A viral map of submarine internet cables sparked a theory that the planet Earth is now a super computer. Is there any truth to this claim or is it just a wild speculation? In this article, we will explore the origins, implications and challenges of this idea.
The map that started it all shows the locations and routes of more than 300 submarine cables that carry data across the oceans. These cables are essential for global communication and connectivity, as they carry more than 99% of international internet traffic. The map quickly gained popularity and was shared by many media outlets and websites.
Some people noticed that the map resembled a circuit board or a neural network, and wondered if the Earth could be seen as a giant computer. This idea was not new, as some philosophers and scientists have proposed similar hypotheses in the past. For example, in 1967, Konrad Zuse suggested that the universe is a cellular automaton, a discrete model of computation that evolves according to simple rules. In 2002, Seth Lloyd calculated that the universe could perform 10^120 operations per second, based on its mass, energy and age.
However, the map of submarine cables added a new twist to the idea, as it implied that human activity and technology are contributing to the computational power of the planet. Some people speculated that the Earth could be running a simulation or an artificial intelligence program, or that it could be part of a larger network of cosmic computers. In a physical sense it’s basically no different than the inwards of any personal computer now, just on much larger scale. Take a look.
The map of submarine cables is great representation of the scale of human infrastructure, and how it reaches every corner of the earth now. However, the cables themselves are allegedly not very efficient, as they are prone to damage, interference and latency. As technology gets better those issues are becoming less of a problem.
The Earth is a complex and dynamic system that supports life and diversity, but slowly is starting to resemble a machine that performs calculations and computations.