Discrimination is not inherently bad. It is the application that is bad.
We don't have a 'right' to drive a car, it is a privilege. It is discriminatory against the people that want to drive a car that don't want to abide by other definition of 'civil conduct'. It is also discriminatory to allow ANYONE to get away with anything that EVERYONE is allowed (but not required) to do.
Get over it. Life isn't 'fair'.
If the problem is big... use the 'appropriate size tool'.
When I was a systems geek on mainframes, it was the dawn of the PC (pre Mac) era. There were and are problems that are better suited to big data bases with lots of computing power. Sometimes it can't be parallelized. At the time, there were mainframes with 6MByte/sec i/o channels - 24 of them, 8 4-core processors run by a single Operating System (or several, users choice). Yes they were tuned to the workload of the company. -- Getting rid of the 24 mainframes in 12 data centers around the world cost a boat load of money. It cost much more to add in the number of 'file servers', desktop PCs, workstations, additional networking(that was needed in any case), add in UPSes wherever 'data was critical', in addition to the numbers of 'trained administrators' to help install, maintain, and train the PCs even after users were trained.
The number of stories of people not backing up their PC because it was 'so reliable compared to the mainframe' and loosing years of effort, and still blaming IT even after being warned verbally and writing, was legon.
Mainframes are great. They are not all things to all people. They should be just ANOTHER tool in the tool bag of society to help get the job done.
(From the days of Beowulf clusters, PCs have been trying to figure out how to 'create a cheap mainframe'. Real mainframes are not just CPU power, they are I/O power, shared resources that can be dedicated in large or small portions to the task at hand. They never solve problems by themselves, but no computer does. It still takes systems designed, engineered, programmed, distributed, and maintained for the life cycle of the application system to make ANY computer useful no matter how large or small it is.)
It worked. Few bought into it. You were just born a generation late! =8-D
Backblaze does actively monitor their drives in their pods (data server computers stacked full of drives). They tend to use FreeNAS if I remember right for their pods, due to file system does 'self healing' (think RAID 5 or more on steroids). It is good, just not perfect. And they keep multiple copies in different pods to keep down single point of failure issues.
There is more to data reliability than just drives, it is still a good place to start.
I have always wanted a data 'black hole' that I could retrieve data from. But it still isn't there. One that does automatic HSM (hierarchical storage management) so you store in on fast devices, it stays there a while, then migrates (automagically) to slower devices, and eventually to 'archival storage' that can be slow to get to.
So far I haven't found an answer I can afford (personally). -- If you know of something, please let me know! --- Think 'net to SSD, to Disk, to slow disk/nas, to tape or optical drives. Tape and optical data still needs to be read and written on occasion to stay fresh (especially tape). Tape also wares out (so do optical media after 50 or so years, tape degrades dramatically after 5). -- also need multiple copies for when one gets 'bit rot' happens.
Commercially I like IBMs Tivoli Storage Management (just because I used it), but that comes at a pretty hefty price, but it works well when set up and tuned correctly.
This is true for ANY organic organism, not just trees.
Possibly finding out WHY it was funded initially, and WHY it was 'mothballed' (I am guessing reduced funding) should combine to give you an answer.
You might not get to work at NASA, but you can work toward your passion.
You may need some additional education, and you are taking good steps in that direction. Not gathering a lot of additional debt is also a good financial decision for now and your future.