Finally, someone has invented time travel.

Everything is going fine for them, and their methods are being studied worldwide. For now, however, from the way the technology works, only they are capable of time traveling.

How would the world's governments react to this?

As this is an unexplored field, it is unclear how paradoxes apply, or exactly how much history can be changed, but there is at least a possibility that the time traveler could go and change certain events (wars, crises) in another nation's favor.

This also means that they have the potential to go back in time and make sure any laws regarding time travel are passed in their favor (or even prevent opposing politicians from being elected, born, etc.).

Actually, any time traveler from the future could do this as well, or if not, they could always do [illegal thing] in a time before the law was passed.

So how are politicians supposed to gain any control over all time travelers from all times if they themselves can't time travel?


closed as primarily opinion-based by MichaelK, L.Dutch, Mołot, Hohmannfan, Azuaron Jun 12 '17 at 13:13

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome to worldbuilding. Unfortunately I have to put a close vote on your very first question. This because 1) It is very broad 2) any answer will be pure speculation and thus entirely opinion-based. 3) this is pretty a story-building question, not world-building. 4) you have to do much of the work yourself, because this is a "I have a High Concept, what are the consequences" question? $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Jun 12 '17 at 8:29
  • $\begingroup$ In order to improve the question you should start pulling on the threads and try to figure things out: what would reasonably happen in my case. As this is a broad question and opinion-based, you are free to tailor this as you like. Focus on the story you want to tell, not the world here. If you run into any problems with this, if there is a specific issue that blocks your path, then you are more than welcome to come with a question about that specific issue, and we will answer it as best we can. :) $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Jun 12 '17 at 8:31
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelK I'm not sure greetings are in order for someone who's been here for a year and a half. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jun 12 '17 at 12:08

I would assume that any government worth their salt would try and seize and control this technology at the earliest possible opportunity. Seeing as initially they would have no way of knowing to what extent the Grandfather paradox and chaos theory apply, it would simply be an unacceptable risk of the world (or at least the world as we know it) being completely destroyed by time travel, so the government would attempt to retain sole control of time travel.

The very nature of Government is power and force. Ostensibly, some governments attempt, or at least claim to do this for the benefit of the people. But, if you are at the top of the political heap, the temptations of power and its preservation are often too strong to overcome.

Perhaps it is just the hubris of thinking you are obviously smarter than the people you govern, but regardless of motivations and intents, governments invariably seek more and more power over time. This is usually only terminated by revolution, collapse, or conquest. Reversals of this trend are usually temporary.


The main problem would be to believe that time travel is even possible. The only proof would be a word of the time travellers. And because politicians like to talk about "if there is as problem" instead of "what do we do with the problem" they wouldn't care.

Because they cannot travel they don't see the changes. With any trip back in time they memories are changed or altered so they cannot compare how it was before they gave the order to... Kill Hitler.

Of course, you could try to attend Stephen Hawking "Time Travellers" party to prove you are from the future but then the question would arise if you showed up would professor Hawking talk about it.


I would assume that any government worth their salt would try and seize and destroy this technology at the earliest possible opportunity. Seeing as initially they would have no way of knowing to what extent the Grandfather paradox and chaos theory apply, it would simply be an unacceptable risk of the world (or at least the world as we know it) being completely destroyed by time travel.

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    $\begingroup$ I disagree. I think any government would try to be the sole controller of this technology. $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Dec 28 '15 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ If a "risk of the world being destroyed" never stopped actual governments from developing nuclear weapons, why should it stop them from developing time travel? $\endgroup$ – user8808 Dec 28 '15 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ Meh, I was just trying to be realistic rather than adopting the tired tin foil hat 'all governments are evil' approach. Maybe a government of a country that was on the verge of being destroyed in a hopeless war might seek to control the technology, but literally the very first use of time travel, even in what seems like the most innocuous way possible, could mean literally the end of the world and there would be no way to tell in advance. Prime Ministers are people with family too. The reward really isn't that great compared to the risk. $\endgroup$ – Ian Dec 28 '15 at 17:25

No technology will be under control forever. And the first ones to manage time travel against the will of the government will make sure that they are the first inventors of time travel and the government is supportive to time travel.

