Clock of the Long Now

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sun Jan 02 2000 - 22:23:21 MST

>From an interview in "The Wall Street Journal" millennium issue:


A group of prominent Americans recently bought a small mountain in
eastern Nevada. Within this limestone edifice, they plan to build a
most unusual clock: an 80-foot-high device that will bong not every
hour, but every century.

The idea is to get people to slow down - to make them think beyond the
usual short-term perspectives brought on by ever-faster technology and
the acceleration of everyday living. "The urgent keeps displacing the
important in our daily lives,", says Stewart Brand, an author and
inventor helping to lead the effort.

Mr. Brand is joined in the project by technology guru Esther Dyson,
computer scientist Danny Hillis, music producer Brian Eno and other
advisers. Financial backers include Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun
Microsystems Inc.; Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus Corp.; and Jay Walker,
creator of

They call this $10 million project the Clock of the Long Now. It will
tick once a year. The cuckoo will come out once every 10,000 years. It
will be controlled by "the world's slowest computer." Made mainly of
steel, the clock will be an "antidote," Mr. Brand explains, "to our
immersion in the immediate 'now.'"


Everyone realizes what this is, right? This is one of those inscrutable
alien artifacts built for enigmatic philosophical purposes by an
ancient, vanished race.

As a Singularitarian, I am of course fundamentally opposed to the Clock
of the Long Now on philosophical grounds - but also, as a
Singularitarian, I find this highly encouraging.

It may mean that the human race is indeed getting ready to vanish to
wherever inscrutable ancient races go, leaving behind only such strange
remnants as a giant clock that goes cuckoo once every 10,000 years.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Typing in Dvorak         Programming with Patterns  Writing in Gender-neutral
Voting for Libertarians  Heading for Singularity    There Is A Better Way

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