Important Philosophical Questions + POLLS

But, in your scenario,

how are making


What worth has money when the world as we know it is going to pieces due to abusive use of time machines?


Well, that’s the question I wanted to ask, you are free to ask your own.

Jump forward, note down information about stock price history, come back to present, and trade stocks and options taking advantage of that information. This is essentially gambling on events where you know the outcome. Unlike sports betting, there are much higher practical maximums, a much higher volume of opportunities to make bets, and usually much lower commissions. One could easily turn a modest sum into billions of dollars, and maintain a reasonable level of privacy while doing so (if done with careful accounting and shell corporations).

However, once one is operating at that level, it becomes harder to make further big trades without influencing the market. Doubling a million dollars with a “lucky” bet will hardly be noticed by the market, but doubling a billion could have repercussions that may ripple through the financial system and invalidate the information that you collected earlier.

Further, once you have so much money, getting more is probably not the most pressing issue that you face. Instead, maintaining the stability and health of society is probably more important to ensuring that your big pile of money retains any meaningful value.

Jumping forward into the future would also reveal what problems will become most pressing for humanity, which from our current perspective is most likely climate change, but this could also be war, disease, economic collapse, meteor strikes, etc. Perhaps, we will have solved some of them, and maybe bringing back some key technologies to the present would help accelerate their solution, and likely also make you very rich in the process.

In the worst case, maybe you will find a world ruined by intractable problems, and even salvaging some financial market historical data is pointless, since any billions that you could make today would be rendered meaningless by the coming and unavoidable chaos. In that case, maybe the second jump back into the past should target some earlier idyllic time in history, where one could live out a better life, and perhaps still reap the rewards of exploiting financial market knowledge. If going backward far enough, bringing back some modern technology might also enhance the quality of life for that earlier era. There are certainly limits to how far one might want to really go backwards. Even the nobility of the ancient eras lived much harder lives (from the lack of modern medicine to the absence of basic technological conveniences) than many of us commoners in the present.

In the best case, you might find a future that is so much better than the present day, that the best quality of life that could be gained would be to simply stay in that better future, where we have solved the pressing problems, greatly enhanced the quality of life for everyone, while eliminating the injustices of poverty and inequality. Of course, it is questionable that we might find that.

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How about this: I would buy 1 ounce of gold, then jump 5 minutes into the past taking with me all gold that I own. From there I wait 4 minutes and hand all gold to my past self, who is about to take some gold into the past.

I got the answer “go back in X time with a cure for X plague and live like a god” a lot, I don’t know if it’s because of the pandemic.

I also got some treasure locations.

The difference seems to be where someone stops at “most money possible”, it’s surprising what people consider a ceiling.

So doesn’t your past self end up leaving with all of your gold?

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Well uh… 44% of us were kind of wrong…

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Yeah but they will have handed it to me in the past.

Ah grammar and time travel, never change.

But then you just gave all of that gold away

I gave all the gold to myself, so it’s fine. Although I’m not sure where all that gold would ultimately go …

All I know is that, somewhere along the way, I had a whole lot of gold.

There are some paradoxes here since you are interacting with your past self, but let’s gloss over those for now and try to envision the Hollywood depiction, which could have a few different takes on it depending on how one tries to resolve the paradox by considering branching timelines or parallel universes.

(First paragraph scene): This morning you put on your favorite hat and head out of your house to buy an ounce of gold. You then return home and spend the rest of the morning making the finishing touches of your time machine. At noon, you turn on the machine, set the target time for 5 minutes in the past (11:55 am) and you step in the portal while holding “all of your gold”, but before you step into the machine, you accidentally drop your hat, so you arrive at 11:55 am hatless.

(Second paragraph scene): Now, you would see yourself (wearing a hat) about to turn on the machine at noon to go back in time. So, hatless you gives “all of your gold” to your hatted self. The copy of you with the hat steps into the portal at noon, leaving with all of the gold that you had.

Because we have a loop, there is a paradoxical question of how much gold you had when you left as described in the first paragraph scene above, and how much the hatless you hands to the hatted you. However, if the hatted you then leaves with all of that gold, then isn’t the hatless you left standing there at 12:01 pm with no gold? There is even a question to consider as to whether or not the hatted you in the second paragraph scene would need to drop their hat again.

If we try to resolve this by saying that the hatted you does not need to take the gold away, then we are left with the paradoxical question of how the gold was ever duplicated.

