First - let me say that Stephen Wolfram's blog on Watson is old .. but someone mentioned it to me when we were discussing the potential for Watson Systems ... for those of you who have not read it - it is at http://blog.stephenwolfram.com/2011/01/jeopardy-ibm-and-wolframalpha/ ... I came away from it with a real bad taste in my mouth.
As background - my initial graduate work in college was as a biochem/genetics researcher in my Master degree -- I did some of the early work on alpha-lactalbumin and potential for early diagnosis of cancer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha-lactalbumin) -- the reason I left research (then joined the Air Force and eventually ended up here in IBM) was that I thought the research community was an environment with TMP ... Too Many Primadonnas. Doctoral candidates indirectly "sniping" at others research and putting it down in an attempt to raise their profile ... That said - I have many good friends and colleagues in IBM Research and I do not think they personify these characteristics ... for the most part..... ;-)
So - my thread is that the above blog post by Mr Wolfram comes off as both petty and pretty childish ... it suffers from the short sighted primadonna approach I saw in genetics research - that said, it was done over 2 years ago - maybe Mr Wolfram has gotten enlightened -- not sure ...
In his blog - Mr Wolfram fails to understand the key technologies we are bringing together here -- the semantic parsing in our implementation of deep NLP aspects of Watson are not being considered nor do I see a discussion on the aspects of Content Search, Big Data and Analytics -- though Mr Wolfram seems to praise Watson - it seems to be more positioned to reinforce his view that he has a "better mousetrap" and to ride our coattails with indirect referencing of our work ... and slighted comments that evidence a lack of understanding of the richness of our approach
Mr Wolfram -- in short - Watson is MUCH more that a search engine (which seems to be your premise) -- in his post, he even does a comparison with Google and Bing. Bottom line - I am not sure on why he is so dismissive -- this may be a dated perspective -- I certainly hope so.
I think Mr Wolfram has done some very impressive work with Alpha -- and it would interesting to see what we can do with Alpha advances in a partnership. But the key point -- there does not need to be a winner and a loser in this discussion.
IBM Research is building a radically different way to look at computing ... this is not your fathers AI solution -- this is the advent of Cognitive Computing ... and hold on to your seat -- it promises to be an exciting ride ... and those of us leading this charge (like IBM) will be amazed by the business applications we will see based on the Watson technologies as well as the changes in computing in general that will be brought about by our work/ == Take note Mr Wolfram ... I think what we are doing will amaze even you (at least I hope so)
Bottom Line -- There is a big difference between pure IT research e.g. Alpha and the application of that research to solve real world problems e.g. Watson ... IBM will press the window on this ... just watch us!! This is going to be FUN!!