Half of the atoms on Earth can be digital data in 2245


Although it seems something immaterial, virtual information occupies its space. According to IBM and other technology research companies, about 90% of the amount of data in the world has been produced in the past decade. Therefore, bit by bit, it may be that, in 2245, the atoms of this type of material exceed the existing amount of all others on the planet, accounting for half of its mass.

Who came to this conclusion was the physicist Melvin Vopson, from the University of Portsmouth, England. His analysis assumed that today there are approximately 10 ^ 21 bits of computational information, while our home has 10 ^ 50 atoms. “It’s everything we produce collectively. Any digital content generated and stored by anyone,” he explained to Live Science.

Afterwards, Vopson projected a 20% annual increase, showing that the balance of atoms would turn in 350 years. However, if the rate reaches 50% annual growth, 225 years would be enough for this to happen. Before this scenario, humanity would already have to use the equivalent of its current energy consumption just to maintain so many zeros and ones. “The question is: where would we store so much information? How would we support it?”, Reflected the physicist.

“I call the situation an invisible crisis, as it really is today,” he said.

Digital Malthusianism?

Such notes consider the forms of data production and storage currently available, with new ones constantly appearing. By way of comparison, in 1798, Thomas Robert Malthus foresaw a scenario in which the population would grow at an accelerated pace, exceeding the supply of food, something that did not happen due to technology. Even Vopson suggests developing non-material means, such as holograms, to do the job.

The physicist does not clarify what the consequences of this crisis would be, but comments that, even if the entire annual mass of data currently produced is equivalent to the weight of a single specimen of the E. Coli bacterium, there is a relationship between the erasure of bits and the generation of heat. – which, in the future, would represent an “information catastrophe”.

On the other hand, Luis Herrera, from the University of Salamanca, in Spain, does not seem to be alarmed: “I think we face bigger problems than that.”


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