Great expectations are connected with the new intelligent search engine Wolfram Alpha which has started yesterday night. The new search concept which tries to provide answers is in the suspicion to be able to win over Google.
The start got lost a little bumpily, various technical breakdowns were pursued by some 1000 interested parties on Twitter. Now, however, it seems to run and starts with testing by many users around the world.
On the other hand the first people looking into it a bit deaper already touched the limitations, ending with mixed feelings. A number of tests by Planningpool, dobeweb up to the “Where is God” challenge clearly showed that not all questions are answered.
So we have been really interested to see how it works and tried ourselves, but with a special look into health.
Standard questions work
In this area place we keep it short, as already a whole number of reviews are available.
The search for a country like Sweden immediately delivers a card and the most important numbers and facts. Of course one also could call Wikipedia. But it is more comfortable, especially if you start to compare various countries. So clearly no real problem here.
Health questions fail
But since we deal with the topic medicine and health, we tried our luck the as well.
First attempt: Acne
Acne is a skin disease which manifests primarily itself at teenagers and can overlook the face with ugly spots there. We enter the word acne once.
The machine answered fast and gives back
- the definition,
- word origin,
- similar expressions
- subsumable concepts
Trying to click on these result turns out the first real big surprise: They aren´t links and need to be manually copied in a new search. Simply annoying.
Further tests with the keywords acne patients, acne treatment and acne therapy end with the answer “Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input.”
Second test: Psoriasis
The Psoriasis is also a skin disease. Psoriasis concerns millions of people. Therefore, once more, the test with the word “Psoriasis”, the machine answered similarly as before with the definition and broader related concepts.
Search for therapy, action, patients and so on ends with the result that the machine doesn’t understand as in the case of the first example at all.
Third test: Menopause
to make it briefly: the same result
4th test: hair loss
For the search a thrilling topic like “hair loss” (where a large part of the population is concerned of some type of hair loss), one would expect a bit more than “Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input.”
Here now the perfect frustration: Wolfram Alpha doesn’t know “hair loss” at all. Hardly believable.
Just to summarize: You may ask – but don´t expect an answer for your health problems.
Of course Wolfram begins “alpha” with the claim to collect and compare data and facts. However, a lot of data and facts is existing in the medical area too, e.g. Patient numbers, treatment costs, insurance cases ..
Today, with the start day one can only draw the conclusion that obviously Wolfram Alpha hasn’t approached the field of medicine yet. A bit too much for a mathematician ?? But actually perhaps also a pity.
The basic idea surely could be realized in elegant form here. Surely there are many medical information sources and it would be good to aggregate essential basic data for the user, avoiding to spent time going though a programmiertpile of links from Google.
The summarized presentation of Wolfram Alpha also would be a help in comparison with Wikipedia, which requires nowadays a lot of time and attention (and eventually a dictionary) for the normal user to understand the medical terminology used there.
At the moment we have to stick to hopes fort he future. We have to wait and see whether Wolfram will close this gap between Google and Wikipedia and will be able to enrich the area of the medicine with a novel search alternative. In any case it would desirable .