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Let's say that teleportation (magical or technological, it matters not) is perfected to such a great degree that you can go anywhere from a few dozen yards, to the other side of the planet (basically) instantly, would people still use their own two feet, bikes, cars, boats, planes, etc? Furthermore, what would cause people to use one of these forms of transportation as compared to simply appearing where they want to be?

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. If you want to answer the question, it's better to post an answer. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Nov 29 '16 at 0:05
  • $\begingroup$ The last question, about social changes, feels too broad all by itself, let alone as part of a larger question. I know this has a lot of votes and answers already, but the top several answers don't address that with more than a sentence or two, so I think it's safe to edit out. I'm going to do that rather than putting the question on hold. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Nov 29 '16 at 0:08

21 Answers 21

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teleportation (magical or technological, it matters not) is perfected

I think the devil is in the details here. You have enormous scope for making it as convenient/inconvenient, socially loved/scorned, artificially restricted, etc. as you need it to be for your story to work, on many different fronts.

  • Let's say it's a personal technological teleporter - included in your smartphone or tablet, available for shops and public places like a credit card reader. Very common and popular but you can't use it if there's no receiver at the specific place you want to go, or if your device is broken. Or if their device is broken. Or if your device is low on battery you might save battery and walk. Or if you got mugged and had your phone stolen, or lost it. Or if you're a criminal and prohibited from having one anymore.

  • If it's a technology like a phonecall, maybe it costs per-use. Or per distance, or costs more when demand is high. Or you have to queue during rush hours. Or can be unavailable like a power-cut effect. Or they have some of those frustrating "friends and family" teleport plans, where you can have any of your top 5 teleport destinations on quick dial, but it costs more to go somewhere else, unless you pay a 9.99 one off payment to change your destination, or a 19.99/month charge to increase it to 25 favourites, with 5 only usable off-peak...

  • If it's a technological thing like the internet, or a government owned machine, then using it might make an official record of your journey, compared to walking. You might not want your journey on record.

  • If it's a government owned machine, maybe you only get a certain number of subsidised uses each month, use for anything but you have to ration them a little bit.

  • If it's a personal teleporter but it's big - like the portal gun from the Portal computer games. Not necessarily gun shaped, but far far to big to put in a pocket. e.g. it's a big rucksack you strap on your back and it's heavy - you would use it only when you needed it.

  • Thinking of the Portal gun idea, maybe it's regulated like gun ownership (or car ownership). Any one can have one in principle, but it's licensed and controlled and requires a training course and a license fee, and a regular retraining.

  • Imagine it's part-technology and part-magic/unknown. You can teleport anywhere, but you have to know some identifier for your destination. And it's not co-ordinate based, no pattern is known. Whole community driven sites like Wikipedia grow up where people discuss and record identifiers they've discovered with trial and error to get to particular places as they find them. And, like Wikipedia, they're not always accurate or trustworthy, and some are maliciously edited to be wrong, or done for a laugh. You use it when you can be sure, but you don't use it when it could be dangerous or you can't trust it.

  • Imagine it's entirely technology, but more like Satellites than the internet. I.e. there's a big teleport machine somewhere, owned by one company, which everyone gets 'uploaded into' and then 'downloaded out of' at their destination. You might be afraid of the company reading your thoughts as they processed you, you might be afraid of the company cloning you and sending a clone of you off as a worker somewhere. You might be afraid of the company editing your brain with adverts as the machine rebuilds you. You might be afraid of the company just being ComCast, hiring the cheapest employees and the cheapest equipment for the most profit, and widely thought to be doing a poor job. You might find lots of competing companies, and lots of bad rumours and bad regulation / safety.

  • If it's new and people don't understand it, there might be fear-based rumours about it stealing your soul, 'them' replacing your loved ones with impostors, and so on. If it's technological then elderly people might be nervous of getting it wrong and ending up in Jaipur instead of Jersey and prefer something they're more comfortable with.

  • There might be ideological or religious objections analogous to some group's refusal to accept blood transfusions or Amish rejection of some technologies.

