There is a Clock ringing deep inside a mountain. It is a huge Clock, hundreds of feet tall, designed to tick for 10,000 years.
This clock actually exists – it’s being built right now in the desert in western Texas.
The idea is to create something that will outlast everyone alive today, so as to make people alive today consider what happens after they are gone.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (who is funding the clock and providing the land on which it is built) gives a neat overview on the official site, and futurist guy extraordinaire Kevin Kelly is involved in some way too. The group behind the project is the appropriately-named Long Now Foundation.
I wonder whether we will end up owning more and more things, much smaller than this clock, that outlast us.
If you’re not already pretty old, then your home is the only thing you own that you know will outlast you. Everything else is likely to break or decay.
But in future, more durable materials might extend the lives of clothes, furniture, crockery, or cars. When those things are likely to outlive us – not just by a little or by accident, but by decades or more – perhaps we will we see them differently.
The creeping awareness that whatever digital records we create could theoretically live on forever makes some of us more careful about what we type, post, or share.
If we know that, unless we wilfully destroy them, our many household items will long outlast us, would we value them more and look after them better than we do now?
Or would we treat our near-indestructible possessions with abandon, and not worry too much about the faceless masses to whom we are ancestors?
It’s impossible to generalise – different people would act differently.
But if the things we own start to live longer and longer, our relationship with them is likely to change.
Dedication: this post is for Rich Stebbings, who loves all things mechanical.