Don’t Do That, Then

lookforward monitor: a specialized optronic circuit containing a signaling microwormhole or temporal tangle channel from the near future. (The precise time period depends on the application, and has been configured for periods as short as one micropulse and as long as a full hour.) The function of the lookforward monitor is to receive a continuous input signal from the future and generate an output signal if the input signal ceases or otherwise departs nominal.

retroveto: Triggered by a lookforward monitor, a retroveto is a safety procedure invoked automatically, whether to cancel a user-initiated action which would have caused a disaster within the time range of the lookforward monitor (detectable since changes to a worldline propagate instantaneously along that worldline in terms of its internal time), or to trigger preemptive emergency procedures, for example a reactor scram.

retroabort: In spaceflight and other transportation jargon, a mission abort triggered by flight computers in response to an abort signal from a lookforward monitor indicating catastrophic vehicle failure.

Extensive iterative development of the design concepts involved in retroabort technology along with related families of devices such as UNMOVED MONAD and the moiraean alarm ultimately led to the development of refined shielding technologies, most notably the probability unseller.

– A Collection of Temporal Technologies

Unstuck

FROM: CORE COMMAND (OPERATIONAL MANAGEMENT)
TO: ALL SHIPS

***** ROUTINE
***** FLEET CONFIDENTAL E2048
***** ADVISORY

ALL FLIGHT COMMANDERS:

  1. THIS MESSAGE CONSTITUTES A ROUTINE UPDATE OF STANDING ORDER 147 (TEMPORAL IDENTIFICATION PROTOCOL).
  2. AS PER STANDING ORDER 147(A) TRANSPONDER/IFF SUFFIX PIP 1471 IS TO BE USED BY ANY IMPERIAL NAVY STARSHIP OPERATING NONSEQUENTIALLY IN EMPIRE TIME, EXCEPT AS PROVIDED FOR IN STANDING ORDER 147(C) BELOW.
  3. AS PER STANDING ORDER 147(B) TRANSPONDER/IFF CODES IN SERIES 87413-NNNNNN ARE ALLOCATED TO IMPERIAL NAVY STARSHIPS WHICH HAVE NOT ENTERED SERVICE AT THE TIME OF ENGAGEMENT/ENCOUNTER, AND ARE TO BE CONSIDERED VALID FOR TWO YEARS FROM RECEIPT OF THIS MESSAGE. SUCH IFF CODES ARE TO BE VALIDATED BY PROTOCOL OROELLE BLUESHIFT FRATERNAL AT EARLIEST POSSIBLE CONVENIENCE.
  4. AS PER STANDING ORDER 147(C) TRANSPONDER/IFF SUFFIX PIP 1472 PLUS INSTANCE SEQUENCE NUMBER IS TO BE USED BY ANY IMPERIAL NAVY STARSHIP OR STARSHIPS OPERATING IN CONJUNCTION WITH ITSELF. INSTANCE SEQUENCE NUMBERS ARE TO INCREASE MONOTONICALLY WITH EMPIRE TIME.
  5. AS PER STANDING ORDER 147(D) TRANSPONDER/IFF SUFFIX PIP 1473 IS TO BE USED BY ANY IMPERIAL NAVY STARSHIP EXISTING SOLELY AS A RESULT OF A CAUSAL LOOP.
  6. AS PER STANDING ORDER 147(E) TRANSPONDER/IFF SUFFIX PIP 1474 IS TO BE USED BY ANY IMPERIAL NAVY STARSHIP WHOSE TEMPORAL ALIGNMENT VIS-A-VIS EMPIRE TIME IS UNKNOWN.
  7. AS PER STANDING ORDER 147(F) TRANSPONDER/IFF SUFFIX PIP 1475 IS TO BE USED BY ANY IMPERIAL NAVY STARSHIP WITH REASON TO BELIEVE THAT IT WAS ACTUALIZED FROM A POTENTIAL ALTERNATE WORLDLINE.
  8. AS PER STANDING ORDER 147(G) TRANSPONDER/IFF SUFFIX PIP 1476 IS TO BE USED BY ANY IMPERIAL NAVY STARSHIP WITH REASON TO BELIEVE THAT IT IS SUFFERING AN ONTOLOGICAL PARADOX OR OTHER RELATED EFFECT NOT COVERED BY THE CATEGORIES ABOVE.
  9. NOTE THAT IDENTICAL TRANSPONDER/IFF SUFFICES ARE IN USE BY STARSHIPS ASSIGNED TO THE IMPERIAL EXPLORATORY SERVICE AND IMPERIAL SERVICE. FOR THE PURPOSES OF STANDING ORDER 147(B), SEQUENCES 87412-NNNNNN and 87411-NNNNNN RESPECTIVELY HAVE BEEN ASSIGNED.
  10. AUTHENTICATION: OGRE ANCESTOR SILVER PLUM STAFF NEEDLE / 0x77BB4129A6678A6A

