Monday, May 4, 2009

Adios, Ma Google!

Get ready to wave bye-bye to Google ... and frankly, good riddance. Speaking personally, I've had a very rough deal from the Big G, and will be extremely glad when it's bumped off the stage, and something newer, better ... stronger and more sentient comes along -- which is due later in the year. Like this:

An invention that could change the internet for ever

Revolutionary new web software could put giants such as Google in the shade when it comes out later this month. Andrew Johnson reports...

Sunday, 3 May 2009

The biggest internet revolution for a generation will be unveiled this month with the launch of software that will understand questions and give specific, tailored answers in a way that the web has never managed before.

The new system, Wolfram Alpha, showcased at Harvard University in the US last week, takes the first step towards what many consider to be the internet's Holy Grail – a global store of information that understands and responds to ordinary language in the same way a person does.

Although the system is still new, it has already produced massive interest and excitement among technology pundits and internet watchers.

Computer experts believe the new search engine will be an evolutionary leap in the development of the internet. Nova Spivack, an internet and computer expert, said that Wolfram Alpha could prove just as important as Google. "It is really impressive and significant," he wrote. "In fact it may be as important for the web (and the world) as Google, but for a different purpose.

Tom Simpson, of the blog, said: "What are the wider implications exactly? A new paradigm for using computers and the web? Probably. Emerging artificial intelligence and a step towards a self-organising internet? Possibly... I think this could be big."

Wolfram Alpha will not only give a straight answer to questions such as "how high is Mount Everest?", but it will also produce a neat page of related information – all properly sourced – such as geographical location and nearby towns, and other mountains, complete with graphs and charts.

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. the full feature here:

...It's brilliant. Admittedly, Wolfram Alpha still an uneducated genius at this point (read the article!) but ... how long does it take a genius with a mind the size of the WWW to soak up, cross-reference and comprehend the entirety of human culture?

Give them six months. And then, Google will have to compete with the OTHER thousand pound gorilla in its forest. And at that point, the question will be, "Who's in charge?"

The rot didn't set in at Google till after the original business was sold off, and a bunch of dollar-greedy morality police got hold of it. All the money grubbing, the cheating of publishing partners in the Adsense program, the filtering-out of content the high-mucky-mucks in the Boardroom don't like (anything gay, or gay-friendly, for a start). All this is the result of human intervention in the search engine's protocols...

And the same thing could happen to the Wolfram Alpha model. If money-grubbing morality police get hold of it, it'll just do a faster, smarter, better job of cooking the books and skewing the internet off kilter --

In fact, in a worst case scenario, Google will buy it, or controlling shares of it, and promptly reshape it in the Big G's image, so that more money sluices home to The Goog, advertising continues to stuff the web like a Christmas turkey, some people get ripped off royally, and others vanish off the face of the internet because they've been filtered out of existence.

But maybe, just maybe, the owners and developers of the new search engine will have a leeetle bit more integrity, and won't sell out. Settle for twenty billion dollars instead of shooting for the cool half trillion. Maybe the "self organizing internet" is something that can actually come to pass. Maybe the self-styled morality police won't be able to get in there and organize the internet from the standpoint of Creationism, Republicanism, or some brand of 'ism which seeks to shape the thinking patterns of the whole globe in its own image.

We can hope. I, for one, am hoping! You know me ... the eternal; optimist.

Ciao for now,

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