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Data Storage IT Science Technology

Norway's Doomsday Vault Will Now Store and Protect the World's Data (wired.co.uk) 84

Doomsday may be closer than ever, but thanks to the Arctic World Archive, at least your data could survive the looming apocalypse. From a report: Norway is already the home to the Global Seed Vault, a frozen ark for 1.5 million seeds to avoid their extinction, and now the Arctic World Archive aims to do the same for your data -- in the same disused mine in the same mountain on the island of Svalbard, famous for its polar bear population. Run by a small Norwegian archiving company called Piql, the World Arctic Archive will store key documents, books and other files on photosensitive film held in protective boxes, a technique Piql says it's tested to survive for at least 500 years and believes will last for 1,000. That longevity is helped by the storage location. More on this here.
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Norway's Doomsday Vault Will Now Store and Protect the World's Data

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  • Why not microfilm? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @10:48AM (#54164121)

    If you're encoding data on film, but you still need a digital camera or computer to read it, you still might be screwed and the data might be inaccessible. By microfilming the source docs, all you need is a light source and a magnifying glass -- both of which are decidedly analog and low-tech compared to the method being used for this project. Plus sliver halide microfilm lasts at least 500 years if properly stored. Either you're taking the digital component out of it, or you're not. Having a digital requirement in there might make the data inaccessible in a post-electricity, post-digital world post-apocalypse.

    • Yes, it seems dumb to put the data in some weird non-standard film-based format.

      Books. Those last.

      • Storing digital on film negatives makes sense. At a bare minimum, it is equivalent ounce-for-ounce to a CD-ROM. That's if each pixel is binary. This is film we're talking about, with a huge dynamic range, so storing the digital with grayscale pixels to represent, say, hexadecimal values, increases the storage capacity by leaps and bounds without changing the weight of the medium.

        And, with a human-readable portion, instructions for interpretation of the pixels (digital data) are written on the media itsel

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Books last, until someone decides to burn them.
        I'm opposed to this expansion of what the vault is meant for, because by storing data, pictures and other things that some might disagree with, it becomes a target. I think that reduces the chance of the seed vault surviving a ragnarok quite tremendously.

    • Instead of microfilm why not use ceramic tiles and then coordinate with these guys [memory-of-mankind.com]. Also is silver halide film really good for 500 years because even if not quite then it would be competing with archival grade acid free cotton paper with quality pigment based inks (dyes fade and brake down much sooner)
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @10:51AM (#54164139)

    They've been playing the long-game for thousands of years now. But soon enough, they will make their move.

    • There's a funny story from the scientists about a beached whale that they discovered a while back.

      The polar bears that found it did not touch it. They seemingly had no interest in a fresh carcass. It was left alone and started rotting away. After three years it had reached peak rotten, and all the polar bears started eating it up really fast.

      It proves that even polar bears are connoisseurs when it comes to food, so this idea that they are waiting for the perfect moment is not so far away from the trut
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Stopped reading right there.

  • Would kind of suck for the people 500 years from now to find this, but have no idea what it is or what it does.

    • It has human-readable instructions on the medium, along with the digital data.

      It is exactly this that is described in US Patent 8,163,403 [uspto.gov].

      • It has human-readable instructions on the medium, along with the digital data.

        It is exactly this that is described in US Patent 8,163,403 [uspto.gov].

        CORRECTION: My link is accurate, but the US Patent is 8,085,304.

      • Admittedly, I didn't read too much into this. Mostly just expressing the first thing I thought of when I read the summary, which isn't usually very insightful stuff anyways.

        • Admittedly, I didn't read too much into this. Mostly just expressing the first thing I thought of when I read the summary, which isn't usually very insightful stuff anyways.

          LOL. Yeah, I should have just skipped your Comment as DNRTFA, but my Comment was most appropriate as a Reply to another – one like yours.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @10:57AM (#54164171)

    scientist> All the world's most valuable information has been stored in this room!
    politician> All of it? Then why are you asking for so much additional funding?
    scientist> You see those two mountains?
    politician> Yeah?...
    scientist> The one on the left will be filled with porn and the one on the right with pictures of cats.
    politician> My God, it's beautiful!

  • by tomxor ( 2379126 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:05AM (#54164209)
    This is great and all but... being on slashdot this is prime for a backup analogy, don't put all your eggs in one basket and all that. Let just hope that mountain in Norway isn't the target of some rouge asteroid or other geologically significant event.
    • Good idea, lets use the moon and Mars for our offsite backup locations. Then when it becomes feasible, maybe a couple of super probes that can take residence outside this solar system in case the sun goes supernova. While the ultimate goal of the Norway vault is for the benefit of remaining mankind, it will eventually become important for us to think of future extraterrestrial civilizations that may show up just a bit too late for contact.
    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Let just hope that mountain in Norway isn't the target of some rouge asteroid or other geologically significant event.

