Let's say an event is occuring that within a short timeframe makes at least the entire solarsystem uninhabitable. However, in a global effort, scientists and engineers have developed a backwards time machine.

This time machine can not travel further to the past than the point in time when it was developed (a bit more than 10 years before the end of the world). It can also not transport people. It can, however transport technology and information into the past, leading to a different timeline.

Assuming that every timeline has around 10 years to investigate the technology sent from the future, advance it, document it as well, as they can and then send it back in time to prepare for the end, is there a point where they can not send any more information/tech to the past than the previous "generation" can? This being due to the technological leap being so far, that the entire time available is wasted adapting the new tech, rather than advancing it further.

Ultimately the goal would be to ensure that some Timeline can escape the event, for instance by developing very advanced space travel, or a more potent time machine, but that's beside the question

Edit: In case ten years is enough to learn any amount of tech humans are capable of learning, what would be a timeframe where it's reasonable to assume that all of humanity could learn very advanced technology but not refine or advance it, an event horizon if you will?


closed as off-topic by Cyn, James May 20 at 14:13

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    $\begingroup$ The answer is "yes," but I'm not sure it's quantifiable, which makes the question off-topic. Your limit isn't knowledge. 10 yrs is long enough to absorb almost anything and you're always starting from the last 10 yr point. The problem is manufacturing. The moment you need more than 10 yrs to build something, you're process breaks. But what that is, is anybody's guess (aka "off-topic"). Is this what you meant to ask? Or can you express your problem with your world rules in a simpler, more specific way? $\endgroup$ – JBH May 20 at 8:07
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    $\begingroup$ The point is, when the future tech arrives, the first "generation" to adapt has a ten year leap in technology, the next "generation" (aka. the same people but in a different timeline) receive technology 20 years advanced, (but they didn't grow up with tech 10 years advanced) and so on. You are suggesting that ten years is enough to learn an effectively infinite amount of well taught and well selected knowledge (which makes sense, schools work similar). I am going to edit the question to clarify what amount of time would likely be not enough to learn advanced tech. $\endgroup$ – mrbah May 20 at 8:10
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    $\begingroup$ No, it has a 10 yr lead in knowledge. I'm agreeing that 10 yrs is enough to learn almost anything. The problem is construction! They must build the technology from scratch. Each 10 yr cycle can improve efficiency, but there comes a point where you max that out. It doesn't matter how advanced the plans for a fabrication facility are, if you can't build it in less than 10 yrs, it's worthless to get more knowledge. $\endgroup$ – JBH May 20 at 8:17
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure if we are misscommunicating. Every timeline takes the previous timeline tech, advances it and sends it back. It sends it back to a timeline which has just developed the first time machine, is at stage 0, if you will. Every timeline has 10 years to go from 0 to the level the previous generation has achieved and then make some progress, they have documentation from the previous documentation, giving them a significant speed advantage to get where the previous generations where. assume that there are many ways out of this, once you reach a few million years of tech advancements. $\endgroup$ – mrbah May 20 at 8:19
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    $\begingroup$ Ultimately, I think you are right, but now I am left wondering how advanced that point is. Under the assumption that every generations sends back precise instructions on how to develop machinery or other facilities (or construction vehicles), exactly for the tech of 2019 there would be chain. ultimately, once the length of a chain of production for advanced building from 2019 infrastructure reached ten hours, even with maximum efficiency, there would be no viable progress. Now I have to make a guess how many timetravels it would take humanity to get there. Thanks @JBH. $\endgroup$ – mrbah May 20 at 8:32

It depends on how much the time machine can send through, the amount of time required to spend on a single breakthrough and how many breakthroughs you need.

First through the time machine would be the most important piece of the entire process: The Plan. It details the minimum requirements to achieve success, and what technology needs to be researched and build to succeed. Along with this plan comes the simple knowledge of superior processes, construction and the pieces of research that have already been accomplished to complete The Plan. It's likely that this plan is simply placed on a supercomputer that can be taken apart, allowing the next generation to simply put it together and have the computer continue where it left off.

Next up are prototypes and equipment the people are going to need. If you can send back a machine capable of generating the required infrastructure without the people needing the knowledge to build the machine and infrastructure you can have them bypass these steps. The purpose is to accelerate research steps, for example by convincing disbelievers early on so they will help the process sooner and increase productivity for that Timeline.

Some timelines will be working on a single breakthrough in service of The Plan. They will research and develop a specific item or feature for 10 years in the hopes of completing it. If not complete they send their findings back in time so the next Timeline can finish the breakthrough, allowing them to complete research that takes decades. Other Timelines might make multiple breakthroughs.

Eventually The Plan will have all technology required to succeed, and thoughts need to go to creating all necessary components in a single Timeline. This probably requires multiple timelines to execute. One Timeline spends all its time building time machines that it sends back in time (in pieces if they have to). Not enough time machines? Next Timeline builds even more and sends the machines it received along with the newly produced back in time etc. You can even disassemble time machines near the end and send them back as well, "recycling" them and allowing future timelines to spend less time building time machines.

Then with enough time machines you can start sending components and materials back in time. Smart use of AI and cooperating components is key here, reducing the amount of time the Timeline needs to assemble the pieces send over as the pieces assemble itself and start production with the pieces of material send over. The best method would likely be placing the time machines in space, so that the required space to build stuff and energy are plentifully available.

This cycle continues, allowing each successive Timeline to send more components and material stockpiles back in time until they have the required amount. With this system you could eventually have such an array of time machines, components and materials that you can send over an entire Dyson swarm worth of materials and working machinery. From that point on I doubt there is any research or technology that wouldn't be in your grasp.

Edit: I assumed that materials could be sent over since you can send information. Information has to be stored in some physical property of an object or atom. So you have to send some physical representation of the knowledge back.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer. My concept of a time machine allows to transport matter, although it is limited in volume and possibly weight that can be transported back. What I originally intended was for each time machine to only travel back to it's creation and not further, meaning building additional machines might be viable later, when having seven years but ten times the volume to work with might be better than having ten years and a single working machine. $\endgroup$ – mrbah May 20 at 12:49
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    $\begingroup$ @mrbah You can send the time machine back to it's own creation. But you also send through information back to the time machine's creation. So why not send another time machine back to the first time machine's creation (in pieces ofcourse). It reduces the time to build a second time machine and as you say then the volume goes up as time progresses. $\endgroup$ – Demigan May 20 at 13:21

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