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SXSW: Stephen Wolfram Jumps On Bandwagon For Cloud, Mobile Devices

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the join-the-crowd dept.

Cloud 36

Nerval's Lobster writes "At this year's SXSW conference, Stephen Wolfram—most famous in tech circles as the chief designer of the Mathematica software platform, as well as the Wolfram Alpha 'computation knowledge engine'—demonstrated his upcoming Programming Cloud, and indicated he was developing a mobile platform for engineering and mathematical applications based on the Wolfram programming language built for Mathematica. He also talked more broadly about the future of Wolfram Alpha, which he said will become more anticipatory of peoples' queries. 'People generally don't understand all the things that Wolfram Alpha can do,' Wolfram told the audience. His researchers are also working on a system modeler tool, which will allow researchers to simulate complex devices with tens of thousands of components; in theory, you could even use such a platform for 3D printing. Wolfram also wants to set Wolfram Alpha loose on documents, with the ability to apply complex calculations to, say, company spreadsheets. 'A whole bunch of things that I've been working on for 30 years are converging in a very nice way,' he said."

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This headline is news? (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142479)

So that Wolfram, who heads a firm whose product (Wolfram Alpha) is a key part of the set of cloud services backing Apple's cloud-based voice assistant for mobile devices (Siri) has "jumped on the bandwagon for cloud, mobile devices" is supposed to be news?

Next we're going to see a headline about how Steve Ballmer has jumped on the bandwagon for desktop, office software.

Re:This headline is news? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43142697)

Ron Jeremy has jumped on the bandwagon, ejaculating his views that the orgy of group or cloud computing is cumming of age.

He says that he is orgasmic about the headway occurring in cloud computing. He thinks that most cloud computing companies are a bunch of pussies and he'll eat them all out - up, up, I mean.

See, Slashdot, there IS a way to drive more traffic to your website!

Re:This headline is news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43143139)

Next we're going to see a headline about how Steve Ballmer has jumped on the bandwagon for desktop, office software.

Five words: thin clients are the future. Software for the desktop is a waste of time and effort.

Re:This headline is news? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year and a half ago | (#43143467)

Twelve words:

Thin clients of the future are as powerful as thick clients today.

Re:This headline is news? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43143647)

One word:

Woooosh!

Re:This headline is news? (1)

relativeway (2795499) | about a year and a half ago | (#43147729)

Agreed. This is hardly "news". Their largest competitor in CAS systems (Maple) has already had a 'cloud' for sharing apps since version 15 (~3 years) and is currently rolling out another mobile app solution. There are also many other more established (and more robust) tools for 'system modeling' including Simulink and Maplesim.

Re:This headline is news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43154779)

The key point that you are missing is that it is Apple using Wolfram Alpha in the mobile and "cloud" fields. Wolfram Alpha itself hasn't really done anything in those areas.

So yes, an official open statement about intention could be considered news.

SXSW #1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43142487)

And by #1, I mean SXSW post #10000 of the day. Thanks, Slashdot!

Alpha has too many pro links (4, Interesting)

Njovich (553857) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142525)

I don't mind pay services, and I don't mind free trials, but Wolfram Alpha somehow manages to rub me the wrong way. It seems that if you have any arbitrary calculation, just about every point on the page you can click asks you to upgrade to pro. Images are poststamp size and hardly readable. They make a zoom button and it pops up a 'upgrade to pro' screen if you click it. They show you a bunch of paragraphs in an outcome, with 'requires interactivity', which you have to pay for, which you only find out when you try to enable interactivity. Why not just say 'requires wolfram alpha pro' or such then?

I don't mind that you have to pay for it, but I do mind that they make it seem like an available function, don't mark it in any special way, and then come with a 'upgrade to pro' window when you click it.

In my opinion they should put some more intellectual honesty there. I would probably pay for this service if it didn't seem they like to trick you into paying all over. If I take a subscription now I would feel bad about being tricked into it.

