Have you heard of Wolfram Alpha? You might have, but if not this is something you are going to want to keep your eyes out for.

So, this is a little different that my normal reviews on technology in that I have never actually used the product. But neither have you. In fact, nobody in the public sector has, not even beta testers, unless you are part of the development team at Wolfram Alpha, and even than only a select few are privileged. The tool goes live May 1st 2009.

The other day I had the pleasure of speaking with a lead Business Development guy at Wolfram, and got to understand what all of the hype is about. After reading another post centered on Semantic search and a few tools I was recommending, Gary Clarke of Wolfram reached out to me to discuss the technology and how this will change search as we know it. I had the opportunity to run through a live hour (one on one) demo of the new search tool and I’ve got to tell you that it is pretty darn impressive

In a nutshell, the geniuses over at Wolfram have built a “Computational Knowledge Engine” built on top of mathematica that will serve as the world’s first true natural language search engine. It differs form the likes of Powerset or Wiki, and far exceeds the inner workings of Google; in fact Alpha computes answers, returning only one result. This result according to Alpha is the correct answer to your question.

It computes answers? That’s correct, and I saw it work. This database is not just packed with questions and relevant answers. This system actually takes your question, breaks it down and computes the answers to multiple questions providing you with one direct answer. If that wasn’t enough, I asked Gary to take me through some examples regarding demographics and salary to simulate some intelligence gathering as if I were completing this for a client.

Some of the results I was curious to see examples of were pertained to:

  • Salary comparisons
  • Demographic Breakdowns
  • Industry Growth

Not only did it give me the info I needed in a clear and concise manner, it provided me with a report complete with graphs, comparisons and real time links to all of the sources the information was gathered from. This report is printable and there you have it. Two hours of research minimized to one direct question.

Alpha has been called many things in the past during its highly secretive development including the “Google Killer “but lets be real, Google is simple. It’s a search engine that allows us to gather information that is relevant to our search and information that we need or want; but it does not compute answers. Alpha on the other was engineered to return “knowledge about human knowledge.”

This is a huge project that involves more than 100 brainiacs creating a computational database that serves as the foundation for the data. And this is where your results come from; credible, verified sources that are housed in the Alpha brain.

So the question I have is: Can something like this be leveraged for recruiting? (Other than the example I gave above) Natural Language search is here and it’s not going away anytime soon. In my estimation, a system like Alpha at least in its beginning stages will show value when searching for facts about something or someone factual.

I am very curious to learn your thoughts on natural language search and how this will change how we gather intelligence. And if you haven’t already, take a look at my posting from last week “Is recruiting a purely electronic transaction?”. This could very well start us on the path.

Please leave a comment and let’s have a great conversation about this search changing tool. I will perform a real-time demo in the coming weeks as a beta test for Wolfram. I will follow this up with some real experience as well.

By Noel Cocca

CEO/Founder RecruitingDaily and avid skier, coach and avid father of two trying to keep up with my altruistic wife. Producing at the sweet spot talent acquisition to create great content for the living breathing human beings in recruiting and hiring. I try to ease the biggest to smallest problems from start-ups to enterprise. Founder of RecruitingDaily and our merry band of rabble-rousers.