Inside the complicated mind of Wolfram Alpha

One has to experiment with Wolfram Alpha in order to find out how, why or if he really thinks. Some answers are very revealing indeed. Especially the one to the question "are you a virgin?"

Do you speak Wolfie?

I know that many fine, inquiring minds have attempted to delve deep into the mental well that is computational knowledge engine, Wolfram Alpha.

Well, I've had a tough day and I wanted to get to know Wolfie, man to machine. So I asked questions, I cross-examined, I stared, as did George Bush with Vladimir Putin, into Wolfie's very soul.

Here is what I found.

My first question was a simple one: What's it all about? Wolfie churned it over in his mind. His answer? Some very interesting information about the Albanian lek. Yes, the currency of Albania is not doing so well. However, it will clearly be the answer to the world's search for meaning very shortly.

I thought that perhaps I'd unnerved Wolfie. He's probably quite tired with all the publicity. So I tried: "Do you like your job?" To which I received a very polite: "I like to compute."

Ah, now we were communicating.

So my next input was: "Is the earth dying?" I just wondered, you know. Well, Wolfie swiftly informed me that the only data he had on the subject is that 107.6 people die every minute. Which works out at 4.714 million people a month.

This is what Wolfie looks like in my mind's eye. CC Teds Blog/Flickr

Now I was told that when asked "Do you speak Thai?" that Wolfie replies, for now, he only speaks English. However when I asked "Do you speak Polish?", Wolfie had no idea what I was talking about.

A little perturbed, I asked "Are you friendly?" and Wolfie stared at me for a few moments before informing me about the fine city of Friendly, Maryland, population 10,938.

I wasn't about to back off. My next question was: "Are you a virgin?" Wolfie didn't need to think about this. He replied: "VIRGIN!" I was delighted that he believed in abstinence, until I discovered that he was referring to a magazine in France with a circulation of 150,000.

I felt we were meandering somewhat. So I thought I'd toss him a softball.

I asked: "What is the population of Wales?" Don't ask me why. I have a friend there. It seemed like an easy question. However, Wolfie answered: 5956. He also claimed this was a 2004 estimate.

Um, what? Yes, I was clear to input the British Wales, as opposed from the one in Wisconsin. Or the other one in New York. The British Wales has several million people. Has Wolfie hit the booze?

I thought I'd check, so I threw him: "Is Google crap?" He immediately cheered up and gave me a comparison between Google's share price and that of something called CRCAM Alpes Provence.

It was clear Wolfram Alpha and I needed to work on our relationship. Either that, or we will soon be in couples therapy. So I asked him the big one: "Are you an Alpha Male?"

Wolfie didn't even hesitate. He immediately gave me details of what seemed to be his exercise regime, which includes running at a speed of 400 meters per minute at an elevation of two degrees with a maximum heart rate of 192.5 beats per minute. Well, that's what it seemed to be.

Yes, couples therapy might be a very good idea.

 

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