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Thread: And another one - the "time travel" dilemma

  1. #16
    International Vice-Captain Dasa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Love™
    Do you kill the child?
    Nope. I like my life as it is.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by luckyeddie
    Davros?

    As opposed to Stavros (Kkkhello mateypeeps. How are you innit?)
    I think you may be right. I was thinking of Stavros, but thought there's no way it could be that!
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  3. #18
    International Captain Slow Love™'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoyBrumby
    By the by, as you're a Doctor Who fan I remember reading a novel based on Doctor Who called (I think) The Genesis of The Daleks when the Doctor was presented with a similar dilemma. By travelling back in time he could kill the Daleks' creator (whose name escapes me) & remove them once and for all.

    He chose not to as I recall.
    Yeah, he did. I think he took a third way and sabotaged their development to delay their progress.

    Interestingly though, a later Doctor intentionally tricked Davros into nuking his own planet, thus destroying the entire race (other than a few strays I guess). But that particular Doctor (and the writers at the time) really sucked.
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  4. #19
    PY
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dasa
    Nope. I like my life as it is.
    What about the other people who don't like their lives, or lost people in the war or people who didn't get to live the life you like so much?

    I agree with not doing it, but your reasoning is a little off IMO (I apologise profusely if I've mis-understood you but you've made it sound like you're putting forward a 'all is well that ends well' argument which is fine except when you speak to people who experienced the war first hand).

    The only other way I can see your reasoning is that your life would be damaged by the moral implications of what you'd have done?
    Last edited by PY; 30-07-2005 at 04:36 AM.
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  5. #20
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    I wouldn't kill him, like other people have said an even worse replacement could arise, or something else could happen leaving a very different world when you travel back to the present day.

  6. #21
    C_C
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    No i wouldnt kill baby hitler.
    Apart from the moral objections( killing a baby) and paradoxial situations considered( such as his replacement's conduct, given that hitler was a product of conditioning and such conditioning, being so prevalent, could easily have found Hitler's replacement) there is another extremely important point to consider : Causality and interconnectedness of events.

    Put simply, this is something that is both extremely important and extremely out of our control.
    Most things happen for a reason and has a 'cause' for the effect. It reflects Buddha's fundamental theory of 'every event being influenced by a set of events(or event) preceeding it'.
    Since we do not know the PRECISE impact hitler had on human evolution(culturally, technologically and morally) from a space-time perspective, eliminating him could be EXTREMELY DANGEROUS for humanity.
    For while it is very hard to immagine, it is not without reason that Hitler had several good impacts on humanity on a fundamental level.

    For one, it was Hitler's actions that have often been identified as a root cause for liberation of the western mentality of 'anti-melanin' racism. When people saw the ghastly consequence of taking racism to the extreme, many got a serious wakeup call and many whites supported the black civil rights movements around the world in such matters.

    That is only one of the very few visible effects Hitler had on humanity. But undoubtedly,there are several invisible effects Hitler ( or anyone) has had and such things are utterly incomputable by humanity currently.

    To illustrate my point, lets say we pick a person A, who is a psycopath and a big genocider and lets say he lived 3000 years ago.
    Say another person, person B, lives in the same region and era and is an aspiring philosopher or scientist.
    Person A, while on his genocidal rampages, gave a speech to his troops inorder to motivate them. As speeches usually went before the days of printed media, a lot of embellishment were added on(particularly if a scribe wasnt present on scene). A certain soldier from the audience deciedes to go get drunk in the inn, where person B also happens to be.
    The soldier, influenced by Person A, deciedes to diss person B and the heated verbal battle boils over to a fistfight. Person B nearly dies but somehow manages to hang on to life. While recovering from his injuries, the entire scene of the bar fight and the events leading up to it plays back repeatedly in his mind. After months of it playing back in his mind(given the level of trauma suffered), person B suddenly figures out a groundbreaking philosophical theory for betterment of mankind or figuers out a groundbreaking achievement in technology ( perhaps the motion in which the soldier struck him inspired him to think about certain scientific problem he's been mulling over).
    This philosophical/scientific breakthrough leads to a revolution inside humanity and humanity progresses for the better in an immeasurable way.

    Now, given that Person A was a genocider, it might make sense to eliminate him but eliminating him would mean that the soliders never got the particular speech and never met person B, person B died in obscurity and the groundbreaking achievement never materialised.

    This is the biggest risk of tampering with the timeline. Put simply, you cannot accurately measure the impact of an individual on humanity on all levels. Who knows, tomorrow i might say something to this chap sitting in the bar which would lead him to an inspiration and developing of a theory, which would be read by some moral crusader who will thump it up at a coincidental opportune moment that will cause incredible ripples in human conscience and solve all human infighting forever.
    Now, i may be a criminal, i may be Hitler himself. But eliminating me, eliminates all that.

    Tampering with the timeline is essentially breaking the chaos theory and theory of 'infinite causalities'. Since infinite causalities are unique ( by definition, an infinite combination of factors cannot be duplicated and every single combination of those infinite factors will give a unique result) , it means that certain things would never have happened and would never happen again, given the uniqueness of infinite causalities.
    Until we can accurately evaluate ALL possibilities and all consequences to a particular action, even the most infinitesimally small, messing with the timeline is essentially messing with the very survial of humanity or even the universe. And the day we can accomplish this ( accurately evaluate all possibilities and consequences), that is the day God will die, both literally and figuratively ( if he exists that is).

    Ok, enough rambling for me.

  7. #22
    International Captain Slow Love™'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dasa
    Nope. I like my life as it is.
    What if somebody else does it then?

  8. #23
    International Vice-Captain Dasa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PY
    What about the other people who don't like their lives, or lost people in the war or people who didn't get to live the life you like so much?

    I agree with not doing it, but your reasoning is a little off IMO (I apologise profusely if I've mis-understood you but you've made it sound like you're putting forward a 'all is well that ends well' argument which is fine except when you speak to people who experienced the war first hand).

    The only other way I can see your reasoning is that your life would be damaged by the moral implications of what you'd have done?
    Your second point fits what I was saying (although I was only half-serious). Not neccessarily my life, but the lives of all people could be damaged by killing an infant Hitler. Basically, it's unknown what would/could happen if Hitler was exterminated early on and I think rather than face the consequences of a life that is totally alien to us, I would keep it as is. A fear of the unknown somewhat.

    Reading through C_C's post, he's said what I meant.

  9. #24
    International Captain Slow Love™'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C_C
    Tampering with the timeline is essentially breaking the chaos theory and theory of 'infinite causalities'. Since infinite causalities are unique ( by definition, an infinite combination of factors cannot be duplicated and every single combination of those infinite factors will give a unique result) , it means that certain things would never have happened and would never happen again, given the uniqueness of infinite causalities.
    Until we can accurately evaluate ALL possibilities and all consequences to a particular action, even the most infinitesimally small, messing with the timeline is essentially messing with the very survial of humanity or even the universe. And the day we can accomplish this ( accurately evaluate all possibilities and consequences), that is the day God will die, both literally and figuratively ( if he exists that is).

    Ok, enough rambling for me.
    Very good answer. Is it the foreknowledge specifically that you see as being the problem? Because otherwise numerous actions (particularly large-scale international ones, but also, smaller, seemingly unimportant ones like you bring up) we make every day have exactly the same ramifications, only without the benefit of knowing any certain consequences. We could say that in those circumstances, we are just "acting naturally", but then we could bring up examples like obstetric technologies - where we could be seen as tampering with lives that may not have "naturally" continued. Or, more directly, the declaration of war against Hitler.

    Also, you seem to intimate a "grand purpose" - are you religious (or a spiritualist)?

    BTW, have you ever read Greg Egan's "Quarantine"? Very cool, and touches on some of these issues.

  10. #25
    C_C
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    Very good answer. Is it the foreknowledge specifically that you see as being the problem? Because otherwise numerous actions (particularly large-scale international ones, but also, smaller, seemingly unimportant ones like you bring up) we make every day have exactly the same ramifications, only without the benefit of knowing any certain consequences. We could say that in those circumstances, we are just "acting naturally", but then we could bring up examples like obstetric technologies - where we could be seen as tampering with lives that may not have "naturally" continued. Or, more directly, the declaration of war against Hitler.

    Muchos gracias, Senor.

    I have other moral reservations(such as killing a baby for example or dooming a man for crime he hasnt committed YET and quiete possibly, wont if you tamper just a wee bit more) but foreknowledge is the primary concern, since it cannot be guaged in infinitessimally small detail.
    And yes, each one of us are making ripples through humanity in one way or another, something that will manifest itself in the distant( or not so distant, depending on your actions) future.

