Teleporter: Good or bad?

Good! People must be free!
13 (65%)
Bad! I like knowing that bombs won't appear in my house one day.
7 (35%)

Total Members Voted: 19

Jtuxyan on July 31, 2009, 12:54:20 pm
Hey, long time reader, first time poster.

I should preface this by saying I'm not a Libertarian of any stripe -- but I find Escape from Terra pretty enjoyable. The world is interesting, the characters are sympathetic, etc. One of it's big selling points for me though is that it's a political comic that doesn't sound overly preachy. The author *shows* us his views instead of *telling* us his views -- and implies they are right by how well this world works, instead of telling us that he's right.

These latest comics though, seem to reverse that trend. The genetically engineered food line was a bit...exposition'y, but tolerable because it is a cool idea and governments banning genetically engineered foods for silly reasons is realistic (hell, it's real). This teleporter bit though steps over the line. People don't exactly seem to be desperate to leave Terra -- even if many would likely choose to do so, it would not unseat the government. Not to mention the *horrific* dangers associated with practical teleportation. It this device can be blocked -- it's useless because Terra's government will just jam it worldwide. If it can't be blocked, then anyone can teleport bombs, bioweapons, warships, etc, about however they want. Society wouldn't radically change for the better, it would *collapse*. And not into the productive kind of Anarchy we see in the belt -- into the people eating eachother, Somalia style violent anarchy.

The heavy handed exposition, somewhat preachy tone, and serious problems with the technology he's describing that are totally overlooked kind of ruin these last few comics for me. This storyline started great, but seems to have taken a sharp turn downhill since.

I'm curious for others thoughts on this matter.

pchkoreff on July 31, 2009, 01:21:53 pm

This teleporter bit though steps over the line. People don't exactly seem to be desperate to leave Terra -- even if many would likely choose to do so, it would not unseat the government. Not to mention the *horrific* dangers associated with practical teleportation. It this device can be blocked -- it's useless because Terra's government will just jam it worldwide. If it can't be blocked, then anyone can teleport bombs, bioweapons, warships, etc, about however they want.


Oh well, I'll just have to adapt.  First thing I'll do is avoid confrontations with psychopaths who possess serious bombs.  Come to think of it, I already make it a point to do that.



 Society wouldn't radically change for the better, it would *collapse*. And not into the productive kind of Anarchy we see in the belt -- into the people eating each other, Somalia style violent anarchy.


The history of the 20th century clearly illustrates that society is already in a violent, murderous, and degenerate state.  Anarchy had nothing to do with it.  On the contrary:  the culprit was centralized coercive power.

Somalia is a perfect example of what happens when you try to force government into a society which has no need for it:

http://mises.org/story/2066


SandySandfort on July 31, 2009, 02:26:17 pm
Hey, long time reader, first time poster.

I should preface this by saying I'm not a Libertarian of any stripe -- but I find Escape from Terra pretty enjoyable. The world is interesting, the characters are sympathetic, etc. One of it's big selling points for me though is that it's a political comic that doesn't sound overly preachy. The author *shows* us his views instead of *telling* us his views -- and implies they are right by how well this world works, instead of telling us that he's right.

Welcome aboard! You certainly do not have to be a libertarian to enjoy EFT. Personally, I only say I am a libertarian as a starting point in discussion. In fact, I have moved beyond that label to the more radical, Agorist. (see, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agorism ) I'm glad you have enjoyed EFT, at least up to this point. More below.

...This teleporter bit though steps over the line. People don't exactly seem to be desperate to leave Terra -- even if many would likely choose to do so, it would not unseat the government.

Oh I disagree. If such technology were to become available cheaply enough, only a handful of people might leave, but having an open frontier available, empowers the stay-at-homes and makes them demand more freedom at home. Governments have to become more compliant or lose their subjects. How long do you think Cuba would remain as coercive as it is, if Cubans could just up and leave? 

Not to mention the *horrific* dangers associated with practical teleportation. It this device can be blocked -- it's useless because Terra's government will just jam it worldwide. If it can't be blocked, then anyone can teleport bombs, bioweapons, warships, etc, about however they want. Society wouldn't radically change for the better, it would *collapse*. And not into the productive kind of Anarchy we see in the belt -- into the people eating eachother, Somalia style violent anarchy.

