design technology

An invention that could change the internet forever

I have taken a great deal of interest in Web 3.0, or rather, the next generation of search and Web interaction. Last month, I wrote about How Web 3.0 Will Work.

This week comes news about a new search system called Wolfram Alpha by British inventor, Dr Stephen Wolfram. Details can be found in the article below.

It’s a search application that answers questions, rather than resulting in a list of pages. Check this out:

The real innovation, however, is in its ability to work things out “on the fly”, according to its British inventor, Dr Stephen Wolfram. If you ask it to compare the height of Mount Everest to the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, it will tell you. Or ask what the weather was like in London on the day John F Kennedy was assassinated, it will cross-check and provide the answer. Ask it about D sharp major, it will play the scale. Type in “10 flips for four heads” and it will guess that you need to know the probability of coin-tossing. If you want to know when the next solar eclipse over Chicago is, or the exact current location of the International Space Station, it can work it out. Read more »

It’s still in its infancy, however:

Wolfram Alpha has been designed with professionals and academics in mind, so its grasp of popular culture is, at the moment, comparatively poor. The term “50 Cent” caused “absolute horror” in tests, for example, because it confused a discussion on currency with the American rap artist. For this reason alone it is unlikely to provide an immediate threat to Google, which is working on a similar type of search engine, a version of which it launched last week.

I am unable to find further news of a Google launch of “a similar type of search engine”. However, Google is rumored to be working on a more advanced news feature to be launched around October this year.

Finally, here’s a fascinating Google blog post by Marissa Mayer on how search might become more accessible and usable in our daily lives:

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