    I am a scientist first and foremost and while i do have some inclinations towards spiritualism, i am definately not religious..i am agnostic.... but i am not trying to imply that there is a 'grand purpose' in each and every action ( for a grand purpose would indicate pre-determined actions) but rather, each and every action consists of infinite consequences throughout humanity and thus eliminating one particular action might very well start a 'chain reaction' that will end up wiping out humanity in itself, if not the whole universe.

    Ofcourse, it throws up the conundrum of 'indecision', since you are suddenly aware that even a small infinitessimally insignificant action ( like you smiling at that girl in the street) carries a potentially huge consequence.
    But an argument can be made that what you are doing now( like smiling at the girl in the street) does not violate a space-time paradox and thus, your actions arnt tampering but creating in a quasi-linear ( or non-linear, depending on actions and circumstances) basis.
    Not to mention, doing something without foreknowledge ( like going to the mall tomorrow) is quiete different in moral and causality responsibility factor than doing something with foreknowledge( we know hitler was a genocider, so lets go eliminate him when he was in prison writing Mein Kampf).
    For while one of our action today may doom humanity in the future, we are doing it with current time perspective and thus carry very little responsibility ( in terms of mundane actions, mind you) and while one of our decisions MAY condemn humanity to its termination, we are doing it real-time without actually bolloxing up something that has already occured. Trying to change the past would make one personally responsible for ALL of human history-present and future and the chance of bolloxing up is astronomically huge.
    This is a mind-beinding issue and i think the best case scenario is trying to learn from the past so that we dont create the same mistake in the future, rather than trying to eliminate the past.
    For another question rises up(when we deciede to tamper with the past- assuming we can that is) is : Where do we draw the line ?
    If we eliminate Hitler, why not Columbus ? why not Pizzaro ? why not Genghis Khan ? why not Richard the Lionhard, why not Nero, why not Julius Caesar, why not .........all the way back to the first protein molecule.
    For once we start messing with the history, we cannot draw a concrete line and it would essentially lead to 'it would've been better if we never existed in the first place'.

  11. #26
    World Traveller Craig's Avatar
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    I have to admire you SL for trying to lift the standard of this forum from Nibb's childish threads.

    Back on topic: Would I have killed Hitler - probably not. Well it may be morally wrong, but as well as changing history, you would have used a bullett from a handpistol that was likely that didn't exist (ie the type of model) over 114 years ago and from a bullett from a stranger who just appeared in a room and disappeared would have left too many questions.
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  12. #27
    International Vice-Captain Dasa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig
    Well it may be morally wrong, but as well as changing history, you would have used a bullett from a handpistol that was likely that didn't exist (ie the type of model) over 114 years ago and from a bullett from a stranger who just appeared in a room and disappeared would have left too many questions.
    I'm sure someone would find a way to explain that away...

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  13. #28
    Cricketer Of The Year Kweek's Avatar
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    the only thing Hitler did was playing into the mind of the people who were desperate at the time..anyone couldve done that, only thing you needed was good charisma.
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  14. #29
    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend andyc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwek
    the only thing Hitler did was playing into the mind of the people who were desperate at the time..anyone couldve done that, only thing you needed was good charisma.
    and a whole bunch of stupid people. although that's never hard to find

  15. #30
    International Captain Slow Love™'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C_C
    Not to mention, doing something without foreknowledge ( like going to the mall tomorrow) is quiete different in moral and causality responsibility factor than doing something with foreknowledge( we know hitler was a genocider, so lets go eliminate him when he was in prison writing Mein Kampf).
    For while one of our action today may doom humanity in the future, we are doing it with current time perspective and thus carry very little responsibility ( in terms of mundane actions, mind you) and while one of our decisions MAY condemn humanity to its termination, we are doing it real-time without actually bolloxing up something that has already occured. Trying to change the past would make one personally responsible for ALL of human history-present and future and the chance of bolloxing up is astronomically huge.
    Mate, I think you nailed the difference between foreknowledge and "natural" actions. You completely convinced me. Unfortunately, I actually did this yesterday, and the guy's name was Elmer Snerd (alas, he was supplanted by Hitler - I should have visited the forum first), and he'd actually only killed a hundred people.

    Out of curiosity, what about the "Terminator" example - where humanity is under siege in an unwinnable conflict, because a new sentient life-form was initiated (by humans). If you could, would you go back and try and prevent (or delay) the creation of the technology?

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