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If you have a physically fit individual who can see up to 5 seconds in the future, is it possible for them to not get hit by bullets by moving away?

(Precognition being defined here as the ability to sense hundreds of futures based on the likelihood that they will occur by doing given actions, plus the processing power to process this information. Precognition is primarily sight and pain.)

Practically speaking, in most ranges, by the time the bullet is in motion it's too late for the individual to change whether or not they get hit, but what about moving before the trigger is pulled, or feinting, or something like that?

If so, what ranges would this be feasible at, and what kinds of guns would be possible to dodge? Pistols? Sniper rifles?

I imagine sustained fire would be almost impossible to dodge without cover.

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  • $\begingroup$ do they see 5seonds into the future continuously or as discrete events? $\endgroup$ – John Oct 10 '20 at 15:10
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    $\begingroup$ Does the precognative ability include meta-precognition? That is, can they see the futures of choices they've made as a result of precognative visions? $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Oct 10 '20 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ Have you seen the end of the movie Next (2007)? $\endgroup$ – Eric Towers Oct 12 '20 at 3:24
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    $\begingroup$ This scenario is the basic assumption of the Alex Verus series by Beendict Jacka. Though he adds some depth by making the limitations somewhat varied: counterspells, being distracted, different modes of concentration, how well the precog is trained, etc. He also explains a ton of alternate usages for precog: Never slip in the dark, know where enemies are in fog (by checking what futures he'll bump into opponents), password hacking (failed attempts "look" so similar that he can easily identify the successful future). $\endgroup$ – toolforger Oct 12 '20 at 13:05
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    $\begingroup$ Note that any arbitrary time limit can be circumvented. E.g. I want to know whether a coin tossed in T + 10 seconds will be heads or tails. At T + 5 I look ahead to T + 10, and write down the outcome on a piece of paper. At T + 0 I look ahead to T + 5 and see what is written on the paper. $\endgroup$ – JBentley Oct 12 '20 at 13:42

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It's complicated:

First of all, kudos for limiting it to five seconds. More than that starts getting strange. Second, I strongly suspect you're going to start hitting a problem with precognition, which is that prediction alters reality which alters precognition. When your precognitive dodges the bullet, they're still visible and light travels REALLY fast. So naturally, the person alters their trajectory to compensate for where the bullet is going. This creates a nasty feedback where the character now has to dodge the NEW trajectory of the bullet, and all the reasonably probable trajectories of the bullet. Then there's dodging the second and third bullet, all of which may be in the next five seconds. While your character may avoid a lot of bullets at reasonably close range (especially with good reaction time against clumsy/slow opponents) I'd say NO to a short-ranged gunfight.

You MAY still be unbeatable in a gunfight, however. Rather than dodging bullets, you can anticipate where your opponents will be in the future and shoot them first. THEY have no ability to anticipate the bullets, so 9mm of prevention is worth 45 calibers of cure. Also, invest in a bulletproof shield, since they can't anticipate as well where THAT will be. Even a small one might be enough, and these would be useless in a normal gunfight but great for your character. You still get shot, but it won't be nearly as harmful (although anyone who's ever taken a bullet in a vest will tell you it's still a LOT of energy to dissipate).

Long range sniper fire, your character is golden (hard YES). Anything where the bullet already left the barrel by the time the character reacts, nothing the shooter can do will change the trajectory (unless it's a gyrojet smart projectile that tracks targets).

Ambush? The character will know it's coming and can take cover, jump behind people, or just drop suddenly. This greatly reduces the opportunity for a shooter to hit the character. This is especially true if the character isn't the intended target. So a hard YES to dodging stray bullets, if the character is in a position to maneuver. This also means the character would be the ultimate secret service agent—they could deliberately interpose themselves easily between an intended target and a shooter. Invest in good body armor.

Your ability to dodge spraying bullets will depend on the perception of the character. If they can see bullets (and I certainly can't, so just knowing bullets are fired doesn't guarantee you know where they will be) then they would be able to chart a course that misses many bullets. Human reaction isn't perfect, so they might misjudge, or slip, and not realize it until it's too late to change it. So MAYBE on random sprayed bullets.

