Stephen Wolfram tells SXSW anyone should be able to code

Computer programmer says professionals no longer have an advantage over novices

Computer programmer and theoretical physicist Stephen Wolfram: “The language is easy to understand. In most cases you can almost read the words in a code to get an idea of how a programme would work. Even kids with no experience could use it.”

Computer programmer and theoretical physicist Stephen Wolfram: “The language is easy to understand. In most cases you can almost read the words in a code to get an idea of how a programme would work. Even kids with no experience could use it.”

 

Likening current trends in computational thinking to the move from manual to digital photography over a decade ago, British entrepreneur, theoretical physicist and computer programmer Stephen Wolfram told attendees at SXSW that coding has now been simplified to the point where anyone should be able to do it.

The Wolfram computational language is an open source code that Wolfram and his staff of 700 at Wolfram Research have been developing and improving for 25 years.

Similar to a search engine like Google, but for code, the Wolfram Alpha answer engine can turn thousands of natural language-based commands into mathematical computations. Over the course of the talk Wolfram used everything from Van Gogh’s entire collection of art work, to a picture of Jupiter, even internet pictures of cats, to demonstrate how the language he has developed is now bringing artificial intelligence (AI) to science fiction-like capabilities.

“The language is easy to understand. In most cases you can almost read the words in a code to get an idea of how a programme would work. Even kids with no experience could use it. We’re at a critical moment for programming. Like the move from manual to digital photography, pros really no longer have an advantage over kids.”

Wolfram believes AI is currently going through a crucial evolution also.

“A recent threshold has been passed. With image identification we can do amazing things I would never have predicted.

“Until now there had been a missing link in AI. Now there are so many things we can do better on a computer than a human brain ever could.

“Some people say we’ll never be able to outsource creativity. But I believe it is only a matter of time before we automatically combine computational knowledge with artistic endeavour.”