Time Travel, Part 4
The discovery of time travel would likely have huge implications for the society that allowed it to become public. Naturally, if possible it would become quickly regulated and the actual science behind it kept secret to avoid abuse. Of course this could be fairly difficult to do if the breakthrough were done in a private lab and quickly published to the world. Scientists like to get credit for their work, and there are already quite a few published theories on possibly time travel methods. Timeline contamination could pose a risk to the present, so it would have to be guarded against in some way if the technology could not be kept secret.
With time travel all the greatest questions about history could be answered. Scientist could research and catalog extinct species of plants and animals. In our world paleontologists have done their best to determine what Dinosaurs looked like and how they behaved. These are still mostly theories though. In a world with time travel we would know exactly how dinosaurs looked and be able to study their behavioral patterns. Quite possibly the most important thing we would learn about Dinosaurs though is exactly how and why they died.
Any event in history that is disputed could be viewed, studied, and documented. Documentaries could contain actual video of the events they are describing instead of recreations, though the recreations may be more detailed and entertaining than the actual events. The great mysteries of the world like the original use of Stonehenge or the method used to build the pyramids would move from the category of mystery to a documented process. The exact location of Atlantis would be added to historical maps. Suddenly the skills needed to uncover history would drastically change and the need to keep the subjects from realizing that they are being studied would be far more important as they are now living breathing specimens.
Knowledge of most past events would not have a major impact on a society, but knowledge of certain key events could. Certain events that touch on subjects that we do not discuss here could be viewed and would have dramatic impact on society as details were clarified or collaborated. It is hard to believe that events of religious significance would not be some of the first to be witnessed.
There would be many temptations to use time travel in seemingly beneficial ways. Trips to the future could cure diseases or bring back medical technology to save lives. With the technology already available there would be no need for the research to actually develop it. Both this and the survivors would change the future that the technology had come from. If future technology were to be banned in an effort to avoid this, then patients with enough money would be tempted to travel to a time when they could receive better treatment. Petitions would likely be drawn up to restore extinct species or to perhaps intervene in tragedies throughout history to save lives. Every tragedy that happens would lead to an immediate call of fixing it just this once. Even the best intentions, though, can have unexpected consequences.
For these and tactical reasons, if government scientists were the ones to discover time travel it would likely be classified and kept secret. Only the highest ranking officials would be allowed to know that this technology was available. These politicians then would be subject to the same temptations of time travel that the general public would be if they only knew of its possibility. Political campaigns would be much easier if the person in power could see the events of the future and proactively deal with them. In times of war, leaders would be tempted to view the future battle and change plans based on effectiveness. In the case of a failed operation they would likely send back communications to themselves of its failure. While this has the potential of saving lives, it also becomes far more complicated if the other society also has access to time travel technology. The potential for a time war or an inevitable temporal cold war would grow with each society that discovers time travel. That possibility and the implications will be the topic of my next blog.