Engine. Based on the idea that all thing in nature can be reduced to calculations, WA actually computes answers to your query.

I won't even attempt to detail this amazing piece of technology with my woefully inadequate understanding. All I will do is ask you to watch the demonstration conducted on 4/28 at Harvard's Berkman Center. The video is an hour and three quarters long, but you'll have a good feel for WA in the first fifteen minutes. After you watch the video, here's a link to more information.


  1. Very frustrating not being able to see the screen.

  2. Wow! Educational technology that promises to help us bypass thought altogether. Ain't that the be-all, end-all?!

  3. Hi Art,
    This is a good video to share with colleagues still intent on teaching students "facts" and "answers." I like James Fallows' description of this as "spot knowledge." And it used to seem so important... ;-)

  4. Hi Tom,

    Exactly! Look how long it too teachers to realize that kids were copying a pasting bits and pieces of information.


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