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    $\begingroup$ keep in mind if cover is available, the chances of getting hit go down tremendously. The enemy has a lot less ability to compensate, and at close range the enemy has to make larger movements to compensate. $\endgroup$ – John Oct 10 '20 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ @John Very true. +1 Although the more clutter around, the more chance you'll find yourself in a position where you are unable to maneuver away. It's only five seconds. Kinda like a spider-sense. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Oct 10 '20 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Pahlavan Almost all bullets travel at supersonic speeds, with a few exceptions, but the sniper rifle bullets are still admittedly really fast (but also massive and streamlined). There's still a notable lag between trigger and impact. Even one second is enough to dodge a bullet in this case. You could design an experiment where a target is connected to a trigger and veers in an unexpected direction at human speed on trigger squeeze. I'm betting it would make a small target unhittable. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Oct 10 '20 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Vilx- Have you fired a lot of firearms? I find it a fairly visceral experience. The guns are designed with lots of systems to spread out and slow impact. The gun jerks violently and is very kinetic. Even the acceleration of the projectile happens over time inside the barrel. The movies showing people getting knocked over from shooting aren't just theatrics. The bullet, conversely, is designed to focus down the impact to the smallest possible point and over the shortest time possible. Your fist doesn't rip someone's skull apart. And that's the smallest of firearms. $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Oct 11 '20 at 3:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Vilx- The bullet has momentum equal and opposite to the recoiling gun, but far greater energy. Momentum is mass times velocity, so a bullet 1/100th the mass of a gun is shot with 100x the velocity of the recoil. But since energy is mass times velocity squared, the bullet has 100x the kinetic energy of the recoiling gun. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Hoagie Oct 12 '20 at 4:22
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Single shot weapons.

There is a game called Super Hot that presents a similar situation. Rather than precognizing where the bullets will land you can slow time to see where the bullets are. Note this also slows down the player so you can never move super fast. Might be worth a play to get a feel for what's possible!

The main thing you cannot dodge is a machinegun firing down a corridor. I know the corridor will be full of lead in the next 5 seconds. That's no use if I can't get out of the corridor before then.

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  • $\begingroup$ The "precognition" you get in Super Hot is far less than 5 full seconds. With 5 seconds of precognition, you could dodge the bullet before the shooter even sees you or decides to shoot. $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Oct 12 '20 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ Bullets in SH are sloooow, slow enough that you can literally get out of the way while they are flying toward you. With most modern firearms, once the trigger has been pressed there is very little you can do. $\endgroup$ – laancelot Oct 13 '20 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ @laancelot Imagine playing Superhot but the "bullets" are not the actual bullets. They are just visual indicators of your precognition for when the bullet will be fired. In reality the trigger is pulled almost exactly when the "bullet" hits you. $\endgroup$ – Daron Oct 14 '20 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron While it makes sense, it changes the dynamic that the choice of the action is owned by the shooter and not the precog. So that would work as you describe, but in a awfully dangerous and depressing way, as while the shooter isn't taking a shot the precog slowly (or rapidly) sees his survival window closing. $\endgroup$ – laancelot Oct 14 '20 at 12:01
  • $\begingroup$ @laancelot I don't understand what you mean by "choice of the action is owned by the shooter and not the precog." $\endgroup$ – Daron Oct 14 '20 at 18:58
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Yes, your character is basically unstoppable*

First, I'm going to assume that there is some sort of engine (extradimensional supercomputer, deity, alien, whater) which grants the powered individual this capability and interfaces directly with their brain (or soul depending on setting).

Secondly, I'm going to assume that whatever this Precognition Engine does isn't true precognition but rather simulated precognition. This means there's no actual time travel or future-observation going on, instead, the precognition engine is hooked up to some sort of panoptical system which is capable of viewing the users' entire (or even just local) reality at a particulate level (smaller or bigger adjust prediction accuracies). To "see" the future, the Engine performs simulations. This prevents nasty causality issues and the other weirdness that accompanies time travel.

Finally, I'm going to assume that the Engine is capable of precogging the power's user's brain, effectively granting meta-precognition. Otherwise, the user would only ever see one, rapidly shifiting future, since the Engine is capable of perfectly prediciting the future (in the short term).

Also, if your User has a gun, then they would be absolutely unstoppable.**

A simulated gunfight, from the precognative side:

The person who's connected to the Precognative Engine (the User) is of the opinion that they do not want to get shot. The Engine "knows" this (although it's not necessarily sentient).

