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  • Wolfram|Alpha

    I bet I have your attention with the thread title. :)
    [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TIOH80Qg7Q&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ekurzwe ilai%2Enet%2Fnews%2Fnews%5Fsingle%2Ehtml%3Fid%3D10 495&feature=player_embedded[/media]

    It's basically (err.. nothing basic about it really) the world's first real public computational search engine, and it goes Live in a few weeks. I'd say this is about the closest we've gotten so far to a real "Skynet" type situation as this is the Brains behind such a system. Eventually, the Brawn may come into play and things may get a bit scary. We're gonna need a Social/Emo element to all of this pretty soon.

    For now though, dont worry about having to think anymore because Alpha will do it for you. :)

    Puts a prior thread I made here to shame. But, you can see the similarities. What's really interesting is that Alpha will eventually work similarly to Google, winding its way into everything and rebuilding itself by the nanosecond (even as Wolfram explains it, another build pops up onto his screen with a slightly more refined answer to his question).

    I'd say this guy will win the Nobel for this if it's a success and further his Hypothesis (and mine as well) that the Universe itself is based on simple computation.
    To some of you this might not look like much, but it could really mark a paradigm shift in the way things are done in our World.

  • #2
    Re: Wolfram|Alpha

    Wolfram is awesome. Check out A New Kind of Science. Brilliant book, revolutionary and exactly the kind of thinking we need in the scientific community. Doesn't hurt that he developed Mathematica as well.
    Do or do not, there is no try....
    -- Yoda, Dagobah

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Wolfram|Alpha

      Originally posted by gunjunkie View Post
      Wolfram is awesome. Check out A New Kind of Science. Brilliant book, revolutionary and exactly the kind of thinking we need in the scientific community. Doesn't hurt that he developed Mathematica as well.
      If you're into "A New Kind of Science" also check out Lloyd's "Programming the Universe." Similar subject matter although Lloyd focuses more on quantum computation.

      I've played with Mathematica a bit and it seems like a pretty cool app. It's moreso tailored for research scientists though, not any real specific "practical" application. For instance, I wouldnt use it for 3d modeling or simulations, circuitry, or even CAD or CNC.

      Also, you gotta be pretty damned into math.

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      • #4
        Re: Wolfram|Alpha

        Personally, well, professionally, I use it to model network load and server workload for various potential growth trends.
        Do or do not, there is no try....
        -- Yoda, Dagobah

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Wolfram|Alpha

          It is very impressive technology. Kinda like the CIA fact book in realtime.

          But it is still just data. True, it appears to be better data than we have now. Nonetheless it is data that needs intelligence and wisdom to make sense of.

          I instantly questioned the methods used to compute the results you saw. Are they good methods? Did they leave out critical data points? Did they include accurate data points? How are outliers handled?

          As I watched I was impressed but at the same time hundreds of questions entered my mind.

          Things like reproducibility. If I go there with a question and then, a day later come back with the same question will the results be the same? Will they change radically as new data is scraped from the net? As old data becomes obsolete or discredited how will that be handled?

          Who determines what is good data and what is bad data? Will we have special interest groups gaming the system. Will the oil companies or groups like the Sierra club put up sites that alter the weather data?
          Im not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
          - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
          - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
          - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
          - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
          - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
          - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

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          • #6
            Re: Wolfram|Alpha

            I almost think that was his whole point when the FSF guys asked him the "free the data" question.

            If I go there with a question and then, a day later come back with the same question will the results be the same? Will they change radically as new data is scraped from the net? As old data becomes obsolete or discredited how will that be handled?
            Again I sort of see this as the point of the application. The latest, respected, scientific expertize as a search engine. Wolfram is the ultimate academic. No matter how much the
            asinine talk show guys talk about the academic elite, this guy's (and the people he's built around him) criteria for good data is probably an order of magnitude more intense than the NSA. He doesn't seem like the kind of guy to me who would let agenda get in the way of absolute proof.
            Do or do not, there is no try....
            -- Yoda, Dagobah

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            • #7
              Re: Wolfram|Alpha

              If he let any particular agenda alter the data he'd be literally taking a dump on his life's work and the basis of his entire belief structure. It'd be the equivalent of the Pope becoming a Satanist and having all his followers have a simultaneous group orgy covered in virgin's blood. Ludicrous.

              The only way I'd see it ever happening (where he was a part of it) is if he actually modeled political egoism purposely into his data-mining. Basically, the system would KNOW that there are counterintuitive personal agendas working against what makes sense. Kinda like a built-in CyberNanny. So, when someone was manipulating data and another person ran a search, instead of Alpha just giving the answer it'd throw out a statement like "current trends show gamers are more inclined to join TG, however further investigation reveals this data to likely have been the result of an internal agenda by TG developers to pwn the net."

