Friday, 11 Feb, 2011 Science

Researchers Managed to Estimate the World's Overall Technological Capacity


The journal Science Express, released on February 10, features calculations showing the amount of information humankind can store, communicate and compute.

According to the researchers:

- In regard to digital memory and analog devices, humankind can store at least 295 exabytes of data (that is a number followed by 20 zeroes). In a more understandable way 295 exabytes is 315 times the number of grains of sand on Earth and yet less than 1 percent of data stored in all the DNA molecules of a person.

- The starting point of digital age could be the year 2002; this is the point when the worldwide digital storage capacity surpassed the overall analog capacity. From 2007, nearly 94 percent of our memory is in digital form.

- In 2007 people around the world transmitted 1.9 zettabytes of data via broadcast thechology like television and GPS. The figure is equivalent to every human being reading 174 newspapers a day.

- The same year people shared 65 exabytes of data via two-way communications technology, like cell phones, which is the equivalent of each very person on the planet communicating the contents of 6 newspapers per day.

- In 2007 all PCs on the globe totaled 6.4 x 10^18 instructions per second. If all these instructions were made by hand it would take 2,200 times the period since the Big Bang.

- In the period between 1986 and 2007, when the study was carried out, worldwide computing capacity increased 58 percent a year, which is 10 times faster than the Gross Domestic Product of the US.

- Telecommunications registered an annual increase of 28 percent, and storage capacity showed an annual increase of 23 percent.

Still, according to Martin Hilbert of the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, "compared to nature, we are but humble apprentices". At the same time it is worth mentioning that apart from natural world, which stays constant, the world's technological data processing capacities are "growing at exponential rates."

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