  • It might feel horrible. (Rollercoaster style, or pins and needles style).

  • If it's a magical teleport, but it looks like the Nightcrawler from X-Men movies, i.e. a cloud of black smoke and a whompf noise as air is displaced, it might be socially rude (like belching), disruptive/intrusive or impolite to appear in places unless you know they're empty or that the people already there are OK with it.

  • If it's magic and vampire-y, you can go anywhere but you need to be invited there at least once first. Businesses are built on inviting people to places for money, but they have queues and backlogs. Or maybe you just have to go there once yourself by car, then you can teleport back there anytime - as long as you can remember what it feels like (i.e. ability to return drops as your memory of the place fades, if you don't go back).

  • If it's so common and low effort, it will become a normal thing for people to use it to get to work and back (e.g. cars) and the high status people will deliberately not use it (e.g. chauffeurs, private jets). Demonstrating that you aren't constrained to the ways normal people live, and you can pay high prices for everyday things is a way of showing off high status.

  • If it's a personal ability, again like Nightcrawler, it might simply be tiring to use - and walking is easier. Or it takes lots of concentration to use, and you can't do it after a long day.

  • Maybe it's a skill you have to learn so, e.g. parents would need to walk/drive with young kids or invalids, until they learned/recovered. Or adults might never bother (or not have time) to learn. Look how many people talk to people but can't speak another language, or spend their work time in Excel but can't write code, or listen to music but can't play an instrument. How many people can even run in a practical sense?

  • Or, like Parkour, maybe it's a short hop (line of sight?) ability which skilled people can chain together to hop-hop-hop very quickly to go long distances. But it's easy for unskilled people to get stuck in alleys, on rooftops, in fog, in water, spend ages planning their next hops, not know the best routes, and it becomes more trouble than it's worth. And finding routes between places is a bit of a fun social puzzle that enthusiasts do - anyone can do it, not everyone takes an interest in doing it. Because honestly - when was the last time you really needed to get a thousand miles in a few minutes? And did you need it so much that you would spend a year of practising just so that you could?

  • Bikes, cars, boats are fun. There's something to be said for a half hour commute in your self-driving car, where you can plan your day. Can't do much planning in a non-existant instant between stepping into and out of a spacewarp.

  • "Walk with me" trope doesn't work for two people to leave the room and have a chat with no particular destination in mind, if they have to teleport to a particular destination.

  • Maybe you can't do it as a group - either on the small scale ("road trip!") or on the large scale ("50,000 people going to a stadium for a game").

  • Maybe it's magical, but has a constraint like daylight, or limited magical resource which renews quite slowly.

  • You can go anywhere and anywhere can come to you. This is bad. So you set up force-shields around your house, and the council sets them up around your city. You can go anywhere, but sometimes you have to drive/fly/walk to and through a border to get somewhere on the other side of it. "Teleport suppression zones" for crime prevention, or for rich people.

  • It relies on some kind of short-range field. e.g. you can teleport within New York and within London, and there's field extenders chained between them, but you can't teleport into Moscow because Russia won't allow it to be connected up. But Russians can teleport within Russia, so if you got there you could teleport around Moscow.

  • It's boring. In a world where everyone can go anywhere instantly, Kansas and Mongolia are as identical as any two homes next to each other. Everything has homogenised so there's little need/desire for travel.

Finally, what changes to society would there be if you could simply appear anywhere you wanted by teleporting there?

As for this part, I imagine you could write a whole book about adding some major technologic change to human life and exploring what happens next.

