We’ve never been closer to the future predicted in Star Trek than we are right now. In the dream-state setting of the television series and films, there is no struggle on Earth. There is no disease, no poverty, no clashing of ideologies that erupts in violence. Humans have moved past those things and instead have united for the betterment of mankind.
Great. It’s a beautiful theory. But with the recent shift in mindsets from developers–especially in the education and technology sectors–we’re that much closer to making the Earth of the future come true.
Following the shift pioneered by a number of individuals like Salman Khan, the founder of the free-access-for-all educational video channel Khan Academy, another great mind has decided that everyone should have unfettered access to the tools he developed. Stephen Wolfram, creator of both Wolfram Alpha and Wolfram Language, has his sights set on putting these tools in the cloud for unrestricted access to anyone who can use them, man, woman, or even child.
In an interview for the Bits blog of the New York Times, Wolfram described his goal for this open access to what is arguably a significant chunk of his life’s work: “My big goal is make what can be done with computation as broadly accessible as possible…You want the human to have to specify as little as possible, by putting as much intelligence into the language as possible.”
Now, the powerhouses behind Siri and Raspberry Pi will be available to anyone with an idea that requires a consistent programming language. The ultimate guidebook to Wolfram Language, written by the author himself, is also free as an ebook on his website, although print editions can be purchased.
This certainly isn’t Wolfram’s first noble, world-changing gesture towards democratizing both technology and coding. The Raspberry Pi project, which developed an accessible, portable computer that comes in at around $35, is powered by Wolfram’s work…which he gave to the project for free.