Connect with us

1000 year data storage for autonomous robotic facility

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Bernhard Kuemel, May 3, 2013.

Scroll to continue with content
  1. Sorry for repost, I posted to sci.electronics before, which does not exist.


    I'm planning a robotic facility [3] that needs to maintain hardware
    (exchange defective parts) autonomously for up to 1000 years. One of the
    problems is to maintain firmware and operating systems for this period.
    What methods do you think are suitable?

    Top priority is it must work about 1000 years. Price is not a big issue,
    if necessary.

    I thought about this:

    ROMs/PROMs, replacing them when checksum fails.

    ROM/PROM masters, being copied once a year to flash ROM.

    1000 flash ROMs, refreshing once a year from the ones that still have a
    valid checksum.

    Non electronic masters:

    HD-Rosetta (ion beam engraved nickel disc)
    glass CD/DVD
    Paper [2]
    punched cards

    The drawback of the non electronic masters is their reader system which
    can fail mechanically/optically (dust, gears, ...) and requires
    electronic components/firmware themselves.

    Is it possible to make robots or their spare parts that suffer only
    minor degradation when kept as spare parts for 1000 years at good
    storage conditions? semiconductors, inductors, (non electrolytic)
    capacitors, circuit boards, plastic/metal structures, CCD/CMOS cameras,
    actuators, solar cells, thermo couples, etc. Batteries are probably

    Thanks, Bernhard


    something like

    A cold store to keep humans frozen (vitrified) in LN2 until mind
    uploading ( ) becomes
  2. Uwe Hercksen

    Uwe Hercksen Guest


    I think it is too optimistic to believe that all the needed parts will
    survive 1000 years, even if stored as spare parts.
    All metallic contact surfaces will oxidize. Plastic parts will degrade.
    Isolations will fail.

    A building that should provide good storage conditions would not survive
    this long time.

  3. Cryogenic storage of parts that can stand thermal cycling and cold
    temperatures (should be most of them) should reduce most mechanisms of
    failure. For example, liquid nitrogen temperatures (77K) would reduce
    aging, in theory, by 2^20 or about 10^6:1, so the items would age
    maybe the equivalent of 8 hours in 1000 years. Of course the
    warranties will expire in that length of time, and probably all the
    companies that made them, and quite possibly many of the countries in
    which the companies were located will also be gone.

    Also keeping liquid nitrogen around continously for 1000 years on
    earth is non-trivial.

  4. hanson

    hanson Guest

    I'm planning a robotic facility [3] that needs to maintain
    hardware (exchange defective parts) autonomously
    for up to 1000 years. One of the problems is to maintain
    firmware and operating systems for this period.
    What methods do you think are suitable?
    Top priority is it must work about 1000 years.
    Price is not a big issue.
    hanson wrote:

    Bernie, Bernie, Bernie, you should think about
    that much, much more... That "1000 year" thing
    was tried during your Great Grandpa's days. It
    didn't work too well. Collapsed after a dozend
  5. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Consult the Romans, they knew how to do it :)

    As others have suggested, a threat analysis is in order and then
    consider storage under inert gas. And write the instructions on good
    paper, like this:
  6. I'm worried that components or assemblies (circuit boards with
    components) crack or break with large temperature changes due to
    different thermal expansion coefficients.
    Absolutely. That's what this is all about. Linde machines probably won't
    last long enough. Peltier coolers don't cool deep enough. I'm waiting
    for adiabatic demagnetization of gadolinium alloy coolers.

  7. This is about media being used during these 1000 years as a source of
    firmware and operating systems to keep the robotic facility functional.
  8. Guest

    Romans ! ?

    What about the Egyptians, Indians or even the Chinese? Don't their cultures and inventions go back even farther? Rome is in ruins today. The Great Pyramids are still standing. Perhaps Bernhard needs a more durable material like stone.
  9. claims about nickel data
    plates: "Nickel has a much longer life span than microfilm up to
    thousands of years." Something like nickel or gold might solve this
    problem. Lots of precious metals might attract thieves, though.
    Polyethyleneterephtalate (PET) microfilm is thought to last up to 700
    years. So maybe Teflon can last 1000 years.
    There are teflon insulated cables.
    Egyptian pyramids are over 4000 years old. They may not be in sufficient
    condition, but I still have hope that with improved
    technology/possibilities we can build something that lasts 1000 years.
    But the daily temperature changes in the Australian desert certainly
    require very durable building materials. Glass ceramics come to my mind.

  10. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    It's so thin, not worth the theft. To reduce the temptation cover it
    with something so it isn't shiny. Vandalism is much more of a concern.

    I'd trust metal on glass and similar structures much more. A lot of
    times adverse effects in modern materials only become discovered decades
    after the fat. Like the spontaneous combustion that happened in old
    movie archives.

    Even here it may be best to stay with the true and tried. I have a
    transformer that's probably almost 100 years old, the secondary is
    copper insulated with cloth. Looks like new. If something shows next to
    no decay over a hundred years chances are it may last another 900 years.
    With modern plastics we often don't really know.

    Unless there is a continuous stream of money from pharaohs, king or
    admission-paying tourists even pyramids fall apart:

    The other problem is theft of building materials from the actual
    buildings. AFAIK it already started with the Ottomans raiding the
    pyramids for limestone. Guess they were not willing to pay full retail
    pricing ...

    BTW, you might want to build the robot with through-hole parts. That
    reduces the chance that someone turns it on in 998 years, doesn't work,
    and a hair crack is discovered in a big ceramic cap.

