Human Progress

How Will We Store Three Septillion Bits of Data? Your Metabolome May Have the Answer

How Will We Store Three Septillion Bits of Data? Your Metabolome May Have the Answer

Thanks to the cloud, it’s hard to imagine that we’ll ever run out of data storage. But by 2040, we may be swarmed by three septillion bits of data, and Earth will run out of chip-grade silicon. According to one estimate, current data farms will last a century, if that.

For the “big data” revolution to continue, we need to radically rethink our hard drives. Thanks to evolution, we already have a clue.

Our bodies are jam-packed with data, tightly compacted inside microscopic structures within every cell. Take DNA: with just four letters we’re able to generate every single molecular process that keeps us running. That sort of combinatorial complexity is still unheard of in silicon-based data storage in computer chips.

Add this to the fact that DNA can be dehydrated and kept intact for eons—500,000 years and counting—and it’s no surprise that scientists have been exploiting its properties
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