Four and a half years ago, IchabodE asked a very famous question about what would happen if everybody experienced a single-day loop like the one in Groundhog Day.

Recently I saw the question again (I believe somebody did an edit of some sort), and thought: "What if everybody had a groundhog-day loop going from the beginning of their life until the end?" Since I spend a lot of time here in WB.SE, I decided to ask it here.

I want my time loop to have each person live their life, from birth to death, over and over again. However, people's lives overlap, with one person's actions effective everybody else's via the butterfly effect. Given the following conditions, is it possible to create looping time for individuals that doesn't require everybody else to be a parallel-universe doppleganger?

EDIT: To clarify, I am trying to fix the causality issues with as little meddling by "Q" as possible.

The Conditions:

  1. Everybody experiences a loop.

  2. The "a" qualifier in Condition #1 is very important; everybody has their own loop.

  3. The "start" and "end" of a person's loop corresponds with their birth and death.

  4. People remember past loops as if it were all linear time.

  5. Due to biological limitations on long-term memory formation, they can't remember the first two to three years of any particular loop.

  6. The effects of Alzheimers, Dementia, TBIs &cetera do not carry over to the next iteration; memories lost as a result of these conditions are restored at the beginning of the next loop. However, memories that are not formed at all as a result of these conditions will remain lost.

  7. The source of the looping phenomenon is unimportant; for all intents and purposes, act on the assumption that Q is using his powers to conduct a sociology experiment on us puny humans.

  8. Anybody who is born after the phenomenon starts will have their own loop, compliant to these Conditions. This means that, in mathematical terms, the domain of this phenomenon is effectively +∞. However, you need only consider the first 5-10 generations in your answers.

  9. The actions of parents during any particular iteration will effect their child(s)' corresponding iteration.

  10. As a result of #9, any loop where a person's parents' actions keep him[1] from being born will be skipped.

  11. Although memories are maintained, you can't bring anything with you into the past.

  12. All paradoxes (excepting the one that ultimately ends the phenomenon) are taken care of by "Q".

  13. Although most paradoxes are handled, there are some which are not. When done, they break the person who creates them out of their loop, allowing them to permanently die at the end of their current iteration. While it's possible for almost anybody to create one, they are complex enough that characters generally can't create one accidentally.

  14. In order to avoid some annoying causality issues, once somebody leaves the loop the last "version" of them remains present as an "NPC" of sorts. Essentially, from the point of view of the people still in the loop they become like one of the townspeople in Groundhog Day.

[1]: "they" could cause confusion here, so I'm just assuming the male gender for simplicity.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Too many loops mean too many complications and paradoxes. Plus, going forward, there would be continuous flow of information backwards as the children and potential children of of people told them things about the far future before following their own loops. Your grandson told your daughter about the alien invasion in 250 years. But maybe your grandson won't be conceived this time. Or your daughter. All possible futures manifesting and able to influence their own pasts. Darwinian selection of futures fulfilling conditions of their own creation by altering the past. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Nov 22 '20 at 2:43
  • $\begingroup$ Well, what you are describing is somewhat like what the real world is like, only most people don't remember their previous iterations. Haven't you noticed how some of us glide through life as if we have done all this a million times before, while most everyone else bungles their way through each challenge as if facing it for the first time. The only real challenge that we face in each incarnation is to not screw up the lives of those who don't remember by somehow letting them know what is really going on. Oops! Just remembered that this a a public forum. Please disregard this comment. $\endgroup$ Nov 22 '20 at 3:51
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Aren't questions along the line of "what are the consequences of X on society?" always too broad? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Nov 22 '20 at 4:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica is correct, this is far too broad. You can't possibly want to know how this affects the ants that were stepped on in one loop but not another, or how it might affect my little sister, or the mom-and-pop diner in Nieu-Bethesda, South Africa. And yet all of those must be considered because "society as a whole" encompasses every person, every business, every form of government from school clubs to nations, it encompasses everything. That makes this question impossible to answer in an objective way. VTC:Needs Details (a lot of them, a lot, lot, lot of them). $\endgroup$ Nov 22 '20 at 19:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Also, please note that it appears you're asking this question for fun and not because you're building a world of your own. That's not off-topic, but it makes the question a lot easier to VTC. Worldbuilding is about developing and consistently using the rules and systems of a fictional world of your own making. What rule or system is being discussed here? The "consequence" of any event is almost always storybuilding because it can be anything you want it to be - because you're not asking about the rules, but the consequence of the rules. $\endgroup$ Nov 22 '20 at 19:19

