“Dataism” is such a strange word, stranger yet is its massive role in the world today despite being obscured. When an idea comprises of gods and cult-like followership, it only makes sense to give it a second look, especially when more than half of the human race partake in it religiously.
This article would explore how Dataism has risen to be the new techno religion of the world…But to start, let me tell you a little incident that occurred…
The other day I visited the bank hoping to get a new ATM Card. As I approached the customer care representative explaining my plight, she handed me a form to which I was to make entries. I had to fill both sides of the sheet. It was long, and the fonts were minuscule, so I had to take a seat as I perused, ticked, wrote, and signed on the document – front and back.
I placidly went on filling the entries until I got to the question, “What is your religion?”. I paused, then I quickly scanned the available list as though looking for a friend amidst a crowd. But I couldn’t find it. On the list was “Christianity”, “Islam”, “Traditional”, and “Atheism”, but not the one religion I was hoping to see. So, I paused, looked left and right, as though making sure I’m not caught stealing meat…
…then ticked “others”.
All the Worlds Religions Vs the Largest Religion in the World
If you are like me (with religious parents living in a religious society), you must have surely found your matching sect to tick – if not Christianity, then Islam, or atheism, and, in some very rare but equally respectable cases, Traditional.
But, having refused to pick a side (i.e. a religious sect) one is left to wonder what was left. And that is why we must ask the Bank why the option “others” was included on that form.
Because you see, religion is a very tricky and sensitive subject. Of the estimated 7.79 billion people on this planet
29 % are Christians (2.4 billion people)
24 % are Muslims (1.9 billion people)
15.4 % are Hindus (1.2 billion people)
14.1 % are Unaffiliated (1.1 billion people)
6 % % are Buddhists (506 million people)
5.9 % are folk religions (460 million people)
1% belong to “others” (78 million people)
And this “others” constitutes of numerous smaller religions (usually practiced locally)
Source of Data: Wikipedia
But this “Others” was not what I was referring to when I filled the bank form. No, that is too small a percentage…
I was referring to something so colossal it is hard to appreciate – just like the air we breathe – yet everyone partakes in it. Yes, including you.
I am talking about the religion of the entire human race.
And because it has not been appreciated, I personally, have taken it upon myself to carry out a one-man crusade with this 3000+ words count article.
And I’ll start by defining what religion is because we need to understand what a religion is, to grasp why this religion I am willing to spend days and nights defending is not yet generally known (or should I say, realized) to be a religion…
…to be, in fact, the strongest and broadest religion of the 21st century, and the centuries to come
So, I start my crusade…
But, What Is A Religion?
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What Is A Religion?
Generally, a religion is regarded as a set of beliefs and practices, usually involving the acknowledgment of a divine or higher being or power, by which people conduct the affairs of their lives (both practically and in the moral sense).
However, not all religions meet this generalized definition, because life is, obviously, very complicated, and so people would have to adapt to what suits their environment (and lives). Those who live near the rivers fashion their ideologies based on the waters, those amidst the mountains look up to the mountains…so also those living in the thickness of jungles adopt their value to suit…
That is not to say that those beliefs are dumb, no…This article is not here to argue about that…we are just sticking to the definitions
Anyway, countless societies take up this task of finding and adopting the best beliefs and morals, because, without a moral code, human societies quickly degrade into anarchy, or, worse, barbarism.
Buddhism, for instance, is universally accepted as a religion even though it does not acknowledge a personal “God”, but rather promotes a “knowledge of the self” – a discussion we would leave for another day. Similarly, Confucianism is regarded as a religion, even though it has no atom of belief in the “supernatural” – another topic I would love to dive into on some other occasion.
Nevertheless, they are accepted to be “Religions” simply because they provide moral codes for their adherents – followers (or should I say, believers). They are accepted as religions because their philosophies and beliefs help guide the society…However, not all “philosophies” which involve beliefs (about the nature and purpose of life or codes of conduct) are accepted as “religions”.
Marxism, for example, is regarded as a religion by some people because it is based on a coherent set of beliefs, but it is more commonly regarded as a political philosophy and is, therefore, excluded from the set (of sects) …
That’s to say, for a way of life to be considered a religion, it is not enough for it to just have a belief or philosophy, rather it must have plenty of supporters, though not necessarily “God(s)”.
