Set in 2100 CE a group of scientists and engineers developed a working time machine that can send group of people into the past and back reliably and safely.

Specifications as follow:

  • Can accommodate up to 10 passengers at a time.
  • Time travel back into past in an instant and with great accuracy and precision.
  • Time travelers are allowed to wander freely independently anywhere while in that timeline.
  • Time travelers can observe any historic event unfold live.
  • Even if multiverse exists, the machine is only capable of going back into the same timeline each time regardless how god throws any amount of dices.

Limitations as follow:

  • Cannot travel any faster into the future than it is already doing.
  • Cannot travel more than 100 years into the past.
  • Each visit into the past lasts 10 minutes before being forced to return back to original timeline.
  • All time travelers become 5th dimensional entities during the visit, any attempts to interact with history guarantee disappointment.
  • Each trip cost a fortune unless the Government provides subsidy.
  • No image or video recording device is allowed.

Assumptions as follow:

  • This concept/device works flawlessly every single time.

  • No man or animal is harmed in the making of this post.


  1. What good reason would the government have to not cease and confiscate the time machine program which can allow public to see the real history and instead pour flows of cash into it?
  2. Government security agency can be notified earlier of potential terrorism act or any tell tale sign of crime about to happen, privacy is virtually non-existence so what will become of our present day society?
  3. What possible abuse of time travel into the past can cripples present day stock market on a global scale?
  • $\begingroup$ Just to be sure. Point 1 is about why the government wouldn't want to confiscate it? Is point 2 about going back to the very-near-past or affecting the very-near-future? And travel's very expensive, but they seem to be able to use it to spy on their population abundantly? I'm not sure I get this point. Who is this machine aimed at in this case? $\endgroup$
    – 3C273
    Nov 9, 2015 at 3:38
  • $\begingroup$ And on another note, as I'm seeing some pretty interesting abuses when it comes to espionage of present day event. What is the minimal time-distance the machine can go? $\endgroup$
    – 3C273
    Nov 9, 2015 at 3:40
  • $\begingroup$ @3C273: Q2 is asking about the very near future, the gov already spend huge money on defense and it is aimed at anyone individual or organization who can afford. The journey into the past took no time at all and the ticket cost is the same regardless how far back you go even a single second. $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Nov 9, 2015 at 3:46
  • $\begingroup$ This seems basically equivalent to being able to look and listen back from 1 second to 100 years at any place on Earth (and beyond?). Despite the short duration and high costs, that’s the dream of any intelligence agency, which governments everywhere rely upon, although to different degrees. The most interesting thing is that it also works near-live with arbitrary location. Even if a state doesn’t intend to use it, it still will have to research this technology to find counter-measures. $\endgroup$
    – Crissov
    Nov 9, 2015 at 8:20

3 Answers 3



This machine shows the truth, and everybody know it. However, it only shows a ten-minute slice of the truth and that can be a very misleading. It is also limited to a small area, which can also be very misleading. The government knows this.

So, the government invites selected historians to witness carefully selected parts of history. These publicly trusted historians then publishes descriptions of what they saw. And thereby the public thinks they have been told the truth.

As the years go by, I can also imagine the government staging ten-minute "plays" just so they can later go back and watch them with their selected witnesses. Maybe multiple different plays if they aren't sure of which will be needed later on.


It was not clear if you could send these expeditions to any part of Earth or not. If you can, Intelligence will indeed be drooling. If you are limited to were you can place a time machine today + ten minutes walk, not so interesting. There will certainly be uses for this, but in most cases there will be cheaper ways.


Privacy is already non-existent with today's surveillance technology, but society seems pretty unchanged by it.

Both for ordinary surveillance and the new time surveillance, the only defense is to seem uninteresting. As a terrorist you have to make sure to look utterly normal until it is time to spring the bomb. To late to do anything afterwards.

Imagine compressing your time line just a little, so that they could study the events leading up to Sept 11, 2001 without being rushed.

Where and when would you look? Trying to backtrack the terrorists one ten-minute slot at a time would be hideously expensive before you got anywhere interesting.

Lesser criminals would know that they are not worth the machine's time.


Stig Hemmer answered parts one and two pretty well, so I'll just talk about part three.

The mere fact that this technology exists would cripple the stock market.

See, you would have to effectively ban anyone rich enough to fund their own trip from trading, because that's the only way to protect against outside insider trading. There would be nothing stopping, say, Bill Gates from going back a few hours to listen in on a private executive meeting at Google so that he knows what they're doing -- and can then trade accordingly. Imagine if someone knew that Apple was going to release the iPod a week before it was announced publicly. They'd probably buy a lot of Apple stock and get stupid rich off of it, which would then allow them to fund another trip, which would get them stupid rich, which would allow them... Get the picture? Only now imagine that everyone who could do it was doing it.

Average people couldn't do it, true, but over time that would cause resentment. Soon the stock market would be seen as a plaything of the uber-rich, designed to make them richer with 100% accuracy while keeping the average people poor and guessing at what will perform well.

This will happen whether the rich use time travel to manipulate the stock market or not.

The knowledge that the rich could be using this technology to make themselves richer at the expense of the lower and middle classes will be enough to ruin trust in the stock market. It wouldn't be long before people start pulling their money out en masse, ultimately causing another recession or even a second Great Depression.

Which, coming back full circle, could cause the government to fund it, to show the public that they're monitoring it and not allowing this sort of misuse.


So that they don't make the mistake again. I think that governments often want to do the right thing rather than serve a self serving agenda. Showing what happened in the past could prevent things from happening in the future.


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