First, because it is based on Information Mechanics, it cannot be blocked in the way you suggest. You cannot stop someone from leaving. However, there are ways to interfere with uninvited quests. Metaphorically, "barrage balloons" could stop intruders. As for nukes and bio-weapons, Well, you don't need instantaneous travel technology to deliver them now.

BTW, this not Star Trek teleportation. You don't get in a magic phone booth and get your subatomic particles blasted somewhere. It is a vehicle you get in and "redefine" your location in the universe.

Jtuxyan on July 31, 2009, 02:46:10 pm
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Oh well, I'll just have to adapt.  First thing I'll do is avoid confrontations with psychopaths who possess serious bombs.  Come to think of it, I already make it a point to do that.

Because there is no record in our society of people blowing up random targets due to their own mental instability or just for murderous giggles.

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The history of the 20th century clearly illustrates that society is already in a violent, murderous, and degenerate state.  Anarchy had nothing to do with it.  On the contrary:  the culprit was centralized coercive power.

Somalia is a perfect example of what happens when you try to force government into a society which has no need for it:

Right now, the number of people who -- if they wanted -- could drop a nuclear weapon on my head is countable on one hand. While I may not have very much faith in how they run their governments, I am reasonably certain they will not throw away everything they have now for the sake of watching me turn to atomic dust. People with less armaments -- IE, chemical explosives, toxic gas, deadly deases, etc, face problems of dissemination and law enforcement.

Your societal commentary does nothing to dismiss the fact that I am reasonably certain I will not be killed between now and the end of the year by terrorist actions. I would be much less certain of this in a society will free teleporters. Therefore, this society is more murderous and degenerate then the one we have now.

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Oh I disagree. If such technology were to become available cheaply enough, only a handful of people might leave, but having an open frontier available, empowers the stay-at-homes and makes them demand more freedom at home. Governments have to become more compliant or lose their subjects. How long do you think Cuba would remain as coercive as it is, if Cubans could just up and leave?

Ah, but that is meerly making the government less controlling. Not causing it's collapse.

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First, because it is based on Information Mechanics, it cannot be blocked in the way you suggest. You cannot stop someone from leaving. However, there are ways to interfere with uninvited quests. Metaphorically, "barrage balloons" could stop intruders. As for nukes and bio-weapons, Well, you don't need instantaneous travel technology to deliver them now.

BTW, this not Star Trek teleportation. You don't get in a magic phone booth and get your subatomic particles blasted somewhere. It is a vehicle you get in and "redefine" your location in the universe.

How is your first point supported by the comic? That doesn't appear anywhere in the exposition. If this technology works off the same method as the Tanglenet, which has been stated to be completely unblockable coming or going, why would this teleporter be any different?  And if it's a vehicle or a magic booth is irrelevant. Either way, some nutcaste -- or just a psychopath who decides he'd be a little richer if his competitors city suddenly exploded -- has the power to tracelessly deliver an explosive device from the other side of the solar system.

SandySandfort on July 31, 2009, 06:21:18 pm
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Oh I disagree. If such technology were to become available cheaply enough, only a handful of people might leave, but having an open frontier available, empowers the stay-at-homes and makes them demand more freedom at home. Governments have to become more compliant or lose their subjects. How long do you think Cuba would remain as coercive as it is, if Cubans could just up and leave?

Ah, but that is meerly making the government less controlling. Not causing it's collapse.

Making the government less controlling is hardly a "merely." In any case, collapse could be a possible outcome depending on the state of the government when such technology becomes available. If the country is on the verge of financial collapse, like the current US, the sudden ability of the productive class to pull out of an oppressive tax system, could easily be the straw that broke the camels back.

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First, because it is based on Information Mechanics, it cannot be blocked in the way you suggest. You cannot stop someone from leaving. However, there are ways to interfere with uninvited quests. Metaphorically, "barrage balloons" could stop intruders. As for nukes and bio-weapons, Well, you don't need instantaneous travel technology to deliver them now.

