Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The economics of time travel
March 25, 2013 4:42 AM   Subscribe

Would time travellers affect security prices? An article by Richard Hudson.

Inspired by this metatalk post.
posted by medusa (30 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Paradoxical or self-refuting actions by time travellers seem possible because many different simple actions which we all may perform from time to time - such as killing babies or grandfathers....

Best market analysis paper ever.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:20 AM on March 25, 2013


What do we want?

TIME TRAVEL

When do we want it?

IT DOESN'T MATTER
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:39 AM on March 25, 2013 [36 favorites]


I liked Warren Ellis's idea about time travel. In his vision, you can only time travel during the period when a time travel machine has existed. When the first time travel machine is created, all the people from the future who want to see the moment when time travel started will suddenly materialize, causing the destruction of everything. Kids, do not build time machines.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:59 AM on March 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or Bruce Sterling's...where the profitable past is infinitely exploitable:
Mozart In Mirrorshades
posted by NervousVarun at 6:26 AM on March 25, 2013


What I want to know is if leprechauns would affect gold prices.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:48 AM on March 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


This article represents some of the best and worst of academic (or at least, philosophical and economic) scholarship. On the plus side, it takes on an interesting hypothesis in a playful but serious way. On the downside, it belabors obvious points and treats every argument with equal gravity and air time. From the top caption it appears to have been part of his tenure package. That the page hasn't been updated since 2003 suggests that he succeeded.
posted by zittrain at 7:25 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


This assumes time-travelers aren't already dicking-around with our financial markets.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:38 AM on March 25, 2013


It seems more plausible that if time travel were on the horizon, scientists begin with researching how to move information, not people. Probably, financial markets and national security would be the paramount concern
posted by sswiller at 7:40 AM on March 25, 2013


Title: "Would Time Travellers Affect Security Prices?"

Abstract: "It presents a solution to the problem of bilking behaviour of time travellers, and gives a definite answer to the title question."

Conclusion: "Time travellers might affect security prices. But they might not."

Umm...
posted by mountmccabe at 7:53 AM on March 25, 2013


The paper covered more than I figured from first glance but the assumption that time travel is costless is bizarre and limiting.

He did miss the possibility of an organization such as the Campaign for Real Time (from Hitchhiker's, though I am assuming a competent one) working to manage things to avoid discussed problems with financial markets, possibly operating as depicted in International Association of Time Travelers: Members’ Forum, Subforum: Europe – Twentieth Century – Second World War (not Hitchhiker's-related).
posted by mountmccabe at 8:05 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


So as soon as time travel exists then the market becomes useless, because there is no profit to be made. Therefore time travel has never and will never occur, because there is profit to be made in the market.
posted by Splunge at 8:28 AM on March 25, 2013


Now this is a form of EMH I can get behind.
posted by JPD at 8:32 AM on March 25, 2013


I saw the title and thought "security" referred to the TSA.

That would be much more amusing.

"Security" would be much more expensive as they would have to check all time travelers very carefully because they could always be going back and trying again after each failed attempt to bring weapons into the the past (to kill Hitler or Sarah Connor.)
posted by chavenet at 8:37 AM on March 25, 2013


Niven's law: If the universe of discourse permits the possibility of time travel and of changing the past, then no time machine will be invented in that universe.

To summarize the argument, if a time machine is built and trips are made into the past, then with each trip the future timeline essentially becomes a whole new universe. This presents an unstable condition. Do enough trips back and eventually a future timeline will occur in which no time machine is invented, at which point the wild recasting of the future stops once and for all. Ergo, the time machine will never be invented.
posted by DreamerFi at 8:38 AM on March 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just waiteding until yestermorrow, when this post will have was closed as a single-metasynchronic duplicate.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:39 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


And who's to say they haven't?
posted by ahimsakid at 9:27 AM on March 25, 2013


DreamerFi: That argument assumes a type three time travel plot, while this article assumes a type one.
posted by novalis_dt at 9:37 AM on March 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the original page: "September 30, 2000".

Similar: "Timecop is a 1994 science-fiction thriller film directed by..."

He should at least credit where he got his idea.
posted by hanov3r at 9:41 AM on March 25, 2013


Time travellers may have difficulty trading in our time due to our laws..... If time travel is invented in 2100, then no time traveller could even prove citizenship, and all would be underage. (The fight for the rights of the unborn would acquire new meaning in such a world.)

Love it.
posted by philipy at 10:01 AM on March 25, 2013


You can never go back to the future.

Sorry Mike.
posted by mule98J at 10:21 AM on March 25, 2013


From the top caption it appears to have been part of his tenure package.

\begin[mode=extreme]{pedantry}

It's for his promotion to professor, so he would normally have been a tenured associate professor already.

\end{pedantry}
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:35 AM on March 25, 2013


I liked Warren Ellis's idea about time travel. In his vision, you can only time travel during the period when a time travel machine has existed.

That goes back at least as far as Asimov's The End of Eternity.
posted by straight at 11:06 AM on March 25, 2013


So as soon as time travel exists then the market becomes useless, because there is no profit to be made. Therefore time travel has never and will never occur, because there is profit to be made in the market.

If time travel is possible I would bet all of my shortly-to-be-worthless money that it will require a receiver. So, no repercussions until someone builds one.

I've often wondered why so many people who are attempting to make logical deductions assume the time travel model where you just sort of pop into existence somewhere. Does any phenomenon work like that? It makes for a cool story, but it seems like one of the least likely ways for things to turn out.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:13 AM on March 25, 2013


GenjiandProust: I liked Warren Ellis's idea about time travel. In his vision, you can only time travel during the period when a time travel machine has existed. When the first time travel machine is created, all the people from the future who want to see the moment when time travel started will suddenly materialize, causing the destruction of everything. Kids, do not build time machines.

It depends on the way the past 'updates' itself. As the future extends, more and more people go into the past. However, as the past changes, the history changes too, so that people in the future know that a lot of people traveled to the past to see the invention of the time machine, and it caused a lot of problems. So, people in the future decide not to do that, or maybe it gets outlawed, or they actually send back agents to stop people in the intermediate past from doing it. But after that, maybe it's a fixed problem, so the later future decides the past can handle one more person to see the historic event, over and over again...

It's confusing, and tends to reinforce my suspicion, which is that you can't have time travel of this sort (or FTL travel, which boils down to time travel) and still hold on to causality. My immediate guess would be that we got causality and therefore not time travel / FTL, but you never know.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:54 AM on March 25, 2013


novalis_dt: That argument assumes a type three time travel plot, while this article assumes a type one.

This site is fascinating; thank you for posting. It's nice to know other people have come up with (strict) type two plots.
posted by mountmccabe at 11:54 AM on March 25, 2013


Whoa. Déjà vu.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:21 PM on March 25, 2013


On the plus side, time travel would effectively leave the edit window open indefinitely.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:25 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


You've said that four times now.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:59 PM on March 25, 2013


Just once, now. The other times were then.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:01 PM on March 25, 2013


Somewhat related, Paul Krugman has a fun paper about Interstellar Trade when goods travel near speed of light.
posted by Tiet Peret at 4:35 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


« Older Memories of BBC Television Centre....  |  When the US Department of Ener... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments