Jobs. Gates. Berners-Lee. They opened our worlds to wonders: Graphical user interfaces, PCs, the World Wide Web. They were my heroes, and probably yours, deservedly so.

Then thirty years passed, and the tech overlords transformed our data privacy into their astonishing wealth. Fair enough, perhaps, but what have they done with their billions?

A few have turned to space exploration, though what they’ve achieved there has been more performative art than specific benefit to humanity. Some have given away money, creating a “new philanthropy” that’s so meddlesome it does no good at all. Others are wasting the lives and intelligence they are given, frittering away their attention and fortune figuring out how to live 500 years. Worst of all are those like Theil and Zuckerberg, building bunkers in New Zealand or Hawai’i so they can survive the end of the world.

All four strategies reek of egoism, but also of their conviction that – whether due to pandemic, nuclear war, or climate change – our civilization on Earth is doomed.

Okay, maybe it is doomed. If you or I were to share that conviction, and if we had tech-overlord money, what would we do? We’d think about creating the least-bad future.

Whatever Armageddon might ensue will not kill every human on the planet. Survivors, or more likely their descendants, will create new civilizations. Will they start from zero, or can they benefit from what we might pass along to them? And how will we do this passing along?

Carl Sagan sent Voyager messages to deep space. They said, here we are, here’s what we look like, here’s the music we listen to. If we can do this for aliens, surely we can do it for our own progeny.

Shall we tell them what to do? What not to do? Show them our art? And how? Engraving stuff in stone seems to be the most reliable means of ultra-long-term messaging. And some Rosetta-type decoder, also in stone, because who knows how post-apocalypse languages will evolve? And where to emplace these rocky artifacts for the future?

I wouldn’t trust our tech overlords to answer these questions, but once someone answers them, the techies are the ones who should finance the stone-carving. They can sign their names if they want. It may come to nothing, but it would be a far nobler nothing than what they’re doing now.