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This topic has fascinated me for ages. The thoughts on where is everyone that Fermi asked, leads to some people doing thought experiments or reasoning behind that.

One idea says, we are making a serious mistake and one we can't bring back home by the expansion of radio, television, and other signals going out into space at a ever increasing sphere. Their thought on this is that any species able to survive and build a technological society, would see any other civilization as competition for resources, that they might eventually need. Habitable planets such as ours aren't that common. That any technological civilization would eliminate such a place before it became a confrontation issue for them.

Another one says, we are back water and backwards when it comes to civilization. That our animal instincts for survival make us unfitted for contact since we'd be a danger to any other civilization that was caught without their tech to protect them.

Space is huge, far beyond our ability to grasp just how huge, stretching out into infinity. Travel times between even just galaxies, is restricted when it comes to the top speed of light. For us, we'd age out and die before reaching a satellite galaxy in our own Milky Way. The distances are just to vast and our tech is not up to the task. The only way to work around that would be self-aware, self-repairing robots that essentially didn't age. We are not to that point yet.

There's also been the thought that there might be some sort of barrier that prevents most civilizations from becoming too far advanced before they die out; called the Great Filter. That something prevents most from advancing into a future. Perhaps nuclear war, perhaps resource depletion, perhaps their own global warming unconquered. Who knows as this is all speculation.

I think some people worry far too much about their legacy. And not enough about the present and its real effects on the future.

#8 | Posted by Whatsleft
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This goes to today's world as well. Storage issues and formats are kinda linked together. Cities, counties, and the government itself went to digital storage years ago. Then the format problems started popping up. Like when Windows went to NFTS as one example but it goes back much further than this. Quickly everything had to be in NFTS, which required a format of the hard drive, for the computer to understand what it was given. All those records had a change over time before they became inaccessible. Or chose your place, remember Word Perfect program or Lotus 1-2-3? Those programs finally died out and all records stored on those formats had to be changed over or lost.

Where this comes important is say your property tax records, DMV records, or even voting records. Without hardbacks, how does the city or county prove you paid your taxes and your property isn't up for public sale?

Then too, another issue driving recovery and finances, is the Microsoft tax. Every year or when ever the license expires, it needs renewed at a cost. Businesses and other holders of such licenses, have to be able to prove they own and paid for the software. Without the receipt showing it was paid, when Microsoft sends out it's investigators to see, they want that proof and nothing else is acceptable. No receipt, no matter if you paid or not, they consider you are running pirated software; period. Licensing by the seat is expensive, especially when you have a large organization. So many looked to reign in the expense by going Open Source. Open Source still requires a license other than for home use (Linux) but it is much cheaper than Windows and their formats aren't so subject to as much change as they aren't so profit driven. That means previous records remain accessible.

Digital storage has always been an issue. This isn't something that just popped it's head up. Think about it. What if we had a nuclear war? What if everyone went back to the stone age? Other than books, how would you relearn civilization?

The first problem I seem to remember historians complaining about was the constant change of formats over the years. After a decade or so at the fast pace of the spread of new formats, it was hard to open/store/save the old stuff.

With tape formats, use caused the high frequency to drop out. Worse the over lap of each layer on a tape reel, passed small amounts of magnetism to the adjacent layers and over time this caused the high end stuff to start dropping out. Then over time, the material that is used to store the recording on, starts separating from the plastic backing that provides the strength to the tape. Then you wind up with no data whatever on tape but that takes a while.

With CD storage, it came down to quality assembly of the CD. CD/DVDs are a sandwich. Two layers of plastic, with a foil inside. The foil can't be exposed to the atmospheric air, if it does get exposed, it starts corroding. So the glue that held it all together becomes really important. The poorer quality CDs start to fail at about 10 years. Archive level quality does much better.

Today, were we to have this back to the stone age event, all electronics would be pretty much be gone. That means any and all digital storage would be just so much trash, what remained accessible. Things like stuff stored in the cloud, would just vanish to most people, as if it never was.

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