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It probably comes as no surprise that the human race is generating more data than it knows what to do with. But the numbers behind this insane, exponential buildup of bits may still shock you: In a recent editorial, IBM's VP of supercomputing, Dave Turek, mentions that if we start in the year 2003 and go all the way back to the beginning of human history, we'll find that we as a species have created 5 exabytes (5 billion gigabytes) of information. In 2011, we began creating that same amount of data every 2 days, and by 2013, IBM and others expect we'll be doing the same every 10 minutes.

So yes, there is no question that we are now producing an unimaginable amount of data at an astronomical rate. The question we should now be asking –...

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