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View Full Version : The Ethics of Time Travel


Darth InSidious
07-10-2007, 08:18 AM
Never mind the possibility of travelling in the fourth dimension, is it ethical?

Nancy Allen``
07-10-2007, 09:24 AM
Wasn't there a story where Albert Einstein used time travel to assassinate Hitler? Einstein was a very ethical and moral man, so certainly it can be used for good. Like anything really it can also be used for evil, and with that in mind the responsibility of anyone using it is a biggie, perhaps it's too much for anyone to utilise. Especially given that we would not know the first thing of what might happen were we to try and change history.

Jae Onasi
07-10-2007, 10:02 AM
Sure, we could get rid of Hitler, but would we create a worse monster doing that? If we removed Hitler keeping Stalin busy on the Eastern front, would Stalin have been strong enough to expand his empire even farther and be a more powerful dictator than he already was? Unless we happen to be omniscient and know the ramifications of our actions, we shouldn't mess around with events in time, even if we think we're doing something beneficial for humanity.

That being said, I might fly all the way back to Eden to convince Adam and Eve not to sin. I'd show them all the results of their decision.

Rogue Nine
07-10-2007, 10:23 AM
Wasn't there a story where Albert Einstein used time travel to assassinate Hitler?
Command & Conquer: Red Alert. Awesome game.

SilentScope001
07-10-2007, 01:45 PM
Never mind the possibility of travelling in the fourth dimension, is it ethical?

Yes.

Think about it. If you are able to control time, then you could continue to fix all the problems in the timeline that you essentially create. Suppose, for instance, the situation in Red Alert did happen, that Enisten flew back in time and killed off Hitler. Now, Red Alert happened because Enisten forgot he did such a thing.

But suppose Enisten didn't forget? Suppose Enisten decided to watch how the timeline goes, seeing the effects of Stalin's expansions and the Allied forces fighting and (canonically) defeating them? Then seeing a brand new Soviet Union come in and invade America, then seeing Yuri comes in and try to (unsuccesfully) mind control everyone. After Enisten realizes the problem he had, he would merely set up his time machine, travel back in time, and tell himself, "Hey, don't do that!"

Enisten 1: "Why?"

Enisten 2: "Trust me..."

Enisten 1: "Um. I'm trying to stop the Holocaust.

Enisten 2: "Here's a book that details what will happen in the new timeline."

Enisten 1: "OMG. Okay. I hate Hitler, but he'll stay alive. For now. So, um, what do I do?"

Enisten 2: "/shrugs. Return back to your own timeline?" Enisten 2 disappers since Enisten 2 stops Enisten 1 from killing Hitler, thereby stopping the creation of Enisten 2.

Enisten 1 smiles and return back to the present.

There we go. Hitler stays alive, WW2 happened as normal, and everything goes according to plan. Remember, you can (in theory, at least) REVERSE changes that happen when you time travel. So, if the changes are reversable, why not tinker with it?

Pho3nix
07-10-2007, 03:35 PM
Command & Conquer: Red Alert. Awesome game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85tMFIA6Dy0

It is made of pure win.

Nancy Allen``
07-10-2007, 06:52 PM
Again, no question if World War II could have been avoided it would have been a wonderful thing. As the games demonstrate however something just as bad can happen. Were there death camps? Well the Soviets had the gulags so...no question it would be ethical to prevent Iraq, September 11, Bush getting into power, ect. What would take place instead though? Could the damage caused by changing history be fixed? Perhaps, but what if what you did wiped out your timeline?

As for Jae's suggestion, if it was meant to happen stopping sin would be moot. Instead I'd **** over the enemy as much as I could. Get rid of Hitler, Stalin, any evil minion hell sends. And try and find that far off galaxy from a long time ago of course.
.

Totenkopf
07-11-2007, 08:29 AM
To know whether it would be ethical or not, you'd have to know whether you'd actually be part of that timeline or just some chimera that could only observe things as they actually happened. If the first, it may be possible, assuming that the whole concept of parallel timelines is just a bunch of bunk, that whatever you managed to do during your "visit" actually happened in the original timeline anyway. On the other hand, if you're relegated to observer status, no harm done. I somehow doubt that the timeline we appear to be in can be changed so easily, if at all. As the saying goes what's done's done.

The Source
07-11-2007, 12:35 PM
Sure, we could get rid of Hitler, but would we create a worse monster doing that? If we removed Hitler keeping Stalin busy on the Eastern front, would Stalin have been strong enough to expand his empire even farther and be a more powerful dictator than he already was? Unless we happen to be omniscient and know the ramifications of our actions, we shouldn't mess around with events in time, even if we think we're doing something beneficial for humanity.

That being said, I might fly all the way back to Eden to convince Adam and Eve not to sin. I'd show them all the results of their decision.
Causality. Interesting. If we go back into time and change something, will it cause/prevent an important/catastrophic event?