    I wonder what an extended 1000-year warranty would cost :)
  11. Tim Williams

    Tim Williams Guest

    But maybe you could have some fun anyway.

  12. Jasen Betts

    Jasen Betts Guest

    for the master copy: core rope memory.
    you said price not a big issue, that'll test how not-big it really is.
  13. Probably would not end well with BGA lead-free boards, or QFN boards.

    Through hole and gull wing SMT parts with leaded solder seem to do
    fine, even with thermal shock. Cycling over the military temperature
    range (-55~105°C) is a similar change, however it's not centered at
    room temperature, so the stress could be greater.
    I wonder if you could make something almost passive that would cool
    to, say, dry ice temperatures using radiative cooling into a desert
    night sky.

    Best regards,
    Spehro Pefhany
  14. Robert Baer

    Robert Baer Guest

    * add - 3 in "parallel" using majority logic for output a and checking.
    * see above.
    * see above.

    ** Semiconductor storage is useless in a RAD environment.
    * Degrades - maybe not as fast as the old acetate movie films, but 100
    year life is not realistic (but may be better in a RAD environment).
    * of ideas mentioned,this seems the best. now,how does it get read?
    * maybe good enough for 20-10 years.
    * NOPE! Leather,if kept in a dry environment is at least an order of
    magnitude better (eg: Dead Sea scrolls). Proven technology. Proven
    characteristics. Good enough for a few thousand years.
    * See above.
    * Stay away from anything electronic..mechanical parts if not used
    nominally do not wear out and reasonably tolerate a RAD environment.
  15. Guest

    I asked a co-worker who was fluent in Chinese about this once. If I
    remember right, he said that he could read written Chinese as old as a
    couple of thousand years and it would pretty much make sense. He also
    said that he could understand written Japanese, but if he tried to
    speak it, someone fluent in spoken Japanese wouldn't understand him;
    the pronunciation would be wrong.
    I figured it was a customer lock-in tactic, like EBCDIC and Word .doc .
    Pic related: (sfw)

    Matt Roberds
  16. Guest

    This might sound weird, but consider posting in
    where the topic has been discussed by fairly tech-savvy people re:
    blunders in SF stories about data that lasts for very long times to
    sustain widely dispersed long-lived cultures.
    First, when you say "autonomous" do you mean absolutely no external
    resources (parts, materials, software etc.) are presumed available? If
    so, that implies no external sources of corruption can get in- the
    facility is must be water/gas/light/(unknown)-tight. What will the
    facility use for power? I'm thinking not just storage medium
    degradation but data corruption (viruses, language changes re:
    obsolescence and so on) due to outside influences as well as say stray
    radiation from a plutonium power source or similar.

    Threat assessment has been mentioned. Suppose someone side-channel
    attacks you by modulating the sunlight falling on your solar
    collectors with a virus...
    Consider corruption of data during read/write cycles in anything
    from quipu through punch cards and electronic storage media to (I
    think) Speff's laser-engraved porcelain. It's the "telephone game"
    problem with just one player.
    Already answered with bit flipping due to cosmic rays, metal
    migration, glass creep, and so on. Not good for a few decades much
    less centuries. Then there was radioactive ceramic used to encapsulate
    memory chips. Oops!
    Well, think like a customer-service tech (one with brains). Your end-
    users, the robots- what tech are they built with? What conditions do
    they have to survive for a thousand years- temp-controlled low-
    pressure argon atmosphere?

    What do your robots use for eyes and ears? If your primary archive
    is a big slab of granite/basalt/osmiridium engraved with literal
    zeroes and ones corruption is very difficult to envision barring
    geological events that would threaten the integrity of the facility,
    but can the robots read it?

    Mark L. Fergerson
  17. Fred Abse

    Fred Abse Guest

    Latin isn't a dead language. It is still the official language of the
    Vatican City state, spoken daily.
  18. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Ummm... parchment *is* leather. Well, hide, at least. It's an animal
    product, not paper.

    True, it is an animal product. But some of the dead sea scrolls were
    written on papyrus and that is not animal-based.
  19. benj

    benj Guest

    I recall some SF story I read a long time ago with a similar line. It was
    about a beehive style human culture maintained by self-repairing machines
    (much as described here) And then the machines began to stop. Naturally
    hilarity ensues...

    I would point out that there is a difference here between maintaining
    digital data for 1000 years (hard enough to do) and maintaining FIRMWARE
    for 1000 years.

    In the first case you store the data (say in a refractory cubic
    transparent crystal that was built up crystal layer by crystal layer
    using defects to store data. The data is only in the CENTER of the object
    so even if the outside is dirty and degraded for whatever reason, The
    damage can be polished off and the data read. But reading is entirely up
    to the skilz of the future generation.

    Firmware, on the other hand implies that you are constantly reading and
    using the data. This is a whole different kettle of worms. Now the life
    expectance and reliability of the READER becomes involved! I found it
    interesting that the millennium clock does not display time, only keeps
    it! When a human enters the cave (whatever) THEY have to pull the weight
    that runs the display. And then the display shuts off until the next
    person visits. That greatly reduces all display wear etc. But for
    firmware running a robotic facility reading would have to be more or less
  20. Jasen Betts

    Jasen Betts Guest

    or more compact symbologies like QR or matrix codes.
Ask a Question
Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?
You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.
Electronics Point Logo
Continue to site
Quote of the day