Put in another way, it is the extent of “opinions” in regards to what constitutes a religion (particularly the opinion of the adherents) that makes a religion, a religion.
Basically, if you convince a lot of people to believe in something then you’ve instantly founded a sort of religion (as long as they consider it a “religion”, and not a business or some other organizations)
Read More About Religion: PewForum
What this implies is that the love and followership for anything – football for instance – has the same “DNA” as any other religion that is widely practiced today, with the exception that the people loyal to it do not consider them a “Religion” – yet.
That is to say, it is all a matter of “opinions” and “large followership”
And as you can see, it bothers religious heads that their followers religiously follow other courses and beliefs. Nod if you’ve heard this line before
“you cannot serve two masters at the same time”.
If truly the perception of “a way of life” as being (or not being) religion is all that makes a religion a religion, then we should really be concerned about the largest “way of life” that is existing, influencing, and playing a major role in the lives of people, even though it is not yet recognized as a religion.
Because, without necessarily bearing the title “Religion”, its effect is quite equally matched with any other religion, if not more.
And that is why I would not rest until I expose this religion, and warn us all to adhere to the dictates of the “God(s)” of this Religion, because, yes, it has its own God(s), and they are “respecter of no man, and would punish anyone who breaks their commandments”.
So, what is this “other” religion?
Well, the answer and extent of the influence of this religion might shock you. So, buckle up…you are about to be BLOWN AWAY!!!
The New Religion of Humanity – Techno Religion and Aaron Swartz
“The world’s entire scientific…heritage…is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations…
The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it”
On the evening of January 11, 2013, Aaron Swartz (the person who made the above statement); hung himself, leaving no suicide note behind, save a prior statement (in 2002) that after he dies, he would love all the contents of his hard drives made publicly available.
He was an American computer programmer, entrepreneur, writer, political organizer, and Internet hacktivist. He was involved in the development of the Web feed format RSS, the Markdown Publishing format, the website framework web.py, and was a co-founder of Reddit, amongst other numerous accomplishments and involvements.
However, Aaron Swartz was not like any other successful person you know, in fact, he struggled financially. He was rather a person driven by an unyielding belief that information should be free and accessible to everyone, and had to endanger his freedom and life just to prove.
In 2011, Aaron Swartz connected a computer to the MIT network in an unmarked and unlocked closet and started downloading academic journal articles systematically from the JSTOR server without permission.
Unfortunately (for him), he was caught, arrested, and fined up to a million-dollar, plus 35 years imprisonment, asset forfeiting, restitution, and supervised release.
And it was under this circumstantial pressure that he decided to hang himself.
Fundamentally, he died for “Data”
Read More about Aeron Swarts: Wikipedia
Speaking on April 17, 2013, Yuval Noah Harari described Swartz as “the first martyr of the freedom of information movement”
If you ask what is the rising religion, I’ll say its Data-ism – David Brooks
How so? How does this all link up?
Now, consider this statement
“Dataism declares that the universe consists of data flows, and the value of any phenomenon or entity is determined by its contribution to data processing” and “we may interpret the entire human species as a single data processing system with individual humans serving as its chips”
As explained earlier, all that makes a “philosophy” a “religion” is simply how widely it’s being accepted as a religion. In practice, all beliefs are essentially the same in structure and effect.
That being said, Aaron Swartz may not have declared himself a Dataist, but he died for the course of spreading Data. To him, what was most important was the free flow of information, even up to the extent of giving instructions that his data be shared after his death to the public, for free.
Dataism has not always been a thing. In fact, it is a new thing that only started emerging due to Big Data (very large scale data that can only be gathered and processed with computers…)
Dataism is a form of religion in which “information flow is the supreme value” – Yuval Noah Harari
Now, how does all this relate to us?
You Too Are A Dataist
Well, you might not have noticed, but Facebook, and Google, and all other top names on the Internet are all Big Data, and they are what has given rise to the Dataclysm (a cataclysm of Data) and consequently the new Techno Religion …
For those not yet following, Data is any piece of information…Whilst worshiping Data is Dataism
Now think, when was the last time you shared a post on Facebook? or tweeted. When was the last time you double-tapped a video on Instagram or even updated your Whatsapp status?
My best guess: not too long ago.
