For clarity of method, here’s the question in full:
After watching the documentary ‘Looper’ at the cinema recently it got me thinking…
When time travel is invented, if I was to transport myself 5 minutes back in time I would meet myself from 5 minutes ago. So there are now 2 Mes. If the Me from 5 minutes ago waited for 5 minutes like before, then transported himself back in time 5 minutes… There would now be 3 Mes.
So using this time cycle is it possible to create an whole army of 1000′s of Mes which I could use to take over the world?
Yes, this is possible. However, it’s not as fantastic an idea as it may seem at first. Let’s use some diagrams to wrap our heads around this.
Let’s call you You. You steps into a time machine at noon, and travels to 11.55am.
At 11.55am, you are now the second person standing at the time machine. You2 chats to You who was there first and has not yet stepped into the time machine.
You and You2 wait around for 5 minutes and have a chat. After the 5 minutes is up, you both have to step into the time machine. This is where we encounter our first problem. If there is not enough room for two of you to fit inside – as in the film Looper you refer to – the plan can’t work. Or you have to wait a bit, which causes other issues we look at later.
So let’s assume the time travel machine doesn’t need you to step inside, and can somehow deal with multiple Yous using it all at once. You travel back to 11.55am and now find You and You2 waiting. This goes on a few times.
So now there are multiple Yous all stuck in this loop of waiting to step into the time machine. You3 is thirsty and goes across the road to order everyone coffee, but because there are so many of You the order is quite large and takes a while. In his hurry to get back in time to step into the time machine at noon, he gets hit by a car and dies.
You4, You5, You6 and You7 all cease to exist, as You3 died before he looped back to create them.
So let’s say You3 doesn’t rush back. He gets all the coffees and gets back to the time machine at five past. He gets there and everyone is gone.
So the flaws in this plan so far are as follows:-
- Anything that happens to one of the Yous affects all subsequent Yous. If one eats a bad burrito, the rest all have bellyache. If one dies, a huge chunk of your army dies.
- They all disappear after the 5 minutes is up, as they need to step into the machine to maintain the cycle.
- 5 minutes isn’t even long enough to buy everyone a coffee, let alone take over the world.
You clearly need more time than just 5 minutes. How about a day? This means that you’ve got just 24 hours to execute a plan for world domination, which even Jack Bauer would struggle to manage. Not only that but here is where we raise the next major issue; You still have to live through all of this time that you’re waiting, meaning each subsequent You is 1 day older. Let’s assume you’re 25 – You9,125 will have lived through an extra 9,125 days to create all the clones and will already be 50 years old. An army of less than 10,000 is not really enough to overthrow world governments in one hour – and going any further gives you an army of OAPs which, let’s face it, isn’t going to get you very far.
No, I think that the use of time-travel isn’t really as dangerous as You might anticipate. The ideal use for this kind of technology would be to travel back an hour or so and have your clone complete safe and menial tasks like work, washing the dishes, or doing the ironing, saving you valuable time in which to come up with alternative schemes for world domination.