Stephen Wolfram, the founder and CEO of the software company Wolfram Research, may well be the smartest and most interesting guy in tech. A PhD in theoretical physics from Caltech at the age of 20, the youngest ever recipient of the MacArthur “genius” fellowship, the inventor of both Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha, Wolfram’s life has been dedicated to the capture and organization of all the knowledge in the world.
He told me we are getting close (somewhere between five and 20 years) to being able to organize all the knowledge ever known to human beings in a way that will make this information automatically accessible to all of us at the click of a mouse. Indeed, Wolfram believes that this “data science” represents the most exciting opportunities now for startup entrepreneurs.
But he isn’t only interested in the organization of public scientific data. Describing himself as the most quantified person on the planet, Wolfram is also a pioneer of analyzing personal data. So why does Wolfram capture so much data about himself? What’s the point, I asked him, of measuring all of his daily activities down to even recording the number of keystrokes he makes on his computer each day.