Digital content is on track with equal to half the mass of the Earth by 2245, according to new research.
Research by Dr Melvin Vopson, a senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, highlights the physics of information creation and the storage requirements of large amounts of digital data.
“Assuming that the current growth trends in digital content continue, the world will reach a special point in terms of the maximum digital information perhaps created and the power must support it, called the information catastrophe,” writes Vopson, in a paper published in AIP Progress, journal of the American Institute of Physics.
The “information catastrophe”; will add to existing global challenges such as climate, environment, population, food, health, energy and security, according to the researcher.
The study examines the “extraordinary” growth of digital bits, the unit used to measure computer data. At the point of singularity, more digital pieces will be created than atoms on the planets. “At the same time, the production of digital information will only consume most of the planetary energy capacity,” Vopson writes.
With the current data storage densities, the number of bits produced per year, and the size slightly compared to the size of an atom, at a rate of 50% annual growth, the number of bits would equate to the number of atoms on Earth at approximately 150 years, according to a press release for the research. Vopson says it would be about 130 years before the power needed to support the creation of digital information equals all the power currently produced on our planet. By 2245, research says, half the mass of the Earth would be the mass of digital information.
“In the scenario of extreme cases when the growth of our digital information production is maintained at 50% per year, by 2070, we will have 1 kg of digital bit content on the planet stored in all traditional and storage centers. data and endpoints such as PCs, smartphones, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, ”explained the author, in the research study.“ Similarly, at 50% annual growth, by 2245, half of the mass of the planet will consist of digital bits. “