6.2 Data religion: Dataism

A data based religion called Dataism is a concept described by Harari in Homo Deus: A brief history of tomorrow (Harari 2016) and says:

  • Universe consists of data flow
  • Value of entity determined by contribution to data processing
  • Collapses barrier between animals and machines15
    • electronic algorithms eventually outperform biochemical algorithms

In data we trust

  • Humans supposed to distill Smiley face

    • data => information
    • information => knowledge
    • knowledge => wisdom
  • Dataists
    • believe humans can not cope with immense flow of data
    • put there trust in Big Data and computer algorithms

Dataism: only wild fantasy?

  • Dataism entrenched inSmiley face

    • computer science
    • biology
      • giraffes, tomatoes and human beings are just different methods for processing data
      • that is current scientific dogma

Economists interpret economy as data processing system

  • Gathering data about desires and abilities
  • Turning data into decisions
    • Capitalism => distributed processing
    • Communism => centralized processing
  • Capitalists against high taxes
    • capital accumulates at state
    • more decisions by single processor, namely government


Harari, Yuval Noah. 2016. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Random House.

  1. “Dataism was born from the explosive confluence of two scientific tidal waves. In the 150 years since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, the life sciences have come to see organisms as biochemical algorithms. Simultaneously, in the eight decades since Alan Turing formulated the idea of a Turing Machine, computer scientists have learned to engineer increasingly sophisticated electronic algorithms. Dataism puts the two together, pointing out that exactly the same mathematical laws apply to both biochemical and electronic algorithms. Dataism thereby collapses the barrier between animals and machines, and expects electronic algorithms to eventually decipher and outperform biochemical algorithms.” Harari, Yuval Noah. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow . HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. ↩︎