I have been reading Neal Stephenson's Anathem the last few days. The story is set in an alternate world which has a mathic system where intellectuals (or people of mind) stay in maths secluded from the normal world. The mathic world (which has meaning very similar to hindi word मठ ) comprises of 4 sections. People are Unarian system interact with the outside world once every year. People who are Decenarian interact with the outside world and other sections only once a decade. Similarly people who are Centenarian and Millenarian interact with the outside world and other sections once every 100 and 1000 years respectively.
The research or insights obtained by Centernarian is thus available to other math sections only once in 100 years. For Millenarians, their research comes to light to others only once in 1000 years. Thus the design of the system is such that people in the more secluded maths (100 and 1000 years) focus on problems which are important enough to stand the test of time and stay relevant. So, Centernarians work on much more fundamental problems than Decenarian. Similarly, Millenarians take this to another level and work on ideas and problem which ideal should stay relevant for 1000 years, when they are brought forth for the rest of the world.
This is a very interesting way of thinking. More so when we are becoming mush shorter term thinkers. A good question to ask ourselves is, what we are working on today that would stay relevant for 100 years? For 1000 years? This question makes one think about aspects which we don't generally focus on when working on projects.
Jeff Bezos is one of the proponents of long term thinking. He has commissioned a project for building a clock which would give correct time for 10000 years. It is very interesting to go through the aspects they have to consider when thinking about designing such a clock. From rusting of parts to being able to withstand natural calamities. All such details are being considered at the design stage itself.
A key question to ask ourselves is: what are we working on today which will stand the test of time? Which will stay relevant for 100 years? For 10000 years?