              It'd know something wasnt right because the small data picture didnt fit within the larger sense, after countless trillions of iterations. It'd then give the reason why it isnt right. Basically spotting the chaos within the order.... or vice versa

              He mentions chaos somewhere in that video, but I dont remember exactly what he was alluding to.

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              • #8
                Re: Wolfram|Alpha

                Skynet (cough), I mean Alpha goes live Tomorrow (Friday) night.

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                • #9
                  Re: Wolfram|Alpha

                  Why do you keep referring to this as Skynet? Skynet, fictitiously, was supposed to be a strongly artificially intelligent system. This isn't AI and it's not intended to be AI. I think you misunderstand what this project is.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Wolfram|Alpha

                    Originally posted by sordavie View Post
                    Why do you keep referring to this as Skynet? Skynet, fictitiously, was supposed to be a strongly artificially intelligent system. This isn't AI and it's not intended to be AI. I think you misunderstand what this project is.
                    Woah there partner.
                    It is just a jest. And a jest it may be, but fact is it is indeed a form of AI and he had EVERY intention of it being so (A.I. is this man's specialty). Yeah at its core it's a search engine, but so is Google and many an Edge scholar has positied that Google itself may represent some form of basic AI.

                    Alpha is the next step up from Google, so a natural inference to it being closer to a "web that thinks" is obvious. We can argue semantics all we want to but the facts still remain.

                    I'm not saying it's supposed to be a conscious entity. The definition of A.I. doesnt even specify that it has to. But, it does think and learn and it is an artificial network. "Strongly" or not, it's still a potential A.I.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Wolfram|Alpha

                      Alpha is not a search engine nor is it AI (in the sense that you're thinking of AI). It's a computation engine with a data base of curated "knowledge," with a front end that allows users to input queries in natural language. It's an extension of Mathematica. Stephen Wolfram's specialty is not in AI. He's not written anything about AI.

                      A computation engine is basically a set of rules or algorithms that operates on a model or structured set of data. Lots of things are computation engines. A traction control system on a car is a kind of computation engine. Sensors on the wheels provide data and it's got an instruction set that tells the car what to do given the data. Traction control is not AI in any interesting sense. Cars with traction control don't think. Thinking is the wrong predicate to use for computation engines. Mathematica doesn't think. It computes.

                      Alpha is not a step up from Google. They do different things. They have different purposes. It's just another tool for us to use.

                      We can argue semantics if you want. Even though this is usually used around here as an argument stopper, semantics is a very important thing. It's important because you need to know what your words mean in order to communicate what your ideas are. If what you mean by the terms 'AI' and 'thinking' are so broad that traction control on a car constitutes an example of AI or thinking thing, then I've got no problem. You just don't mean, by those words, what the vast majority of other people mean by those words. Moreover, it would be surprising if that's what you meant, given your excitement. Are you super excited about traction control? Do you think one day traction control might take over the world given weapons and such? Is traction control a step towards Skynet? To be sure, traction control is in one sense AI. It's what engineers and designers mean by AI, but it's not what scientists, philosophers, or computer scientists mean by AI. AI in the engineer's sense is not very interesting at all. Certainly it's got nothing to do with portrayals like Skynet or anything science fictiony.

                      I don't think you'd answer 'yes' to any of these questions. So I take it that what you mean by 'AI' and 'thinking' are much like what the vast majority of fluent English speakers mean by those terms. The problem now is that computers don't think. Sure, we may say that they do colloquially, but we don't really mean that they think like we do. Computers compute. Computing is not the same as thinking. Alpha computes. It doesn't think.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Wolfram|Alpha

                        Traction control is pretty cool. And it's a nice step towards the automation of motor vehicles. And... Well.. Asimov did write a story where thinking cars take steps to ensure their own survival...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Wolfram|Alpha

                          Traction control is pretty cool. And it's a nice step towards the automation of motor vehicles. And... Well.. Asimov did write a story where thinking cars take steps to ensure their own survival...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Wolfram|Alpha

                            Traction control is cool. But traction control systems are not thinking systems. And while it is a step towards more automation of motor vehicles, it's not a step towards thinking motor vehicles. Similarly thermostats are a step towards more automation of climate systems, but a thermostat doesn't think. It's not even a step towards a thinking thing. Though, in an engineer's framework, a thermostat may be thought of as an artificially intelligent system because it takes input from the world and reacts accordingly. Still it's not in any interesting or exciting sense of intelligent.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Wolfram|Alpha

                              FYI, the site is now online. There could be a few improvements in the parsing of user input and more comprehensive searches of various biological databases and journals, but it's still very cool.

                              I just discovered it was foggy and overcast, 59F with 97% relative humidity outside the minute I was born ;)

                              edit: You can watch a brief introduction and guide on using it here: http://www.wolframalpha.com/screenca...framalpha.html



                              TacticalGamer TX LAN/BBQ Veteran

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