In Case of Apocalypse, Open This Arctic Code Vault

In Case of Apocalypse, Open This Arctic Code Vault

This is what’s known
as the Svalbard Stroll. It’s a brisk, hands-in-pockets
type of affair because you’re at the end of the Earth and it’s really, freaking cold. So this is the first time
you’ve ever seen this place? I’ve never been here before. No, I never even thought I
would ever be in Svalbard. My arctic companion is Nat Friedman, CEO of the software platform GitHub. He usually lives in San Francisco, but he’s traveled to the ends of the Earth to do something peculiar. So, we’re here in Svalbard,
at 78 degrees north latitude, at the site of the future
GitHub Arctic Code Vault. He’s depositing 6,000 of the most popular open-source projects in an
archive inside this mountain. Open the vault! Nat’s goal here is one, to protect the world’s
software from the apocalypse, and two, preserve our modern way of life. The man is ambitious. How much of this is an
existential risk type thing? Most of the time when you build a product you build it hoping that lots
of people use it all the time, and this is probably a case
where we’re building a product, kind of hoping that it never gets used, in a way. Fingers crossed Nat fingers crossed. For those of you who haven’t
wintered in Svalbard, it’s located way up here. A frigid, barren wasteland, void of trees or any meaningful vegetation. The last spot humans can tolerate before the Arctic proves too much. Getting here requires much
planning and deep resolve to face Mother Nature at her worst. Or, you know, a private jet. And the courage gained by
downing bubbly by the gallon, and embracing your inner playboy. Hello, Svalbard. Coal mining used to be
the main game in Svalbard but since that’s not cool anymore, people here have had
to find some other uses for all their permafrost, which brings us back to our
coal mine, and our code cave. Is this is what you expected the entrance to your seed vault to look like? It legitimately looks like
the entrance to a mine. So, I believe, we are going deep inside a mountain. This is a old coal mine. Nat and I were joined
by some proper mine men, who taught us the ways of the mine. And here you have some instrument? Oh, okay. Oh, to check the methane. And who were also helpful in firming up the concept
of existential risk. And when you product coal, there will come a little bit of gas. You don’t feel it, you die. But you have apoxia. You die. Yeah, that sounds dangerous. With the safety brief down, it’s time to get on to the real business of protecting the world’s code. This is how it works, the data is stored on a reel of film, coated with iron-oxide powder. The information can still
be read by a computer, or if need be, by a human
with a magnifying glass. How long will this last? We are confident for 1,000 and we’re aiming now
to do research project to document 2,000 years. 2,000 years? You think this could
last up to 2,000 years? We collected the film, which is spooled inside
these white plastic cases, and headed into the darkness. I mean, usually I have the hard hats, and I feel like it’s for show. Yeah, this is not for show. As we venture further into the abyss, let me catch you up on who Nat is. Nat’s company GitHub is
the main place people go to write open source code. Tens of millions of people hop on GitHub and create the applications
that make the world tick. Which is why Nat wants to protect it from terrorist hackers,
electromagnetic pulses, and other unforeseen disasters. Where are we going? And where we were going, was not good. Okay. Let’s get the hell out. But like all intrepid explorers, we would not let something
like a lack of oxygen stop us. And thank god for that,
because I now present to you the most futuristic, ultra secure, sci-fi inspired code
vault you will ever see. Okay, it’s basically a tool
shed, but it’s still cool. Wow.
Into the data vault. I mean, this is reel one, of
the GitHub Arctic Code Vault and we’re gonna put it here,
in Svalbard, under the ice, for the next 2,000 years. Here we go. Thank you. Like, I think, 20 years ago, if you’d told someone that 20 years in the future, in the year 2020, all of human civilization
