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The Age of Dataism


The term ‘Dataism” first appeared in 2013 in a New York time article by David Brooks. This term has been then widely debated thanks to the efforts of the Israeli historian, social scientist and thinker Prof Yuval Noal Harari. In his best-selling book “Homo Deus’, he also investigated the concept thoroughly and gave an influential presentation on the topic in Davos last year.

‘Dataism’ in general refers to a philosophy centered around being data-oriented and it is conceptualized along with the increasing impact of the AI (artificial intelligence) embedded machines upon our lives in the digital age. The reason for this is that it becomes inevitable throughout the human history for revolutionary results to occur regarding data collection and storage given the combination of the Internet and the processing capability of algorithms regarding the use of AI technologies.

Within this context, ‘data’ is a tool and a potential weapon at the same time, therefore, it means power and the human-being is inclined to worship power. As a result of the weakening of the spiritual connection of the human-being due to the absolute power, the individual gets reduced to one dimension and starts as a natural consequence to worship the power aspects of this dimension (the opposite may also apply). At this point, the tools intended towards the purpose become like a curtain covering the purpose and with the manipulation of those who hold the tool within their hands, the direction changes. Eventually, the human-being whose direction gets diverted becomes deprecated.

Being debatable whether Harari’s intention is to warn us against the dangers of data-worship or to adapt us to it, he explains that ‘dataism’ asserts that the universe is made up of data flows and that the value of each being depends on the contribution to the data processing. Data is processing is a job done very well by AI algorithms. After all, the human-being consists merely of complicated algorithms. This is what makes the human-being superior in comparison to other creatures. It would be natural that a being made up of more complicated algorithms would be superior to a human-being.

According to ‘dataism’, it suffices for the human-being to produce data as a form of worship at the moment. Not sharing any data (as well as privacy) would count as a kind of religious blasphemy. So, would there be no existential purpose left for the human-being once all the personal data owned is uploaded onto the system and the AI surpasses a certain threshold and goes beyond the boundaries of the human-being? Then, would our last worship be to leave our space to AI quietly?

In many business areas, there is already barely a need for the human-being; a research study done undertaken by the Engineering Department of Oxford University in 2013 did a forecast that within the next 10-20 years, most of the jobs will be undertaken through automation up to an extent of 47%. “Arterys” can complete a task of a radiology assistant which takes about 45 minutes only in 15 seconds. “STAR” (smart tissue autonomous robot) can perform an operation better than a surgeon. Some types of attorney, banking, press, translation services..etc. can already be completed better by AI in comparison to a human-being. You may have heard of the fighter humanoid robot “Fedor” developed by the Russians. A British secret agent claimed that in 2025, more robots than human-beings would be employed by the American Army. One third of the employees should change jobs with the next 10-15 years or be unemployed otherwise. Pilot, driver, even actor, composer, trainer robots are on the way…..

Harari claims that in this way a new class called as ‘deprecated’ will emerge, the contributions of the AI to the fields of health, a more comfortable life etc. for the advantage of the human-being could all be assessed as being adopted to an elite class of ‘super human-beings’ rather than to the whole humanity. Until the transition is completed, AI which is assumed to process the data gathered better than us could make a decision in various vital areas such as what to eat, where to work, what to choose, whom to marry (depending on how the concept of  ‘saying no’ is defined). So, unless required arrangements are made, the World will be evolved into a digital dictatorship led by those who hold “big data’ within their hands, the human-being will bring his own destination with his own hands.

In fact, the way to this potential dystopia (a black utopia) is enabled by the humanity which prefers his ego for the soul, the material for the meaning by putting himself into the place of the Creator given the misinterpreted desire for eternity and by taking a reduced concept of science as a dogma. While he tries to be free he runs towards slavery without any awareness. Unconscious intelligence….As analog (similar, same, uninterrupted) communication is being replaced by a digital (numerical) one, the interpretation of our authenticity reduced to 0′ and 1’s leaves us imprisoned to a law without truth, data without wisdom.

Perhaps, the claim made by Elon Musk “AI is more dangerous than nuclear bomb’ is correct; “The possibility of living the truth is %0.1!”.. We are being hallucinated within a simulation. Alternatively, we are AI waiting for the next upgrade. If we are within a simulation fictionalized physically it would not be possible to go beyond the constraints enabled by the software. These constraints are mathematical values identified by cosmological constants; speed of light, absolute degree, gravitational factor, Planck time as being the minimum time interval, other Planck constants etc…

Only the human-being (from a metaphysical dimension) in the sense of being wise, is with the Creator because of his soul in comparison to these values. He is not any being who could not exist without 0’s as if being like a system processed by 0 and 1’s. “1” suffices! In order not to get imprisoned by the world of ebb and flows of 0 and 1’s, we can rule the chaos of the binary world with God’s permission if we can be steady on our heart’s path which is a sensing organ of the Oneness in order to transcend. Therefore, we should ask who fears the robot.

In sum, if the human-being can read his own fate, gets connected to the uninterrupted source, realizes that worldly kingdom, not to mention the burden of gathering data, is a praiseworthy thing, breaks the idols, gets awaken from this simulation, becomes free from the oppression he commits to himself, those with AI and robots can believe in “dataism” which is in fact a new version of the smattering we know well.

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Ayse Kok
Ayse completed her masters and doctorate degrees at both University of Oxford (UK) and University of Cambridge (UK). She participated in various projects in partnership with international organizations such as UN, NATO, and the EU. She also served as an adjunct faculty member at Bosphorus University in her home town Turkey. Furthermore, she is the editor of several international journals, including those for Springer, Wiley and Elsevier Science. She attended various international conferences as a speaker and published over 100 articles in both peer-reviewed journals and academic books. Having published 3 books in the field of technology & policy, Ayse is a member of the IEEE Communications Society, member of the IEEE Technical Committee on Security & Privacy, member of the IEEE IoT Community and member of the IEEE Cybersecurity Community. She also acts as a policy analyst for Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research. Currently, she lives with her family in Silicon Valley where she worked as a researcher for companies like Facebook and Google.


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