Making the world’s knowledge computable

Today’s Wolfram|Alpha is the first step in an ambitious, long-term project to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable by anyone.  You enter your question or calculation, and Wolfram|Alpha uses its built-in algorithms and growing collection of data to compute the answer.

Wolfram|Alpha was officially launched yesterday, and although many of us having played with it in the past week or so the first news reports I’ve seen tend to regard it with suspicion rather than applaud the leap in knowledge handling that this innovative system represents.

Even on my educational mailing lists I’ve seen teachers begin their usual fear-driven responses – even referring to it as a “homework  machine”.  As always my answer to this is, that if the technology can do the work for the student then the student hasn’t been engaged in a process of useful learning.

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