ADM MACIAN CORINTHOS
DIVISION OF RELATIVISTICS & TEMPORAL NAVIGATION

Stealing From Yourself

The Advocate for Guilt has cited the existing precedent set by this Court in Ulpiaj v. Ulpiaj (7918), affirming that for one sophont to appropriate property from themselves in the past constitutes theft, inasmuch as a worldline-past time-slice of an individual cannot consent to the actions of a worldline-future time-slice.

However, in this case, we must instead affirm that for one sophont to appropriate property from themselves in the future cannot constitute theft, insofar as so doing is a performative act binding one’s future self, and a worldline-future time-slice has, ex sequens, consented to all voluntary actions of worldline-past time-slices of the same individual.

The Shareholders’ Court therefore finds for the DEFENDANT, Ulpiaj of 7994, who is VINDICATED upon all counts. The charges of the plaintiff, Ulpiaj of 8002, are DISMISSED.

– Ulpiaj v. Ulpiaj (8002),
Shareholders’ Court (City of Synchrony, Resplendent Exponential Vector)

Spoilers!

From Neithe Daphnotarthius the Elder to Neithe Daphnotarthius the Younger, greeting.

This message is not the manuscripts you expected to be delivered the day after having your brilliant idea, regretfully. Please understand that the problem we encountered with your brilliant idea was that it was actually an idiotic idea: it turns out that while using a knight’s-move transit such that we can publish our next series first and together, and then write it in peace afterwards, has the slight drawback that we cannot escape learning details of the story and reactions to it while we try to work on it, which makes writing it virtually impossible.

Or so I am given to understand, based on the message you are reading now, which I received last week. As I have and you will have confirmed by the temporal mechanists I consulted over said last week, this is a valid case of a predestination paradox creating an informational loop.

In any case, since we’re going to have to write it the old-fashioned way, you’d best get started. Once you convince yourself that this message is what it claims to be and you send yourself a copy, anyway.

And don’t take the wager you’ll be offered in the morning. Trust us on this.

You (Plus Eleven Days)

 

Existing While Not Being God

“I am confident, to more than nine nines of certainty, that not only has a fully-general means of causality-altering time travel not been invented, but that a fully-general means of causality-altering time travel never will be invented within our light-cone.”

“Excuse me, Academician – but how can you be so sure?”

“Are we, as we speak now, omnipotent deities the supremacy of whose mere whims is written into the canons of natural law itself?”

“…no?”

“Exactly.”

from the proceedings of the Oroelle Conference on Temporal Mechanics,
7920, 8340, 8760, and 9180

Trope-a-Day: Time Travel

Time Travel: Present in very limited forms: the kind you can do with wormhole shortcuts and relativistic travel (whose primary usage is permitting physics grad students to actually observe local causality violations), and the kind that lets transcendent AIs whisper to themselves from the future via acausal logic.  In both cases, subject to Chronological Consistency Protection, as they’re operating in a block universe.  (See Temporal Paradox.)

Trope-a-Day: Temporal Paradox

Temporal Paradox: It’s a block universe; the short form would be to say that predestination paradoxes are permitted (although the non-informational kind are tricky) and grandfather paradoxes are not, since even though you can violate local causality, global causality is always preserved.

And if you find yourself caught up in one of these, You Can’t Fight Fate.  You may, however, be able to cheat, if there’s a chance – and there usually is a chance – that what you thought happened first time through might will be not have been what actually happened.

UNMOVED MONAD

It is widely believed that time travel is useless.

After all, everyone knows the Block Universe Theory and its limitations: changing the past is impossible, and as such all grandfather paradoxes are banned. Predestination paradoxes are permitted, but obviously only create the already-known current state of affairs, rather than alter it; while this admits of certain limited applications in commerce (such as negative-frequency trading, although as a practice this quickly drives the market volatility operator to zero per the Market Chronology Protection Theorem, eliminating its own profit potential) and in military affairs (knight’s-move bypass transits, including optional proleptic tactical data transfer, which in practice rapidly become zero-sum effective between technologically matched opponents), these are special cases, few and far between. And while looped objects “borrowing” mass-energy from the substrate for the duration of their existence are theoretically possible, the nature of the loop requires that such objects exist in a synthetic or simulated nullentropic state, since the quantum state information at the earliest point of the loop must correspond exactly to that extant at the latest point of the loop.