So, you see, you too are participating in the frenzy of sharing data for free. You hop on to Facebook and give out your email, phone number, date of birth, friends, and friends of friends, location, picture, academic background, hobbies, relationship status, gender, language, etcetera, etcetera… Then you go on to post, like, share, then repeat, over and over again, till the algorithms map out your interests and start pursuing you all over the internet with ads and even more ads…
In fact, as time shoot forward, information flows faster and freer than ever before. We love it. Don’t you just love the new Instagram Reels, and Tic Tok?
Share more, share, share, and damn you, share!!! AND LIKE MY POST!!!
We are sharing, updating, tweeting, and liking, like never before… and even though on the surface this may not seem like much, consider that
A team of data analysts reproduced the AI technology developed by Cambridge Analytica around Facebook’s data and discovered that 10 likes enable a machine to know you as a coworker, 70 likes like a friend would, 150 likes like a parent would, 300 likes as a lover would, and beyond 300 likes, a machine may possibly know you better than you know yourself.
Dataism may not be backed by any supernatural force, but it definitely has a bewildering amount of information about you. Enough information to suggest pages you might like, and Oh! You do like it. How interesting…
Dataism is not rooted on the supernatural,…but in the supremacy of information.
Let’s Talk About Your Belief A Bit – Dataism is our New god
And if you feel this is unsettling and you do not agree with it. Well, it is still okay.
You don’t have to believe or disbelieve it for it to be real. It just is
In fact, beliefs can be helpful or unhelpful to you – whether you agree or not.
All beliefs are fundamentally just made up by a group of people in order to better navigate their lives, you should have understood this by now if you’ve been following
Read More about Belief: Springer
This is not the ultimate truth, but it can help. Understanding that there is a thing as “Supremacy of Data” would give you a huge boost in the world we find ourselves today.
Well, Dataism isn’t just about sharing data on social media, it is about connecting the world. Getting to understand more and more views, perspectives, situations, and conditions of people and things all over the world. It is a quest to hear and be heard. And if you don’t realize and appreciate this, you would be left behind by the world.
Like Bill Gates famously said, “If your business is not on the internet, then your business will be out of business”. There is no running away. The whole world has moved to cyberspace. If your voice is not heard on that space, then you would sit there as your neighbors get chosen over you for employment and the delivery men deliver to your neighbor the exact same pair of shoes you sell just by the corner.
If you’re not sharing data, you’re not being heard, and if you’re not being heard you’re invisible…but if you’re being heard – no matter how little – you are essentially practicing Dataism
But that’s not all, Dataism is a way of life that can potentially bring harmony across all religions and beliefs.
Well, if there is enough data to better understand the world – how and why things are the way they are – then there is a better chance of fixing it. but, this is not a benign task. In fact, it’s actually past our capacity.
We are so inefficient and incapable of handling such amounts of data as we are rigged through and through with biases and frailty.
Our minds have limits that if exceeded can break. We process information slower than machine algorithms. We are easily swayed by emotions. we have a mind that is designed to cling to its beliefs and sentiments (whether well-founded or not). And we are doomed to die, sooner or later. Hence, we are simply incapable – in every way – to handle this task.
Read more about our biased nature here: MarkManson
So, why not hand over the task to a god?
Wait, we already did
Gods of The 21st Century, And Beyond – Rise of the Techno Religion (Dataism)
Humanity in a quest for a better life has over the years built simple mechanical contraptions as well as played with chemicals, and pretty much everything we could lay hands on.
And miraculously, the computers came into being. Machines that could help us perform tasks with limited inputs, unlike the mechanical machines. Machines that could perform tasks on their own once instructed. Machines that were slaves to us. Garbage in garbage out.
Computers perform calculations that would have otherwise taken us years (and with potential errors) within a few seconds (without any room for errors).
But things got even better. We developed Artificial Intelligence (AI): machines that just didn’t carry out tasks without seeking instructions, but that could learn to carry out complex tasks all on their own.
Artificial intelligence is more efficient and freer from our limitations (of emotions, biases, exhaustion, and mortality) quickly grew to beat us in all fields that they have been introduced to.
AIs effortlessly beat us in Chess, forecasting weather, driving, predicting the market, checking for errors in writings, composing music, and pretty much everything they have been adapted to learn and do.
