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I've already talked about this world in How would criminals be punished in a world where everyone can teleport?

Everyone in this world from the age of 5 can teleport to anywhere they have been before even if they forgot how to go there. This started about 4,000 B.C.E where a bright green star landed on earth and affected all humans to be able to teleport, they can teleport with them 5 times their weight (they choose what they bring) and if anyone forgets a place they've been they can not go there. The reason why young people can't teleport is because the part of the brain isn't fully developed.

How would transportation evolve?

Pros

They would be able to go anywhere they have been before. If they wake up late, they are now at work. If they are chased by a bear, they are now at home. They can easily go to safety. The problem is they would have had to be there once before. A simple fix to that is if someone they know has been to any far place they can be teleported there by that someone and can now always visit that place.

Cons

People are known to be lazy. People might not build roads because "Who needs roads, I have my brain I can teleport." Whole families might just teleport their young to any far place and never walk there for generations, whole places might be only available through teleportation because people forgot how to walk to any far place.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    May 31, 2021 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ Can people working together teleport 5x their combined weight? $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Jun 12, 2021 at 1:25

13 Answers 13

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Almost Identical Teleport Stations

Other users have suggested Teleport stations, places designed to be easy to teleport to and not change with time, so old memories are always valid. I imagine they work like this:

enter image description here

Each station has a large Lobby. The architecture is very simple and easy to remember. For example plain white walls. Any two stations are identical except for:

(1) Size. Larger stations have larger lobbies.

(2) Labels. Each station has the Station name printed on the wall in huge black letters.

It is very easy to remember what the stations look like. Even if your ability to visualize is poor, you can always stand in one station and imagine the words on the wall are different, and pop to any other station.

Instead of Timetables the stations distribute maps with the names and locations of the other stations. They also provide a service where you can call a porter with your location. The porter appears beside you and teleports you to any station you like. The next time you don't need the porter.

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  • $\begingroup$ Also, air travel would likely still develop to shuttle people to new continents or general areas. It would be high price/low demand since everyone would just book one way tickets ONCE entirely to a general region even, but still $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    May 31, 2021 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ An easy explanation/workaround of the "need to remember the place" is that people don't actually need to "visualize" the place. It's not about what it looks like, it's about remembering where it was. Teleporting people have a special sense that allows them to feel and remember their location. So if you put them somewhere blindfolded, they would still be able to know where they are and go back. $\endgroup$
    – Echox
    Jun 1, 2021 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Echox Yes that would make the stations less necessary $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jun 1, 2021 at 12:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Hobbamok Why would anyone book expensive air travel anywhere when they can just ask a friend (or pay someone) to take them instantly? Air travel would likely never be invented in such a world. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Jun 11, 2021 at 23:47
  • $\begingroup$ Another way to etch these stations into memory is to give each station a unique odor. Our sense of smell is intertwined with making and re-calling memories. Bonus points if you walk by a certain flower, which triggers a memory and suddenly poof! You get transported to one of the stations. "Ah, crap. Sorry everyone. Accidental side trip to Grand Central Station. It smells like that rose bush." (poof, poof, poof-poof-poof) — "Hello? Are you guys still with me?" $\endgroup$ Jun 12, 2021 at 17:04
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You have hit the wall of this system, congratulations!

if anyone forgets a place they've been they can not go there.

Places change and memories change. If the memory and the place create a link, any change to either of the side will break that link.

For example, there is a lake I remember to have visited as a kid, and I remember it is a fantastic place. I have been there in my adulthood after about 15 years, and it has turned into something unappealing: the water level has dropped, the lake sides are no longer green but covered with dried up grass and garbage where not occupied by bars and restaurants. Simply said, the place that I have in memory doesn't exist any more. Or the place I know better in Tokyo, the very house where I leaved there for some months, it's simply no longer there, replaced by another building after just 5 years after I left.

