What do billionaire tech CEOs do in their free time? The head of Amazon has been busy building a giant clock.
On Tuesday, Jeff Bezos released a video of his pet project: a 500-foot tall timekeeper located in Texas that intends to run for 10,000 years. “Installation has begun,” Amazon’s CEO said in his tweet.
Installation has begun—500 ft tall, all mechanical, powered by day/night thermal cycles, synchronized at solar noon, a symbol for long-term thinking—the #10000YearClock is coming together thx to the genius of Danny Hillis, Zander Rose & the whole Clock team! Enjoy the video. pic.twitter.com/FYIyaUIbdJ
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) February 20, 2018
The project may sound odd and antiquated in today’s digital age. But to Bezos, the elaborate timepiece is meant to convey a message: the idea of long-term responsibility.
“As I see it, humans are now technologically advanced enough that we can create not only extraordinary wonders but also civilization-scale problems,” he wrote in a post about the project. “We’re likely to need more long-term thinking.”
The idea for the 10,000-year clock actually originated back in 1986 with Danny Hillis, an American computer scientist. He too was concerned that society had developed a “mental barrier” to long-term thinking, and so he co-founded a foundation to sponsor its construction.
It wasn’t until 2011 when Bezos’ interest in the project also emerged. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Amazon’s CEO revealed he had spent at least $42 million on the clock.
The high price tag probably has something to do with how it works. Bezos is building the device inside a mountain on property he owns. To run for 10,000 years, the timepiece will harness the power of the temperature difference from the top of the mountain down to the bottom. Long metal rods can transfer the thermal power to the interior of the clock.
“As long as the sun shines and night comes, the clock can keep time itself, without human help,” the developers have said. However, human visitors can wind up the giant device too.
The new video from Bezos shows construction workers lowering various gears through the shaft in the mountain. They’ve also installed a giant bell for the clock’s pendulum.
It’ll take “many years” before the project is finally done, according to Bezos. But the upcoming monument will be open to the public.
Those who make the trip are in for a trek. The project resides several hours away by car from the nearest airport. You’ll also have to climb a rugged foot trail to reach it. “Visiting the clock will take a commitment,” Bezos wrote in his post.