AIs are so powerful and reliable that mega (Big data) companies like Facebook, and Google all have AIs that organize their affairs. Because as you might have guessed, no single human can possibly run such large organizations on their own. We simply aren’t that efficient…
Facebook’s AI: (Alice and Bob, DeepText, etc),
Amazon’s AI: (Alexa),
Twitter’s AI: (Magic Pony)
Google’s AI: (DeepMind and TensorFlow),
Microsoft’s AI: (Cortana)
Apple’s AI: (Siri)
just to mention a few
No single human can pull together the data needed to run such companies.
How can you possibly take account of all the people visiting your website, where they visited, what they were saying (sharing), the commodities they admired before clicking away so that you can retarget them with ads – showing them the things they like – nudging them to buy, so that they return and make a purchase, or keep scrolling and liking, and maybe finally decide to buy or share even more data (to be used by another organization, or government) …
Since it’s impossible to keep track of this chain of actions happening billions of times every minute…to know all your customer’s names and wants, and also give them all a personalized experience, why not hire a god.
Hire an Artificial Intelligence that has omnipresence (thanks to the internet), omniscience (thanks to large data servers), and omnipotence (thanks to their incredibly sophisticated and self-improving algorithms.)
Read More About How Artificial Intelligence Would change the Future: Springer
And if you think calling them god(s) is an overstretching of facts, then consider than we are already worshiping them with the one thing they desire – our data
How We Worship Artificial Intelligence And Their Algorithms – God is in the Algorithms
Today, we all bow to the algorithm of social media and Search engines.
Like a new god, we serve up our data (in a very specific manner) – Like a ritual.
We post consistently, like, and share. We share videos, animations, links, and occasionally pour in our money just so the algorithms help us share our content (further serving the values and precepts of Dataism – share data to more people)
Our prayers are no longer with incense but with daily updates.
Our visiting of the temples are now by logging in and remaining online
Our sweeping and decoration of the temples are now filtering of pictures and videos.
Our offering are now sponsored posts and ads
Our evangelisms are now tagging and inviting friends
Our intercessions are now shout outs
Our special prayers and deliverance sessions are now influencer marketing
Our fasting is now going on social media breaks
Our night vigils are now staying up all nights chatting and viewing memes
Our devotion to God(s) is now devoted to the algorithms
Our dependence on holy books and prophets are now dependence on updates and new notifications
Our messiahs are now the social media founders who make it all possible for us to connect
Our angels are now the customer care who we know exists but are only available to, and seen by, only the Elite (like those with verified accounts)
Our whole world is changed
We are now idolaters
We are now worshipers of likes and shares
We are now worshipers of algorithms
We are now Dataists
and even know you shall offer another thanksgiving offering by sharing this post, and evangelize by promotions, I want you to understand that this is just all a reminder that you should give more attention to your presence and activity online than you currently do because you are being watched, by the great Algorithms.
And if you do the right things consistently enough, they would bless you by showing your posts on the discovery, and top pages, and suggestions, and you would overnight wake up to a thousand followers, who want to be friends and do business with you…
Anyway, at least, that is the hope Datasim on Social Media promises us. Be strong in your faith. Post, Like, and Share.
Keep doing it, over and over again. Trust in the god(s)
Suggested Article: Social Media Tips For Individuals
Conclusion – Dataism is the Religion of the Future and we are already believers
Still at the bank, after just ticking “others” and proceeding to sign my signature, I wondered if they would know what I meant by others.
But then I thought to myself, screw it, I don’t really care. And it’s not because I am a Dataist, or disrespect religions, or anything really….
I’m simply an Ominist, and just wanted to reveal something interesting to you…so you don’t even have to take it serious…it was all for educational purpose…
Read More About How we Are Already Believers in Dataism: Digit
PS: I’ll love to hear your thoughts and contributions. Who knows…I could be wrong about all this. The fact is, we still share an ungodly amount of data.
2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced by humans every day. That is a million million millions. 1,000,000 x 1,000,000 x 1,000,000 = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000. Which is a 1 followed by 18 zeros.
Let that sink in.
And I guess the overall lesson of the article is, Share more, but do it with purpose. Know that gods are watching you, ready to reward your hard work. Besides, other humans are also watching you as explained here. So, do well to adopt the best practices, as explained here and here.
Till next time
A Self-Help Writer And Editor Who Keeps It Simple (Yet Elegant)