Interesting story about the long term. Please enjoy this great example of what you can do if money was in abundance. Slow down and think I think is part of the answer. That might be a good investment on its own. We all a key to that bank and we really should not pretend we only have to wait a hundred years before our clock ticks. Besides we may not have 10,000 years, the scriptures speak to a time when things will change. The hope of our salvation. Till then, raise your hands, set your spirit on fire and move. Your clocks ticking. TLR
The organization building a 10,000-year clock funded by Jeff Bezos
The Long Now Foundation is on a mission to change the way we think about time — in part, by building a $42m clock inside of a mountain. We sat down with the organization’s exec director to learn a bit more.
The modern workplace likes to “move fast and break things.” It places a premium on speed, efficiency, and instant solutions. It lives by the mantra of building without inhibition (or fear of consequence). It reflects in the form of 5-minute pow-wows and “post-mortems.” It lives in the now, where the “future” is tomorrow.
But some problems simply can’t be solved by 10x-ing, or optimizing, or “growth hacking.” Some problems, it turns out, require time — lotsof it.
In the quest for disruption, long-term thinking is often forgotten. The Long Now Foundation, a non-profit based in the epicenter of the tech world, wants to change that.
You may know Long Now best as the org working with Jeff Bezos to build a $42mclock inside a remote Texas mountain — a 500-foot orb of insanity that will bong once per century and keep time for 10k years. But the clock is more than a mess of gears, bearings, and chimes: It is a colossal monument to doing things “slower and better.”
I recently chatted with Long Now executive director (and clock project lead), Alexander Rose, on the importance of long-term thinking, Silicon Valley’s myopia, and — of course — this mysterious clock everyone’s talking about.
The transcript below has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Alexander Rose, with clock prototype schematics in the background (via The Appendix)
ZC: First off, what is the Long Now Foundation?
AR: Long Now was founded as a non-profit in 1996 by [legendary composer] Brian Eno, [counterculture icon] Stewart Brand, and [engineer/inventor] Danny HIllis as a way to promote long-term thinking.
As a species, we’re pathologically short-sighted. Our goal is to identify things that are worth thinking about long-term, and highlight some ways that’s being done in the world.
And when you say ‘long-term,’ what are we talking? 10 years? 100 years?
In work and everyday life, we’re often rewarded for thinking very quickly. Silicon Valley, in particular, puts a premium on breakneck speed. Are there systemic issues with this way of thinking?
The people who started Long Now were very much a part of the first generation of that growth and speed. In a way, they were the canaries in the coal mine. They realized that, while that mindset can lead to interesting and disruptive things, it also leaves some important things out of the equation.
Certain issues — whether it’s world hunger, or faults in our education system — can only be solved by thinking long-term.
If you were tasked with “solving” climate change in 4 years, you would give up immediately. But if you were given 100 years, or 500 years, you might start to imagine how you could lay down the groundwork. Since we aren’t taking the long-term very seriously, we’re also taking some serious issues off the table.
How the Long Now Foundation thinks about time (via Long Now; edited by Zachary Crockett)
Why do you think people have trouble thinking long-term?
Well, the idea of long-term thinking is very much a luxury. If you’re worried about your next meal, or putting a roof over your head, it’s difficult to think 10,000 years out. You have to be in a position where a lot of other things are taken care of.
Can you give me an example of an institution that is thinking in the long-term?
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault [a long-term facility that houses the world’s largest collection of crops in case of disaster] is an interesting case, as are certain nuclear waste facilities (both in the US and Europe) designed to last 10k, or even 100k, years.
There’s also the story of New College, at Oxford. In the 1800s, they noticed the old oak beams in the ceiling of their dining hall were rotting — and they couldn’t buy new ones, since oak had been over-harvested.
But it turned out that the people who’d built the school 500 years earlier had planted a grove of oak trees for this very reason: They knew the beams would eventually rot, and they planned far ahead for it.
Is there a particularly urgent area we’re failing to apply this thinking to?
An asteroid impact has 100% happened, and will happen again. It could be next month, or in 10,000 years — and that could be it for us. For the first time in history, we have the potential to detect and deter asteroids, but we basically have zero programs to do that.
Prototype components of the 10,000-year clock (Rolfe Horn / Long Now)
On that pleasant note, let’s turn to the clock! What’s the story behind this thing?
