The Tao of Steve

Siri’s Knowledge Engine, Wolfram Alpha, Was Once Pegged As a Google Killer

wolfram Siris Knowledge Engine, Wolfram Alpha, Was Once Pegged As a Google Killer

Natural mystic.

Business Insider put up a post today introducing folks to Wolfram Alpha, the “mind-blowing intelligence service that powers Siri.” How quickly the kids forget!

Wolfram Alpha actually went live back in 2009, and roughly oh about 98.7 percent of the press at the time had some version of WOLFRAM ALPHA: GOOGLE KILLER WHA??!!!. That’s because Wolfram Alpha bypassed scanning keywords for natural language search.This was before Ashton Kutcher invested in Blekko, before Steve Ballmer even previewed Bing online.

It was created by British scientist and Mathematica designer Stephen Wolfram, who sought to make information “computable.”

As Next Web’s Courtney Boyd Meyers points out, BI’s post almost makes it seem as though Wolfram Alpha is powering the entire artificial intelligence app, when Apple actually integrated the engine with Siri to help with problem-solving tools (for example, Siri also incorporates Wikipedia). Natural language is obviously a natural (forgive us) fit for an app designed to talk to you like a human-ish being. It returns detailed answers from a database that includes information on all things factual.

We’re interested in seeing whether the integration with Siri will give Wolfram Alpha the same boost, as say, the iPhone’s use of Skyhook Wireless data did for Skyhook. Although hopefully not to the same litigious ends.

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com