Wolfram|Alpha breaks down barriers

Einstein was wrong

Einstein was wrong

Sure, Wolfram is Alpha, and Wolfram has potential. Wolfram has nice visualisations, an API and it is fun to play around with. But Wolfram|Alpha makes a lot of mistakes. Some are fundamental and some are just a matter of low quality data Wolfram Alpha is based upon.

I know that these are “European details”, but that was exactly what I was predicting when Wolfram|Alpha wasn´t online yet: It will be a nice knowledge base for a lot of engineers, but cultural & political domains are not that easy to “calculate”, especially when it is based on European history.

I would suggest: Don´t try to calculate the whole world but rather concentrate on that kind of stuff where knowledge really is “computable”.

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Natural language search – a new breakthrough?

While I am still waiting for an invitation from Twine  (probably you too?) I have received one from Powerset – natural language search. Powerset obviously is a promising company (and is promising a lot), so I was excited when I was starting to play around with this new tool which still isn´t available for the public.

The very first impression was good. The interface is well done and there are a couple of new ideas how wikipedia (and similar knowledge bases) can be navigated in the future. But unfortunately after a while it was clear, that search results must be improved. However Powerset might be implemented, the only benchmark which counts at the end is, which improvement the new application (semantic web or not) delivers compared to existing ones. Some examples:

– The question: “who is the president of the united states?” delivers some similar questions or related articles of wikipedia but NOT the right answer.

In comparison: ask.com delivers this perfect result.

– My next question “where was mozart born?” delivers “Getreidegasse” which is correct but actually too much detailed. Again, ask.com delivers the perfect answer.

A third try which was an even more difficult question: “how far is london from paris?” was again correctly answered by ask.com, powerlabs wasn´t even close…

When I was asking START, the world’s first Web-based question answering system, which has been on-line and continuously operating since December, 1993 (!) those three questions – all of them – were answered correctly.

So finally I was asking something really tricky: “What is the relationship between RDF and XML?”: Only START gave the right answer which was: “Unfortunately, I don’t have that information.”