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Long Now Foundation

The Long Now Foundation was established in 1996. It is a private organization that has set itself a two-fold mission of educating the general public of their belief that the human race needs a long-term perspective of its future to enhance its survival. Members believe that digital information storage is always in inherent danger of destruction due to its often transient nature and that steps must be taken to preserve human knowledge using durable methods and media.

At the time of this writing, the Foundation has several ongoing projects, including a 10,000 year clock, called the Clock of the Long Now, and, in association with The Lazy Eight Foundation, the Rosetta Project.

The purpose of the Clock of the Long Now is to construct a timepiece that will operate with minimum human intervention for ten millennia. It is to be constructed of durable materials and to be easy to repair. It is 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 and destroyed. Its power source or sources should be renewable but also not lootable. A prototype of a potential final clock candidate was activated on December 31 1999. The prototype is on display at the Science Museum of London. The Foundation hopes to construct the finished Clock at a location somewhere in the American West.

The Rosetta Project is an effort to preserve up to one thousand languages that have a high likelihood of extinction over the period from 2000 to 2100. These include many languages whose native speakers number in the thousands or less. Other languages with many more speakers are considered endangered by the project due to the increasing importance of English as an international language of commerce and culture. Samples of such languages are to be inscribed onto a disk of nickel alloy two inches (5.08 cm) across. A "Version 1.0" of the disk was completed in the Fall of 2002.

The members of The Long Now Foundation include Danny Hillis, inventor of the Connection Machine, and Stewart Brand and Brian Eno.

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