This isn’t science fiction: GitHub has put the finishing touches on its Arctic Code Vault, a nearly 1.5-ton steel box covered in AI-generated etchings that aim to inspire future generations to explore it. GitHub originally uploaded its February 20, 2020, 21-terabyte snapshot of all public repos shortly after the pandemic began. None of the company’s employees, however, were present to attend or participate due to the pandemic.
The snapshot, largely encoded in QR code, is stored on more than 180 reels of film that have since July been 250 meters deep in a mountain in Svalbard, Norway, in a former coal mine. The place is cold, close to the North Pole, but also to the world seed reserve of Svalbard. Given that records must be kept for 1,000 years, it is almost certain that none of today’s tech giants will exist then, nor will the technologies they produced – from networks to software, smartphones and programming languages.
“GitHub’s Arctic Code is now a veritable vault, with our archival film reels resting safely in its 1,400 kg edifice. Even if its heirs centuries from now don’t know what it is, they will certainly recognize that it is something extraordinary,” wrote Jon Evans, founding director of GitHub’s archive program.
Save current knowledge
“A worrying amount of global knowledge is currently stored on ephemeral media,” explains the leader to justify this device, referring to hard drives and CD-ROMs. “Our hope is that by storing and indexing millions of repositories, we have captured a valuable sample of the modern software world. »
Another potentially useful addition is what the project calls the Tech Tree – a selection of mostly human-readable books describing how the world uses software today.
This tree is divided into 13 sections covering: the functioning of computers and their connection; algorithms and data structures; compilers, assemblers and operating systems; programming languages; networking and connectivity; the development of modern software; modern software applications; hardware architectures and hardware development, electronic components; pre-electric technologies as well as culture and written history over the past 150 years.