Face it, unless you can completely prevent the time travellers from time travelling, the time travellers will be the winner, just because they can change the past as they see fit.

The only other possibility is that they accidentally change something so that time travel is never invented in the changed time line.

  • $\begingroup$ See also: John Titor which while a hoax (in our universe/timeline) is representative of this answer. $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Dec 28 '15 at 15:29

Mixed Reactions?

As alluded to by Ian, some would approach with caution, while others, as alluded to by Gary, would be far more bullish.

Remain Cautious

There are untold reasons why one should be cautious, not the least of which is the potential for world destroying paradoxes.

Unknown effects on our physical world

We would have no way of knowing what potential disaster could unfold from use of this technology. Could it tear at the very fabric of space and time, ripping apart our world? Was it merely luck that the chrononaut who has to come to visit us from the future even made it here in the first place without causing irreparable damage?

Whether or not these thoughts would occur to Presidents, MPs or Senators, they would come to the minds of scientists and activists that sit on advisory panels or leader multinational NGOs, and international research institutes. As such there would be a healthy body of people pressuring leaders into methodically researching any potential adverse effects of the technology on the user, and the world as a whole.

Temporal War

It's not just present day world governments who might seek power, and meddling in the affairs of the chrononaut and his technology might cause an outrage in the future leading to potential repercussive actions. I am thinking of a few Star Trek plots which revolve around guardians of space-time who prevent any interference in timelines. Who can say whether or not any attempted interfering with the time traveler and his technology isn't being monitored in the future. Governments would be right to be concerned with this possibility.

Time Paradoxes

I wont even go into detail as I think he are aware of this. But For reasons similar to ' Unknown effects on our physical world' I can see a fair amount of public pressure to investigate these.

presumable some dialogue would occur between our time traveler and world governments on their own findings from the future on these issues, but I am sure we would try and verify them for the sake of understanding and reassurance.


For a variety of reasons some nations would probably have little reaction to the news.


There reasons are varied, whether it would count as blasphemy, or it comes across as an impossibility, majorities in some nations would assuredly refuse to believe it as a true event.

Apathetic Acceptance

Some governments would accept this as a true, and move on with the matter of the day do to overwhelming pressure to deal with current and very troubling affairs. It may become a back burner issue for nations dealing with disease and famine (even if it presents an opportunity to resolve these issues another way)

Take Control

More to Gary's point, whether open about it, or keeping it a secret, undoubtedly some nations will seek to control what is the greatest potential military and economic leap forward ever presented to mankind.

Some may openly call for its control to have a tool to help prevent complete exploitation by those in the future who now many control our past and as such our futures. This could easily lead to both unilateral and multilateral actions to attempt and control this technology.

Some would seek the technology to gain the upper hand against present day enemies. They may even use the guise of controlling the technology to counter those from future, while truly maintaining eyes on today.

Whether or not that is through force or negotiation is inevitably up to the whims of your nations, and the perceived nature of the time traveler.


Those who have the power may try through military means to gain access to the technology and time traveler.


More interesting would be those who seek to control it covertly. I could see nations trying to bribe or seduce the time traveler to gain access. Or perhaps nations look forward, planning multi-generational infiltration plans to gaining access to the not-yet-invented machine. To that point perhaps out time traveler is a spy from one of these programs (The paradoxes begin)


The nature of government is very conservative as such. They don't want to come across anything that would disrupt their very nature of power. A time traveling device pose serious threat to their existence so they'd want absolute control over it. They'd make all possible attempts to seize control and put unnecessary restrictions on the inventor to use it in the way they prescribe. They might pass a law that prevents inventor from conducting autonomous research and bind him to work with the agency. Suddenly, the renouned inventor becomes a mere pawn of the agency. If he doesn't comply, they might also put criminal charges against him for breaching national security.


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