At its Universe Developer Conference two days ago, GitHub announced its Archive Program — its plan to preserve all of its open source software for future generations. The program will see this data stored on an ongoing basis across various data formats and locations, including in the Arctic World Archive, a vault hidden 250 meters within an Arctic mountain in Svalbard. The Doomsday seed vault is just around the corner.
The data is stored on reels of film coated with iron oxide powder. It can be read by a computer or — in the event of a global power outage — a human with a magnifying glass. Crucially, this film will last for 1,000 years. Among the first data deposit at the vault is the source code for Android and Linux operations systems, as well as a range of programming languages, web platforms, cryptocurrencies and AI tools. GitHub is planning on having all active public repositories stored by February 2020.
The data will sit alongside digitally preserved national archives from around the world, including artworks, music, scientific breakthroughs, historical manuscripts and archaeological finds. Should some kind of apocalyptic event take place, all this data could well be used to help rebuild a global society. If not, it will at least act as a valuable time capsule. After all, just 20 years ago open source code was a very fringe idea — now the world all but depends on it. Who knows what technology will look like in 1,000 years’ time?