Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha: self-aware, general pundit, and prankster

My new favorite Internet toy has only just launched, and already it's showing traits that indicate it might not be that far from Skynet, after all, despite its creators' claims to the contrary. (Always a conspiracy ...)

Q: What is your name?
A: My name is Wolfram|Alpha.
[Hmm ... First step to self-awareness is self-identity ... o_o]

Q: What's the speed of an unladen swallow?
A: there is unfortunately insufficient data to estimate the velocity of an African swallow (even if you specified which of the 47 species of swallow found in Africa you meant)
(asked of a general swallow (but not answered) in Monty Python's Holy Grail.)
[Ooh, so W|A knows Monty Python!]

Q: Hello.
A: Hello, human.
[Bit condescending, aren't we ...?]

Q: What is the answer to life?
A: 42
[Forty ... two ...?]
( has the same answer to the query "What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?".)

Q: To be or not to be
A: ...that is the question.
(according to the William Shakespeare)
[So W|A's a playwright, too?]

Q: how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a A: woodchuck could chuck wood?
a woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood
(according to the tongue-twister)
[Okay, I gotta admit, that was my favorite.]

Q: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
A: Angels are pure intelligences, not material, but limited, so that they have location in space, but not extension. Therefore, an infinity of angels can be located on the head of a pin.
(according to Dorothy Sayers (who also maintains that the question is simply a debating exercise))
[A religious expert, too?]

Q: 88MPH
A: 88 mph (miles per hour)
Comparisons as speed:
= speed at which Marty McFly needed to drive the Delorean DMC-12 in order to time travel ( 88 mph )
[Wow, this guy knows movies ...]

Q: how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?
A: 3
(according to Tootsie Pop commercials)
[Answering all those important questions ...]

Q: Are you self-aware?
A: I am capable of universal computation; that I can say.
[Hmm ... sneaky.]

(See's Top 10 Wolfram|Alpha Easter Eggs, and 10 Even Better Wolfram|Alpha Easter Eggs, for a few more neat tricks and gags this mother can deliver.)


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