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    $\begingroup$ That's a nice big list! :-p $\endgroup$ – Constantino Tsarouhas Nov 27 '16 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ Incredibly imaginative. I really enjoyed it. Except for reading the wiki page on The Jaunt, which is seriously intensely scary. $\endgroup$ – Wildcard Nov 27 '16 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ @RandyMarsh, I like big lists and I cannot lie. (writing them more than reading them, eh ;-). $\endgroup$ – TessellatingHeckler Nov 27 '16 at 22:28
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    $\begingroup$ "High status people will deliberately not use teleportation, to show off that they can afford not to" is a key plot element in Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination. I recall at one point a character arrives at a fancy dress ball by a railroad constructed on the fly just for that one appearance. $\endgroup$ – zwol Nov 28 '16 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ I didn't see this mentioned specifically, what if there is significant danger of two people appearing at exactly the same time and place? (Anybody remember respawn deaths in old FPS games?) $\endgroup$ – GalacticCowboy Nov 28 '16 at 17:43
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There are many factors that could make people use mundane methods.

Convenience

I'd rather go to the bathroom than teleport there. What if it's occupied? If activating teleport takes ten minutes, I'd rather go to the corner shop on foot.

Cost

If teleport costs $3 000 per mile, only rich and famous would use it. Even them wouldn't do it on a whim.

Health and pleasure

Walking and biking is good way to keep in shape. I try to do it even if I have more convenient alternative. And while cars and motorcycles do not have this benefit, they can be simply fun.

Knowledge of the destination

If you can go everywhere you want, first you need to know where you want to go. On foot I can just start walking.


Social changes would be based on the removal of geographic barriers. The more reasons to use mundane ways, the less changes. People would be able to afford to work in more distant places. Or not, if it's costly. Theft would be an issue, but only if you can steal more than teleport costs. And so on. Thus, this part is unanswerable and you should ask another question, when you decide on factors from the first part.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, hiking & biking - and cross-country skiing, riding horses, &c - all are fun. In fact, I do them even though I almost always wind up back exactly where I started from, so I'm not really going anywhere. Only biking serves much of a practical purpose, as I often bike to work (when not telecommuting, which is a good analogy to teleporting, no?) or to stores. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Nov 27 '16 at 5:27
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Transporting Non-Human Goods

Just because YOU can teleport across the world doesn't mean you can take a whole lot with you. Depending on your method of teleportation, there might be size or weight constraints (e.g. "longest dimension less than 10 feet" because your method is a 10' by 10' wormhole, or "up to 300 pounds" because that's all a single person can lift while they get teleported, etc.)

There's also things like infrastructure: water and electricity. You can't really "pipe" water to everyone's home via teleportation machine (unless it is: 1) small, 2) cheap 3) easy to make such that you can install one end in literally every home), so those sorts of transport methods will still exist, and at some level, so will the infrastructure necessary to facilitate repairs on all of the aforementioned infrastructure.

Your question hasn't included what limitations, if any, are present in your worldscape, so it's hard to predict precisely what it is that couldn't be transported, so I'll toss it back to you:

What limitations does your method of teleportation have and what can't be transported within those limitations? How would it be transported instead?

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  • $\begingroup$ "easy to make such that you can install one end in literally every home"—You could have a group of houses (such as a neighborhood) share a single teleporter and have pipes running from it to each house. Whether or not this is beneficial will depend on various factors. Perhaps it's of little use in dense urban areas, but it could help for more remote places, or for connecting the water infrastructure in different cities. (Here in California we'd appreciate water teleported from a wetter region.) $\endgroup$ – Ian D. Scott Nov 29 '16 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ There's still the cost, of course. Do you spend $10,000 a year maintaining a network of pipes, or do you spend it on electricity powering the teleportation mechanism? It's ten grand either way and the former is already installed and the latter increases electricity consumption Y%...is there capacity in the power grid? $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Nov 30 '16 at 4:44
  • $\begingroup$ Like everything, it depends on the energy consumption, cost, maintenance, safety, required maintenance, size, etc. of the teleportation technology. As for the comparison to maintaining existing pipes, that isn't relevant for new construction at least. With rapid/instantaneous transportation, you could have something like in the book City where there no longer are centralized cities and people live spread out (it doesn't work out particularly well in that book, though). $\endgroup$ – Ian D. Scott Nov 30 '16 at 5:05
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Firstly assuming that by "perfected" you mean:

  1. very low risk
  2. very high accuracy
  3. very low/zero direct cost to the user

Given these allowances, one might consider the following:

  1. the pleasure of just walking
  2. the user interface may be more or less cumbersome

    a. magical requires thought/spell effort

    b. technological requires HUD/thought ( such as our current mouse click to follow a link )

As for #2 above, most of us have experienced the desire to unplug from our technology or otherwise seek distraction/self-extraction from daily life.

As for #1 above, teleporting in the sense you have described might be as simple reaching to pick up a cup of coffee ( as simple as that act and people may engage in the activity on a whim ) or it may be as cumbersome as getting in the car to drive down to the corner store. Regardless, one can easily conceive of the choice to take the longer/less-traveled path with intention so as to break up the daily routine/norm.

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    $\begingroup$ It is faster to go by car from my house to the grocery store, but sometimes it is 70 degrees and sunny, and all I need is some carrots, and I just want to walk. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Nov 27 '16 at 1:36
  • $\begingroup$ I would add that teleporting in a scifi way requires some form of coordinates. If you don't know a places coordinates you would have to either have them saved or be able to retrieve them. You would likely look up the coordinates for something well known that is nearby. You would also likely need your own coordinates, but a computer can save them as they are most likely static. Eg. If you were stuck in a room without knowing your location and a teleporter that isn't configured and has his own coordinates saved, you would not be able to savely teleport. $\endgroup$ – HopefullyHelpful Nov 27 '16 at 3:02
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According to the Isaac Asimov's science fiction short story “It’s Such a Beautiful Day”, the answer is yes.

In this world, every home is equipped with a technological device called the Door, which lets the twelve year old boy go from home to school instantaneously, just like you ask in your question. The first time the boy walks to school, it's because the Door in his house breaks down, which would be a cop-out answer to your question. But the boy enjoys being outside and walking so much that he goes on to walk every day.

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    $\begingroup$ Great relevant-story reference. $\endgroup$ – TessellatingHeckler Nov 28 '16 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ Such a great story it was too. Definitely recommend. $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Dec 4 '16 at 21:46
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One societal change is that crimes, terrorism and warfare would be extremely effective. Though you could create countermeasure from fictional counter-teleportation-fields (maybe something like a tesla spool that reacts to the increase in energy from the teleportation which temporarily creates plasma and then attracts the electricity, electrocuting any teleporting intruder), to simply putting your furniture/traps into different places every day so that anyone teleporting into your defended building/room is likely to die.

Other countermeasure would be something along the lines of tracing people, so that when they jump (and commit a crime or are otherwise wanted), you can trace their original location and/or destination.

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  • $\begingroup$ One common trope for teleportation is that doing so into an already occupied space is a bad thing. In roleplaying games, those that do are shunted to the nearest location and take damage from the need to be shifted thus $\endgroup$ – Jesse Cohoon Nov 27 '16 at 3:00
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What happens to real estate when anyone can live anywhere and have instant access to everything they need? How do you protect something or someone from people with evil intents when you just...can't?

All great nation-states realize quickly that while their transportation costs have become next to nothing, they now have the task of either keeping people out or in of their respective countries. While world hunger has been solved by transporting food around without spoilage and providing fresh water to arid zones, it still hasn't fixed the fact that certain places in Idaho are just Hellholes. People start moving out of slums- the dumb ones show up in Hawaii thinking they can just bum on the beach, which drives down the desire to live there and it turns into an overcrowded mess. The smart ones buy a tiny apartment or shack in the picturesque wilderness, only to find that someone else then built a new house right in front of their view- for the 42nd time. Land prices fluctuate wildly, first cheap due to location, skyrocketting for a few months as everyone moves in, bottoming out again once it becomes full of cheap tract housing and all the views have been ruined. Shopping centers dissolve immediately, companies buy huge tracks of land in the middle of Africa and Australia for their show rooms and factories. Oh, and many of the world leaders have fallen victim to assassination attempts.

