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How much information will we leave behind?

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posted on Jan, 4 2015 @ 11:08 PM
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As someone who loves history I often think of how our recent times are incredibly unique in the way that we will make ourselves known to history. Throughout most of time people didn't have written language, and then once they did few were educated enough to read or write. Their method of storing information was either stone, clay, or paper, and only a very tiny fraction of people were actually producing it as inscribing monuments an creating written works was a tightly controlled and privileged position.

Today most people can read and write, and we all have an outlet for that. We flood servers across the globe with our words, we fill up drive after drive with information, we have libraries worth of data discs of various types, we have massive stores of paper documents squirreled away in underground vaults and other protected places. Not only that but huge amounts of video and pictures of reality instead of just paintings and carvings.

We are leaving an informational footprint that dwarfs what existed at any other time in history. There is the obvious issues of this information being used for nefarious purposes in the present, but I find it intriguing how this information will be used in the distant future.

Will there be hard/flash drive hunters that scour the globe for ancient stockpiles of information? I realize that such drives don't last forever, but I'd imagine using future data recovery technology it would be well within the realm of possibility that some portion of that data will last throughout the ages. CDs and other discs are theorized to last hundreds of years, and even if only a fraction of a percent of stored data lasts throughout the ages that's still an absolutely massive amount of information.

Will museums in the future feature videos displaying ancient reconstructed files from people's computers, severs, and other storage mediums with glass cases filled with carefully mounted flash drives and CDs? Will future people be giggling about our nude selfies and and dirty text messages?

I just thought it was an interesting idea about how today's information will be passed on and used/discovered in the future, will the information of today ever really be forgotten in the way much information from the past has been?
edit on 4-1-2015 by James1982 because: (no reason given)




posted on Jan, 4 2015 @ 11:38 PM
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originally posted by: James1982
Will museums in the future feature videos displaying ancient reconstructed files from people's computers, severs, and other storage mediums with glass cases filled with carefully mounted flash drives and CDs? Will future people be giggling about our nude selfies and and dirty text messages?

I just thought it was an interesting idea about how today's information will be passed on and used/discovered in the future, will the information of today ever really be forgotten in the way much information from the past has been?


CD's and DVD's, under optimal conditions have a shelf life of 25-50 years, on a good day. A fossilized hard disk will be of little use to future civilisations methinks, unless another civilisation has preserved said data in the meantime. If history seems to show anything, it is that most knowledge seems to have been wiped out, perhaps conveniently for and deliberately by some party...



posted on Jan, 4 2015 @ 11:45 PM
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a reply to: James1982

There is no chance ever that anything could be extracted from hard drive, flash memory and DVD (especially of the kinf DVD-R that use fragile dye) after long time, like couples of millenia.

I have old CD-R, the very first expensive generation, they are still readable after all those year, but anything of "cheap" latest generation like DVD-r are full of error after just a few year.

For hard disk it's the same, these days you cannot find new device that will reliably hold data without frequent scrubbing, the storage density is simply too high. Archiving is a constant headach that require sophisticated RAID array and maintenance.

After something like a thousand years exposed to the elements, there will only be dust left.





edit on 2015-1-4 by PeterMcFly because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 12:05 AM
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originally posted by: LightSpeedDriver

originally posted by: James1982
Will museums in the future feature videos displaying ancient reconstructed files from people's computers, severs, and other storage mediums with glass cases filled with carefully mounted flash drives and CDs? Will future people be giggling about our nude selfies and and dirty text messages?

I just thought it was an interesting idea about how today's information will be passed on and used/discovered in the future, will the information of today ever really be forgotten in the way much information from the past has been?


CD's and DVD's, under optimal conditions have a shelf life of 25-50 years, on a good day. A fossilized hard disk will be of little use to future civilisations methinks, unless another civilisation has preserved said data in the meantime. If history seems to show anything, it is that most knowledge seems to have been wiped out, perhaps conveniently for and deliberately by some party...


Shelf life, as in usable in a CD/DVD player or as in traces of data still left? I wasn't very specific about timelines in my OP but I was thinking more along the lines of 500-1000 years. The data coded into CDs is actually in the plastic itself, and plastic can last a long time if not exposed to sunlight which is why I had figured data would still be recoverable even after long periods of time. I don't suspect anyone is going to pull a CD out of the ground and throw it in a CD player and have it work, but it seems like the data will still be there for awhile.


edit on 5-1-2015 by James1982 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 12:16 AM
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originally posted by: PeterMcFly
a reply to: James1982

There is no chance ever that anything could be extracted from hard drive, flash memory and DVD (especially of the kinf DVD-R that use fragile dye) after long time, like couples of millenia.

