The Ascent of Information | Caleb Scharf

Summary of: The Ascent of Information: Books, Bits, Genes, Machines, and Life’s Unending Algorithm
By: Caleb Scharf


Immerse yourself in the captivating concept of the ‘dataome’ as you explore the book summary of ‘The Ascent of Information: Books, Bits, Genes, Machines, and Life’s Unending Algorithm’ by Caleb Scharf. Delve into the fascinating relationship between human life, the universe, and information. Discover how humans, as a species, store information externally, comprehend the intricacies of our evolving dataome, and how human cognition interacts with this vast external storage. Gain insights into the dataome’s exponential growth, its impact on energy consumption, and the implications to the planet’s future. Embark on a journey through human history, cognition, and biology, culminating in a profound reevaluation of the essence of life itself.

The Dataome Unveiled

In his book, Caleb Scharf introduces the concept of the “dataome,” a powerful and ever-evolving entity that represents the entirety of human knowledge. From exploring human history and cognition, Scharf describes how this dataome could have a profound impact on life and the universe.

The Dataome – Our External Memory

The dataome is a concept introduced by Caleb Scharf that challenges the traditional perspective of human cognition. It suggests that everything, from the tiniest atoms to the entire cosmos, is part of human cognition, which extends beyond the mind. Information and data are not the same things; data refers to the components, while information stands for meaning. Humans are the only species that retain information externally, a human-generated dataome that shapes humanity. Natural selection plays a vital role in what information remains and how it endures. The dataome creates rules for how people utilize information, and the author suggests that information is a significant currency of the universe that works alongside physical laws. At its core, the dataome is about what our data gets from us, not just about what we get from our data. The history and transformation of the dataome is being recorded in real-time and is available for rediscovery and reinterpretation, just like the Sumerian cuneiform script that lasted for 3,000 years.

The Cost of the Dataome

Scharf unveils the staggering cost of the dataome, explaining how it is costly to create, store, and process data into meaningful insights. The data we hold outside of our biological realm provides us with unparalleled evolutionary advantages. The book delves into how the dataome has surged through the centuries and how data centers are growing at an alarming rate of 40%. By 2040, these data centers will consume all the planet’s energy, which is a significant concern.

The Dataome: How External Information Shapes Our Brains

Our brains are constantly adapting to the complex world around us, and the cost of change can be high. The dataome, a term coined by Scharf, is the external information that shapes and improves our brains. It allows us to organize complex ideas, augment our memory, and create art and literature that can spark new ideas. However, the tearing of the dataome, as seen in China’s Cultural Revolution, can set a society’s progress back by generations. This reinforces the importance of preserving and continuously enriching our external information to support the development of our brains.

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