Teleportation Disruptors

The UN calls for a moratorium on the use of teleporters while it debates what to do about teleporters. Though they recognize the boon to society that teleporters could be, they also realize the dangers. And as they can't just ban all teleporters (as the nefarious will find a way), they instead create teleportation disruptors. Each nation immediately constructs their own to protect themselves, effectively killing the technology, until the nations agree on Teleports (sic), much like airports. Slightly outside the bounds of the disruptor, all people/goods traveling must take a ground transport to the Teleport, where then they get teleported to another Teleport, and then they have to ride on ground transport again. Maybe each gov'ts system is a little different, so while an enemy agent or local schmoe might not be able to teleport in through the disruptor, a local agent (police, medics, men in black) can teleport with freedom.

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  • $\begingroup$ Re "...when anyone can live anywhere...": Don't really need teleportation for that. I've lived in Europe while working for clients in the western US, and vice versa. Nowadays the only limit on where I can live is high-speed internet access. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Nov 27 '16 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf No, you can't really live anywhere like you could with teleportation. There are a lot of other things you rely on daily that don't exist everywhere. Let's say you pick the middle of Siberia (now) for your home. You can't just go to the store, not without taking a few day trip to do so. Amazon isn't going to deliver there either. And it's not like the govt is going to make a 500 mile sewage, gas or water system just for you. All those problems aren't problems with instant teleportation. Sure, you could rough it, but seeing as how you need high-speed internet access, I doubt it. $\endgroup$ – n_b Nov 28 '16 at 3:54
  • $\begingroup$ I live in a non-urban area of the US west. Water comes from a well, sewage goes to septic. I do have grid electricity, but could easily go PV (with a $35/month bill it doesn't make financial sense). Heat mostly comes from a wood stove, and some solar. With a bigger freezer, I could make do with a monthly trip to the grocery store. So the only constraint is high-speed internet, and I bet the remoter corners of Siberia don't have that, either. Nor will teleportation provide it :-) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Nov 28 '16 at 4:56
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf Teleportation could potentially provide high-bandwidth, low-latency Internet. Your "modem," rather than having a wire connection, would have a pair of memory card slots, with only one filled at a time (to avoid collisions), and a teleporter. Your ISP would have a similar device. Every millisecond or so, your modem and the ISP's device would use teleportation to swap memory cards, providing high-bandwidth wireless Internet access with a latency of just a few milliseconds. Of course that does rely on it being extremely cheap, fast, and accurate to teleport the memory card. $\endgroup$ – 8bittree Nov 29 '16 at 15:38
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    $\begingroup$ @8bittree That's the point. Depending on how the teleporter works, if it's an energy-matter converter, then there is no real reason to believe you couldn't just leave out the conversion step and beam some electrons in. Realistically (sic), if this teleportation technology existed there would probably be a storage medium specifically created to received teleported information, which is why you should just be able to beam the data. Even more realistically, if this teleportation was based on technology, we'd probably have already solved the problem of high speed internet anywhere already. $\endgroup$ – n_b Nov 29 '16 at 23:05
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In Alfred Bester's book The Stars My Destination, everyone on Earth has the ability to Jaunte, instantaneously travel to anywhere on Earth. The person simply needs to have memorized the coordinates of a known place, or have a strong memory of the place, in order to get there.

In this universe there is no interplanetary jaunting, because jaunting is done with brain- and willpower, and the distances between planets is too large for the mind to comprehend; everyone who's attempted (supposedly) has died in the vacuum of space. The other planets in the solar system are populated, but are isolated by the limits of interplanetary travel at the time and are economically and culturally separate from Earth.

There is a certain scene in the book where a bunch of aristocrats are arriving at a soiree, and here it is established that in an era of instantaneous travel, older means of transportation are seen as a conspicuous luxury. Rich folk arrive at the party in a number of increasingly inconvenient ways, the implication being that the more archaic the form of transportation, the higher the status. This culminates in the book's hero arriving in a steam train, with workers laying down tracks in front of it up to the door of the mansion. Taken from TVTropes, "you're rich enough to spend money on things you don't need and important enough to make people wait for you."

