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I was looking for an API service where I can ask it a general question (for example, when was Einstein born?) and retrieve an answer from the web.

Is there any available service to do that? Have tried Watson services, but didn't work as expected.

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You can use Google

https://encrypted.google.com/search?hl=en&q=when%20was%20Einstein%20born and parse the response.

Wolfram ALPHA is another candidate.

http://m.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=what+year+was+Einstein+born&x=0&y=0

You can parse the returned html and see "Result:" div.

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You could use dbPedia and/or wikidata. I think Wikidata supports SPARQL now, but don't quote me on that. dbPedia definitely supports SPARQL.

If you're not interested in writing SPARQL queries by hand, you could use something like Quepy. In fact, the Quepy demo demonstrates doing natural language queries against Freebase and/or dbPedia.

You could possibly also incorporate OpenCyc.

If you want to roll something of your own, you might want to read some / all of the research papers published by the team from the START project at MIT.

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