BTW, this not Star Trek teleportation. You don't get in a magic phone booth and get your subatomic particles blasted somewhere. It is a vehicle you get in and "redefine" your location in the universe.

How is your first point supported by the comic? That doesn't appear anywhere in the exposition.

As a writer, I cannot write everything about a subject. I will only mention wallpaper if it creates a mood or explains something vital to moving the story forward. So it is with the details surrounding instantaneous transportation.

If this technology works off the same method as the Tanglenet, which has been stated to be completely unblockable coming or going, why would this teleporter be any different? 

Because information and matter have different natures. Information takes up no physical space, matter does. You cannot just pop up anywhere. Basically, you can't go anywhere that has matter in it (at least matter than cannot be pushed out of the way. You simply stay where you are.


Rocketman on July 31, 2009, 06:59:52 pm
One point that hasn't been brought up yet is that the people who leave usually leave for a good reason.  Someone who sits around all day watching TV in his underwear, drinking beer and waiting for his government share of the graft (usually called unemployment) is usually content to stay just where he is.  The people who leave are the ones that realize that if they go somewhere else they will be a lot better off, both financially and safer from those who want what they have and are will to kill or imprison to the workers to get it.  :'(

Sean Roach on July 31, 2009, 08:02:58 pm
Consider also.  How big does the ship have to be?  Is it detectable on entering or exiting?  Can it be made comfortably non-detectable?

Imagine your hometown is located over 100 miles from the nearest other town of equivalent size and variety?  So, with little competition, they institute rather heavy sales taxes.  No competition from other towns, and all those social programs the city elders want, but few actually would value enough to pay for, (golf course for instance.)
Or, they institute blue laws, confident people won't go elsewhere for beer on Sunday, as there isn't any other place to buy anything beyond the edge of town.

Now, with sudden access to any town, anywhere, how much sales tax revenue can the town expect?  People just pile in their car, still in the garage, and teleport away to another town to do their shopping.  Sunday?  They teleport to another town for the things that can't be had on Sunday at home.
It democratizes that which geography has made a practical oligarchy.  If a town wants to survive, it must now compete in prices, selection, and regulations, with every other town, anywhere else.
This goes for governments too.  A government can tell you what you may have, and how you may use it because it is at least impractical to go to another country for even an afternoon exemption.  You can't have a gun?  No government can prevent you from teleporting to the belt to buy one.  Goes for anything else.  People can actually live  ON EARTH and ignore the government, as they go beyond the governments area of control to do their shopping.  Once this happens, the government, seeing their regulations completely unenforceable, (and no stigma associateable with ignoring the regulations,) they either roll back their restrictions and taxes or lose MARKET SHARE to competing governments.

People may actually not leave.  Just commute to where the government has no control.  As they continue to commute, the government would actually LOSE effective control closer to home, either voluntarily to hang on to more of it longer, or by default as people decide to just make the move.

The story stated how you couldn't get a fusion reactor for "love or money" on earth, unless you're part of the elite, but they're a regular consumer product on Mars.  If the earthers could teleport to mars for a shopping excursion, what is to prevent them from buying a reactor anyway, and grey-market wiring it into their house?  Or, even moving to mars, where the things are legal and common, and commuting to earth for work, until the boss decides to relocate to the more business friendly environs of mars?

Rocketman on August 01, 2009, 09:09:38 am
Sean: your argument is logical and rational however your totally leaving out the government in the equation.  Lets assume that the transporter is about twice the size of a phone booth and can't be detected entering or leaving.  What a tyrannical government will do in the case that you outlined would be to start a "fink" line.  For a reward your neighbor, co-worker or "friend" will report to the government that you have imported a fusion reactor and one night when your asleep they would bust in the door and arrest you and your family.  2) Since a law was secretly passed that made possession of fusion reactors a death sentence to "Protect the public" your all put to death.  Given that how many more people are going to risk death by importing any kind of goods that are banned?  Government ALWAYS has the advantage in that case.  They can pass any kind of law pretty much anytime that they want too.  Of course you and your family can leave any time you want to but here's something to consider.  Right now if you leave the US, renouncing your citizenship and immigrate to another country, Amerika still expects you to pay them an additional ten years worth of taxes for the "privliege" of once living here and being one of it's citizens.   Believe it or not some in congress are not even satisfied with 10 years and want to make it the rest of your life.  And history has shown that as time goes by it's only going to get worse.   :P