      Nor a rogue president or other politically significant event.

  • Copyright issues?

    So if the RIAA, MPAA and others going to demand that they screen for copyrighted movies, music and more before they are stored there?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There are no copyright issues at play.

      In every country in the world signed to the Berne convention, it is legal to obtain any copyrighted material you wish.
      It is also legal to do almost anything with it, the exception being to distribute it.

      Material going into the mountain is fine.
      Material leaving the mountain would be subject to copyright law.

      Since the announced plan is to NOT let the information out until after a global disaster, no laws will be broken until after said disaster.

      Let the MPAA/RIAA enforce t

  • good idea? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by idji ( 984038 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:08AM (#54164227)
    noone is going to take an army to go to Arctic to destroy seeds, but they might to destroy an Archive, and while they are there they'll trample the seeds...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drew_kime ( 303965 )

      noone is going to take an army to go to Arctic to destroy seeds, but they might to destroy an Archive, and while they are there they'll trample the seeds...

      It goes both ways. If the day comes we actually need the seeds, whoever is fighting over them isn't going to give a shit about a couple of books. Every additional target you put in one location increases the risk to each of the others.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      This is my concern too. It makes the vault a target for anyone who wants to suppress history or knowledge, like most dictators.
      It better not contain any climate change research...

      Heck, it probably makes it a target for big media too, who won't care one bit if they bankrupt the entire vault and its future operations for what it was originally meant for.

      • The reason for the existence of the seed vault is that once the natural habitat has been destroyed, nobody but Bill Gates (read: Monsanto and the likes) will have access to them. They will claim all the DNA as their own findings, patent it, and sell the seeds at a very high price. Because competition is for losers, monopoly is for the winners.
  • Transmet style. We know how inaccurate distributed digital "factual" data is, we can make it so that this theoretical future civilization that rises from the ashes thinks we are lunatics that worship cats, fat bottomed lawyers daughters and creepy businessmen...oh...wait.
  • So this magic film has been tested to last for 500 years, eh? Was the film really invented (and the testing started) back in 1517? Or has someone finally invented a time machine or maybe a telephone to the future, at least?

    It simply is not possible to test something's viability for an extended time period with having that time period actually elapse! Some real-world processes simply cannot be rushed or physically simulated. Just because a thing survives one year at 500 times normal usage or exposure or

    • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:25AM (#54164327)

      If you fully understand the behavior of a material, you should be able to give a pretty good swag at it's lifetime. Nothing magical occurs, the material loses an average of xxx molecular connections upon exposure to xxx photons, or xxx heat, or whatever. You can test using various acceleration environments and extrapolate based on what you learn. If half of an iron bar rusts out over a month, you don't need to wait another month to know that the rest of it will rust away in a month.

  • by myid ( 3783581 ) on Monday April 03, 2017 @11:33AM (#54164377)

    Languages change. 500 years from now, will people be able to understand our current writing?

    For the languages of the data that is stored in Norway, I suggest that they store a dictionary in those languages.

    They should also store books on how to learn those languages. They might store books like the ones I used when I studied German in high school. Those books were completely in German. In the beginner's book, the first page had a small red rectangle, a small blue rectangle, and a small green rectangle, etc. Next to each rectangle was the German word for that color. So we learned those colors in German. Then the book showed the picture of hands pointing to rectangles of various colors. Next to them were the German words for "This is red.", or "This is blue.", etc. So we learned how to make those simple sentences. Then the book built on that, making the sentences more complicated, and introducing more words.

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      I think any decent cryptanalyst with a copy of a dictionary and even the barest type of translations (e.g. thousands and thousands of books, documents, etc. in easily-readable electronic format) would make mincemeat out of learning any language.

      It really is such "day one" junk of discovering such an archive that would occupy almost no effort or time at all compared to actually interpreting the archive as a whole.

      Most of our efforts to translate ancient languages come from there being not enough data stored,

    • Languages change. 500 years from now, will people be able to understand our current writing?

      We can read Babylonian, Egyptian Heiroglyphs, Old English, Mayan. 500 years isn't that long.

    • Yeah, anything that's Rosetta Stonish should work. Another thought is that languages aren't changing as quickly now due to mass literacy.

  • I prefer my Doomsday vaults more than 200 feet above potentially rising seas.
  • I have this vision of aliens landing and finding the vault on Svalbard as the only trace of humanity's existence. The head researcher sticks the flash drives in the ground while vainly attempting to extract all of our books and films from the seeds. Glumly, they radio home to file a No Contact and move on to the next planet.

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