A military drone has 3.5 million lines of code inside. That’s roughly three times as many as we find in bacteria, meaning that mankind has, at least by one metric, constructed semi-autonomous machinery more complex than life itself.
It’s a fascinating topic to ponder, but even those of us who don’t know how to code can speak on the topic, thanks to this clean visualization by Information Is Beautiful. It’s a work-in-progress data visualization, built as a categorical list for easy updating.
Interestingly enough, you’ll note that software is not getting longer as time goes on. Windows Vista (2007), for instance, had 50 million lines of code, while Windows 7 shaved that figure down to 40 million. (It’s a metric revealing Windows 7’s efficiency, which was lauded for being a smaller install than Vista had been, and less taxing on a computer’s processors to boot.) Meanwhile, mobile operating systems like Android have been engineered as ultra lightweight, built from just over 10 million lines of code.
As for how Information Is Beautiful has subtly editorialized all this data, we won’t spoil the surprise. But be sure to read the graphic all the way to the bottom. The kicker is a doozy.