The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was created by scientists who saw an immediate need for a public reckoning in the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These scientists anticipated that the atom bomb would be “only the first of many dangerous presents from the Pandora’s Box of modern science.” They now see multiple threats: climate change, cyber-attacks, and the misuse of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence.
They also created the Doomsday Clock as a symbol of these threats. I check it out when a new year is beginning. Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet.
The Doomsday Clock is many things all at once: It’s a metaphor, it’s a logo, it’s a brand, and it’s one of the most recognizable symbols in the past 100 years. It has permeated not only the media landscape but also culture itself. The Doomsday Clock appears in novels by Stephen King and Piers Anthony, songs by The Who and the Clash, and comic books and graphic novels like Watchmen and Stormwatch.
They haven’t posted the 2023 version yet, but in 2022 we were “At doom’s doorstep: It is 100 seconds to midnight.”
“Leaders around the world must immediately commit themselves to renewed cooperation in the many ways and venues available for reducing existential risk. Citizens of the world can and should organize to demand that their leaders do so—and quickly. The doorstep of doom is no place to loiter.”
It has held at 100 seconds for the past three years, which I suppose could be considered to be a few ticks of optimism since in 2018 and 2019 it was at 120 seconds to a midnight apocalypse.
What do you think it will be for the start of 2023 – closer to midnight, the same or moved back a bit?
Last year’s announcement video.