What Artifact Will Tell Future Generations The Most About Us?

Illustration for article titled What Artifact Will Tell Future Generations The Most About Us?

Today's treasures may be tomorrow's trash, but give that trash enough tomorrows and it becomes something entirely different: an artifact.


Will it be something electronic (perhaps even with some leftover data on it) that tells all? Maybe it will be some large infrastructure project (a canal, a highway) that's big enough to make it to the future reasonably intact. Perhaps it will be a collection of items unearthed from our landfills. (Please, future generations! Do NOT look in our landfills!) Tell us what artifacts are likely to reveal the most about us to the future and why in the comments.

Image: Archeologists excavating / Mario Modesto Mata

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Chip Overclock®

Alas, virtually all the really useful, important, and insightful artifacts of our time are digital and ephemeral. Very little of it will survive, or is intended to survive. Much of the 20th Century and all time beyond it will be a vast gaping historical black hole when the archeologists from Tau Ceti arrive thousands of years from now. But having gone through a similar process themselves, they will be expecting that. They will call that boundary something that is roughly translated as "The Singularity", the point at which a civilization quits keeping information about itself in persistent long duration forms.