Back in the ‘80s, Danny Hillis [founder ofThinking Machines] was building the fastest supercomputers in the world. People kept asking him to build things faster and faster, and he became disillusioned. So, he started thinking about building the world’s slowest computer — a machine that would counter the “faster/cheaper” mindset.
He wanted to build something monumental and mythic that served as an icon of long-term thinking. The result was the idea of the millenium clock.
And… what is it?
Basically, it’s a giant clock that will keep time for 10k years.
It will tick once per year (instead of once per second), and bong once per century (instead of once per hour). The cuckoo will come out once every millennium.
We built two smaller prototypes over the years, then began construction of the actual clock in a mountain in West Texas. [Note: The project is funded with a $42m donation fromJeff Bezos, and is being built on land that he owns.]
We’ve had as many as 40 people on site. The ‘clock team’ has around 10 engineers and 10 fabricators.
Why 10,000 years?
It’s when the last ice age retreated, and it was the origin of cities and agricultures. It’s our modern human technological moment in civilization.
We decided that doing things for an eternity was too dwarfing.
How big is it?
The space we have created inside the mountain for the clock is 500 vertical feet.
The largest component is the chime generator that rings a series of 10 notes in a different sequence each day for 10k years. It’s 60,000 pounds and 80 feet tall. The pendulum, by contrast, is only 7 feet tall.
A prototype schematic (via Long Now; edited by Zachary Crockett)
How does it display the time and date?
All the clock dials are astronomic. They show you the current night sky, the moon position and phase, the sun position, and horizons. There is also an area that shows you the Gregorian date. We want to make it easy for the future to reverse engineer it.
The clock always knows what time it is. But all the things that show the time in the clock require people to run it, and update it, and put energy into it.
What have been the biggest challenges with building it?
For one, the natural aspects — everything from mountain lions to bristlecone pine trees, to the heat and cold.
One of the more interesting challenges has been to to design something that is relevant 10k years from now. Clock parts obviously have to work, but they have to look the part as well. Sometimes we’ll come up with a part that is engineered flawlessly, but we’ll look at it and say, ‘Nope, just doesn't feel right’ — and we’ll start it over.
The basic design principlewe’re after starts with a question: If we had burrowed into this mountain and found the clock already there, what do we wish we had found? We settled on this neo-Victorian, mechanical punk vibe. [Detailed schematics here.]
Everything has had to be custom-made, with the exception of some of the screws.
What’s the latest on your progress?
We’re in the middle of installing the clock underground. All the underground work is basically done. Every few months, we’re bringing the next module of the clock into the mountain and integrating it. [Avideoof recent progress can be found here.]
Clock progress is underway in a remote mountain in Texas, on property owned by Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos (via Long Now)
And when will it be open to the public?
We have a year or so more of installation work, and a year of commissioning. Then, we’ll start to have people up to the clock.
The area is very remote high desert — one of the smallest per-capita areas in the lower 48 states. People will have to hike up 2k feet to see it. Hopefully, it’ll be an experience that gives them some time to think about it all.
I can’t help but ask: What exactly is a $42m clock going to do for the world? Why shouldn’t we use that money to tackle problems that exist right now?
The clock is as much about the present as it is about the people of the future.
There are certainly a lot of hungry mouths that could be fed with the amount of money we’re putting into this project. But if all we do is feed the hungry mouths, there will always be hungry mouths. We want to put a dent in the root cause by changing the way people think.
Also, it is a lot of money, but it’s not more than last summer’s blockbuster rom-com. Hollywood movies come and go; I hope our clock will last much longer, and help the world a little bit more, than a rom-com.
What is the bigger legacy you want to impart with this clock?
I hope someone who stumbles across the clock in the future realizes we built it because we cared about them. And maybe it will inspire other people to build things that last, or to work on more ambitious problems with longer timeframes.
If the decisions you make broaden decision making power for the future, they are probably good. The future will always know more than we know. They’ll always have more than we have. Giving them the opportunity to make more decisions is good.
Strategicly , I would like to see some requirement other than being a tax filer, and indirectly a voter to be eligible. Some sort of educational component. Perhaps a online course that teaches the basics of how to reduce our own personal carbon footprint.
