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Microsoft Making Glass Platters That Store Music Data for Doomsday Vault

For preserving the world's most important recordings

microsoft elire global music vault archive data technology
Proof of Concept platter, photo by Daniel Kivle
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    Microsoft officially has our backs for when the impending apocalypse wipes out our music libraries. The tech giant has partnered up with Oslo-based Elire Group’s Global Music Vault to house the world’s most important music recordings on tiny pieces of glass.

    Together, Microsoft and Elire Group have created what they call a Proof of Concept (PoC) glass platter, which will store a sample selection of music files. The PoC platter is about the size of a coaster, and can hold 100 gigabytes of data in any digital format, encrypted or unencrypted. A laser encodes data in the platters by creating layers of microscopic engravings, which artificial intelligence algorithms can then read back by decoding those images and patterns.

    Microsoft debuted the PoC platters a few years ago as part of their research project Silica, which uses innovative laser optics and machine learning. Previously, movies — like 1978’s Superman — have been preserved on these tiny but mighty pieces of technology.

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    Elire’s PoC platters will be stored in Elire’s Global Music Vault, which will share the same safeguard as the Global Seed Vault on Svalbard in far north Norway — aka the original “Doomsday Vault.” Surprisingly, glass makes a pretty ideal medium for long-term storage; Its inertness means that it can withstand a wide variety of methods — water, fire, etc. — that others may use to attempt to tamper with it.

    “With over 4 million music producers globally, and over 60,000 songs being released just on Spotify every day, today’s digital and physical data storage solutions are quickly becoming outdated, irrelevant and a risk to our future,” Luke Jenkinson, Managing Director of Global Music Vault, said in a press release. “We not only want to put this high on the global music industry agenda, we want to work with the best companies in the world to find solutions. As we want to offer the global music ecosystem an eternal solution, we believe that Microsoft’s Silica is that exact solution for our storage needs.”

    But deciding which music should be preserved won’t be an easy feat. Elire has teamed up with the Paris-based International Music Council to form a global committee that will collaborate with national music business groups to select the “most precious and loved” music from all over the world. The public is also expected to be able to vote on submissions.

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