Friday, March 12, 2010

Digital doomsday: the end of knowledge

NewScientist has a post examing the vulnerability of digital knowledge, in the light of future storage and transmission. Is our digital information safe for future generations?

Even as we are acquiring ever more extraordinary knowledge, we are storing it in ever more fragile and ephemeral forms. If our civilization runs into trouble, like all others before it, how much would survive? Of course, in the event of a disaster big enough to wipe out all humans, such as a colossal asteroid strike, it would not really matter. But suppose, however, that something less cataclysmic occurs. The increasing complexity and interdependency of society is making civilization ever more vulnerable to such events. Whatever the cause, if the power were cut off to the banks of computers that now store much of humanity's knowledge, and people stopped looking after them and the buildings housing them, and factories ceased to churn out new chips and drives, how long would all our knowledge survive?

Read more - 'Digital doomsday: the end of knowledge'


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