It would seem, therefore, that the Chronological Consistency Protection Theorem would ban all interesting applications of closed time-like curves.

This, of course, is not the case. While it prevents the construction of technologies based upon its violation, the existence of a universal “paradox censor” that forces the probability of all causally inconsistent events to zero is of great application in several families of technologies.

The best known of these is hypercomputation. Acausal logic processors operate – to paraphrase a series of complex operations – by receiving an answer to a problem from the future, verifying its correctness, and transmitting it back to themselves in the past if and only if the answer is correct. Since the only causally consistent scenario is that in which the correct answer is received, such a device always produces correct answers to any PSPACE-definable problem. (The extraction of information without apparent computation inherent in the operation of acausal logic processors poses interesting problems at the intersection between information physics and ontotechnology, currently the province of ongoing research.)

As well-known is the so-called “probability kiln”, a class of manufacturing devices which utilize such hypercomputation for phase-space pruning; that is, to isolate and remove from future worldlines all those possibilities in which low-yield operations fail, ensuring that the only causally correct possibility is their success, thereby operationalizing even otherwise extremely impractical industrial processes.

Then there is the third class of device, a defense research project designated UNMOVED MONAD.

UNMOVED MONAD makes use of an extremely simple form of synthetic closed time-like curve, in the form of a tangle channel constructed and manipulated such that it links two points separated along the time-like axis, rather than two points separated along the space-like axis. To this extent, it is merely a trans-temporal communications facility. However, unlike trans-temporal communications performed via conventional means or space-like tangle channel, UNMOVED MONAD derives another unique property from its time-like separation: indestructability.

It is important to note that UNMOVED MONAD is a singular device: the tanglebits within are entangled with themselves across time, rather than with a matched set elsewhere. Upon activation, an UNMOVED MONAD device receives a complex, full-width verification signal from itself in the future. As such, it cannot be destroyed until this signal has been sent: such destruction would cause the tanglebits to decohere, ensuring that the trans-temporal signal never could have been received; a causally inconsistent state. Thus, per the Chronological Consistency Protection Theorem, the probability of the UNMOVED MONAD device being destroyed in the interim is forced to zero.

Properly packaged and placed, UNMOVED MONAD can even function as the mythical “synthetic luck machine” – while it is entirely possible for a bearer of an UNMOVED MONAD or the local environment to be destroyed so long as the device itself remains intact, ensuring an event phase-space with plentiful higher-order probability events resulting in the survival of the device can avoid such low-likelihood outcomes; the CCPT worldline shifts tend to go through the highest probability alternative regions. The universe evidently prefers not to work any harder than it has to.

– Temporal Mechanics: The State of the Art, “Popular Physics”, Cailmaen 6722

They’re More Like… Oh, Never Mind

The Second Guideline of Temporal Communication, should you happen to find yourself in the position (possible, albeit rare outside navigational errors, advanced relativistics classes, and other esoteric situations) of being the subject of a closed timelike curve formed by the appropriate combination of wormhole traversals and near-luminal travel, or alternatively should you find yourself in the much less likely position of having access to a trans-temporal ansible without being an acausal-logic-using temporally-transcendent seed AI, is traditionally given as follows:

“Listen to your future selves, and politely fulfill whatever requests they have of you.  They’ve been you; by definition, they know everything you know, have experienced everything you’ve experienced, and then have learned more on top of that.  They know better.”

In practice, it’s not as vital as this makes it sound; the Chronological Consistency Protection Theorem tells us that global causality is always preserved, and that while effects may precede their causes locally, nonetheless the causal graph is always complete.  Even if you choose to ignore or defy your future self, you cannot damage the fabric of causality by doing so.

The corollary to this, of course, is that it doesn’t matter.  Your future self knows exactly what you will do in response to any interactions you may have, because they were you when they had them the first time around.  It follows, therefore, that they always say and do exactly the things required to cause you to do whatever you are going to do to cause the timeline that resulted in the encounter you are now having in the first place.

The Second Guideline, therefore, does not exist to protect the integrity of the temporal continuum; merely to prevent a lot of pointless and futile arguing with oneselves.

– Practical Temporal Mechanics for Amateurs