When it somes to the ethical side, I do not think Time Travel could be used for the greater good. Even though the people who are time traveling are moral, I think their nieveness would cause temporal chaos.

I looked back at my own life, and I saw an interesting pattern. There is one event that had changed my life, and it was a key moment in my own growth and progression. The event caused hardship and stress, but it forced me to take certain action. If I were to remove that one 'negative' event, the path and modivation caused by it would affact everything that followed. Even though I wished the event didn't occure, I believe it had defined the steps I took to gain success today.

I personally do not believe that Time Travel is ethical, for the slightest change could upset the sociology and psychology of all mankind. Regardless about how negative or positive an event is, I do not believe that mankind has the ability to just stay out of time's way.

Prime
07-11-2007, 01:37 PM
Aren't we traveling in the fourth dimension right now? If it is unethical to move around time in a non-linear fashion, how is that any less ethical than now?

SilentScope001
07-11-2007, 01:39 PM
As for Jae's suggestion, if it was meant to happen stopping sin would be moot. Instead I'd **** over the enemy as much as I could. Get rid of Hitler, Stalin, any evil minion hell sends. And try and find that far off galaxy from a long time ago of course.

You know, if you really want to, why stop at Hitler and Stalin? Take a group of Present-Day People, and a huge division of armed forces, do a pre-emptive strike in the 3rd Century BCE, take over Mestapoia (Iraq) and form a Liberal Democracy over there. Spread that Liberal Democracy all over the world, stomping over everyone with your tanks to help spread the message of peace and love and understanding, and you will change history forever, presenting a new ideology that everyone will accept, changing the evolution of mankind's thought patterns, pushing these thought patterns away from "bad" thinking to "good" thinking.

No Saddam, No Hitler, No Stalin, heh, there may even be nobody. :)

HerbieZ
07-11-2007, 05:02 PM
All i'll just say is that if it was'nt for Hitler, i would'nt be alive. Because my Nan and Grandad would never have met in they're respective roles in the war. Alot of people can say this. Therefore if you went back into time and killed Hitler before he rose to power it would be unethical. Because, technically you would be responsible for the death of the people you know who's parents/grandparents were brought together because of war but as you would be the only one aware of it, the conflict between ethics would only be going on in your head and everyone you are speaking to on the forum will not know what you are on about. Thus you get sectioned, end up spending the rest of your days in a padded room all because some roaming traveller sold you a time machine. After you are released in forty years time whilst being old and unrecognisable you take the time machine you left in storage, go back in time by forty years and sell the time machine to yourself.

If you'll all excuse me, i have to go mail something to Paramount...

Nancy Allen``
07-11-2007, 06:18 PM
Nah, just go back seven years and prevent Bush from being elected.

Ray Jones
07-12-2007, 03:45 AM
How about just travel time without the intend to change anything?

GarfieldJL
07-12-2007, 11:16 AM
Nah, just go back seven years and prevent Bush from being elected.


The implications of this is Gore wouldn't have done anything when were attacked on 9/11 cept maybe lob a few missiles into Afghanistan and give up like Clinton did.


Fact is Bush may not be popular now, but many Presidents whom weren't popular at the time of their presidency were proven correct decades later. I may not agree with everything Bush decides, however I do feel he is a much better president than the Democrats and the media give him credit for.

The Source
07-12-2007, 11:27 AM
Nah, just go back seven years and prevent Bush from being elected.
Ah! Will removing Bush from historical context change something important? Could Bush have set forth a series of events, which eventually becomes essential to world history? Could something very important be put into motion, which will help others in the future descide on a future preemtive strike on a extremely deadly invader? Could our military and science divisions have gained something, regardless of magnitude of information or advancement, which would be important in the development of something very essential?

Remember, according to sociology, each individual's life is affected by anothers. FYI - I hate Sociology, but you can't escape it when considering Time Travel.

Pho3nix
07-12-2007, 01:32 PM
How about just travel time without the intend to change anything?

I don't think that would be possible.

The future (in my opinion) would probably change in some minor scale even without doing something drastic like killing Hitler or Stalin.

PoiuyWired
07-12-2007, 01:35 PM
Well, nothing not ethical about going back in time to watch the first screening of star wars on the big screen.

That, and its a good way to understand the past.

But, I think the ability to go to the future would actually pose more trouble. By knowing the past and future, everything is preordained, and thus meaningless.

SilentScope001
07-12-2007, 03:14 PM
Nah, just go back seven years and prevent Bush from being elected.

And what? Have the Democrats invade Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11, increase the ultra-high national debt, spend money on global warming programs that might be accused of being quite wasteful, and have you say:

"Nah, just go back seven years and prevent Gore from being elected."