I have old CD-R, the very first expensive generation, they are still readable after all those year, but anything of "cheap" latest generation like DVD-r are full of error after just a few year.

For hard disk it's the same, these days you cannot find new device that will reliably hold data without frequent scrubbing, the storage density is simply too high. Archiving is a constant headach that require sophisticated RAID array and maintenance.

After something like a thousand years exposed to the elements, there will only be dust left.




Currently they can extract data from hard drives that have been bashed up or in some cases even been through fire, I'm not expecting it to be a functional hard drive, I'm just suggesting that traces of data will be recoverable. Hard drives are sealed from the elements and the cases are made from aluminum I believe so it shouldn't rot in the ground like iron can.

Data is recoverable from HDs that people purposefully try to destroy, I'm trying to figure out what nature is going to do that's worse?
edit on 5-1-2015 by James1982 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 12:17 AM
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a reply to: James1982

This was my point, your assumption is incorrect. The data is gone because the plastic casing containing the data encoded on some kinda weird high-tech funky kinda dye, is gone.

edit on 5/1/15 by LightSpeedDriver because: Typo



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 12:21 AM
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originally posted by: LightSpeedDriver
a reply to: James1982

This was my point, your assumption is incorrect. The data is gone because the plastic casing containing the data encoded on some kinda weird high-tech funky kinda dye, is gone.


Why would the pits and lands in the CD just disappear? That's what I'm trying to figure out. If newer ones use some ink like you said then maybe it would just be older discs that last, but even that is a good amount of information.

A CD is basically a small version of vinyl and if you put a record somewhere and left it alone the grooves aren't going to just disappear are they?



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 12:22 AM
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This was something I thought about a few (many) years ago and that will be evident in what I am about to post... (WARNING: people under 20 may have no idea what I'm on about)

Anthropologists in the future will have no books or literature to tell them about 20th century humans, they will learn what then know about us from digging up Blockbuster video stores and when they eventually reverse engineer a VCR they will think the Star Wars trilogy would be the equivalent of the bible just because of its predominance.

^^ Obviously in the decade or so since I thought that, I have been proven wrong... a lot.

ETA: I once tried to come up with a fault tolerance algorithm to enable the storing of data on granite, if that had been a success then it would be a much more stable medium than optical discs...


edit on 5-1-2015 by RifRAAF because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 01:09 AM
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a reply to: James1982


Currently they can extract data from hard drives that have been bashed up or in some cases even been through fire ...


I'm well aware of the method used to salvage data directly from platter, they require glove box and uncompromized hard disk enclosure and are mostly usefull when the mechanism is broken or firmware track corrupted.

The alphabet agencies even use technique relative to imaging the orientation of the magnetic material of the platter, and thus can exploit "misalignment" of writing head when an erasure has been done.



Hard drives are sealed from the elements ...


Not completly, they have air pressure equalization hole equiped with some sort of filter, try to put your hard disk under water for some time and we'll see.



... and the cases are made from aluminum I believe so it shouldn't rot in the ground like iron can.


Aluminum do not resist well to nature, this is why aluminum is never found in its native state (metallic) in nature. Its somehow resist due to its passivation layer, but in fact, aluminum is pretty highly reactive; it is used to increase energy in rocket propellant.



Data is recoverable from HDs that people purposefully try to destroy, I'm trying to figure out what nature is going to do that's worse?


But then again data extraction is not always successfull, and those people trying to destruct their HD do a bad job. Nature have a big advantage, namely time, a lot of time, and with enough of it, random atomic and molecular motion will garble anything. Think of it like the Brownian motion.

Also you assume archeologist of the futur will know the encoding protocole for the data. This may not be true. Countless engineering project require reverse engineering of the previous projects because the info/process has been lost.

CD, DVD and hard drive use multiple layer of data interleaving (to protect from scratch), error correction encoding ... It mean a small number of bits to store end up as a bigger number of bits on the physical media.
Add a little garble here and there and someone who don't know the exact storage protocol have ZERO change to reverse engineer the protocole and extract meaningfull data (how to interpret it).



A CD is basically a small version of vinyl and if you put a record somewhere and left it alone the grooves aren't going to just disappear are they?