Re:Alpha has too many pro links (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43145095)

I just tried to use Alpha to tell me

1. What the smoothest function
2. Where is the floor in this picture of a hallway?

To which it replied that 'smoothest' gets 14 points in Scrabble and '$Get Alpha Pro$'.

People generally don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43142543)

'People generally don't understand all the things that Wolfram Alpha can do' - neither do I. And if can't sum it up in a simple sentence without vague buzzwords, then I most likely don't need it.

Sigh (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142657)

Wolfram.

SXSW SUX (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142667)

Why the hell is Slashdot pimping SXSW so diligently? Does Dice Holdings have a stake in SXSW?

I swear this whole site is becoming nothing but spam.

Re:SXSW SUX (2)

saveferrousoxide (2566033) | about a year and a half ago | (#43143171)

I think your premise is flawed. The tech part of SXSW is a relatively new, bolted on facet to the Music/Film festival. So Slashdot isn't pimping the festival, it's reporting about stuff going on at a tech conference which is exactly what they should be doing. You wouldn't ask this question about CES or E3, but this is becoming an equally relevant tech industry trade show.

Re:SXSW SUX (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about a year and a half ago | (#43143837)

"this is becoming an equally relevant tech industry trade show"

Yes, perhaps partly due to the magic of Dice Holdings' marketing arm!

It's not as if the things being reported on here on /. from SXSW are particularly nerdy. Cloud computing? Feh. Whoopee.

Re:SXSW SUX (1)

saveferrousoxide (2566033) | about a year and a half ago | (#43148067)

well, to answer your question: no, they're not actually sponsors
SXSW 2013 Sponsors [sxsw.com]

Re:SXSW SUX (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about a year and a half ago | (#43143483)

God forbid we report about news for nerds. It's all about pre-selected bullcrap to feed your personal biases today, isn't it?

So, how's that "New Kind of Science" working out? (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142703)

Wolfram has previously "jumped on-board" with comparing himself to Isaac Newton. He wrote and self-published a five-inch-thick book of pretty cellular-automata doodles and ego-stroking sophistry that was supposed to revolutionize all of science --- about a decade ago. Haven't heard much about it since (at least the book was cheap per kilogram, and good for a few laughs). He's a sharp mathematician/programmer, but I wouldn't put too much stock in his grandiose predictions.

Re:So, how's that "New Kind of Science" working ou (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43142867)

I remember what a well-known British physicist said about Wolfram a few years ago: "He's a very smart chap - but not the genius that he thinks he is." The fact is, he was supposed to be the next Einstein but his accomplishments, while nontrivial, in depth and width are by no means beyond those many competent (much less luminary) physicists from the last half century.

Re:So, how's that "New Kind of Science" working ou (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43142905)

A wonderful joke about his book is that it should actually have been titled "A New Science, Kind Of".

Re:So, how's that "New Kind of Science" working ou (1)

fatphil (181876) | about a year and a half ago | (#43144667)

You're right - for predictions, you should be looking at fellow megaguru Kurzweil!

And don't be so impressed by Wolfram's Alpha - at least last week when you asked it to evaluate 20000! (that's factorial), it would give an answer that was out by a factor of 20000! (that's not factorial, that's an exclamation.) Dumbass out-by-one error - heads should roll for something as stupid as that (it's an easy mistake to make, but it's equally easy to test the answer's right - the lack of testing is the unforgivable thing). Can you imagine a mobile phone that failed to dial the final digit in a telephone number, or a word-processor which would always chop off your final character?

stop the SxSW masturbation (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142749)

Just because you just discovered some new memey thing Slashdot, please stop posting it all over the place.

oblig. xkcd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43142907)

http://xkcd.com/678/

I think they missed the train... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43143615)

The bandwagon left about 5 years ago..

Wolfram is a nut. (1)

GODISNOWHERE (2741453) | about a year and a half ago | (#43143667)

Wolfram's book, "A New Kind of Science," was called "worthless" by Freeman Dyson. Wolfram spent enormous amounts of time by himself rediscovering results, and then he presents these ideas in his book with little or no credit to the original researcher. His ideas about physics were proven by Scott Aaronson to be false, as they must either conflict with special relativity or quantum mechanics [arxiv.org] . Here [umich.edu] is a good book review. It turns out that the only new, useful result in this book — that Rule 110 can be used to implement a cyclic tag system — was discovered by Scott Aaronson while he was working for Wolfram. Wolfram made him sign an agreement that did not allow Aaronson to publish his results, and even made the existence of Aaronson's proof a trade secret. Wolfram's quotations are also contradictory. He says that

“A whole bunch of things that I’ve been working on for 30 years are converging in a very nice way,” he told the audience, before launching into a rather lengthy history of Mathematica’s development. “Given how complicated things in nature are, you might think the programs running them would be very complicated,” he began. As his research progressed, however, he soon found the exact opposite: simple equations and programming could underpin enormously complicated systems.

But then the article says:

It took a lot of Mathematica code to make the Wolfram Alpha system work

It is hard to reconcile "the simplicity of Mathematica" with "it took a lot of code (and presumably a lot of time) to make it work".

Re:Wolfram is a nut. (1)

PCM2 (4486) | about a year and a half ago | (#43143881)

“Given how complicated things in nature are, you might think the programs running them would be very complicated,” he began.

This one quote points to the main problem I had with A New Kind of Science, which was that Wolfram seemed to start with a plausible, interesting premise -- "patterns we see in nature can be modeled using very simple cellular automata" -- but then he seemed to repeatedly conclude that "these cellular automata are therefore what are running the processes of nature," which seems absurd.

It's like he has this bizarre short circuit in his brain where he thinks a successful model is necessarily identical to the real process, so that if you stare deeper and deeper into the model -- which you yourself created -- then you will be able to understand more about the real-world process without ever doing so much as a real-world experiment. What do you call that, if not a god complex?

Otherwise, I found Wolfram's text to be more or less indistinguishable from any other long-winded crank science manifesto that purports to refute all of known science and usher in a new age of progress if only the bastards weren't trying to keep me quiet, god damn them! It seems a shame that he's dedicated so much of his life to such pursuits when he seems to be an otherwise competent mathematician and programmer. Kind of a wasted life, if you ask me.

Re:Wolfram is a nut. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43146959)

I'm sure it was just a typo, but It was Matthew Cook who proved the universality of Rule 110 rather than Scott Aaronson.

Re:Wolfram is a nut. (1)

GODISNOWHERE (2741453) | about a year and a half ago | (#43155275)

Yes, it was a typo. Thanks for pointing that out.

Re:Wolfram is a nut. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#43147045)

Wolfram is a classic example of the "but they laughed at Newton and Einstein" Time Cube school of self-proclaimed intellectual revolutionaries.

Hint: no they didn't.

Re:Wolfram is a nut. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43155101)

“Sir Isaac Newton, renowned inventor of the milled-edge coin and the catflap!"

Re:Wolfram is a nut. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43154863)

It took a lot of Mathematica code to make the Wolfram Alpha system work

It is hard to reconcile "the simplicity of Mathematica" with "it took a lot of code (and presumably a lot of time) to make it work".

The formulas used to erect a large building are relatively simple and well known. Building a building is hard.

Stop me if you've heard this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43144405)

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Will it Game? (1)

waveclaw (43274) | about a year and a half ago | (#43144683)

His researchers are also working on a system modeler tool, which will allow researchers to simulate complex devices with tens of thousands of components

How many years until it catches up to Dwarf Fortress [bay12games.com] ?

And can it get more than 4 frames per second modeling 200 dwarves down to the fingernail on a 3.5GHz machines with 16Gb of ram and SSD drives?

shunky (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43145473)

I cannot agree with you more.
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http://www.mcrushingstation.com

Wolfram Alpha approves this message (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43145853)

> 'People generally don't understand all the things that Wolfram Alpha can do,'

It was bad enough when Wolfram dropped the CEO title for his 'Alpha' moniker, but is it really necessary to talk about himself in third-person?

sxsw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43147507)

is soooo last century..

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