Stores of Information

The maximum rate of information processing by the human brain in about 10bits- . Information is acquired most actively during the first 20 years of life of the individual, that is, during about 6 x 108s. The amount of information acquired later in life does not change the order of magnitude of the total store. The amount of information stored in memory of an adult human can be estimated at about 6 x 109 bit.

An upper estimate of the total amount of cultural information of the modern civilization can be obtained multiplying the current population number of Earth (^6 x 109 people) by the average individual memory store of information (^6 x 10 bit), which gives a value of about 10 bit. This is a gross overestimate of the real value, because most part of memory information is the same in all contemporary people. The unique non-overlapping information of the civilization is stored in memories of specialists (professionals) - scientists, craftsmen, writers, musicians, artists. Working specialists constitute not more than about 10% of the whole population (multiplier 10—1). Each field of knowledge can normally exist with no less than 100 specialists working in this field and sharing the same memory information (multiplier 10—2). The real value of information store of the modern civilization can be obtained multiplying the upper estimate by 10—3, which gives about 1016 bit.

Genetic information of most species of the biosphere is written in polymer double-strand molecules of DNA, which represent various sequences of the existing four different monomer units - nucleotide base pairs (bp). Human genome contains G = 3 x 109 bp, that is, 3 x 10 memory cells each of which can be characterized by one of the four different values. The store of genetic information in the human genome is equal to log2 4G = 2 G = 6 x 109 bit. The stores of genetic and nongenetic (memory) information in humans are of the same order of magnitude.

To quantify the store of the genetic information of the natural biota as a whole it is necessary to multiply the information content of an average genome by the total number of species in the biosphere, which is equal to about 107 species. The average genome size can be taken equal to 10 bp, which is the average genome size of insects that constitute the majority of species in the biosphere. The total amount of genetic information stored in the natural biota is of the order of 1016 bit and coincides in the order of magnitude with the information store of the modern civilization (Figure 2a).

The amount of information that can be stored in a modern PC is of the order of 1011 bit, that is, it greatly exceeds the amounts of genetic and individual memory information of one person. The cumulative memory capacity of modern computer technologies is large enough to store both the cultural information of the modern civilization and the genetic information of the natural biota.

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