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Everybody at Wolfram Research characterized the new engine as something complementary to, and not in competition with, Google. (In short: Google uses elaborate means to find you the right Web pages, while Wolfram amasses databases and deploys myriad equations to compute answers for you.)
But that peaceable dynamic changed yesterday when Google announced a data-crunching service of its own, even as Wolfram was giving a demo of his new tool at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. With the new Google service--which is starting in a limited way, with data from the Census and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics--you can do things like enter "unemployment New York" and get a historical chart of that rate, and click to compare the rate of other states and the U.S.
Hmm – finding answers instead of Web pages…