What might happen is that something akin to stations will develop, as places purposefully kept with an unchanged configuration and set up, which can act as hub for teleporters. They will teleport there, and from there will move with more conventional means.

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    $\begingroup$ They will still be relatively low traffic, since you wouldn't need to visit the teleport station every day to go to work, for example. You would only need to visit it after a long break or if something went wrong when teleporting normally (then you walk, and find a truck drove into your workplace) $\endgroup$
    – user253751
    May 31, 2021 at 10:31
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Roads as usual

Not sure that transporting pipes for gas pipe line is such a pleasant activity, or cargo containers, or 40t of gravel/cement/wood/sand/fish/toilet paper/whatever

So leave it to robots, autopilots and cargo transport(in the future)

To adress memory issues and natural changes of places or their dissapearances - special tranporting hubs, a room with a QR code on the wall, those rooms are identical across the world, it just QR code/whatever is more convinient is different on each wall. Roads from there to else near by places as well.

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  • $\begingroup$ Doing unpleasant things is called a “job”. Sure, you may not want to move those pipes or containers, but someone will if they’re paid to. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Jun 11, 2021 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ @StephenS 5 times the weight is let's say half tonne, a lot for a regular human, if it is fast may indeed make sense for most of things. Depends how much effort it takes for them, if it no effort the it energy from nothing situation, hard to beat that one. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 12, 2021 at 0:55
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While personal transport would be different, any other transport will be different.

A lumberjack can get his equipment into the forest, but teleporting an entire tree is not in their power (I assume). This means that any large scale transportation still requires "normal" transportation. Horse and carriage, cars, trucks, aircraft etc are still required for construction and other things. You can also imagine someone on the market not wanting to leave his goods as he teleports them back home, so he uses a horse and carriage instead. At least as far as he needs to feel safe and teleport his stuff the rest of the way.

This means that sidewalks and bicycle paths will be non-existant but a dressed down roads system will be available to reach city centers and important places like shopping malls, storage facilities and industry.

Because personal transport isn't as important the speed of transport technology advancement will be much slower.

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Here's a few things...

As for forgetting where you've been: Teleporting should be a trainable ability the same way driving is. How will that help?

Anyone can just get behind the wheel of a car without any training or a license and use the vehicle. But they won't do it correctly, at least not at first. So you get training. There are driving classes at high school and dedicated driving schools.

My point being that in the training you are taught how not to forget the places you've been. Memory shortcuts are connected to specific words, and in that way you think "teleport" and "sand" you always go to the beach. You don't have to specifically remember all the details of the place, you just think "sand" when you're teleporting and appear at that beach you've attached that memory word to. Or to be more specific, you attach a visual with the name of the place and that's all you need to get to that place.

You've basically trained or tricked your mind into a shortcut way to teleporting without having to have all these vast and detailed memories. And we've already kind of done that anyway. Whenever we think of the name of the street that the house we lived in we think of that house. Whenever I think the word Crotona I remember that apartment building I lived in on that street. It's my first thought. That will be your trainable ability.

Teleporting to someplace you've never been:

Extrapolating from the above, instead of using words linkage to go to go to places you've been, how about using photos to go to places you've never been. Training to focus deeply on what the place looks like (and then training to link the picture to a word, like above) you can teleport to that place. The way your teleportation works is that what you really need is the mental image of that place, not actual first hand experience of the place.

Here's an interesting rub then. Unless you have that word/picture, first hand experience of a place, you can't teleport there. I have none of the above of Huntsville, North Dakota so I can't teleport there unless I get that info. This might be a reason why picture books will be very popular in your world. Or better yet, Google Earth!

A method for gaining firsthand experience of places to teleport to:

In Teleportation Training School, Class 101 is just going to all sort of places all over the world. Once you get to a new place you do your mental training exercises to memorize it/link it to a word. And it's your job to do that for the next few months.

Later, your mid term exam is taking the teacher to those places with you successfully.