Now, a gunman is approaching the user, and the Engine calculates that in five seconds, the gunman will have aimed, fired, and hit the User. Next, the Engine simulates what the User would choose to do when presented with this information, and the simulated User decides to, lets say, take a step to the left a second before the gun is fired. Simulating this course of action, the Engine discovers that the gunman is good enough to partially adjust their aim and the User get's winged on the arm instead. This data, is once again fed to the Engine's simulation of the User, which again "decides" to avoid this fate and chooses a different simulated action.

This simulate-query-resimulate loop continues onwards until the simulated User is presented with a satisfactory action, and this process works onwards continously.

The User, unaware of what's going on "behind the curtain" simply sees all the possible futures of the choices that simulated-User made and eventually settles on the same choice that simulated-User eventually made (free will is dead, but whatever). Then, they perform the exact set of actions that allow them to avoid getting shot.

The same gunfight, but from the gunman's perspective:

The gunman is a professional. They sight the User with their gun, line up a shot, and are about to press the trigger, when suddenly the User steps to the side a bit. The gunman readjusts their aim, but again, just before they're about to pull the trigger, the User is coincidentally not lined up properly anymore. Frustrated, they continue trying to get a bead on the User, but always just before they're about to fire the perfect shot, the User does something that makes them feel like they'd miss if they pulled the trigger. Eventually, the gunman can't take this anymore and losens their tolerances on what's an accepatable shot and starts shooting, even if they don't have a hit lined up. It dosen't help though, the User seemingly dances or limbos across the field of fire without getting hit once.


*There are scenarios where the User can get hit. Notably, they can get hit by area-affect weapons like bombs or grenades where they can't get out of the danger zone within five seconds (unless they can disable the bomb or grenade before it goes off, for example by shooting it or getting someone else to shoot it) or they can get hit by enough massed-fire, although it would take a serious amount of bullets to make it that there's no possible dodging window and the User would be stupid to put themselves in a situation like that. The most effective way to kill the User is to unknowingly poison them and then make sure they aren't in an enviroment where they can precognatively find the antidote or how to make an antidote in under 5 seconds.

**If the User has a gun, they basically become unstoppable. Then, they can do fancy things like:

  • shoot opponents just right so they twitch and shoot their neighbors just right
  • shoot bullets which ricochet just right and jams weapons
  • shoot enemy vehicles just right so they get disabled instantly
  • shoot bullets, grenades, etc out of the air with multiple ricochets
  • etc

To highlight how ridiculously bullshit this power could be, imagine the user is in an empty field, with a gun, facing 12 professional soldiers. It's a standoff. Then, the User simply finds the future where shooting one of the soldiers just right makes them twitch their gun to the side and shoot 11 perfect, friendly-fire, headshots on their fellow squadmates before dying themselves. To see an example of what it could look like to watch a precognative fight, take a look at this clip where Bart disables all her opponents, even when starting from extreme disadvantage (although the power Bart has is slightly different) or take a look at Contessa in Wildbow's Worm (although her power is also slightly different).

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  • $\begingroup$ As you up the number of combatants you up the complexity enormously In a one on one fight or when up against a small group the 'seer' has an enormous advantage. If he's storming Omaha beach in June 1944? There would be to many complexities. Say he/she is ducking and weaving up the beach and 'see's a future incoming stream of MG fire. Solution- drop into that shell hole just up ahead and stay down. All good. Right up to the moment the next barrage of incoming German artillery fire air - bursts over his general area and now he has to dodge a burst of shrapnel. $\endgroup$ – Mon Oct 11 '20 at 4:42
  • $\begingroup$ Although I suppose on second thoughts depending on how the 'gift' works it might be simple. If for example the character 'sees' all the outcomes where he dies as 'black nothingness' encompassing perimeter their vision and all those futures where he is injured as a 'red zone' within the black zone then I suppose they could, by training or force of habit learn to ignore all of these and instinctively follow only the limited number of safe choices that reside along a path 'white' options at the center of their vision. Sought of like a runner following a moonlight path through a dark forest. $\endgroup$ – Mon Oct 11 '20 at 4:51
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    $\begingroup$ Possibly, there's a series of novels ( Alex Versus) whose central character more or less does this. However I also have to note that war cemeteries are full of soldiers killed by bullets that weren't consciously aimed at them. A case of huge numbers of bullets being in the air at any one time, thousands of individuals desperately trying to survive and random chance. $\endgroup$ – Mon Oct 11 '20 at 8:53
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    $\begingroup$ I think the reference to Worm's Contessa is notable, because she explicitly gets the required secondary power that you don't need to give your user: The ability to actually carry this out. I know there's a future in which me in a field against twelve guys could end in a single shot, or a word, or whatever... but I lack the skill to do it. You could show me exactly what to do and I'll still fail to carry it out myself. Take away that component of the power and it's much less broken (...but still tremendously broken) $\endgroup$ – Phoshi Oct 11 '20 at 22:17
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    $\begingroup$ Your "if the user has a gun, they basically become unstoppable" discussion seems to make a key assumption: namely, that there is some perfect shot that has all the right knock-on effects. It seems entirely plausible to me that even five full seconds is not enough to manipulate the state of the universe to a place where that's true -- what if all outcomes involve at least one of the twelve getting a good shot off before you finish your warmup? $\endgroup$ – Daniel Wagner Oct 11 '20 at 23:13
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If your only enhanced skill is the 5 seconds of precognition, and you remain normal in every other way (no super fast reflexes etc.) then there are a few things you can do to lessen your chances of being shot. I'm assuming perfect precognition of all possible outcomes, along with an ability to perfectly adjust yourself in response to the precognition outcomes.