Different levels gets you more of the credit or bonus credit if you click the box, I love this credit, Thank You Mr Trudeau.
For extra credit, the box that says , you got my vote, please redirect my rebate to your campaign. You would then be eligible for an additional 75% tax credit on your redistributed carbon tax.
I still like the find an easy Billion idea. Those Canadians that have left Canada to work abroad should all have to pay an annual tax. Fair is fair, they may not get a direct annual benefit from our Country, but we launched them. There should be a tribute for that. With almost 10% of Canadians living abroad, and a million immigrants projected need to fill vacancies in the work force, why not, let’s get a little return for our country’s investment in their beginnings. TLR
One idea I thought about is on the personal tax side of the system. There is a lot of Canadian's not living in Canada anymore. Some are paying taxes, many are not. What the "are not" is I have not found out yet.
Here is some random thoughts and articles regarding the matter for future consideration and updates.
"People and politics, thank the good Lord we won the birth country lottery ! "
2.8 million Canadians live abroad , I wonder how many making over 20,000 a year pay no taxes to Canada?
I think a tax no matter what your residency status should be considered. No doubt about it. Only exception would be those that were never in a hospital, seen a doctor, never went to a school. Parents never collected any form of social assistance. That’s probably enough nevers. Beyond that they would have some value for being born here before they had to leave.
Thanks for sharing the article, looks like Scheer needs to work on getting more known .... “though a majority of voters no longer have a positive impression of him. But he leads Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer” perhaps the win on our local shores yesterday is a sign of things to come, in the meantime expect the cash flow to increase to grease the political economy, the kids can pay for it .... maybe , just maybe we should start taxing those who are non residents, living and working abroad, why should they have the benefit of access to our embassies if they get in hot water, need advice, or the luxury of returning if they get a better offer on our Country’s soil ? I think that would be a good conservative policy to implement. I was just thinking about this yesterday. It would be good for Canadians and business, we live in a global economy, it’s time to focus in on this little tax opportunity and reinforce our nations citizenship capital.
So how many Canadians are living abroad not paying any income tax to their nation ?
surely a more effective way would be to close the loopholes that allow corporations to hide billions offshore to avoid taxation.
The CRA knows full well that countless large corporations are hiding money in tax havens abroad to avoid paying but they do nothing about it.
And for the record, Canadians working overseas do have to file their taxes, it’s just there’s a high threshold before they are required to pay taxes on it
The threshold should probably be dropped down to the middle class level, Fair is fair , you have to get the pennies from those that benefit
Like Ford, a little bit here, a little bit there and you get your budget back in line
you mean like, a little from the hospitals, a few nurses here, a few nurses there. A few schools here and there. A little from the poor, a little more from the poor. A little from green energy subsidization. Sell off some profit generating aspects of the government.
Back to the days of Mike the Knife Harris before we know it
No, if your a Canadian living abroad, you pay the same tax rate less what you pay in the country you live in, simple, effective, fair
fair in what capacity? Pay for services I can’t use? Pay 20-30% of my income to a government that isn’t providing any services for me? Then pay another 17% to the Korean government in income tax. Get real.
If that’s the case, are we going to see your men of the people Ford and Scheer go after corporate tax avoidance, their use of tax havens, and questionable loopholes to not have to pay their share? Cut the unnecessary and pointless subsidies they get from the government, which they pocket and do not re-invest.
There’s a better chance of the Green Party winning the next election than there is the conservatives (or liberals for that matter) go after their rich friends and demand they pay their fair share
Your a Canadian, that’s is worth a couple bucks a day in my books
2 billion dollars from those abroad every yr will help hire a few auditors for sure
You will get to vote as well, sounds like a bargain to me
this is a great idea, I am sure the Green Party and ndp will love it. It’s a bit socialist, but very capitalist at the same time, Canada invested in a person, they should get a return for that investment. Especially if that person win the birthplace lottery and found themselves getting the benefit of a doctor, school teacher, bus driver, born in a hospital, took a bus somewhere, drive a car over a bridge or on a 4 lane highway after it was plowed after a snow storm, they should pay a little back for winning that lottery. If they managed to get a decent job overseas , why they should pay at least a percentage of that extra just like everyone else that decided to stay. Alternatively, pay an exit fee , kinda like buying your pension back, you can scale anything and make it fair.
that system is already there. Canadians working abroad making a certain amount of money are required to pay back. Those who benefited from Canada’s services and high standard of living are asked to give back. Your idea is to lower the threshold and squeeze the smaller folk, which has always been the policy of the conservatives. Protect the wealthy, and crush the poor
Collect extra 2 billion dollars, that’s the goal
from those who can afford it the least? Why not start by cutting our subsidies to those who have more than enough?
We give subsidies to corporations and the rich and instead of re-investing the money, they hoard it. As we’ve seen with GM, and in recent years, Heinz, Proctor-Gamble, Caterpillar, that regardless of how profitable they are, and the subsidies they receive, their greed will never be satisfied and they will abandon their workers
Have tax laws and processes changed since the Trudeau government began, or are they the same as the Harper government's policies and laws?
If your confused about this article, don't worry, that is what we are here for :)
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Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Prosperous Peaceful New Year !
This morning was our weekly Rotary meeting. It starts at 7. I was honoured along with Dave Paul with a Paul Harris award for our community service. It’s a great honour.
Bob Castle spoke about my background and community service. It was good to hear. I very much enjoyed Dave Pauls story as well. Bonnie Burke introduced him and our club President Susan Brister and fellow Dream Mountains Foundation climber made Dave’s presentation.
Time management tip, write a little review while having your lunch break while the idea and content is fresh in your mind.
Ohio isn’t known for being on the screaming bleeding edge of technology, but it’s now an early adopter of bitcoin. Yesterday, the 34th largest state in the US became the first to accept the volatile coin for tax payments.
Speaking of crypto… Overstock sets a date to sell off its retail biz
After what feels like a decade of threatening to shelf their current business for crypto, Overstock’s CEO says he will finally shut down its retail business in February. And people are more bullish on blockchain than bed sets: Its stock surged 26% after the news.”
Great article that speaks to the regularness of what we are experiencing this year.
Everyone’s situation is different and how we process risk concepts is different. We often utilize this strategy to smooth out the risk so our clients do not worry during troubled times. ( from a media perspective)
Came across this article this morning in LinkedIn, I think it is worth a little study. What would be said? Good question. - TLR
Need career help? Start writing your own eulogy. When we imagine our own deaths, and even write drafts of the way we’d like to be remembered, we can examine our priorities and goals from a broader perspective. Executive coach Daniel Harkavy encouragesthe CEOs he works with to draft two eulogies: the one that would be read today, and another that encompasses all of their future achievements. Comparing the two can help you reevaluate how you are spending your time and the decisions you are making. • Here’s what people are saying.
”In that 2005 Stanford commencement address where Jobs talked about the importance of realizing you are going to die, he also stated that, upon reflecting on his success, he realized “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.”
Yet with the eulogy technique, now maybe you don’t have to wait until the end of your life to connect the dots. By changing your point of view and shifting your perspective from your present to your future, you’ll be able to see where you want to end up, and then know what steps you’ll next to take–what dots you’ll need to connect–to get there.”
My personal aha thought, awesome idea guys! There is a guy in South Africa doing this with food , going to farmers and filming production, finish with a meal. I invited him to Canada to do a tour coast to coast, nothing came of it. Just brain storming and typing s it flows, Be cool if we could get a corporate sponsor to do this for you in the future, I am moving my business to a new company Peak Financial, they are coast to coast, I've climbed with some very amazing people. Tie in a food champion, save some bucks feeding you, expand the challenge, make some new friends "Be The Adventure" I'll supply the "Natures Energy Water" let's follow through with this over the next year as we get settled
I came across this word this morning while researching some articles on wills and the second will. The second will has become a concern in the legal and estate planning world recently.
More direction is required and I suspect more cases will come forward for dissection.
(of a victory) won at too great a cost to have been worthwhile for the victor.
How many things have we done that we just paid too much for to be right? It’s a good question, count the cost. Families, Friendships, Business, Health, Ideals, a Soul. Some things are priceless , some are pointless, some you just have to go with the flow and find peace down the river.
Every once and awhile, you have seal up the holes for the winter, batten down the hatches and wait for winter to pass, your spring is just around the corner. Get ready to plant, spring time, summer and then harvest time will present itself once again.