Jeff Bezos 10,000 Year Clock
Bezos funded a massive clock designed to last 10,000 years! Twitter / Kieran Drew @ItsKieranDrew

On a previous episode of the Lex Fridman Podcast, Jeff Bezos offered insights into his long-term project, the creation of a 10,000-year clock. This remarkable timepiece, currently being built inside a mountain in West Texas, has received a $42 million investment from Bezos.

Fridman inquires about the 10,000-Year Clock, and Bezos responds by describing it as a monumental physical clock, standing at an impressive 500 feet tall. He adds that the Clock is being built inside a mountain chamber in West Texas, with the chamber itself reaching 500 feet in height but only 12 feet in diameter.

The Mechanics Of The 10,000-Year Clock

Bezos credits a "brilliant guy" named Danny Hills with the idea of the 10,000-year Clock he created in the 1980s. As Bezos announced in a February 20, 2018 X (formerly Twitter) post, construction of this monumental timepiece has begun.

As Bezos explains, the Clock's purpose is to serve as a symbol for long-term thinking. He highlights the Clock's unique timekeeping. According to the 10,000 Year Clock website, it ticks annually, chimes centennially, and only releases its cuckoo every millennium. Bezos believes the Clock compels us to slow down and consider the vast scale of time.

He emphasises that the Clock is entirely mechanical, designed to function for 10,000 years without human intervention. Every detail, from the Clock's materials to its remote location, is meticulously chosen to ensure its preservation for 10,000 years.

Engineered for enduring resilience, the 10,000-Year Clock can withstand the ravages of time, from temperature fluctuations to humidity and dust. This ensures its continued operation for millennia. The Clock's creators have meticulously chosen its materials, primarily marine-grade stainless steel and high-tech ceramics, for their exceptional longevity.

Bezos adds that this remoteness also serves another purpose: visitors will have to undertake a symbolic pilgrimage to reach it. The billionaire explains that over time (this will take hundreds of years), it will take on the "patina of age."

Why Bezos Funded The 10,000-Year Clock

Bezos envisions the 10,000-year Clock ultimately becoming a powerful symbol, prompting humanity to expand its thinking beyond the immediate. Considering our species ' growing influence, he emphasises this extended perspective as crucial.

"You know, we are really affecting the planet now," he said. "We are really affecting each other. We have weapons of mass destruction. We have all kinds of things where we can really hurt ourselves. And the problem we create can be so large."

Bezos uses climate change and carbon emissions as prime examples of humanity's capacity for unintended consequences. He argues that these issues stem from the Industrial Revolution, a period of immense progress accompanied by unforeseen detrimental side effects.

Later in the interview, Bezos emphasises the importance of cultivating long-term thinking, which he describes as a "giant lever" for progress. He argues that this extended perspective allows us to tackle challenges that appear insurmountable from a short-term viewpoint. Bezos acknowledges our struggle with long-term thinking, insisting we aren't naturally adept at it.

Bezos argues that most institutions are hindered by a short-term focus, rarely extending their planning beyond a five-year horizon. He proposes extending planning horizons from the current five years to 10, 15, 20, or even 25 years. This extended perspective, he asserts, would significantly benefit future generations - our children and grandchildren.

Bezos acknowledges the Clock's symbolic nature, recognising that its influence on long-term thinking might take centuries to materialise. Nevertheless, he concludes, "We are going to build it now and let it accrue the patina of age."