  1. If there is cover really close by, you are golden. Just go there. Now they can't hit you.

  2. No time to get to cover before the first shots are fired? You can feint. Move in such a way that will allow you to dodge (or if nothing else get shot in the least serious spot). An example would be shifting slightly so the bullet passes just past your body in the gap beneath your arm. Unfortunately, since the shooter can react to anything you do (I assume), any larger more obvious attempts to dodge (which would have to be begun sooner as well, giving them more chance to notice) may result in them altering their aim, resulting in a situation where you're committed to a movement and their adjustment results in you getting hit anyway. But since you can see all outcomes, you already know to avoid any motion where this will happen. Likely in 90% of cases, the most favorable outcome you find will be one where you only move slightly, at the latest possible moment, "tricking" the shooter into missing.

  3. Captain America's shield or Wonder Woman's gauntlets. If you have something like this, you can dramatically reduce your risk of getting fatally shot. Simply move whatever it is in between you and the bullet. The smaller it is the better (Wonder Woman beats Cap, again I am assuming you are capable of making perfect movements in response to the precognition. If you can't be precise, then Cap beats Wonder Woman) since a smaller "shield" has less risk the enemy will realize you are blocking and change aim. HOWEVER unless said material is something super cool magic/sci fi tech that absorbs impact, this may still result in a lot of pain and or damage to you. All that energy from the bullet striking has to go somewhere, after all. Still better than the alternative of the bullet entering your body, though. The same principle goes for body armor. If you are wearing a bullet proof vest and your precognition tells you you can't dodge said bullet, just move so it hits you dead center of the vest and at least you won't die. Wearing body armor gives you more "options" for what you can do to result in a non-fatal or less serious injury outcome (at least in situations where your body armor is strong enough to stop whatever you are being shot with from that given range).

That said, depending on distances, cover, type of gun, etc., you are not always going to be able to escape. While you can use the tricks above to have an advantage and be far less likely to die than some other person in the same situation, there ARE going to be situations when you get shot anyway, because no matter WHAT you do it will happen regardless, in which case your precognition doesn't help you much.

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No

Guns shoot bullets fast. A quick search on handguns shows a it ranges from 2000k/h to more than double. Let's get that in perspective.

Imagine someone throwing a tennis ball as hard as they can at you from two to five meters away. It's difficult to dodge or feint. You might succeed sometimes and not at all with others.

Now imagine the same, only you are going in slow motion and the ball is not. Suddenly it's nearly impossible to dodge the ball.

With precognition you'll see a lot of outcomes where you'll be shot. Luckily there are probably outcomes where you won't get shot. With only five seconds to work with, you can only know definitely how to move to shake of their aim in those five seconds, making them miss or not shoot yet. The problem is that in the few possibilities you have to survive, some might lead to a dead end after the five seconds. Even with continuous precognition you might go and run into a hallway as it's your only way out, but find out quickly that when they turn the corner they'll shoot you.

In some situations you'll have some chance to evade fire, but I think even with the perfect precognition you describe you'll likely be shot if there's no cover available.

Unless talking is allowed. With seeing all the possibilities, you can also see what words will get you out of it. This can get them rich, or be a pressure point of their psychology or whatever. Many things might make them hesitant or not want to shoot you. I mean most people will want to capture him to check the stock exchange or bitcoin prices for example.