I found this to be a very interesting angle, both that interplanetary distances were still an obstacle, creating a real economic and class landscape; and that, in a world where travel is completely democratized, the assumed class division is turned on its head in order for the rich to retain status.

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    $\begingroup$ Another related class division idea is in the recent remake of the film Total Recall; it's not a teleporter, but they have a tunnel transit system going through the center of the earth from Europe to Australia. And the new high-tech transport system is not used by the rich, it's used to displace the lower class workers, and make them commute from the other side of the planet where they live in a slum. $\endgroup$ – TessellatingHeckler Nov 28 '16 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ A limitation of jaunting in the book was that your motion vector did not change - if you were foolish enough to jaunt to the other side of earth, you would arrive with a speed of about 3000 km/h going in the wrong direction, leading to a max. distance of 500 km for a very, very experienced and well-trained jaunter. $\endgroup$ – gnasher729 Nov 28 '16 at 23:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Ross, a minor correction: not everybody in TSMD had equal Jaunte abilities; there were not only Jaunte classes (in the training sense), but also Jaunte classes (AA, B, C or some such), roughly corresponding to the range one could teleport. $\endgroup$ – Catalyst Nov 29 '16 at 2:56
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the notes! I don't remember them being key plot points but they're great mechanical detail. Time for a reread I suppose. $\endgroup$ – Ross Nov 29 '16 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ Oh gosh, +1 just for the steam train with the workers laying the track as they go. Damn, that's dedication! $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Dec 4 '16 at 21:47
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If teleportation existed, I personally wouldn't use it until the following question was answered to my satisfaction:

How do you distinguish between the following?

  1. The person at the origin is the person who arrives safely at the destination.
  2. The person at the origin is ripped apart and experiences a brutal death, and an exact clone "arrives safely" at the destination.
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  • $\begingroup$ Easy to distinguish. A teleporter which rips you apart has to include scanner/deconstructors, massive amounts of computational storage, handwavingly magical re-assemblers, and some way to zap life into the reconstructed corpse-body. A teleporter which warps spacetime and opens two portals which you step through has none of that machinery - it cannot be cloning you. (But, more pressingly ... how do you distinguish 'you went to sleep last night and woke up' vs. 'you went to sleep and a different arrangement of atoms woke up thinking it was you'?) $\endgroup$ – TessellatingHeckler Nov 28 '16 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ @TessellatingHeckler Yeah, I'd be much more wary of the "Star Trek" method of teleportation than the "Stargate" method. For this answer I wasn't considering wormholes as teleportation, but now that you point it out they do technically fit the definition of teleportation ("the theoretical transfer of matter or energy from one point to another without traversing the physical space between them"), so I guess it comes down to how the technology in question was implemented. Also: Thanks a lot, now I won't be able to sleep anymore ;) $\endgroup$ – Briguy37 Nov 28 '16 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ @TessellatingHeckler And then someone makes a fast, flat disassembler with an ultra-high-resolution holographic projecter, complete with speakers, breezes, and smell-o-vision, plus a fast, flat reassembler with the same multimedia output capability; on each side hiding the computational storage and such in the space that would otherwise be occupied by the massive wormhole maintenance machinery, making it quite difficult to distinguish between step through portals and step through disassemblers/reassemblers. $\endgroup$ – 8bittree Nov 29 '16 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ @8bittree I meant that cloning concerns are an issue for teleporter types that involve disassembly/rebuilding people, but not for some other designs; I wasn't saying "you can always tell what type of teleporter you have just by looking" - always read the label before stepping in ;) But ... it is something that concerns me. People en-masse would use a disassembler without even considering the issue or realizing they just committed suicide. And the new person on the other side would say "it's fine, I'm still me" and everyone would just accept it. It's like some kind of Dr Who horror idea. $\endgroup$ – TessellatingHeckler Nov 30 '16 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ Relevant youtube on 'cloning style teleporters' - youtube.com/watch?v=pdxucpPq6Lc $\endgroup$ – TessellatingHeckler Nov 30 '16 at 18:20
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Larry Niven did a pretty good job of addressing this but I can't recall what book it appeared in.