Technical renaissance:

The Engineers, Scientists, Artists, and other creative types will become insanely more productive

I'm an engineer who plans to have no children, I build things for fun and profit, and I experiment with things too. Were I to suddenly become a baby but keep my memories, I'll remember all my skills and experiments. I'll remember what worked, and what didn't. I'll remember what I wanted to try next.

When I get my old memories back, I'll instantly resume my work, even if I'm only 4 years old. What else am I going to do? I've kept all my college education, I have no need to learn my ABCs when I remember quantum mechanics. I'll have no interest in my peers (they're in their first loop and are still toddlers).

When I die - I'll be faster the next time. Within a few dozen loops my life work will turn into recreating the sum knowledge of my previous lifes, thus maximising my contribution to the human race. I'm stubborn and would probably try to improve my output a few times, but eventually I'd concede that I needed to have children to end the loop. I'd get sick of the loop eventually, and try having children as a way to break the loop.

When my loops finally cease, I will have created way more than I could of otherwise. I think it's reasonable that other people who create things would create lots more. The world becomes an explosion of art, science, engineering, software, musics, etc.

Random crimes wont go up:

In a groundhog day loop everyone will attempt something immoral eventually. I could spend an entire life just writing the bucket list. However when the loop resets, those experiences are remembered by the perpetrator but not by the rest of society. The net effect will be many people will tick off their bucket lists, break all the laws and have all the funs they want, but when the loop stops and their contribution is finalised, they'd have a comparatively clean record, as only "the last loop counts".

Out of a population of N in timeline T - how many people are currently looping?

In the first generation, everyone is in their own loop with no causality linking them, so only 1 person in 7 billion in a given timeline is currently looping. However as the generations advance, the effects of the parent loopers actions start accumulating in the causality of a given timeline and the casualties get intertwined, and the actions of the loopees reaches steady state and can be used to seed descendant loopers times; Eventually many people in a given timeline will believe they are looping.

Assuming each woman has 2 children - 2 children will be dependant on their parents timelines. 2 grandchildren will be dependant on 4 grandparents, and those 4 grandparents will be tied into 8 grandchildren's timelines. This doubles every generation. 32 generations in and the majority of the people of the planet will be tied to the majority of the planet.

From this - eventually you'll reach a point where the majority of people in a given timeline are currently looping. Depending exactly how Q resolves things, they'll probably be in their final loop too, as "that's the one that counts" will mean it applies to dependant timelines.

Ageist legislation is probably going to be repealed.

Eventually as the casualties start to get mutually interdependent, the majority of people in your timeline are within their own loops.

When you get your memory as a 3-4 year old, you'll have the memory and habits of a fully developed adult. You'll be used to voting, you'll be used to driving. You'll be used to sex. When the effect starts, each person in their own loop is going to have to just learn to keep their mouth shut and keep it in their pants, but after 30 generations and all the children at daycare with you are also loopers, things are going to get awkward. The majority of voters are going to be in loops themselves, and will remember their experience as a constrained child. I'd expect the net result to be a removal or reduction in age-based laws. Age of alcohol consumption, age of sexual consent, age of voting, etc, will start trending down and may be repealed entirely.

  • $\begingroup$ While I very much like your answer, there are a couple things to note. 1: Everybody else will be in the same loop "iteration" as you, so they will also be adults in toddler bodies. Whether or not that still makes their toddler selves uninteresting is a question for the ages /s. 2: Other people will remember what individual loopers do, since again everybody is a groundhogger and on the same iteration. Other than those two nit-picky things, good answer. $\endgroup$
    – The Daleks
    Nov 22 '20 at 14:06

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