The rise of data religion

by CLSA / Sep 18, 2016

Yuval Noah Harari, Lecturer, Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Presentation: The most interesting place in the world from a religious perspective is not the Middle East, but rather Silicon Valley. That is where the new religions of the 21st Century are being created. Particularly important is the Data Religion, which promises humans all the traditional religious prizes: happiness, peace, prosperity and even eternal life; but here on earth with the help of data and processing technology, as opposed to after death with the help of supernatural beings.

Data Religion believes that the entire universe is a flow of data that organisms are algorithms, and that humanity’s cosmic vocation is to create an all-encompassing data-processing system – and then merge into it. On the practical level, dataists believe that given enough biometric data and enough computing power, you could create an external algorithm that will understand humans much better than we understand ourselves. Once this happens, authority will shift from humans to algorithms and humanist practices such as democratic elections and free markets will become as obsolete as rain dances and flint knives.

About Yuval Noah Harari: The author of international bestsellers: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Harari received his PhD from the University of Oxford in 2002, and is now a lecturer at the Department of History, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He specialised in World History, medieval history and military history. His current research focuses on macro-historical questions: What is the relation between history and biology? What is the essential difference between Homo sapiens and other animals? Is there justice in history? Does history have a direction? Did people become happier as history unfolded?

Harari twice won the Polonsky Prize for Creativity and Originality, in 2009 and 2012. In 2011 he won the Society for Military History’s Moncado Award for outstanding articles in military history.

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