Teleportation has costs, both in money and time. The lower these costs the more teleportation will take over other forms of transport.

Note that in his Known Space books teleportation always obeys the laws of physics. The teleportation system must make up the energy differential, there are limits to how much it can do so. It's also a lightspeed effect and thus not used for interstellar transit (the hyperdrive is known long before teleportation.)

The limit to how far he pushed it is the Puppeteer homeworld. Teleportation is open-air and too cheap to meter. The result is that for passenger transport there is nothing else. Everyone "walks" everywhere, following lines of teleport discs three steps apart. Step on the next disc and you hop, when you're at your destination you sidestep and don't hop. Different paths go at different "speeds" (distance between discs.) IIRC there were also ways to command the discs to take you where you wanted to go.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Larry Niven book about teleportation is Flash Crowd. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_Crowd $\endgroup$ – DrBob Nov 27 '16 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ @DrBob Flash Crowd is one of his stories talking about the effects of teleportation. What I'm thinking of is not a story, but a discussion. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Nov 28 '16 at 3:54
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    $\begingroup$ Larry Niven's speculative article "The Theory and Practice of Teleportation", originally published in Galaxy magazine (1969), found in his collection ALL THE MYRIAD WAYS (1971) may be more what you're looking for. $\endgroup$ – a4android Nov 28 '16 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android Yeah, that sounds right. Unfortunately, there's no way to accept a comment. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Nov 28 '16 at 7:52
  • $\begingroup$ That isn't a problem, and if it helps your answer, that's fine. Though there is a little flag alongside a comment that can be clicked. $\endgroup$ – a4android Nov 28 '16 at 10:40
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Yes.

In an era of instantaneous travel, would more mundane methods still be used? Yes, just like now, we have all the transportation methods, many of us still prefer to walk or to jog or to run.

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    $\begingroup$ This is more of a comment, though it is a very good point $\endgroup$ – Hohmannfan Nov 28 '16 at 5:28
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There are those who believe that you are destroying the original and making a copy. In other words, rather than simply moving to another place, you're killing yourself and creating an identical replacement with your memories.

People who have this belief would not use a teleporter.

In addition to this, since a teleporter is a highly dangerous device, it's tightly controlled by the government and so is probably not convenient to the public. Even consider it as a murder weapon - teleport someone away from the source, but don't bother reconstituting them at the destination. Or as others have said, they could easily be used in crime / terrorism.

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Interesting that no-one mentioned tourism and sightseeing where the specific destination is just a waypoint and the route itself is what you are there for. Sure, given "Tomorrow People"-like teleport abilities (which don't depend on send/receive stations), you could keep teleporting in half-mile stretches along your route, but even then, mundane surface travel seems better for the purpose of checking the view as it changes, being surprised by unforeseen events/sights and finding reasons to take a detour or just stop and eat an ice-cream.

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Going to riff off of @Briguy37's answer here:

  • You are killed by the teleportation process and reconstituted at the destination. Everybody knows that this is how it works. Do you want to do this? What are the tradeoffs? Most people might be afraid, but some would do it and reap the rewards of wealth and power from being able to travel anywhere instantly (politicians, businesspeople, etc)

  • You are killed by the teleportation process and reconstituted at the destination. The company selling the teleporter hides this fact by building in a mechanism to destroy the body. What happens when the truth gets out?

  • The above two scenarios, except that the teleporter doesn't have to kill you. It actually just creates a copy at the destination. The government or corporation in control of teleportation has chosen to make it kill one of the copies to prevent bad societal consequences of having a bunch of exact copies running around.

  • Teleportation creates copies, and neither is killed by the process. How do you deal with having a copy of yourself running around?

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Some people would, yes.

This is readily apparent even in today's world. We have modern cars and planes which together would account for transportation to just about any corner of the globe. And yet, people still use boats, trains, bicycles, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, and even horses to travel. What is the common thread here, you ask?

