See Also: Book Notes; Conceptual Spaces Cheat Sheet, Swarm Intelligence, Blank Slate


The book was the subject of a Sermon at First Parish of Sudbury, Unitarian Universalist in February, 2004.

The Clock of the Long Now

Time and Responsibility: The Ideas Behind the World Slowest Computer

Stewart Brand, 2000, http://www.longnow.org

The Clock of the Long Now will keep accurate time for 10,000 years. It is an actual clock being built inside on Mt. Washington near Ely, Nevada and the Great Basin National Park. While there is no way I can capture the reasons behind building the clock, I can say what captures my imagination - that we, as humans, will be able to sustain ourselves and enough of the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. We, as humans have been around for about 10,000 years if you count the first clay shards that we used to brew beer.

How do we think about the long future? Danny Hillis, creator of the clock, was motivated by the sense that "the future was a truck slamming on its brakes right in front of me".

These notes are to prepare for a discussion to be help January 15th in order to give our Minister, Katie Lee Crane, enough grist to create a sermon based on the Clock of the Long Now. The sermon is scheduled to be delivered at First Parish of Sudbury, Unitarian Universalist, on February 22nd.

Kairos and Chronos, first brought to my attention by Chikzent-mahaily in an incredible book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (which deserves its own notes page). Simple: Kronos is the linear march of time; Kairos is those moments in which one looses all sense of time. In a good Zen fashion, you are totally present - be here now.

The Singularity, a term coined by Vernor Vinge, is the consequence of trends such as Moore's Law, which says the speed of computer chips doubles every 18 months. All technologies gather momentum producing exponential growth rates. When the singularity comes in the year 2020 or so, things will be obsolete before they can even be taken out of the box. Silly one the one hand, but, very powerful on the other.

If the hangover preceded the binge, people would drink much more responsibly. 'nuff said, see the book for more examples.

Timescales, paces - six of them: fashion, commerce, infrastructure, governance, culture, nature. (p.35) fashion is seasonal, nature is longer than 10,000 years.

Ise Shrine, Shinto. It permanence relies on being rebuilt every 20 years.

The description of the clock itself is fascinating for the GEEKy (Graphical Engineers of Experience and Knowledge) among us.

Burning Libraries - Alexandria - burned 5 times, 3 by accidents of war and twice by religious bigotry. Religion and cultural genocide also offed the Mayan library. Shit happens.

So, is the solution to make digital copies? Sure, but how do we keep them up to date? FPS has been using word processing for well over 20 years, but, how many years worth of trustee minutes can we gather? (about four so far). There are many thousands of 9 track tapes from early NASA history. Can we access them? Not easily. So, what is the solution? Take a hint from the Ise Shrine, for, as Santayana said: repetition is the only form of permanence that nature achieves.

Digression not in the book Long Bets - Will the U.S. Men win the World Cup before the Red Sox win the Series? All Species, attempt to catalog all the species in the next 25 years. How many species are there? See more at Long Bets & all-species.org

Using scenarios, long term planning vs. conservation. We can't know what to plan to far into the future, but, we know that the more species, the cleaner the ocean & atmosphere, etc, the better off we are. p.118 and

p.122, in the long run, saving yourself requires saving the world.

p.147 people take the long view when...

Rosabeth Moss Kanter: "...people care about their place in history when their own past is valued.... People take the long view when they perceive leaders as trustworthy.... [They] take the long view when they believe the rules of the game are fair. They believe they will share equitably in the returns.... [They] take the long view when they have a deep understanding of system dynamics. They see the connections between actions in one place and consequences in another. They can therefore appreciate the need for indirect long-term investments (whether research and development, infrastructure repairs, or education). People take the long view when they feel a commitment to those who come after them.... They care about posterity their children and other people's children and therefore see the need for actions to benefit the distant future."

p.162 finite games and infinite games, a new twist on zero sum games.
 

Read MUCH more on the Long Now Website

Read this book!


http://www.jch.com/jch/cloklnow.htm 13-DEC-03 jch