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  • $\begingroup$ You say there are outcomes where you don't get shot, what do you mean by this? All the time you're moving the shooter is adjusting their aim. How can you be sure it's possible to outright evade the point where they're going to shoot? As the number of bullets in the air increases, it becomes increasingly unfeasible, as I alluded to in the OP. Talking is not particularly allowed, as the chances of you saying anything coherent are quite low, and your likely actions aren't modelled. $\endgroup$ – Piomicron Oct 12 '20 at 23:18
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Does the shooter know you're a precog?

Because if he/she does, you're hosed. All I'd need to do is hold the gun on you and then start clogging up your precognition with false starts. Am I going to shoot or not? Now? NOW? How about now? Of all those hundreds of possible futures that could happen in the next five seconds, every tenth of a second represents the possibility of an actual shot because I know you're a precog and I'm jumping random numbers through my head about when to pull the trigger.

If I'm good enough at it, you're vapor-locked because so many of the possible futures cause you're death, you don't know which one to react to — and all I need you to do is blink at the wrong moment once. (Hah hah! picked the wrong tenth of a second suckah!)

The movie Next makes the idea of precognition look almost godlike. But that's only true if the people you're reacting to don't know what you can do. When that's the case, they act very predictably.

When they know you. You're hosed.

Bear in mind you can always create a boring godlike character. "The precog always knows the truth! The precog knows which moment will be the actual trigger pull and which are just fakes to try and clog the vision!" But your character needs limits to be relatable and believable. The twist to the movie Next was that in seeing any distance into time involving Jessica Biel (a middlin' actress... but well worth looking any distance into time...) the movie could create the ending surprise twist (also known as the TV show Dallas' "it was all a dream!" trope). But that ability was meant to bring about a specific plot condition. You must do the same. So, the reality is that your precog must have a weakness — and I think that weakness is that when people know they're facing a precog, they can jam the vision with a lot of false positives, which confuses the precog (what I'm calling vapor-lock).

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    $\begingroup$ Or just use a shotgun. $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Oct 11 '20 at 8:16
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    $\begingroup$ @DKNguyen oh, that just takes the fun right out of it! In reality (and pulling this out of thin air), I suspect a precog as the OP describes might, maybe, dodge a single shot. But a shotgun, a machine gun, even a semi-auto is out of the question. I'd have to think about the timing - but I wouldn't be surprised if a second shot from a bolt-action rifle might be impossible to dodge. If nothing else, adrenaline eventually kicks in. $\endgroup$ – JBH Oct 11 '20 at 8:22
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    $\begingroup$ It just occurred to me we're just talking about anti-Jedi tactics. $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Oct 11 '20 at 16:51
  • $\begingroup$ Also, I just learned of HEIAP rounds which are basically little artillery shells. So just shoot at the ground around the precog. They'll eventually slow him down enough so no amount of precog will help. $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Oct 11 '20 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ You know, @DKNguyen, the more I think about it, the more precognition as a story element must basically adhere to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. You can either know what will happen or when it will happen - but you can't know both because the act of viewing the future changes it. That would also make a pretty good story. "I'm going to die!" "Do you know how?" "NO! But I know it'll be tomorrow at 2:17pm!" or "YES! I'll be stabbed!" "OK, when?" "I DON'T KNOW!" That would be a curse worthy of balancing the gift. $\endgroup$ – JBH Oct 11 '20 at 17:34
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That depends on your understanding of the nature of time, predestination, and the ability to alter the timeflow. That is, it is your call (as the writer or game designer). It comes down to a variant of the grandfather paradox.

  • Under most conditions, five seconds are plenty to move the body so that no body part is where any other body part used to be.
  • When a shooter fires an aimed shot, he or see will notice that the target has started to move and try to lead it.

So how will actions by the precog who has seen the future and wants to alter it affect other actors? Say the precog is sitting on a bench in a bar. The shot is going to go through his heart and then through the back rest. The precog stands up because of that warning. Does the future which has been revealed disappear, or does it have to happen? It was the most likely variant a couple of moments ago.

Those "strands" of yours, do they include the precog's own action? In 75% of the probabilities, I stand up, so let's not stand up and the shooter is confused?

If the shooter can react normally, I guess precognition isn't enough to escape.

