I attended a workshop last month at which one of the speakers showed us this graphic. It illustrates that the volume of information available to us has been approximately doubling every year. In 2005, the digital universe was 130 Exabytes (billions of gigabytes) and by 2020 it is expected to have grown to about 40,000 Exabytes. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that entropy or disorder of the physical universe is always increasing; so, is this also true for the digital universe? Claude Shannon proposed that information is negentropy, which implies that an increasing growth in information represents a decrease in entropy and this seems to contradict the second law [see my post ‘Entropy on the brain‘ on November 29th, 2017]. Perhaps the issue is the definition of information – the word comes from the Latin: informare, which means to inform or to give someone knowledge. I suspect that much of what we view on our digital screens does not inform and is data rather than information. Our digital screens are akin to telescopes used to view the physical universe – they let us see what’s out there, but we have to do some processing of the data in order to convert it into knowledge. It’s that last bit that can be stressful if we don’t have some control mechanisms available to limit the amount of disorder that we ask our brains to cope with – we are back to Gadget Stress [see my post on April 9th, 2014] and Digital Detox [see my post on August 10th, 2016].
Source: Atsufumi Hirohata, Department of Electronics, University of York www-users.york.ac.uk/~ah566/lectures/adv01_introduction.pps