Technology companies are increasingly being treated like sovereign nations. A nation with sovereignty has a right to conduct its internal affairs without interference from other nations. When technology companies are feted by foreign ministers and also refuse an invitation from the leader of their own country of origin, they exhibit the characteristics of a group that wants to be treated as a peer to heads of state. Technology companies understand the power they wield in the global economy. If Silicon Valley is allowed to become the central repository of information about people around the world, then there is a danger of setting up a form of imperialism based on personal data. Just as the royal powers of old reached far into the lives of distant colonized people, technology companies gain immense control with every terabyte of personal data they store and analyze. While we sit here reading about this on a platform created by a tech city called Medium. We might have arrived here from far off cities like facebook or twitter. This however does not ever affect ‘developing countries’ like India.

The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) has just run out of IPv4 addresses.

Each address is a 32-bit number, giving about 4 billion total IPv4 addresses. That seemed enough in the 1970s, but the internet has grown a bit since then. The replacement, IPv6 has a 128-bit number, giving 3.4x10^38 total addresses. That’s a lot. I wondered what a lot means in a genetics context.

There are ~ 7 billion people on the planet.

Each person has ~10^14 cells in their body, of which 10% are human (the remainder are bacterial, mostly in the GI tract).

That gives ~7 x 10^22 human cells on the planet.

Let’s assume each cell has a diploid genome. We will ignore the fact that some cells are haploid (like eggs and sperm), or have no nucleus (like red blood cells) to make the calculations easier. The human nuclear haploid genome size is about 3 billion bases (3,279,005,676), giving a diploid genome size of 6,558,011,352 base pairs per cell.

In addition to the nuclear genome, there are also mitochondrial genomes, which are 16569 base pairs long. Liver cells are pretty energetic, and have 1–2000 mitochondria per cell. Each mitochondrion has about 10 copies of it’s genome, giving an extra 331,380,000 base pairs per cell, for a very generous estimated total of 6,889,391,352 base pairs in a human cell.

Using this generous estimate, every base pair in every (human) cell of every human on the planet can have at least 705,603 IPv6 addresses.

Yep, that’s a lot.

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