Comic 31Aug07: Purposefully ignorant

Post Reply
User avatar
Andrick
Cartoon Hero
Posts: 2083
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 1999 4:00 pm
Location: SMCAUSA

Comic 31Aug07: Purposefully ignorant

Post by Andrick »

We now have an answer to the age old question of a tree falling in the woods. If no one is around then it does not make a sound because it never really existed in the first place.

If an event is observed then its result exists. If the event is unobserved then its results do not exist. However, if the event is observed by some but not by others is the result fixed for some and fluid for others? That does seem to be what future future Saundra is saying to future Saundra (the original Saundra is the UH Saundra, though I wonder if she'd more accurately be called past-perfect at this point). And what counts as an observer and an observation? It would seem that the ideal agent for meddling in past events is one with a removable memory since that seems to be the key to the malleability of the past.
"I don't know why, but watching 12-year old Japanese girls flinging their school uniforms at each other was wildly entertaining." - Azrael, Japanese Exchange Teacher.

User avatar
Allan_ecker
Cartoon Hero
Posts: 2706
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 1999 4:00 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Contact:

Post by Allan_ecker »

Welcome back.

Your analysis is correct with one caveat: the effects of an event still exist, and may be observed. But since effects are not necessarily uniquely determined by the event, seeing some effects of an event is not enough to know that it necessarily happened that way.

For example if I make a decision to roll two six-sided dice, then ask a future version of myself what the sum was, if he reports it as "seven" there are still six possible rolls the dice may land on. (Three if they're both the same color.) Unless I decide to lie, in which case the roll could be anything.

Probability is horribly screwy when time travel is involved.
<A HREF="http://umlauthouse.comicgenesis.com" TARGET=_blank>UH2: The Mayhem of a New Generation</A>

"Death and taxes are unsolved engineering problems."
--Romano Machado

GreatLimmick
Regular Poster
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2005 6:53 pm

Post by GreatLimmick »

allan_ecker wrote:Unless I decide to lie
Does that mean that a person who is visited by his future self would be able to alter the future simply by assuming that everything his future self says is a lie?

User avatar
Allan_ecker
Cartoon Hero
Posts: 2706
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 1999 4:00 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Contact:

Post by Allan_ecker »

Well...

YES.

Difficulty levels of reversing a known broken vase:

I was told the vase was broken by myself: Easy to change. Just decide to lie.

I was told the vase was broken by someone else: Must convince other person to lie.

I saw broken fragments: Must get and break replica to fool self.

I saw video of the vase breaking: Now I have to get a convincing fake of the video made.

I saw the actual vase in an unmistakable context breaking: Have to pull an elaborate switcheroo whereby an entire high-quality production dupes me into experiencing a broken vase, THEN must step in and prevent the vase from breaking.

The future doesn't become *fixed* so much as much much harder to move, the more of it you've observed.
<A HREF="http://umlauthouse.comicgenesis.com" TARGET=_blank>UH2: The Mayhem of a New Generation</A>

"Death and taxes are unsolved engineering problems."
--Romano Machado

Tsunari
Newbie
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:36 pm

Post by Tsunari »

I prefer the story ones that aren't trying to dictate time travel. Of course if I ever wrote a universe that allowed time travel. Time Travel would be the same as going to Las Vegas choosing the game with the worst odds and then putting all your money on it. But back to Sissy and the other girl it's funnest to watch them ^^.

User avatar
Allan_ecker
Cartoon Hero
Posts: 2706
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 1999 4:00 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Contact:

Post by Allan_ecker »

Tsunari wrote:I prefer the story ones that aren't trying to dictate time travel. Of course if I ever wrote a universe that allowed time travel. Time Travel would be the same as going to Las Vegas choosing the game with the worst odds and then putting all your money on it. But back to Sissy and the other girl it's funnest to watch them ^^.
No, no, no, you're imagining the Butterfly of Doom version of time travel. This time travel is more sort of a Can't Fight Fate version, with a trap door made by affixing hinges to Schrodinger's Cat.

And time travel... well... let's face it, my recursive links to the main page are green swirly portals for a reason. Buuuuut on the bright side you've only got a few more strips of Chrnobabble before we jump back to Eliza and Sissy's Adventure in Foreshadowing which should be very entertaining.
<A HREF="http://umlauthouse.comicgenesis.com" TARGET=_blank>UH2: The Mayhem of a New Generation</A>

"Death and taxes are unsolved engineering problems."
--Romano Machado

User avatar
Nitwit
Regular Poster
Posts: 177
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 1999 4:00 pm
Location: Stellenbosch, South Africa
Contact:

Re: Comic 31Aug07: Purposefully ignorant

Post by Nitwit »

Andrick wrote: If an event is observed then its result exists. If the event is unobserved then its results do not exist. However, if the event is observed by some but not by others is the result fixed for some and fluid for others?
If I'm following our esteemed author correctly, the observation is fixed for everyone. The actual event, which caused the observation, isn't fixed, because it is never truly known, just inferred from the observations. The observations are never enough to fix the exact chain of events - the universe doesn't satisfy the Kalman observability condition. Given the observation, you can happily (or not so happily, depending on mood, no doubt) fiddle the events within the constraint that the observation is unchanged - we've already seen this at work to some degree in http://umlauthouse.comicgenesis.com/d/20060210.html.
It's not that I'm apathetic, it's that I'm ..... um .... OK, it's that I'm apathetic.

User avatar
Allan_ecker
Cartoon Hero
Posts: 2706
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 1999 4:00 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA
Contact:

Post by Allan_ecker »

Quite right. Another example (although it didn't end up being as demonstrative as it might have been) is Volair's telling Saundra that he might not end up marrying her after all, since they only have limited observations and not the whole picture.

In a universe where one's measurements can be trusted but only so far as they haven't been faked by another source, meddling with the timestream becomes an extremely tricky (and occasionally dangerous) affair.

Altering past events is like battling the Medusa. View it directly and you're frozen into the lattice of events. But look at it from a steep enough angle, through a mirrored surface, and you stand a chance of seeing enough to do something without seeing so much that you fail.
<A HREF="http://umlauthouse.comicgenesis.com" TARGET=_blank>UH2: The Mayhem of a New Generation</A>

"Death and taxes are unsolved engineering problems."
--Romano Machado

Post Reply