Wolfram Alpha: What Google’s New Rival Knows — and Doesn’t

Clever presentation, but a weak database: The soon-to-be-launched Wolfram Alpha search engine is already being touted as the “Google killer.” SPIEGEL ONLINE has tested a preliminary version. The conclusion: It knows a lot about aspirin, a little about culture — and it thinks German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political party is an airport.Wolfram Alpha is not a “Google killer.” Nor is it, in fact, a search engine. Instead, it is a “computational knowledge engine,” says Stephen Wolfram, inventor of the new online service. He proudly describes his creation as “a new paradigm for the use of computers and the Web.” His goal is to finally make good on the promise that computer pioneers made in the 1950s: to make computers that can come up with their own answers to questions.

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