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The 10,000-year clock and the importance of durable design

you couldn't have a conversation about the future in the second half of the 20th century without someone mentioning the year 2000. The prospect of a new millennium was the kind of cultural epoch that made futurists drool. No self-respecting designer would turn out a piece of work without wondering if it would stand up to the test of time, come the dawning of the brave new world of the 21st century. The looming horizon of the year 2000 provided the kind of fertile creative landscape that inspired into action everyone from technologists to politicians. These 24 ice blocks are melting in London to highlight climate change In 1986, Danny Hillis, an American inventor and entrepreneur not long out of graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had grown tired with the arbitrary mental barrier created by the year 2000. All around him, supposed visionaries seemed incapable of considering what the world might look like come 2100, 2050 or even 2010. The dawning of the millennium had become code for the end of the future, with the Millennium Bug further underlining 2000 as a kind of cultural tipping point from which no one could return. In despair, Hillis set his sights on a much longer-term horizon. He set about creating the "Clock of the Long Now." Designed to keep time for the next 10,000 years, such a timepiece would provoke a profound rethink of our relationship with the future. Hillis wanted to rip up the rulebook on time and start from scratch. So he began constructing a mechanical clock engineered to tick once a year for ten millennia.

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