Not exactly, at least for the writable CD and DVD. The laser spot sort of burn the dye of the disc along the aforementioned track. Think of it like the dye is discolored at this place. These dye are organic by nature and with enough time will fade completly; you will loose the contrast between meaningfull data element burned by the laser.



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 01:27 AM
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I really appreciate the explanation! I wasn't trying to say you were wrong, I just wasn't understanding the mechanism by which such degradation would take place. I guess that kind of dashes my idea to bits, maybe the future people will be able to play ancient led zeppelin records at least


Thanks for the replies!



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 02:15 AM
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The only thing I can hope and pray for is that in the future they do not recover anything like the youtube comments data.... They would think we were all d*cks



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 02:39 AM
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a reply to: James1982

Assuming so-called human civilization is wiped out, after a couple hundred years almost nothing will be left. After 500 years, virtually nothing.



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 02:40 AM
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While it may not be on original CDs or magnetic hard drives, we'll leave plenty of digital data behind, that will last for thousands of years, if not more. Standard Blu-Ray discs have a lifespan of 50 to 100 years. M-Discs have been available for over a year, and are purported to be able to last up to 1,000 years. Sony is releasing the similar Archival Disc format sometime this year.

Then you have the really insane stuff, such as Harvard scientists managing to store 5.5 petabits of data in one gram of DNA (this was 2 years ago, source). And finally, we have Hitachi, who have developed a system for laser-etching digital information into quartz glass that they hope to bring to market this year, with a theoretical usable lifespan of 100 million years....
edit on 1/5/2015 by AdmireTheDistance because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 02:45 AM
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a reply to: James1982

Great topic S&F. Do you remember an early science fiction film or seen Forbidden Planet. It was a clever film based on monsters from Id e.g. those inside your imagination. It had the first robot in it I think. Howevedr it showed what looked like todays CD's on which were stored information. When the CD came out, I must admit to laughing about it as I wondered how long it had taken since the film was made to produce something similar to hold information.

I admit to being very glad that we still have written documents hidden away because one of my greatest fears is that were the grid to go down, or we loose satellites, we would be back into the stone age before we knew it. Our reliance on electricity is so intrenched that I wonder if the public realise how vulnerable we actually are. I also wonder if this digital age has not existed before and all the knowledge gone due to some cataclysm.

I can't see people with living memory after a catestrophe which rendered us literally powerless laughing at the computers. There is always the ignorant side of humanity that blames the written record and fights to destroy it as in the destruction of the library in Alexandria and portrayed in many sci fi films today.

I wonder also if we don't dig deep enough within our planet to find lost civilisations remains, but that is a contenscious issue. We do I believe have forms of written language we still can't translate I seem to remember so perhaps even if our technology as we have it today, were left around for generations within the future to find, I wonder if, they would be able to access our selfless or understand our dirty text messages - my wife has trouble with some even these days and she a short while ago asked one of our sons - which has caused no end of merriment when it came up over Christmas dinner. My blushes were spared as we had our grand child there.



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 02:47 AM
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If the majority of current websites are what is left, then the future digital archeologist will be puzzled by the fact that even though he will know we had vocabularies and clothing, we'll seem not to have used either.


edit on 5-1-2015 by spych78 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 04:46 AM
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originally posted by: RifRAAF
ETA: I once tried to come up with a fault tolerance algorithm to enable the storing of data on granite, if that had been a success then it would be a much more stable medium than optical discs...

Should involve a hammer and chisel.

Harte



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 09:33 PM
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They just found a treasure trove of old Atari ET games (circa 1982) in a land fill. Needless to say, future civilizations will have no trouble in uncovering records of our age. As Futurama foretells it, these are the "Stupid Ages," and all the evidence of this are buried in countless landfills.



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 09:38 PM
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a reply to: James1982


Stone last virtually forever, hence why pyramids are referred to as timeless. Imagine a possibility that information has been encoded in the geometry of the stone. Sounds far fetched but such a storage system could last a million years perhaps, compared to much more fragile and short lives of electronic media.



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 09:43 PM
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But would future humans even know how to read the data?
Look at the point of view today. How many people have floppy drives in their machines? Record players, VHS machines?
Even your older games machines need an aerial/coax input. How many new TV's have them nowadays?



posted on Jan, 5 2015 @ 11:28 PM
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originally posted by: thekaboose
The only thing I can hope and pray for is that in the future they do not recover anything like the youtube comments data.... They would think we were all d*cks


So true, sometimes I think there is a IQ level you must be under in order to post comments on YT vids!



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