Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has gone ahead with a plan to build a giant clock to promote long term thinking. The clock’s design should allow it to be accurate for the next 10,000 years.
Bezos, currently the world’s richest man, has become the clock’s biggest backer. He has given $42 million towards its construction within a hollowed out Texas mountain.
A video posted to his Twitter feed shows the device under construction.
Installation has begun—500 ft tall, all mechanical, powered by day/night thermal cycles, synchronized at solar noon, a symbol for long-term thinking—the #10000YearClock is coming together thx to the genius of Danny Hillis, Zander Rose & the whole Clock team! Enjoy the video. pic.twitter.com/FYIyaUIbdJ
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) February 20, 2018
The device was originally proposed in a Wired article, written in 1995 by the inventor Danny Hillis. In which he states:
When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 02000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 02000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future.
This project has been picked up by the Long Now Foundation, an organisation set up to make long-term thinking more common.
The clock will only remain accurate if visitors turn a wheel to power it. Which, over such a long timescale, could require that humanity doesn’t destroy itself. Invoking the sort of thinking required to overcome any existential risks.
More immediate threats to humanity are conveyed by another device, the Doomsday Clock, devised by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The hand recently wound to 2 minutes to 12, and urging people to demand action to “reduce the existential threat of nuclear war and unchecked climate change”.
The billionaire is also involved with large scale ventures, such as launching humans into space, with his rocket company, Blue Origin.