A Coffee Mug Could Store All the World’s Data
That’s the amount of time the average American spends in front of a digital screen each day, according to a study from Vision Direct.
And whether it be for work or leisure, our digital consumption is creating a massive amount of data.
This data has to go somewhere.
Not too long ago, the bulk of data was stored locally on physical hardware like hard drives and USB drives.
But local storage has capacity constraints and limited accessibility. This problem has helped fuel the adoption of cloud storage.
Today, 50% of the world’s data is stored in the cloud, up from 25% in 2015.
The massive cloud adoption has spawned a network of over 2,500 data centers around the world. But there’s a problem brewing…
Data centers are one of the most energy-intensive building types, requiring up to 50 times more energy than a commercial office building of the same size.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, data centers accounted for 2% of global energy usage in 2016. Industry experts expect this number to climb to 8% by 2030.
This may not sound like a lot, but it’s actually massive.
Eight percent of global consumption would imply 2,400 terawatt-hours of power occupied by data centers…
That’s nearly two-thirds of the total power consumed by the entire United States last year.
A solution to this problem is on the horizon. And it’s tiny enough to fit in a coffee mug.
Nature’s Information Storage Material
Scientists have developed techniques to store data in DNA.
The concept may sound bizarre. But in reality, it makes sense.
DNA is nature’s information storage material.
It contains the instructions that are used by organisms to develop, survive and reproduce. Human DNA sequences can even be used to diagnose diseases.
The information contained in DNA is data in a sense. So, it’s plausible that humans can program DNA to be used as a means of data storage.
The DNA Data Storage Alliance
There must be some merit to the idea, as big companies have begun focusing on it.
In October 2020, Illumina, Microsoft, Twist Bioscience and Western Digital came together to form the DNA Data Storage Alliance.
The alliance is on a mission to make DNA a scalable storage solution.
After all, DNA has immense potential as a data storage medium.
A coffee mug full of DNA could theoretically store all of the world’s data, according to Mark Bathe, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of biological engineering.
Plus, data can be stored in DNA forever without using any energy. This makes DNA optimal for storing archived data, which is rarely used but must be retained for record keeping.
This Will Be the Biggest Achievement of the 21st Century
Right now, DNA data storage is prohibitively expensive for widespread use at a cost of $1 million per gigabyte.
But the world has proved that DNA can be used cost-effectively.
For example, it cost $2.7 billion and took fifteen years to sequence the first human genome in 2001…
Today, the same task can be completed in less than a day for only $600.
I anticipate that a similar cost decline will occur over the coming decades, making DNA data storage a cost-competitive storage medium.
Harnessing the power of DNA for different applications will be the biggest achievement of the 21st century.
Check out Strategic Fortunes if you want to get exposure to companies using DNA to drive innovation.
Research Analyst, Strategic Fortunes
P.S. Adam O’Dell over at Money & Markets talks a lot about mega-trend investing and things like DNA and biotech. And for months now, he’s been hard at work designing and testing his new Wednesday Windfalls strategy … and it’s produced better results than virtually anything else you could have invested in over the same time frame. To learn more about Wednesday Windfalls, you can sign up for Adam’s free webinar by clicking here.
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