1999 : WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INVENTION IN THE PAST TWO THOUSAND YEA

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Computational Neuroscientist; Francis Crick Professor, the Salk Institute; Coauthor, The Computational Brain
pioneer in Computational Neurobiology

Technological advances in communication from clay tablets, to papyrus,to moveable type, to postscript have had a shaping influence on society and these are accelerating. Almost overnight, the accumulated knowledge of the world is crystallizing into a distributed digital archive.

Images and music as well as text have merged into a universal currency of information, the digital bit, which is my choice for the greatest discovery of the last two millennia. Unlike other forms of archival storage, bits are forever.

In the next millennium this digital archive will continue to expand, in ways we cannot yet imagine, greatly enhancing what a single human can accomplish in a lifetime, and what our culture can collectively discover about the world and ourselves.