Meghan O’Gieblyn at The Believer:
Science was supposed to have banished God, but he keeps turning up in our latest technologies. He is the ghost lurking in our data sets, the cockroach hiding beneath the particle accelerator. He briefly appeared three years ago in Seoul, on the sixth floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, where hundreds of people had gathered to watch Lee Sedol, one of the world’s leading go champions, play against AlphaGo, an algorithm created by Google’s DeepMind. Go is an ancient Chinese board game that is exponentially more complex than chess; the number of possible moves exceeds the number of atoms in the universe. Midway through the match, AlphaGo made a move so bizarre that everyone in the room concluded it was a mistake. “It’s not a human move,” said one former champion. “I’ve never seen a human play this move.” Even AlphaGo’s creator could not explain the algorithm’s choice. But it proved decisive. The computer won that game, then the next, claiming victory over Sedol in the best-of-five match.