In the Brave New World department — if we can summon the wisdom not to destroy each other first — look at this (thanks, Paul!).

It doesn’t seem to be from the Onion.  And if one of you does show me that it’s nuts and not really going to happen by 2020, do you know what?  Something else like it will!  If not by 2020, then 2030 — which is virtually the same exact instant in geological time.

To wit:

. . .a new technique developed by University of Washington and Microsoft researchers could shrink the space needed to store digital data that today would fill a Walmart supercenter down to the size of a sugar cube.

All the data contained in our computer files, historic archives, movies, photo collections and the exploding volume of digital information collected by businesses worldwide is expected to hit 44 trillion gigabytes by 2020. This represents enough data to fill more than six stacks of computer tablets stretching to the moon. The world is producing data faster than the capacity to store it.

Now celebrating its centenary year, Technicolor’s laboratories are at the cutting edge of the science of filmmaking, leading a worldwide revolution in immersive entertainment. The company’s latest amazing innovation is the encoding of movies into artificial, “non-biological” DNA. DNA is almost unimaginably small — up to 90,000 molecules can fit into the width of one human hair — so even a large movie library is totally invisible to the human eye. All you can see is the water in a small test tube. . . .

. . . DNA has some great advantages. It is much smaller than traditional media. Researchers found that they can reach a density of 215 petabytes per gram of DNA. Also, DNA lasts for a prolonged length of time — over 100,000 years — which is magnitudes more than traditional media. As an example, one petabyte is roughly 16,000 times the data that your 64GB iPhone can store. DNA can store 215 petabytes in just 0.035 ounces.

Another advantage of DNA is that it will never become obsolete. If you have cassette tapes of music, or vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, they will not be able to be played unless you have a compatible playback device. These devices are available now, but what about in future decades or even centuries? DNA has been around for billions of years, and humanity is unlikely to lose its ability to read these molecules. . . .

What a time to be alive, on the cusp of all-but-unimaginable well-being for virtually everyone, if we can figure out how to live together.

Or extinction, if we can’t; or if the machines decide to fuel themselves by consuming our carbon.

Register.  Vote.  It matters who lead us through the next make-or-break couple of decades.  “Believing in” science should probably be one prerequisite.



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