Many people refer to the modern age, as the “Big Data Age.” Although this may be true, some of the most interesting advances may actually be in big memory. In order to have all of this data, we needed, and still need somewhere to put it. Luckily, the price of memory per gigabyte has been plummeting in recent decades, perhaps most noticeable in the field of photography.
The Age of Photography
The price of commercially available memory has dropped exponentially in the past 15 years, allowing for greater storage and sharing. The Kodak film camera put photography into the hands of consumers in 1888, however it took decades before the world of photography got yet another overhaul in the form of the digital camera. It was many years after the first digital camera before a camera was in the hands of the average consumer.
What the Kodak camera did for film, the iPhone did for the digital camera. Suddenly everyone is a photographer, and when historians look back on our generation, they will certainly point to the iPhone as the catalyst of greater understanding of our culture. With iPhones in the hands of so many, everything is being recorded or photographed. Yet, what made the iPod and iPhone possible? Cheap digital memory. Even professional photographers have been affected by the memory price drop. Not only is it possible to quality check a picture instantly, but there is no cost associated with a botched shot: simply erase the file and try again.
Looking Into the Future
The feature restricting the storage capacity of devices currently is access. Scientists have developed amazing information memory techniques if instantaneous access is not a requirement. In fact, recently scientists have created DNA hard-drives (yes you read that correctly) that can fit the world’s data on a teaspoon. To give some insight into the power of this technology,
One gram of DNA can potentially hold up to 455 exabytes of data, according to the New Scientist. For reference: There are one billion gigabytes in an exabyte, and 1,000 exabytes in a zettabyte.
As Quartz points out, DNA memory technology could allow for the whole of human-creativity to be passed on should we finally destroy ourselves. I for one find that oddly reassuring.