Jeff Bezos has financed the construction of the first Clock of the Long Now. Created by Danny Hillis for the Long Now Foundation, the Clock is a mechanical timepiece that is intended to run for 10,000 years, and has been designed so that it can be serviced and maintained over that period even if civilization collapses and knowledge of its origin and purpose are lost. The first Clock will be built inside a mountain in west Texas.
The Clock is being machined and assembled in California and Seattle. Meantime the mountain in Texas is being readied. Why would anyone build a Clock inside a mountain with the hope that it will ring for 10,000 years? Part of the answer: just so people will ask this question, and having asked it, prompt themselves to conjure with notions of generations and millennia. If you have a Clock ticking for 10,000 years what kinds of generational-scale questions and projects will it suggest? If a Clock can keep going for ten millennia, shouldn't we make sure our civilization does as well? If the Clock keeps going after we are personally long dead, why not attempt other projects that require future generations to finish? The larger question is, as virologist Jonas Salk once asked, "Are we being good ancestors?"