pchkoreff on August 01, 2009, 09:11:13 am

Your societal commentary does nothing to dismiss the fact that I am reasonably certain I will not be killed between now and the end of the year by terrorist actions. I would be much less certain of this in a society will free teleporters. Therefore, this society is more murderous and degenerate then the one we have now.


OK right.  Assume no defensive technology exists.  I know you mentioned the point earlier about whether the teleportation could be blocked or not.  Assume that it cannot, and there is no way to block someone from transporting a live bomb into your bed at night.  Unfortunately the reduced transportation costs associated with teleportation have made it economically feasible for the murderer to target you.  If you were chosen randomly, you are also the victim of monumentally bad luck.

But that is precisely why I want teleportation technology to evolve:  the reduced transportation costs!  Imagine the profound wealth unlocked by such an innovation.

By far most violent crimes are committed by a very small percentage of the population.  Teleportation could indeed facilitate their practice of committing murder and theft.  At the same time, the overwhelming majority of people on earth would become enormously wealthy and healthy in very short order.  (The correlation between wealth and health is very strong.)

That is the nature of a tool:  that it serves the purpose of the one who wields it, either for good or for evil.  Eliminate the tool, and you eliminate the good as well as the evil.

So on the subject of teleportation I say bring it on.  But also bring on defensive technology while you're at it.  Keep in mind that having an effective defense does not necessarily imply that a few people in a city near the Potomac river would have the means to "jam" teleportation entirely across the entire globe or universe.  That would probably be silly on the face of it, something like proposing an ability to "jam" all metabolic processes in animals in an entire 3.5 million square mile area (roughly the area of the United States).  That doesn't jibe well with my intuition of physics.  I would expect it to behave in a more scalable and sensible manner, in accordance with known properties of energy and possibly even distance.  I wonder what Richard Feynman would say.

Of course all this talk of teleportation also suggests a related technology:  the ability to constitute any physical object using only two inputs:  1. A complete informational description of the object and 2. Energy.  Naturally you can either focus on the most diabolically evil application of this tool, or the immensely good applications.

Now maybe extremely far-fetched technologies like these will never come.  But other seemingly far-fetched technologies will and have come, and their applications for good and evil will be enormous.  I welcome the opportunities and challenges.




Azure Priest on August 01, 2009, 10:07:07 am
 It definitely is an intriguing concept, to say the least.  At the very least, instantaneous travel is a dream of every Carl Sagan wannabe. My understanding of physics is very limited, but the biggest drawbacks I see are either...

Relativistic motion (movement very close to the speed of light) and its associated problems (and there are many).

Or these ships, to either "fold" space, or generate wormholes, requires, at least temporarily, generating MASSIVE gravitational fields. A nuke would feel like a flyswatter compared to the kind of explosive energies which would occur if something went wrong in that scenario. In fact, the EARTH or whatever body the ship was near could cease to exist and be replaced by a quantum singularity. A murderous jihadist would absolutely like nothing more than sending the whole world and himself to ALLAH or whatever "god" he thinks will take him to paradise. Such technology, in good conscience, should (like nuclear arms) not be handed to the general population until some excellent safeguards are found.

SandySandfort on August 01, 2009, 08:51:35 pm
...but the biggest drawbacks I see are either...

Relativistic motion (movement very close to the speed of light) and its associated problems (and there are many).

There is no motion, relativistic or otherwise, so no such problems. Location is simply redefined.

Or these ships, to either "fold" space, or generate wormholes, requires, at least temporarily, generating MASSIVE gravitational fields. A nuke would feel like a flyswatter compared to the kind of explosive energies which would occur if something went wrong in that scenario. In fact, the EARTH or whatever body the ship was near could cease to exist and be replaced by a quantum singularity. A murderous jihadist would absolutely like nothing more than sending the whole world and himself to ALLAH or whatever "god" he thinks will take him to paradise. Such technology, in good conscience, should (like nuclear arms) not be handed to the general population until some excellent safeguards are found.

