Wait, that's it? Long-term thinking? All of this cash couldn't go toward cancer research or something? Funny you asked, because someone else did also, and here's what Hillis had to say about that ridiculous idea:
"I think this is the most important thing I can work on. More than cancer. Over the long run, I think this will make more difference to more people."
Well, when you put it that way ... yeah, we'd still rather have a cure for cancer. Thanks for the big stupid clock, though!
Or the dwarf catapult or whatever.
Part publicity stunt for one of the biggest MMORPG flops ever, all "Look at me! Look at me!" stunt by Richard "Lord British" Garriott, the Immortality Drive was a microchip encoded with digitized DNA information personally delivered by Garriott to the International Space Station for safekeeping.
"I've got your DNA right here. No seriously, it's right here in my pocket."
Operation Immortality, as the project was referred to in the campaign leading up to the drive's eventual delivery to the ISS, was "a project to collect and archive the very best of what humanity is and has accomplished." Garriott and video game company NCsoft spent the months leading up to the spaceflight promoting the project, running contests to give Tabula Rasa players a chance to have their DNA sequences included on the drive and collecting surveys from gamers to determine the final data that would make its way up into space. Because as we all know, if there's any one group that completely embodies the best of what humanity is, it's MMORPG players.
You can pose all you like, handsome stock guy. You're still shitting in the middle of a raid.
And in October of 2008, at a reported cost of $30 million, Garriott became the sixth paying space traveler in history when he hitched a ride to the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with the very future of humanity in tow.
So What Message Was Worth All This Trouble to Send?
The goal of Operation Immortality was to preserve the genetic code of the very cream of the human crop, should the human race ever go poof! and need to be replicated from a backup copy in the future. So which humans are the best of the best, according to Garriott and company?
Hint: Sir Captain Lieutenant McNotYou.
Men whose DNA sequences were stored on the drive include Richard Garriott himself (duh), Stephen Hawking (theoretical physicist), Stephen Colbert (comedian), Scott Johnson (Olympic gold medalist), Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel (pro gamer), Matt Morgan (American Gladiator and pro wrestler) and somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 others, mostly writers (one of whom was a Cracked writer -- the old dead-tree version, that is) and musicians.
Women who were included were Jo Garcia (Playboy's Cyber Girl of the Year for 2008), Lucy Hawking (Stephen's daughter) and a couple other television writers.
Something seems a bit askew there, but we can't quite put our finger on it.
Oh, only one Playmate. That must be it.
So we can all rest in peace knowing that in the future ensured by the Immortality Drive, the human race will have our post-apocalyptic entertainment needs covered in spades. But it's probably a good thing that we will have mastered a non-sexual means to propagate the species.
For more completely insane projects, check out 6 Insane Do It Yourself Projects That Put Yours to Shame and 5 Projects You Won't Believe the US Government Is Working On.