Briefly: there is actually a useful tool inside Wolfram Alpha, which
hopefully will be exposed someday. Unfortunately, this would require
Stephen Wolfram to amputate what he thinks is the beautiful part of
the system, and leave what he thinks is the boring part.
WA is two things: a set of specialized, hand-built databases and
data visualization apps, each of which would be cool, the set of
which almost deserves the hype; and an intelligent UI, which
translates an unstructured natural-language query into a call to one
of these tools. The apps are useful and fine and good. The
natural-language UI is a monstrous encumbrance, which needs to be
taken out back and shot. It won’t be.