21 terabytes of open-source data now lie beneath Norwegian permafrost to be protected and preserved. In the event of an apocalypse, future generations can then extract them for consultation.
In November 2019, GitHub Universe, which specializes in source code hosting, presented its Artic Code Vault program. The idea: to preserve open source software for future generations.
From then on, GitHub listed all the public repositories active on its platform to be archived in the vault. These include blueprints used to create all kinds of technologies, from fundamental operating systems to complex machine learning programs. In short, so many useful elements if we had to start from scratch.
The purpose of the Arctic Code Vault is indeed to ensure that “the world’s most irreplaceable digital memories of art, culture and literature” are protected in the event of an existential threat to humanity. Whether driven by nuclear war, climate change or a pandemic.
Note that this safe already contains a number of data repositories from the National Archives of Mexico and Brazil, the Vatican Library, the National Museum of Norway, the European Space Agency, and a number of ‘other organizations.
Data preserved in permafrost
That being said, this official filing was just successfully completed on July 8, 2020, the firm said.
Specifically, this data vault has been stored in the Arctic World Archive. This archival space “built to last 1000 years” was opened on March 27, 2017 at the initiative of the Norwegian specialist company Piql and the Norwegian state-owned mining company Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani (SNSK). It is housed in a former coal mine on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, in Svalbard.
It is also in the same region that the Svalbard World Preserve is located, which stores several million seed samples from around the world. Again, to preserve them in case the human species is threatened.
“The code journey began at Piql’s facility in Drammen, Norway,” explained GitHub. “The boxes containing 186 reels of film were shipped to Oslo Airport, then loaded onto the plane bound for the Svalbard region.”
“The code then landed in Longyearbyen, a town of a few thousand people, located in Svalbard. Welcomed by a local logistics company, the boxes were transported overnight to a secure intermediate warehouse, the company adds. They were deposited the next morning in the Arctic World Archive “.
The 21 terabytes of open-source data are now stored in a vault located a hundred meters away in the permafrost.
Human readable data
A guide in five languages is associated with each archive for those interested in the Arctic Code Vault.
In addition, the data is stored on piqlFilm, an ultra-durable medium that can be read with a computer. However, the safe also contains a human-readable film reel, in case the necessary technology is not available in the future.
“We expect you won’t need our software definitions. We imagine that you will have your own computers, probably much more advanced than ours “we read for future generations. “However, you may have inferior computers, or even no computers at all. For this eventuality, we have prepared an uncompressed, uncoded, human-readable data reel. “