One way to resolve this is to imagine that each time travel event, where we jump back to the past, is creating a branch in the timeline that essentially creates a duplicate universe on a new path.

For example, in the first paragraph scene, you are in universe A, then when you jump back in time, you are now in universe B, which newly branched off of universe A at 11:55 am, and you see your hatted self with 1 ounce of gold. If you give your gold to your hatted self, they leave with 2 ounces of gold, and creates universe C that branches off of universe B at 11:55 am. From your perspective, you’d just be still standing there in universe B with no gold, while your other self that travelled to universe C could now give two ounces to that person and continue with the cycle.

Under such a branching universes paradigm, if you wanted to duplicate gold unboundedly, you would have to go back in time to 11:55 am, and then take that 1 ounce from the hatted version of yourself and go back in time again via the machine in place that copy of yourself.

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You got me there. But Gia’s question stated that “the time-space continuum wasn’t an issue”, so why not duplicate some gold using a paradoxical trick?

I guess the difficult questions are 1.) how to get all that gold out of the loop? and 2.) will gold be worth anything once I flood the market with it?

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This all depends on how you try to resolve the paradoxes with some sort of hollywood explanation of time travel. Above, I just explained how to do it, if we assume that each jump backward in time is creating a branching parallel universe. You could simply end the loop when you’ve accumulated enough gold, and the experience would like this from your perspective.

  1. Have 1 ounce of gold, jump back five minutes and see yourself with 1 ounce of gold, take that one ounce from them (note that taking rather than giving is the key difference from your original proposal).
  2. Have 2 ounces of gold, jump back and see yourself with 2 ounces of gold, take that gold from them.
  3. Have 4 ounces of gold, jump back and see yourself with 4 ounces of gold, take that gold from them.

After enough steps you have many ounces of gold and you could simply choose not to jump back in time. However, you now have a clone of yourself, so maybe you push them into the time machine to make them disappear from your universe…

The limiting factor would probably be how much gold you could practically carry with you through the time portal jump, and how many times you want to repeat the process. You could still become very rich without destroying the gold market.

So, just exploit the loop to replicate a finite amount of gold for ever?

Hm, no consideration for outside factors, like historical context or circumstances, and no plans to spend it (since you’re looping indefinitely).

I’m not dismissing it, it’s just not an approach I had considered.

I think it’s a typical example for duplicating something with a time machine, but you have to assume something about how time travel physically works, and that you would not just create some logical paradoxes that invalidates it. It also maybe does not fit within the spirit of your constraint of “only two jumps”, since the protagonist here is experiencing many jumps.

No, you don’t have to loop indefinitely. You loop until you have enough gold.

Note that under my time travel paradigm, I’m assuming that you’re not really looping, but rather just creating new branches. This is all just Hollywood-level speculation/fictionalization, but it’s a convenient way to avoid having to deal with various logical paradoxes, since you do not actually create a logically inconsistent loop.

See for example:

Well intervening in history is dangerous - who knows what consequences it may have had? - so I’d like to avoid it. Also I wasn’t planning on indefinetely looping (that was yebellz proposal I guess). In my story one loop is enough.

So let me restate what I’d do:

Step 1: Buy 1 ounce of gold.
Step 2: Meet myself, who gives me all their gold.
Step 3: Count the gold. If I have more than 1000000000000 ounces of gold, I give half the gold to my second self and do not jump into the past. Otherwise I jump 5 minutes into the past, taking with me all the gold. Then wait 4 minutes and hand the gold to myself.

With this strategy I’m sure to walk away with 500000000000 ounces of gold :wink:

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No, I was not proposing looping forever

The problem with all of these schemes is that it neglects the difficulty of getting all of the copies of yourselves to cooperate. Gold is only duplicated by also duplicating yourself and the entire universe around it, and the time travel is just transferring gold from one parallel universe to another. While some copies of yourself can be made very rich, the others are left with having lost their gold.

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So, that’s your ceiling, I see. :stuck_out_tongue:

I will mention the Prestige, because I love that movie.

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By the way, I recently learned that apparently odd numbers are less liked than even numbers. Even numbers are more pleasing and bla-bla-bla.

Which is super weird to me. Because I always knew that odd numbers are clearly better numbers. Even numbers are not even real numbers, they’re just odd numbers multiplied by 2 a few times. They’re clearly more wishy-woshy and wobbly.

Do you like even or odd more?
  • Even (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, …)
  • Odd (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, …)

0 voters