Re: Stewart Brand's The Clock of the Long Now

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Jan 16 2001 - 22:32:02 MST

Stewart Brand wrote:
> More like a thousand years weary, jaded, tired, bored, suicidal.

How do you know?
You've never accumulated a thousand years of experience.

You live among humans who grow old, their bodies decaying, their minds
slowly running out of neurons, and you see some of them - though not all
of them - growing weary, jaded, tired, bored, tired of life, and from this
you make the leap to minds in general?

An enterprise like the Clock of the Long Now doesn't sound to me like the
product of a weary and suicidal mind. You believe that the future is
worth gifting but you don't think it's interesting enough to be worth
seeing for yourself? No change, no novelty, nothing worth the effort - is
that really taking the long view? Is that really the message that you
intend the Clock of the Long Now to convey?

Change is what defines time, and the long view isn't just about looking
past time, it's about looking past change. And the message of the Clock
of the Long Now isn't just that it continues to tick; the message of the
Clock of the Long Now is that somebody back in the third millennium cared
enough about the future to send the Clock to you - even though the world
you inhabit is different from theirs, and they knew it would be, when they
built the Clock.

If all you want from the Clock is changelessness, then don't bother with
the act of creation. Just step outside and look at the night sky.

But if not, you might want to consider the idea that there are things in
the future that are new. That, even after a thousand years, there will
still be things in the thousand-and-tenth year that you haven't seen.
That maybe the ennui that comes with old age is only the way things are
*now*, *here*; that maybe there is a better way. That there's the
possibility, not just of change, but change for the better. And that
that's what makes the future worth gifting to.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:56:20 MDT