Whatever you do, Just Don’t call it cheating.

For reasons that may not be obvious to anyone but me, I usually make it a point to stay away from hyperbole and the overuse or misuse of superlatives in anything I pen. But I’ll have to exempt from such self-imposed rule just for the purpose of this story and to drive the point home. It’s that important. So, here goes.

If all of a sudden a dear friend, a child, relative or just someone you’ve known for a while, displays an usual level of sophistication about certain subjects, chances are you’ll know exactly why after reading this story. The lead is buried deep so you’ll have to get to it..

So, how does one go from being an average student to an A+ one? Or less euphemistically speaking, how does one make the quantum leap from a total numskull to a bonafide certified erudite (I am talking Einstein level of genius) almost overnight? Well, it’s easier than you think, yet still the best well kept secret and perhaps the most valuable tool in most students digital arsenal.

But it’s also the reason why educators are conflicted about it, torn over it and having a cognitive dissonance of the worst kind about it, for they almost unanimously see it as cheating without the consequences that come with it- Yes. you heard that right, cheating, cranking out and getting every Math, Physics, Science, Econ, Finance problem etc… right with step-by-step detailed explanation to boot and the added peace of mind of never getting caught. Priceless.

Unsurprisingly students swear by everything holly that this is the only tool they ever need to succeed. I, for one, don’t blame them. My vision about education has evolved over the years and is now a radical departure from what it was just a few years ago. But who cares?

In the endless back and forth power struggle and jujitsu mind games that have come to define the oft-frothy student-teacher relationship, the tables appear to have turned and the students are now in the driver’s seat, dictating the terms of the relationship and firmly in control of its outcome, for they are no longer settling for anything less than an A+.

Students across the US, and most likely, the world writ large, are fighting back. Their ace in the hole? Wolfram | Alpha, short for WA. More on WA later.. And even more alarmingly, educators do not know how to defend against the new onslaught coming from the herrenvolk (pun unintended).

For years, students have turned to Google for general purpose answers to their questions, CliffsNotes study guides for test preps, Yellow Post-it Notes for mental markers, SparkNotes to string together literature, history or philosophy talking points for class discussions, and Wikipedia to sprinkle their papers with historical reference tidbits. No more any of that.

Today’s students have better, more sophisticated tools at their disposal and almost unanimously turn to Wolfram | Alpha not only to get their work done, but to also get it 100% right and in a way that is untraceable even by suspecting educators.

WA is a web-based and native app program that leverages Artificial Intelligence (AI) to perfectly solve most academic and real world problems. It uses natural language processing technology (the kind used for Siri on your iphone), to provide students with an academic shortcut, much less time-consuming, more reliable than traditional means of cheating, and much more desirable than spending their entire weekends trying to figure out a solution to a Monday-deadline-marked problem all on their own.

Here’s a quote lifted directly from the WA web site pretty much says it all:

The introduction of Wolfram|Alpha defined a fundamentally new paradigm for getting knowledge and answers — not by searching the web, but by doing dynamic computations based on a vast collection of built-in data, algorithms and methods.Bringing broad, deep, expert-level knowledge to everyone… anytime, anywhere.

WA is the brain child of a wunderkind physicist who could not do complicated Math and did not learn his time tables until he turned 40. His name, Stephen Wolfram.Despite being a physics prodigy, math presented a real problem for him. Much like Albert Einstein in his early days, Stephen could devise physics concepts, but executing the Math to backup his proof of concept was a real issue.

His solution was to turn to computer programs, delegate the Math to the machine and focus on the science of physics itself. By programming computers to solve equations and find patterns in data, he could leave the math to the machine and focus his on the science. It worked out pretty well for him.

In 1981, at age of 21, Wolfram became the youngest fellow to ever receive a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2009, he leveraged the web to spread the knowledge and subsequently ushered a paradigm shift from “Mechanical Math” to “Computational Math”.

There you have it! Next time cousin Ndeye or your friend Mark sounds unusually smart about the plot of a certain topic, you’ll know why. But whatever you do, be courteous. No need to call them out for it. Rather give them credit for being smart enough to know how to come off smart.