Traditional mass transportation, or what's left of it:

One thing is that people are absolutely lazy so they won't spend the time and effort to create new transportations modes, or continue to maintain existing ones, if they can teleport anywhere. So public transportation goes away. And only collectors would keep old cars and planes as collectibles for fun.

Maybe transportation of mass amounts of goods might continue if those goods in those mass amounts absolutely needed to get somewhere ASAP. But even then groups of paid teleporters might be able to do the trick. There's your new industry.

There's even a question about something like this:

How can a colony of teleporters make the most money while keeping their teleportation a secret?

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  • $\begingroup$ Streets would remain for industrial use, and cars would be more of a hobby, like biking or so. I' not sure as to as "collectibles", since there wouldn't be any old cars to that extend, but it'd be a rich mans hobby for sure $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    May 31, 2021 at 8:39
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    $\begingroup$ On your last section, I'll note that the question says that this teleportation ability appeared in ancient history, long before the invention of cars and planes. Would cars and planes even be invented to become collectors items in this scenario? $\endgroup$
    – BBeast
    May 31, 2021 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ @BBeast I was thinking of the kind of transportation that might be needed for massive heavy objects or large amounts. There might still be a need of some kind. The ability to teleport many times wont not do the trick if its one large and heavy object outside of the allowed five times your weight limit. $\endgroup$
    – Len
    May 31, 2021 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ That I agree with. Freight would still be best done with vehicles. Although why this specifically leads to "old cars and planes as collectibles" is unclear (at least in a manner more-so than on our Earth to be worth commenting on). $\endgroup$
    – BBeast
    Jun 1, 2021 at 1:30
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Transporting goods

Five times your own weight is not that much in way of goods, particularly bulk ones. A well-organized system where porters teleport to and from places with exactly five times their own weight in goods (or less, if one region has a more concentrated good) might work, but involves a lot of complications, such as ensuring the porters know the place in the first place and having to have people to divvy up goods into correctly sized bundles. This would give more mundane means an opening.

As a consequence, any transportation system will be heavily weighted toward large-scale transportation of bulk, heavy goods. Spices get teleported, steel goes by barge.

Cheapness

Since you mention teleporting entire families, obviously creating a new porter is just a matter of a porter teleporting five other people weighing as much or less than he does. Or more than five if they are substantially smaller, such as children.

This creates the high potential for a guild that maintains its cartel and jacks up the prices. When it's cheaper to go by water, or even by land, people will go by water or land.

Stealth

People who don't want people teleporting in will regularly change a site so that it's no longer what it was. The only way in is mundane.

Furthermore the safest place to teleport in is a location kept carefully identical and distinctive, to make it easy to remember. This also allows the government to watch for smugglers, escaped criminals, or the like. Mundane means evade this.

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I would look at this through an economic lens. When everyone can teleport, what is the demand to offer a service around it? Or what is needed/in-demand? Then:

  1. How long does one teleportation take?
  2. How fast can you teleport again given your last teleportation?
  3. Can you only teleport a certain number of times?
  4. How does volume relate to weight?
  5. Can you teleport with others to transport heavier items?
  6. How can teleportation be disrupted? What can go wrong? Are there mitigations? What are they worth?
  7. Can you make your teleportation look cool when you leave or arrive? Is this valued?
  8. Long long list here...

Anywhere you can spot friction in the process, you could potentially find a market there so long as the incentives are worth the effort, and then you could speak to what may occur or "evolve", all other supply/demand remaining equal.

On your point about roads. Roads are a byproduct of people going from point A to B. When we pave the road, we are saying that we value a paved road over using that money for alternative uses. Roads in a teleportation scenario would cease to exist. Answer how people will teleport to a site without teleporting into an object already there (or even what will happen to the gasses that we generally think as empty or available). What if the available locations are taken? What dictates whether you can teleport there? Can you elect to teleport unsafely? Can others elect to teleport only safely? Does this relate to your brain in someway? Is this handled centrally? Can a teleportation be cancelled? Do cancellations cost you anything in time or money or other? Etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like where you are going with these questions, based on an economic lens, especially considering the current technologies around space travel. 9. Will there be trademarks, patents, and/or exclusive rights restricting someone from transporting others to Mars? 10. Is there a universal teleportation log to track all teleportations? Otherwise, how would anyone prove they were or were not at a given place at a specific time? $\endgroup$ Jun 5, 2021 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ 11. Can teleportation geofences be created to prevent travel to restricted areas? Who can define these restricted areas? $\endgroup$ Jun 5, 2021 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ I just realized that @Hamza Zubair expressed similar thoughts to mine, in his elaborate details about infrastructure, prior to my comments. $\endgroup$ Jun 5, 2021 at 17:08
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A Philosophical Counter

I know this isn't what the OP wants, and I'm no luddite, but...

There would be a movement promoting walking, swiming, riding bikes, driving cars -setting aside the extra time required. That is because the metaphor for the 'journey' being more important than the 'destination' is more than cliche. When you participate directly in something you get more out of it, a 'quality of experience'.

As technology reduces the requirement of outdoor-interaction, the need for physical contact with the outside world doesn't. Just as I could call door-dash and have a restaurant make and deliver my food, I choose to cook it. Not to save money or some other requirement, but the quality is better. I enjoy the result better because I participated in it.

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  • $\begingroup$ The vast majority of humanity was far more worried about starvation than quality of experience. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    May 31, 2021 at 13:26
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There are philosophical and physical challenges to this whole scenario which are difficult to resolve without changing the fundamental techniques involved.

1. Infrastructure

  1. Teleportation has to happen from and to uniquely identifiable space coordinates in the universe. This itself requires certain infrastructure in place.

    a. There is a dynamic registry maintained by a governing authority updated at extremely small intervals. Real World Scenario: There are multiple registries created by governments and private entities each competing to be faster and faster at updates

    b. There is a mechanism to subscribe to one of these registries

    c. There is a licensing authority that gives licenses to use teleportation, which is considered extremely dangerous. Wrong coordinates can take you to outer space, below the earth's crust, etc.

    d. New technologies allow you to teleport your consciousness before teleporting your body, thereby reducing the risk, and fatalities by a great proportion.

  2. Because registry updates and subscriptions don't happen at light-speed intervals there are certain lags at each stage and teleportation therefore is not considered an exact science. You always teleport somewhere near you wanted to and never exactly where you wanted to.

  3. In the earlier days, when registries were only government-owned and not updated so frequently, fatalities were common and teleportation was left for the experts. Even the experts never tried teleporting to any interior of any structure, house or building because of the risks involved. People were frequently left fully stranded in walls or half-stuck in ceilings and floors with dire consequences. Therefore even the experts teleported in open environments.

  4. Over time it was considered a good practice to leave open spaces near residential and commercial structures.

  5. As the teleportation sector was slowly opened to the private sector leading to better technologies such as faster registry updates, better registry coverages and sub-physical pre-teleportation technologies, number of casualties due to teleportation went down, licenses became easier to get, however it still is always considered a dangerous mode of transport.

  6. Even today after so many advances, accidents - though rare - do still occur, when in emergencies people do not pre-teleport their consciousness.

  7. Because these registries do not have publicly-available addresses of certain restricted areas like jails, political institutions, banks, private homes, bedrooms, etc. there is a black market, a dark web of registries worth billions if not trillions of money.

2. Answer to Original Question

  1. Certain primitive road and rail infrastructure does exist, because of several political and non-political movements against the harmful effects of teleportation. However as technologies became better and better these movements became weaker. Though cars never got invented, certain regions who do not have access to the latest technologies of teleportation still rely on animal transportation and steam engines for transporting valuable goods and for children and weak adults.

  2. Because of the initial risks involved in teleportation, people generally left large open spaces in and around residential and commercial structures. This led to unnecessarily exaggerated distances between important endpoints of travel. And thereby making other forms of transport cumbersome, less desirable which in turn lead to less advances in non-teleportation means.

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My idea is that every building would be equipped with a teleport console. This would be for places you had never been to. You would type in a place name, and it would show you a picture of the place and give you 10 seconds to memorize it. You now know what it looks like, so you can teleport there. The picture would probably be live-updating (i.e. a camera on the teleport console of the other building), so changes in the buildinng/furniture wouldn't affect your travel.

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they can teleport with them 5 times their weight (they choose what they bring)

The question ignores the quite common reality that someone might want to transport more than 5x their body weight.

Thus, while roads won't be developed directly for people, they'll be developed for our stuff:

  • grain to the mill
  • flour from the mill
  • stone
  • wood
  • copper and tin ores
  • sheep/goats to/from pastures, sheering, milking, slaughter, etc
  • manufactured goods
  • etc etc ad nauseum
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You might want to consider reading The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stars_My_Destination In that novel, the self teleportation is called "jaunting" and he goes into a number of concepts such as protecting yourself from assassins and the idea of always taking a vehicle instead of jaunting as a status symbol.

Edit

Since I was asked for a few more examples from the book, here are a few.

  1. Since everyone could teleport, you wanted to make sure that people who might be potential assassins couldn't get enough information about your location that they could teleport in with a weapon and kill or kidnap members of your family. This involved such things as going through mazes in the dark so that you couldn't know your exact locations. It also meant that people had to have guards on alert at all times to stop assassins or thieves from carrying out their activities and escaping. Valuables would have to be rotated between rooms with traps placed in the rooms to catch anyone trying to break in. People who couldn't afford such protection were very vulnerable.

  2. When people were put in prison, special precautions had to be used to stop people from escaping. They were rendered unconscious and placed in windowless rooms where they had no idea of their location. This meant that teleporting yourself would send you to a unknown location, probably embedding yourself in rock or thousands of feet in the air. In fact, it mentioned that one of the frequent sounds you heard in the prison was explosions from people embedding themselves in rock.

  3. As I mentioned, being able to use normal transportation and never teleporting was a status symbol, and people would arrive at elaborate events in futuristic equivalents of aircraft and automobiles.

  4. There were public buildings that had signs describing the locations of other public locations. It wasn't indicated how the directions were listed. Since being just a few feet off could kill you by embedding you in a floor or a wall, the locations had to be precise within inches. Some critics said that this was a problem with the world-building since the human mind can't handle such precise measurements.

  5. Blind people couldn't teleport, which made them very vulnerable.

  6. You still had spaceships since it wasn't possible to teleport between planets.

You have to understand that it has been a good many years since I read this book, and I'm not able to recall many details about the teleportation parts of the plot.

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  • $\begingroup$ this answer seems a bit lacking, and is close to being a link only answer. could you add some more information/meat to the answer? $\endgroup$
    – Topcode
    May 31, 2021 at 0:17
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Most of the time, the best way to get to a new place will be to find someone whose been there and pay them to bring you. After they've done this once, you won't need them anymore. In early days, cities will have transportation markets where well-traveled people put up stalls. In the modern era, this is managed over the internet.

You'll have small boats early, since that'll be the only way to get a first person to another continent.

You probably won't have roads until steam engines are invented. Sure, a horse-drawn cart can carry more than 5x the driver's weight, but not by enough to justify the longer travel time, much less the cost of building a road. Just teleport back and forth a dozen times.

With trains this equation changes. But without a tradition of road-building, track-laying will be very difficult. The social infrastructure for obtaining right-of-ways won't be there. Similarly giant cargo ships are worthwhile, but hull-building may not be developed.

Engines are still invented for factories and pumps and such. Eventually somebody applies them to bulk transportation.

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