The Third Culture George B. Dyson

The Size Of The Digital Universe

Cosmologists have measured the real universe with greater precision than any reportable metric encompassing the extent of the digital universe — even though much of it is sitting on our desks.

Sales figures of all kinds are readily available, whereas absolute numbers (of processors, CPU cycles, addressable memory, disk space, total lines of code) are scarce. We are left to make rough approximations (skewed by volatility in prices) where there could and should be a precise, ongoing count.

Have we reached Avogadro's number yet?

GEORGE DYSON is a leading authority in the field of Russian Aleut kayaks —the subject of his book Baidarka, numerous articles, and a segment of the PBS television show Scientific American Frontiers. His early life and work was portrayed in 1978 by Kenneth Brower in his classic dual biography, The Starship and the Canoe. Now ranging more widely as a historian of technology, Dyson's most recent book is Darwin Among the Machines.

Further reading on Edge: "Darwin Among the Machines; or, The Origins of Artificial Life"; and "CODE - George Dyson & John Brockman: A Dialogue."