will depend on and run on open source code, written for free, and put into almost every
product in the world, I think people would
say, like, that’s crazy, like, that’s never gonna happen. You know software’s written by big professional companies,
and yet, here we are. Yeah, and so how much of this is just making sure we can
restore our way of life? I’m overall pretty optimistic
about civilization, like, I think we can bet that, you know, humans will be thriving for
a long time on planet Earth. And so, another way to think about this, is it’s just like a time capsule. Like there’s this amazing
moment in history where the whole world is starting
to run on software, and that software is
made out of open source and open source is sort of in everything. 20 years ago, open source software was
seen as a fringe idea. The big companies kept their codes secret. Only weird hippie types shared code and gave it away for free. Fast forward to 2019, and
about 40 million people and 2 million companies and
organizations use GitHub. That’s why Microsoft paid
a stunning $7.5 billion to acquire the company last year. I’ll just leave it like this. Safe in the knowledge that open-source code will be secure, it was time
for me to explore Svalbard. Nat and I returned to our nerd pursuits. This time we were checking out the northernmost GitHub users who work at an observatory dedicated to researching
the Northern Lights. It was lunchtime, and we
needed to get there quick, before it got dark. 1:20 p.m. sun is setting. It never really rose, actually,
we didn’t see it all day. Here in this observatory perched on a snowy mountain, work some seriously hardy scientists. So, during the daytime, for
three and a half months, over the winter, it is completely dark. And so, we can make 24 hour
observations of the Aurora. And why would somebody
want to study the Aurora? The Aurora is important for understanding the whole process of
the connection between the sun and the Earth’s magnetic field, and then the ultimate
impact on the atmosphere. So, this is what we call space weather. This arctic island is full of surprises. I have to do a photo, man, this is crazy. There are a lot of white mountains, some more white mountains,
and these white mountains, which host one of the world’s biggest satellite ground stations. Our modern infrastructure relies on the messages sent from here. But if you need a break from nerding out, the real action takes place
in the town of Longyearbyen. Which is clearly named after
a very lonely coal miner, who’d had enough. As dumb luck would have it, I was in town during the
island’s blues festival. An annual event that
brings in serious musicians and serves as one last drunken hooray before months of darkness set in. I mean, it’s not so much the alcohol,
as it is the cold, that’s… So I got drunk, and hoorahed. Then I got a truly horrible hangover. Had a rough night at the Blues Festival. Today I will feel better
by going dog sledding. You got the gun, for the,
uh, polar bear situation? Polar protection, yeah,
we have dogs with us, so, they’re better protection
probably than a gun. Okay, okay. It’s not quite the private jet but, it’s my preferred way of
getting around Svalbard. As the trip neared it’s end, we went to Svalbard’s bizarrely amazing fine dining establishment to celebrate. Fried cod skin filled with
the Norwegian king crab. Things were going fine for a while. Fancy food, fancy booze, and the theme of our
journey got very real. Holy shit.
Wow, that’s so crazy. It turns out, that about 4,000 miles
away in Sonoma California, Nat’s house had been
destroyed by the fires raging through the state. It’s super apropos to what
we’re doing right now, right? So wait, so somebody posted that on Twitter? He had the gross modern experience of seeing the remains of his
house end up on social media. Oh my gosh that’s super devastating. So there we were, with parts of California burning, and Silicon Valley going
through rolling blackouts. The epicenter of technology
feeling very fragile, amid signs that the
world is not quite right. In that moment, the idea
of a remote code cave made all too much sense.

