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JB: What happens 10000 years from now, when people come across this clock?

BRAND:That will depend a lot on whether there's enough warning to set the clock on automatic. Danny's preference has been because the Long Now Foundation, the non-profit entity that's doing all of this, sees as its primary job is fostering responsibility, Danny's feeling is that the clock should ask to be wound - maybe annually in a kind of a festive event, or who knows what the winding event would be - maybe every visitor to it, - just the weight of their body is - just as my motion makes my watch stay wound, visits of people may make the clock stay wound. It's reflective of their life, and that has a nice quality to it.

The other thing, if people go away for a time, just - leave earth or die off or whatever, then you'd want a clock that winds itself, and this is actually pretty easy to do. So if you had any warning at all you could put in motion - it would set up a thing that - with a large desert version of this clock - bi-metallic lever that goes up and down with a day and night sequence, when it gets hot and then it gets cold - that would be plenty of energy to wind a very large clock, - so people could come along in 10000 years, be wandering along, find artifacts, and find a clock that's working.

Next thing, when the aliens come along looking for any sign of anything and they find a clock and it's ticking. Suppose we have robots on Mars and they're wandering around, and they're trying to find signs of civilization, and they find something that's ticking - that would be pretty cool.

Now the point is not so much them looking back, as now looking to them looking back. Once people are comfortable thinking about what do we want to do for the aliens in 10000 years, or ourselves in 10000 years - probably we'll do some other things like - put more money into the schools, or whatever it may be.

The real conceiver of the project, and the builder of the clock, the designer of the clock, is Danny Hillis. And Danny's story, you may have already gotten, is that he was noticing that the year 2000 was acting like a wall for people, that the future was always the year 2000 and - when he was a young man, and then older, the future was getting shorter - shorter by a year every year of his life - which is probably a bad sign. So he wanted something that would pop through the millennium, and also would pop through - also because he's in the high-tech world, and most of Long Now's board members are on the edge of the high-tech world, technology's acceleration is making a lot of kinds of future forecasting just impossible.

Like what's the future of the Web in ten years? Future of the Web in ten months is a challenge. What's the future of the Web in a hundred years? You can say more about the future of agriculture in a hundred years than you can about these high-tech things. The sense of fast human change making the future unpredictable and therefore unreachable in a fundamental way - you're not really responsible because it's such a black hole - blank. Danny wanted to make an instrument that was not participating in those rapid exponential curves of population and technology growth and megabytes per dollar and so on, but something that just plugs along at the same pace as seasons - spring, summer, fall, winter, spring, summer, fall, winter - it's the same 10000 years from now probably as 10000 years ago - and this clock is an experiencable device - as Danny went off to work at Disney I think the sense of it's being an experience as well as a device got to be more and more the case because he's been working with obviously theme parks and rides and so on at Disney.

JB: Has Disney made an offer for it?

BRAND:Yeah. They've actually been paying for his time just as Global Business Network has been paying for my time on this. Disney figures it's good for them to have a clock design that they might want to bear a relation to, and indeed we can put a big clock at Epcot if a corporate sponsor turned up. Disney's enough interested to do that. And Global Business Network figures that this helps get our company out of the notion that 20 years is the deep future, which is what most of our members do. If you're a business 20 years is the future. - For civilization 20 years is - tomorrow afternoon. We'd like to be useful for civilization as well as for corporations and government agencies.


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