:)

Nancy Allen``
07-12-2007, 06:27 PM
Oh? Given the...for lack of a better and more accurate word criticism Bush had faced it seems the belief is that the world would be a glorious utopia, with Americans and Al Qaeda standing arm to arm, fluffy bunny rabbits bounding through ever expanding green fields and peace reigning from land to land and from sea to shining sea had there been no Bush. In all seriousness the idea of removing Bush was in jest, an idea I thought people would have jumped all over. But in all seriousness I would use time travel to go back and stop the war on Iraq, as well as September 11, terrorist attacks, Hitler, ect, ect, ect, needless to say I'd be pretty busy. What would happen if I did though? I would want a guarentee that I wouldn't be making things worse by doing so.

SilentScope001
07-12-2007, 06:49 PM
It would depends. Good and evil is relative, after all. I would personally be quite angry at a person who is manliputing the history of humanity in the belief (misguided or not) that she would guide it to a better era. (It does sort of weaken my own ability to modify history at all...)

I'm drawing comparisons to Deus Ex series...the Illiumanti is an organization that wants to always do good things to help out humanity, and they actually have good intentions and it seems that their plans actually work, but many people dislike them anyway, because humans want to be in control of themselves, even if they make really stupid (and evil) mistakes in the process of running their own affairs.

You could possibly say you will get rid of events that a majority of people dislike, but then where's the drawing lines, since your modifications of history will end up creating brand new events, and you have to make the subjective choice of wheter those events will help humanity out in the long run or not. Someone's going to get mad.

The Source
07-12-2007, 06:57 PM
Oh? Given the...for lack of a better and more accurate word criticism Bush had faced it seems the belief is that the world would be a glorious utopia, with Americans and Al Qaeda standing arm to arm, fluffy bunny rabbits bounding through ever expanding green fields and peace reigning from land to land and from sea to shining sea had there been no Bush. In all seriousness the idea of removing Bush was in jest, an idea I thought people would have jumped all over. But in all seriousness I would use time travel to go back and stop the war on Iraq, as well as September 11, terrorist attacks, Hitler, ect, ect, ect, needless to say I'd be pretty busy. What would happen if I did though? I would want a guarentee that I wouldn't be making things worse by doing so.
Unfortunately I don't think there are any guarentees in time travel. However, I can understand why you would change those events.

Ray Jones
07-13-2007, 03:26 AM
Okay so how does one go back and stops 9/11 anyway?

[earth - 2001/09/01 1132 UTC] "Hi! We're from the future. We've invented a time machine, and decided to stop bad things happen. On Sept. 9 there will be like two planes flying into the WTC. Would you like us to save you from that?"

Or, even if you succeed, who says "the terrorists" won't get more mad about being stopped and manage to perform a more fatal act instead?

Det. Bart Lasiter
07-13-2007, 03:48 AM
Well, you could always stop the second, more fatal act. Same for the third and forth and fifth and so on and so on. Or is this sort of like a one trip deal?

Ray Jones
07-13-2007, 06:20 AM
Hm. Sounds rather Sisyphean, doesn't it? The power and resources needed for changing the past over and over again would be better and more successful invested in, I don't know, huge brainwashing facilities maybe, to convince people to make love not war. When we always change history, what can we learn from it? All it would do is it takes the need to think ahead.

Nancy Allen``
07-13-2007, 07:54 AM
Does that mean that we shouldn't try and stop such tragedies from taking place? Or would it be immoral to do so?

Pho3nix
07-13-2007, 08:17 AM
Why 9/11? I can think of a dozen other worse tragedies.

Ray Jones
07-13-2007, 08:31 AM
No it does mean going back and make such things unhappen will not stop such and other things from happening, and is also pointless as it doesn't ensure they won't just happen at another time instead. It treats the symptoms not the illness. More, if we take away past tragic events, we cannot learn from them and try to avoid to let them ever happen again. And there still stands the question how we would want to achieve stopping 9/11 for instance.

Also, what if by some planned or not planned action to correct history an event occurs that impedes the invention of the time machine itself 200 years later by say wiping out half of human populace? I'd consider that much more of a tragedy than 9/11 or the dropping of the a-bombs.

GarfieldJL
07-13-2007, 06:54 PM
I believe time travel in general is unethical because one change in one place could cause repercussions throughout the timeline leading to different tragedies, or lessons unlearned.

Rabish Bini
07-18-2007, 06:32 AM
I reckon it's unethical because somethnig worse will happen unless, like Jae said, you stop Adam and Eve from eating the forbidden fruit destroying sin altogether.

PoiuyWired
07-22-2007, 07:47 PM
I reckon it's unethical because somethnig worse will happen unless, like Jae said, you stop Adam and Eve from eating the forbidden fruit destroying sin altogether.

If so then the world would be freaking boring.

But yes, there are moments that I would like to change, if possable. But no its not something like preventing a great tragedies. Those would take its cause one way or another. As in, if you stop it on that day, there is no telling it would not happen three days later.

HOWEVER, there are simple things one can do to make the world a nicer place. Like saving precious artworks and records during a decaster, like prolonging the life or some artist/scientist/etc during the midst of their almost success so that piece of legend can be produced.

It may be much less than the "shoot hitler in the head with a plasma cannon" but it would be something interesting.