Digital content material needs to be thought-about a fifth state of matter, together with fuel, liquid, plasma and strong, suggests one college scholar.
Because of the vitality and assets used to create, retailer and distribute knowledge bodily and digitally, knowledge has developed and will now be thought-about as mass, in accordance with Melvin Vopson, a senior lecturer on the U.Okay.’s University of Portsmouth and creator of an article, “The information catastrophe,” printed within the journal AIP Advances.
Vopson additionally claims digital bits are on a course to overwhelm the planet and can ultimately outnumber atoms.
The concept of assigning mass to digital data builds off some present knowledge factors. Vopson cites an IBM estimate that finds knowledge is created at a fee of two.5 quintillion bytes daily. He additionally components in knowledge storage densities of greater than 1 terabit per inch to match the dimensions of a bit to the dimensions of an atom.
Presuming 50% annual progress in knowledge technology, “the number of bits would equal the number of atoms on Earth in approximately 150 years,” in accordance with a media launch saying Vopson’s analysis.
“It would be approximately 130 years until the power needed to sustain digital information creation would equal all the power currently produced on planet Earth, and by 2245, half of Earth’s mass would be converted to digital information mass,” the discharge reads.
The COVID-19 pandemic is rising the speed of digital knowledge creation and accelerating this course of, Vopson provides.
He warns of an impending saturation level: “Even assuming that future technological progress brings the bit size down to sizes closer to the atom itself, this volume of digital information will take up more than the size of the planet, leading to what we define as the information catastrophe,” Vopson writes within the paper.
“We are literally changing the planet bit by bit, and it is an invisible crisis,” says Vopson, a former R&D scientist at Seagate Technology.
Vopson is not alone in exploring the concept data is not merely imperceptible ones and zeroes. According to the discharge, Vopson attracts on the mass-energy comparisons in Einstein’s concept of common relativity; the work of Rolf Landauer, who utilized the legal guidelines of thermodynamics to data; and the work of Claude Shannon, the inventor of the digital bit.
“When one brings information content into existing physical theories, it is almost like an extra dimension to everything in physics,” Vopson says.
With a progress fee that appears unstoppable, digital data manufacturing “will consume most of the planetary power capacity, leading to ethical and environmental concerns,” his paper concludes.
Interestingly – and a bit extra on the market – Vopson additionally means that if, as he tasks, the longer term mass of the planet is made up predominantly of bits of data, and there exists sufficient energy created to do it (not sure), then “one could envisage a future world mostly computer simulated and dominated by digital bits and computer code,” he writes.
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