At the same time, worldwide growth of unidirectional information through broadcast channels and the like, grew at only 6% a year during the period. Even so, in 2007 humankind broadcast 1.9 zettabytes, or 1,900 exabytes, of information through technology such as televisions and GPS devices. "That's equivalent to every person in the world reading 174 newspapers every day," the study said.
The telecommunications business has been dominated by digital technologies since 1990, with 99.9% of it in digital format in 2007.
Also in 2007, all the general-purpose computers in the world computed 6.4 x 10^18 instructions per second, the same general order of magnitude as the number of nerve impulses executed by a single human brain. "Doing these instructions by hand would take 2,200 times the period since the Big Bang," the study stated.
"These numbers are impressive , but still minuscule compared to the order of magnitude at which nature handles information," Hilbert said in a statement. "Compared to nature, we are but humble apprentices. However, while the natural world is mind-boggling in its size, it remains fairly constant. In contrast, the world's technological information-processing capacities are growing at exponential rates."
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian , or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
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