The Wall Street Journal | Defying the doomsayers

February 23, 2012

Source: The Wall Street Journal — February 22, 2012 | Michael Shermer

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Defying the doomsayers: Abundance argues that growing technologies have the potential not only to spread information but to solve some of humanity’s most vexing problems.

If every image made and every word written from the earliest stirring of civilization to the year 2003 were converted to digital information, the total would come to five exabytes. An exabyte is one quintillion bytes, or one billion gigabytes — or just think of it as the number one followed by 18 zeros. That’s a lot of digital data, but it’s nothing compared with what happened from 2003 through 2010: We created five exabytes of digital information every two days.

Get ready for what’s coming: By next year, we’ll be producing five exabytes every 10 minutes. How much information is that? The total for 2010 of 912 exabytes is the equivalent of 18 times the amount of information contained in all the books ever written. The world is not just changing, and the change is not just accelerating; the rate of the acceleration of change is itself accelerating. [...]