Monday, 18 May 2009

Wolfram Alpha goes online

A new search engine called Wolfram Alpha has gone online which is apparently going to rival the status of Google. Rather than returning websites in response to a keyword query, this site actually calculates answers to questions. From a genealogy point of view, one of the things it can do is to act as a relationship calculator. If you type in "father's mother's sister's son", see what pops up, including a handy blood relationship calculation, which I have not seen anywhere else before!

Whether this is the next major phase in search engine technology, or a really cool advertising ploy for the new Terminator film (except this is Wolfram Alpha, not Skynet!), is yet to be be made clear. But a computer that thinks - crikey!

To have a play, visit www65.wolframalpha.com, and for the background to the project, visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8052798.stm.

(As a point of order, Mr. Speaker, couldn't they just have called it something simple, like "Bob"?!)

UPDATE: I thought I would get all philosophical with it, and typed in "Who am I?" The system responded by giving me my IP address! Yes, folks, the machines are taking over...! :D )

Chris

www.ScotlandsGreatestStory.co.uk
Scotland's Greatest Story
Professional family history research & genealogical problem solving

No comments: