Faith in the Algorithm

This Economist article on Google co-founder Larry Page has been getting a lot of attention due to its closing statements on Google’s reported desire build a machine that will pass the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test"Turing test, and how Google wants to be the latest incarnation of deus ex machina.

Whatever.

What strikes me from the article, however, is the mention of Google’s never-ending “faith in the algorithm”:

If Google is a religion, what is its God? It would have to be The Algorithm. Faith in the possibility of an omniscient and omnipotent algorithm appears to be what Messrs Page and Brin have in common. It’s “in their DNA,” says Michael Moritz…

Such faith in lines of computer code ignores the reality that search engine algorithms are not neutral. Indeed all computer systems contain biases [PDF] with particular political and ethical consequences.

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