Monday, April 11, 2011

"The World’s Technological Capacity to Store, Communicate, and Compute Information"

Citation: Martin Hilbert1 and Priscila López, Science 1 April 2011: Vol. 332 no. 6025 pp. 60-65

We estimated the world’s technological capacity to store, communicate, and compute information, tracking 60 analog and digital technologies during the period from 1986 to 2007. In 2007, humankind was able to store 2.9 × 10 to the 20th optimally compressed bytes, communicate almost 2 × 10 to the 21st bytes, and carry out 6.4 × 10 to the 18th instructions per second on general-purpose computers. General-purpose computing capacity grew at an annual rate of 58%. The world’s capacity for bidirectional telecommunication grew at 28% per year, closely followed by the increase in globally stored information (23%). Humankind’s capacity for unidirectional information diffusion through broadcasting channels has experienced comparatively modest annual growth (6%). Telecommunication has been dominated by digital technologies since 1990 (99.9% in digital format in 2007), and the majority of our technological memory has been in digital format since the early 2000s (94% digital in 2007).

I think that perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is not the huge expansion of the technological capacity to deal with information, but the radical change in the techniques involved.

No comments: