Stephen Wolfram

Source: MIT Technology Review, May 2013

You coined this term “personal analytics.” What does it mean?

There’s organizational analytics, which is looking at an organization and trying to understand what the data says about its operation. Personal analytics is what you can figure out applying analytics to the person, to understand the operation of the person.

What’s the connection to the search engine you built?

Right now Wolfram Alpha is strong on public knowledge: accumulating and searching the knowledge of the civilization. But what you have to do in personal analytics is try to accumulate the knowledge of a person’s life. Then the two can actually be integrated, and I’ll give a kind of silly example. You might ask: “Who do I know that can go out into their backyard and go and look at the night sky right now?” For that you have to be able to compute who is in nighttime, who doesn’t have cloudy weather, and things like this. And we can compute all that stuff.

What do you see as the big applications in personal analytics?

Augmented memory is going to be very important. 


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