There is no warping, broaching or other break in the space-time continuum, so no massive energy needed (as long as your departure and arrival point are at the same gravitational potential).

terry_freeman on August 02, 2009, 10:21:12 pm
Many people - particularly governments - greatly over-estimate the desire of people to commit acts of mass mayhem. Consider a line of thought which I read in John Taylor Gatto's Underground History of Education: gasoline is cheap, widely available, and very dangerous. When mixed with air in the appropriate ratio, it is highly explosive.

Anyone can purchase or convey this terribly dangerous material, without being screened by the government. In some states, people are actually permitted to pump it into their own vehicles; in others ( such as New Jersey ), the average person is deemed incapable of mastering that difficult task.

What stops people from pouring gasoline all over their neighbors - or random strangers - and lighting them up?

Is it the scarcity of matches? Or is there something about human nature which causes the incidence of really crazy-ass mayhem to be extraordinarily low, percentage-wise?

All this by way of asking, would the world really become uninhabitable simply because transportation is cheaper? To the extent that mass murder is more common now than it was in ( for example ) the 19th Century, is that due to crazy individuals qua individuals taking advantage of cheaper transportation and more powerful weaponry, or is it due to the crazy behavior of governments? Totting up the numbers, it is governments, not freelance criminals, which used technology to kill hundreds of millions of people in the 20th century.  So who is the greater risk to peace?

Azure Priest on August 03, 2009, 01:02:21 am
There is something about the human psyche that USUALLY keeps people from doing mass mayhem.

1.) The inherent belief in some higher power watching, God, state, police, etc.

2.) Fear of punishment.

When that belief is shaken either through lack of enforcement (no punishment) or the debunking of the authority (there is no god, the state is nothing but corrupt crooks/ can't stop me), people DO engage in whatever miscreant behavior they believe they can get away with.

I speak from first hand experience working retail, and I can tell you that since it's now almost criminal to stop a shoplifter and chasing a crook out the door can (at best) get you fired or even KILLED, people are brazen in their shoplifting. Having a friend "reshelf" an item to a different part of the shelf, then "finding" that item at the lower price and trying to browbeat the clerk into honoring the lower price. Opening packages and taking items, but putting the package back. "Taste testing" food items then putting them back on the shelf obviously opened/ damaged, some are even so brazen as to simply walk out of the store item in hand without even stopping at the cashier to pay! I've had that happen to me TWICE, and I don't dare chase them out because it could get me killed.

So as for your theory that people OVER estimate the human capacity for mayhem, I say people UNDER estimate the human capacity for mayhem. People don't generally douse each other in gasoline and light matches because Risk/ reward ratio is unfavorable, not because they don't have a desire to do so.

pchkoreff on August 03, 2009, 10:30:42 am
So as for your theory that people OVER estimate the human capacity for mayhem, I say people UNDER estimate the human capacity for mayhem. People don't generally douse each other in gasoline and light matches because Risk/ reward ratio is unfavorable, not because they don't have a desire to do so.

You are correct.  I avoid burning humans alive because the risk/reward ratio is unfavorable to me.  Of course, the reward to me is negative, so the "risk" side of the ratio is irrelevant.  Other humans are valuable to me:  in fact, they are necessary for my survival and happiness.





quadibloc on August 04, 2009, 08:28:37 pm
Right now if you leave the US, renouncing your citizenship and immigrate to another country, Amerika still expects you to pay them an additional ten years worth of taxes for the "privliege" of once living here and being one of it's citizens.   Believe it or not some in congress are not even satisfied with 10 years and want to make it the rest of your life.

At least, unlike Italy, they have reciprocal tax treaties with most other countries, which means that as long as the other country's taxes are higher than U.S. taxes, you won't owe Uncle Sam a cent. So this is an improvement on Italy (remember the news item on the imprisonment of Sophia Loren?), sad though it is.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2009, 12:02:19 am by quadibloc »