You May Also Like

About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. More people need to watch videos like these. I trust whatever the people working at a location like that have to say. Studying the sun and its gravitational pull or whatever, yeah, I'm not going to believe a tobacco backed political candidate over these people lol

  2. Interesting symbolic gesture. In first grade we buried a time capsule. I'm pretty sure it was destroyed by the condominium tower built on top of it.

  3. He was trying not to cheer and laugh his ass off because he realized immediately that his insurance company had just bought his burned down house at full market price. In that brief instant he knew without a doubt he was going to get laid in a guilt free environment that very night……. 不不不不不

  4. The human race is fine but theyre storing this here. The human race is fine but the reporter cant even hold his own liquor on the job and one of the scientists homes just burned down. Yeah , were really thriving. The human race is so cool that it came up with that not cool coal to use for 100 years by capitalists who only care about profit while standing on the necks of workers who it turns out died of black lung anyway and which basically ruined the environment forever but the human race is fine. 丹領儭 We keep breeding 10,000 babies an hour while those guns you need to protect yourself from the polar bears is mere vanity because the polar bears are starving to death thanks to the population explosion and billionaires encourage us to breed anyway despite diminishing resources because it means they can profit some more. But the human race is thriving! Except were not. Were devolving at an abnormal rate. 1/5 of the planet lives on less than a dollar a day. Maybe the human race is thriving if youre a bloodthirsty egomaniac like Michael Bloomberg , who is so delusional he thinks that the world needs him as the next president of the United States . But most people are not thriving. In fact theyre going on downward shame spirals of all kinds, dying of opioid addictions, numbing themselves out on porn and disconnection and fearmongering and video games while the whole world continues to be versions of my 600 pound life , getting diabetes from all the shit food corporations push on us 丹領儭 Millennials are the most unhealthy generation ever recorded , but were thriving. FFS #toxicoptimism

  5. We fight in wars, or die from disease, or get replaced by robots; and people like Donald Trump and the Clintons survive in places like this.

  6. Nobody will care about the codes after an apocalypse because computers and electronics wont work. Youll be worried about not getting eaten. Those of us with guns, know how to hunt and fish and garden will do better than computer geeks.

  7. Glad to have another episode of Hello World!

    -In support of children and their families, a local company is donating all proceeds to a non-profit, the great part is you could be the lucky winner of the contest open now through Dec. 13th at

  8. The commentator/writer/Journalist (Aka Ashlee Vance), is fucking amazing, I watched his Shen-Zen documentary and it too is fucking amazing. Please let him go to these interesting places so he can make great documentaries. GIVE HIM A RAISE HES AMAZING.

  9. Moved away from Github since they sold out to another big corp. Sad really. I am not done, here we are in 2019 and people think there are 79 genders and counting. I hope after the fall people will come to their senses again. Here we are calling human babies, lumps of cells that can be terminated at free will. Madness, pure madness!

  10. But what about all the code not on GitHub? A lot of large important open source projects self-host. Will this archive even be useful if the dependencies are incomplete?

  11. The most dangerous and ironic thing here to code and to liberty — is that the globalist evil empire Microsoft bought GitHub — that is the real danger. Also, Taxation is Theft.

  12. Omg this reporter mate, sry mate but reporting for Bloomberg is really not for you, Vice News would probably be more up to your standards.

  13. any place you run around with your jacket open, wearing blue jeans, no headgear nor scarf.. AINT FUCKING COLD….you cant even see their breath condensate…wtf was this mid summer?` Also the code vault was the most anti climactic publicity stunt ever…about as anti climactic as github trash repositories ^^

  14. omg, eventually the moon will be filled with storages with obsolete source code and data from an extinguished humanity…

  15. I know it's incredibly hard to travel there. But flying on that big and lavash of a private jet as that is is incredibly ironic for something that's about preserving our culture against climate change. Too bad tech companies that fund this wouldn't actually put money back into projects for the greater good here and now to protect us.

  16. Open source is on its way to be the biggest evention even made and Bitcoin is making sure of that. Please do take 10 minutes to read the whitepaper about Bitcoin and Blockchain tech

  17. I only dream of living in a place were it stays night for so long lmao. and I'm not opposed to the cold either. How do I get a job at this place? lol

  18. deblasio is commissioned for a more appropriate project, but if a bloomberg brennan ticket cant tantalize, and since the avenatti epstein emotions have soured somewhat, its feasible the dnc could construct some ghost of mccain type identity that also has the private sector confidence their clinton scam calculations require in their consensus. feasible.

  19. This is super, The idea, The execution, The impact on richest data ever made by Humans "The Code"
    Will this vault be provided "as a service" to other companies and organization or it's solely made of Git Hub?

  20. Nice video and solid reporting! Just, imo, please refrain from that "and in that final moment it all made sense" super cliche ending.

  21. To put into perspective how stupid this is: Imagine this process done 50 years earlier, future civilizations would be reading Binary or Assembly. I can't tell if this is just a publicity stunt for github granted that competing git enabled platforms are killing them (bitbucket) or they genuinely think that the people in a doomsday scenario would want to look at deprecated works of civilizations past in order to restart.

  22. In case of an apocalypse…oof. No but November will be canceled and my phone storage will be full to every gig. Plus Ill be locked in a Costco or winco with my pet llama

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *