Alpha was created by Stephen Wolfram, famous for the software package Mathematica. He employed more than 150 people to collect information on all the major branches of science, from the properties of the elements and the location of planets to the relationships between species and the sequence of the human genome. Economic measures, such as inflation histories for specific countries, are included, as are geographic, cultural and many other data sets.Click through to find out how successful Alpha is--so far--at interpreting and answering natural language questions.
Alpha's potential stems from the fact that distinct data sets are assembled in the same place, and in a form that can be manipulated by Mathematica, which includes a huge range of tools for analysing and displaying data. That will mean users can combine previously disparate information on, say, economic performance and sports results, or trade patterns and population changes. "Our goal is to provide expert-level knowledge to everyone on the planet," says Russell Foltz-Smith, part of the Alpha team at Wolfram Research in Los Angeles.
As a teacher, I'm planning for an early obsolescence.