Tuesday, October 27, 2015

An Observed Future

question marks

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements ;)

Last Wednesday was Back to the Future day. I'm sure you saw all the hoopla in the media. Alas, I was in a class with 7th graders who were nonplussed with the whole concept. But still it got me thinking...

What if someone made a well-publicized trip into the future?  

I'm pretty sure this has been done on TV somewhere. But it brings up a lot of questions. Like, would people then expect them? Or would that act collapse that future? And how much would this person tell the people back home? Would anyone believe them? I'm not specifying any of these, so take the question where you want to go.

14 comments:

  1. I think that person would get a lot of money for telling their story about their trip into the future. People would want to know all about it and I think would be willing to pay a pretty penny for it too.

    betty

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  2. It would certainly make the headlines. Movies would be made about it, too. The person would have to be very careful, though, not to interact with anybody or anything while in the future.

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    1. But if they told us when and where they were, wouldn't the people in the future then go there to meet them?

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  3. Now...If I were that person I would make sure to play the winning lottery numbers.:)

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  4. Interesting. It would definitely be a major event, and I'm sure a lot of people would want the time traveler to come back with lots of information about the future. But that might not be a good idea.

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  5. The "would people then expect them" really got me -- of course they would, right? It's WELL PUBLICIZED. And we'd be expected in the future to remember the first time people traveled through time, the way we recall the moon landing and Kitty Hawk.

    I think first of all it would be SUPER controversial: think of how much of science is already debated: whether cloning should be legalized, and climate change, and gene splicing/hormones in plants/animals. So if people announced they were definitely GOING to try to travel in time (let alone do it) it would spark off a lot of debate about whether we should be doing it.

    It would matter if it was government sponsored-- we could see a new arms-type race, like with the Bomb and the moonshot. If Russia announced they would travel in time by the end of this decade it might spark a huge interest in (and government support for) science on our side, resulting in the kind of technological advances that we're not used to -- sure, we have high tech stuff now, and it's getting better but think of the leap from "barely able to fly at supersonic speeds" to "landed on the moon" in 10 years. THAT kind of advance.

    I think it'd be more likely to be a private company. It's hard to picture a government seeing the point of time travel FORWARD, given that they couldn't go forward and hope to conquer the world. (You specified forward. Time travel backward would interest governments no end: go back, help the Brits win the US Revolution in exchange for control of the middle east, etc.)

    Corporations could fund the research almost as effectively as government, and think of the profit motive: if Google could do this, or Microsoft, they could bring back stuff 100 years more advanced than we're used to.

    Of course, why would they tell us they're doing it? Knowing something can be done is part of the battle. If Google says "oh yeah we travel through time" people could derive it on their own or simply do some corporate espionage to get the secrets. Google couldn't patent the machine because then it would only control it for 25 years. So it would have to be a super secret move.

    Which means... it could already have happened! After all, wasn't there a tech company that had been quiescent and nearly dead for years, unable to crack the consumer market or make much of a profit, and suddenly it went from moribund to hot almost overnight, becoming one of the most profitable companies in the world, and everytime other companies caught up, they'd come up with some kind of advance?

    I don't know. Can't think of any, Maybe if I ask Suri...

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    1. I only specified that it's well-publicised because of the whole Back to the Future thing. With the whole day, and how well did they predict what the day would actually be like? It would make more sense if they didn't tell anyone, but what if you had the whole world watching the time travel event?

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  6. My husband spent all day waiting for the Back to the Future guys to show up. He even had his eyes on his replica hoverboard to see if it would start doing its thing :)

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    1. He didn't really? My brother, who is just as obsessed, just went to a showing of the trilogy in the theater.

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  7. I am just glad this isn't possible!! I don't want to know what the future holds! Do You?

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  8. Here I am with my science fiction background. I know your "what if" concerns going into the future rather into the past (I like that twist). It's well publicized. So people would have to follow the "breadcrumbs" the traveler leaves in the future, as the future becomes the present for the rest of us. So I wonder, how far into the future would that person go? So far that the culture would be totally alien? Would he or she even be able to adapt to future life? Would they even have the time and energy to leave those breadcrumbs for us to follow and know they arrived and thrived? I remember a TV show where people were abducted (by aliens or some unspecified force) and then returned many years later. There they all were, using cell phones and computers with the greatest of comfort. I don't think it would have happened that way. That person couldn't change our present but I'm not sure we would ever hear from him or her again. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

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    1. Those are good questions. And since I didn't specify, feel free to answer those questions as you wish. Yep, there are a lot of for instances that come up, which is why keep these questions vague. Who knows where the story is?

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