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  • $\begingroup$ A little nitpicky, but OP describes the precognition in terms of "processing power" and "possible futures" so to me it seems like there's no "true" precognition going on but rather something--for example a supercomputer--making simulations and using them to guess at futures. This sidesteps the paradox in my opinion because it should be well within the capabilites of the precognative engine to simulate what choices the actor will take, and adjust it's own simulations accordingly. $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Oct 10 '20 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Dragongeek, that's what I mean with the last couple of sentences. If it is just extrapolation, then the warning is a bit like the missile warning on a military transport aircraft -- yes, you're being illuminated, but what can you do about it? Outrun the missile? Dodge it? $\endgroup$ – o.m. Oct 11 '20 at 5:23
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Here's an aid for the imagination.

First imagine that the gunman is instead holding a long thin rod, representing the trajectory of the bullet. As he waves it around, can you dodge above or below it and avoid being touched by the rod? If you are standing close enough and are suitably agile and acrobatic, possibly. For a short time, anyway. You may have seen people dodging a long sword like this, for example. The further away you are, the faster the rod moves and the easier it is to change its direction of swing, and so the harder it is to dodge.

Now imagine that the rod has a flag attached, that traces out the path of the rod for the last 5 seconds. The trailing edge of the flag represents where the gun was pointing 5 seconds ago. Can you dodge the trailing edge?

From the point of view of the precognitive, it is as if they can see the flag being waved 5 seconds into the future, so 'now' appears 5 seconds ago, and they only have to dodge the trailing edge of the flag. With 5 seconds warning, you have much more time to get out of the way of it. You can either duck under or jump over a moving line quite easily given 5 seconds notice. You should therefore be able to avoid it at a greater range.

But then, you can also see that one sweep at waist height to get you to duck low followed by a low sweep back to catch you before you can jump again may be much harder to avoid. It's a way to think about tactics.

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    $\begingroup$ This is not taking into account guy with the flag reacting to your modified movements. $\endgroup$ – Artur Biesiadowski Oct 11 '20 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ The rod is a nice touch. When you put it that way, very good martial artists have a good chance of dodging a rod like that realtime in close ranges. And the longer the range, the more actual time you have where the bullet's path is locked and you have more potential motion to dodge with. But you can't treat it as if you know the path of the rod 5 seconds in advance because where the rod will end up depends directly on what you do before that point. $\endgroup$ – Piomicron Oct 12 '20 at 23:35
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is it possible for them to not get hit by bullets by moving away?

DWKraus's answer gives a very detailed explanation of what it would take to dodge or evade a bullet. That's all fine and good, but you asked about bullets plural, and that one extra 's' changes the situation significantly.

If you knew where a bullet was coming, how would you evade it? You'd drop to the ground, dive out of the way, leap to the side, etc. All of these actions give your body a lot of momentum (most likely in a direction that you wouldn't normally be moving) and place you in a posture/position quite different than where you started. When your attacker adjusts and takes their second shot, they're going to see you moving and aim based on your new trajectory. You don't just have to predict the bullet and react, you have to first cancel your current momentum and throw your body in a completely different direction. If you're in the process of diving to the ground, all the precognition in the world can't stop your midair free-fall, stand you back on your feet, and prime your muscles for another evasive maneuver. The amount of time it takes your body to complete the first dodge and recover effectively eats away at your precognition buffer (it's future that you can "see" but can't do anything to change). You'll likely have half the reaction time for the second shot. By the time they fire their third shot, the benefits of precognition are more or less nullified.

This calculus obviously changes if the attacker is using a weapon that can't immediately be fired again (like a black powder rifle, or they used the last round in the magazine). The time required to reload, re-arm, and re-aim the weapon all work in your favor. If you can pick yourself up and start moving again before they can fire the next shot, then you should be okay. Against most modern weapons, though, you'll want to make sure that your initial evasive maneuver takes you behind cover or into an otherwise protected position. You can't afford to give them a second chance.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree, but if you read my answer, I do mention that the second and third bullet are major reasons why close gunfights are a no. Also a big reason why sprayed gunfire is, at best, a maybe. Still, +1 $\endgroup$ – DWKraus Oct 13 '20 at 1:21
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You can dodge the bullets. You can do more than that.

