Long Now Foundation

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The Long Now Foundation
2006-08-15 - United States - California - San Francisco - Sign - Long Now.jpg
Founded January 4, 01996 (01996-01-04)
Type 501(c)(3)
Tax ID No. 68-0384748
Registration No. C1956835
Location
Coordinates 37°48′23″N 122°25′56″W / 37.8064591°N 122.4321258°W / 37.8064591; -122.4321258Coordinates: 37°48′23″N 122°25′56″W / 37.8064591°N 122.4321258°W / 37.8064591; -122.4321258
Key people
President Stewart Brand
Website longnow.org

The Long Now Foundation, established in 1996, is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in San Francisco that seeks to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution. It aims to provide a counterpoint to what it views as today's "faster/cheaper" mindset and to promote "slower/better" thinking. The Long Now Foundation hopes to "creatively foster responsibility" in the framework of the next 10,000 years, and so uses 5-digit dates to address the Year 10,000 problem[1] (e.g., by writing "02014" rather than "2014").

Inspiration[edit]

Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking. All are on the increase. Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed-some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where 'long-term' is measured at least in centuries. Long Now proposes both a mechanism and a myth.

Stewart Brand[1]

When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 02000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 02000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.

Danny Hillis[1]

Brian Eno, Danny Hillis, and Stewart Brand speaking at "The Long Now, now" – an event in January 2014 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

Projects[edit]

The Foundation has several ongoing projects, including a 10,000-year clock known as the Clock of the Long Now, the Rosetta Project, the Long Bet Project, the open source Timeline Tool (also known as Longviewer), the Long Server and a monthly seminar series.[2]

Clock of the Long Now[edit]

Main article: Clock of the Long Now

The purpose of the Clock of the Long Now is to construct a timepiece that will operate with minimum human intervention for ten millennia.[3] It is to be constructed of durable materials, to be easy to repair, and to be made of largely valueless materials in case knowledge of the Clock is lost or it is deemed to be of no value to an individual or possible future civilization; in this way it is hoped that the Clock will not be looted or destroyed. Its power source (or sources) should be renewable but similarly unlootable.[4] A prototype of a potential final clock candidate was activated on December 31, 1999, and is currently on display at the Science Museum at London. The Foundation hopes to construct the finished Clock at Mount Washington south of Great Basin National Park near Ely, Nevada.[5]

Rosetta Project[edit]

Main article: Rosetta Project

The Rosetta Project is an effort to preserve all languages that have a high likelihood of extinction over the period from 2000 to 2100.[6] These include many languages whose native speakers number in the thousands or fewer. Other languages with many more speakers are considered by the project to be endangered because of the increasing importance of English as an international language of commerce and culture. Samples of such languages are to be inscribed onto a disc of nickel alloy three inches (7.62 cm) across. A Version 1.0 of the disc was completed on November 3, 2008.[7]

Long Bet Project[edit]

The Long Bet Project was created by the Long Now Foundation to propose and keep track of bets on long-term events and stimulate discussion about the future. The Long Now Foundation describes The Long Bet Project as a "public arena for enjoyably competitive predictions, of interest to society, with philanthropic money at stake."[8] One example bet would be on whether people will regularly fly on pilotless aircraft by 2030.

Bets that were resolved in 2010 included predictions about peak oil, print on demand, modem obsolescence, and commercially available 100-qubit quantum computers.[9]

Seminars About Long-term Thinking[edit]

In November 2003, the Long Now Foundation began a series of monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking (SALT) with a lecture by Brian Eno. The seminars are held in the San Francisco Bay Area and have focused on long term policy and thinking, scenario planning, singularity and the projects of the foundation. The seminars are available for download in various formats from the Long Now Foundation.[10] They are intended to "nudge civilization toward making long-term thinking automatic and common".[11] Topics have included preserving environmental resources, the deep past and deep future of the sciences and the arts, human life extension, the likelihood of an asteroid strike in the future, SETI, and the nature of time.[citation needed]

Long Now Salon[edit]

An ongoing project is the construction of the Long Now Salon, a social space to be housed in the foundation's Fort Mason facility in San Francisco. The purpose of the salon is to have a public space where people can come together to discuss ideas and topics related to long-term thinking, as well as provide a venue for a variety of Long Now events. The salon is to include lounge furniture, artifacts from the foundation, a library, audio/video equipment, and a bar serving tea and coffee during the day, and cocktails during the night.

In popular culture[edit]

Neal Stephenson's science fiction novel Anathem was partly inspired by the author's involvement with the Clock of the Long Now project. As a result of Brian Eno's work on the clock project an album entitled January 07003 / Bell Studies for The Clock of The Long Now was released in 2003.[12] English songwriter Owen Tromans released a single entitled "Long Now", and inspired by the foundation, in 2013.[13]
The web comic xkcd refers to the Long Now Foundation in the comic "Manual for Civilization"[14] and in the alt text for the comic panel "Unique Date".[15]

Board members[edit]

The Board of Directors of the Long Now Foundation is composed of the following members, as of December 2011:[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "About Long Now". The Long Now Foundation. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Projects". The Long Now Foundation. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  3. ^ Chabon, Michael (January 2006). "The Omega Glory" (PDF). Details. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  4. ^ HIlls, Danny. "The Millennium Clock". Wired. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Prototype 1–10,000 Year Clock". The Long Now Foundation. December 31, 1999. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  6. ^ "The Rosetta Project". The Long Now Foundation. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Macro to micro etching". The Long Now Blog. November 3, 2008. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Long Bets – The Arena for Accountable Predictions". The Long Now Foundation. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  9. ^ Rose, Alexander (December 31, 2009). "Long Bets in 02010". The Long Now Foundation. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Seminars About Long-term Thinking Podcasts". The Long Now Foundation. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Seminars About Long-term Thinking". The Long Now Foundation. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  12. ^ "January 07003". Enoshop.co.uk. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Long Now: Owen Tromans: MP3 Downloads". Amazon.com. 2013-10-07. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  14. ^ "xkcd:Manual for Civilization". Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  15. ^ "xkcd:Unique Date". Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Board – The Long Now". The Long Now Foundation. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 

External links[edit]