In the movie Next, Nick Cage's character can see 3 minutes into the future. This clip is towards the end of the movie. He sees all possible futures and evades the ones where he gets shot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC5ZiK6o7uQ

I feel like you might not know about this movie, Piomicron and so I hesitate to share the clip because it is a very cool movie and this is one of the coolest scenes. If you dig stuff like this, stop the video right after the bullet scene because otherwise it will spoil the end. Rent it! Next is a fine film; one of Cage's best and I have never seen a Julianne Moore movie I did not enjoy. Also: Jessica Biel!

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    $\begingroup$ The problem is that if the number of bullets is sufficiently high, it might happen, that among all the different scenarios 5 seconds into the future, there is not a single one where the precog will not be hit. So the only choice might be, where do you want to get hit. $\endgroup$ – vsz Oct 11 '20 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ Movies are not always known for their realism, so unless I know how it was modelled then I can't really use it as justification. Movies take frequent breaks from reality and logical conclusions according to their own established rules for the sake of coolness. The movie looks interesting though, so I might give it a watch. $\endgroup$ – Piomicron Oct 12 '20 at 23:21
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It depends on the battle situation. If you have good cover available and aren't too badly outnumbered you can avoid their fire. You know when and where it will be safe to expose yourself for a moment to shoot at them and you know exactly where to place that shot.

However, this will not protect you if there's no cover within 5 seconds, or if you are outnumbered to the point there is no safe spot to pop up for a shot. You jump behind the block of concrete, there are guns aimed all around the concrete, there's nothing you can do while they walk up and toss a grenade.

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As others have pointed out, knowing that the room you're in is going to be riddled with bullets in 5 seconds might not be enough for you to run to safety.

In addition, keep in mind that anyone you're fighting can also see the future, to a lesser degree - because you can see the future, and they can see you. If you suddenly jump to the right, they won't bother shooting to the right and will shoot left instead. While your head is in the rapidly changing timelines five seconds from now, they are in the present and have much less to think about. (Read the Mistborn trilogy to see this done in proper epic fashion).

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  • $\begingroup$ I have read most of the Cosmere, and that scene is indeed really cool. But I think that strictly speaking, you should already be seeing loads of atium shadows at once. $\endgroup$ – Piomicron Oct 12 '20 at 23:38
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Bullets are surprisingly "slow".

Next time you're out in the desert shooting your handgun at rocks a few dozen feet away, put in some tracer rounds.

(They "light up" like in a video game and you can see them going along.)

Humans have incredibly fast acuity time. (Witness video games like Splatoon, where one frame, about 1/50th of a second, is a completely normal operating time for players.)

Amazingly the first time you do this, you'll actually "see" the bullet going from your gun to the rocks over there. (You'd probably guess before trying this, that it's "too fast to see", that you wouldn't actually "see it travel", but you do.)

The simple answer to your question is that for Really Long Sniper Shots (Like Riggs In Lethal Weapon) it takes bullets a full second or two to get there.

(Definitely not as long as "five seconds" - but a couple seconds.)

The bottom line is, "sniper shots" are 1-2 seconds.

Really, based on that info, you would formulate what happens in your story. Good luck!

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It depends on how fast your brain can process all those future possibilities. If your brain can process all those possibilities, then choose the most probable outcome, and finally decide a response to the enemy's action in less than a second, then your ability would really be useful. But since, like other answers, future would change because of our action, the actually useful precognition would be shorter than 5 seconds. This is because our action, and how the enemy responds to our action, would result in a new set of future outcome. In this form, the ability would look similar to the ZERO system in Gundam Wing and the the Geass of the Knight of One in Code Geass. The ones using this power must have a strong will to stare into future, not fooled by the precognition, yet not consumed by paranoia. If you know you are going into a gunfight, then you could put a bullet through the other guy before his hand even start moving to his gun because you know when he is going to draw. He can't unleash his infinite-bullet minigun if he is dead before he could fire it. Even if he is behind cover, you know when he is going to pop out and open fire an instant before he shoot. Even if you don't know you are going into a fight (like a sniping), you can dodge or get away, because the bullet takes time to gravel, the assassin needs time to get into position, etc. Of course, all of these depends on you know how to respond to these situation, have the tools to protect yourself, and are in a condition to act on self-preserving. If you are tied to a pole facing a fire squad, then the best you can do is yell something incomparably cool So you can die with dignity and awesomeness and won popularity among fans. Who knows, if you got enough popularity, the studio would revive you in the next season.

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    $\begingroup$ Processing power is one of the aspects of the power as I mentioned in the OP. $\endgroup$ – Piomicron Oct 12 '20 at 23:37

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