It's recreation and personal enjoyment. Until you outlaw a mode of transportation or otherwise make it impossible to use, there will likely be someone somewhere or will prefer to drive, fly, or walk to where they want to go for various reasons (enjoyment, health, effort, etc). Just like your neighbor and his 1950's fastback, or your uncle and aunt who have a ranch out in the country, there will always be someone who is interested in doing something that is considered outmoded or obsolete simply because they still enjoy it.

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It may all depend on how teleportation is achieved.

There could be some limitations in its use by some individuals, or states, due to religious beliefs, ecological beliefs, political beliefs, economic beliefs, etc. If you want to make it controversial, just make it as an analogy with some already pre-existing controversial thematic.

good writing.

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In Frank Herbert's Dune series, mundane means are due to a harsh environment and the desire for personal reflection on a pilgrimage

Children of Dune had a quote from a fictional handbook that answered the question of why anybody would walk.

In this age when the means of human transport include devices which can span the deeps of space in transtime, and other devices which can carry men swiftly over virtually impassable planetary surfaces, it seems odd to think of attempting long journeys afoot. Yet this remains a primary means of travel on Arrakis, a fact attributed partly to preference and partly to the brutal treatment which this planet reserves for anything mechanical. In the strictures of Arrakis, human flesh remains the most durable and reliable resource for the Hajj. Perhaps it is the implicit awareness of this fact which makes Arrakis the ultimate mirror of the soul. -Handbook of the Hajj

Now they don't have teleporters in Dune, but they do have the ability to travel over vast distances quickly in starships and similar planetary transports. But the environment deteriorates those machines quickly and the people value walking because it lends itself to a personal reflection of the soul on their Hajj (religious pilgrimage).

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Every technology has its place.

We still walk even though wheels exist. We still use bicycles even though motorbikes and cars exist. We use cars and trains and planes in parallel. We even still use horse-drawn waggons occasionally, or plain old horse riding.

There are many reasons why an obsolute technology continues to be used. Horses are damn convenient in some corners of the world (don't need fuel, easier to maintain, food source in case of emergency) and horses are superior to higher technology in some special cases (my home city recently re-introduced a police squad on horseback).

So you can basically decide what the requirements of your story are and then design your teleporter technology to match it. Maybe it takes a while to charge up or program a teleporter so that for short distances walking is faster? Maybe it takes up a lot of energy, so driving is cheaper? Maybe some people fear negative medical effects (whether true or not, this would make those people search out alternative means). Maybe older methods of transportation survive out of tradition or as sports?

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Yes, for several reasons:

Going for a walk

I own a car and a bike. I still walk to the shops. It's pleasant, and I get exercise.

Climbing a mountain

I could drive to the top of a mountain. I could take a helicopter or a ski lift, but I walk because it gives me a sense of achievement to do so.

Going on a cruise

I can get to Australia in an aircraft or a cruise ship. The aircraft takes 24 hours. The boat takes a month and costs five times as much. I take the boat because the trip itself is enjoyable. It's an experience.

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One possibility is that teleporting is painful or otherwise unpleasant in some fashion. For shorter distances or non-urgency they might well take a painless mode of transport, like walking or a car, while teleporting might be worth it for a longer distance or if they'll spend more time at their destination.

For instance, two hours of nausea might not be worth it to commute to an eight hour workday. But might well be alright to start your two week vacation to the Bahamas.

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    $\begingroup$ Or a 1 in a thousand chance of going mentally unstable, every time one teleports? (They usually get better within a hour, but sometimes....) $\endgroup$ – Catalyst Nov 29 '16 at 19:36
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I mentioned it to someone else "In an era of instantaneous travel, would more mundane methods still be used?" and they immediately said:

Of course they would. You can't have a quickie in a teleporter.

I didn't think of that in my big list of reasons. And I think nobody else has mentioned anything along those lines either. (Is that off-topic for the site, or is that illustrative of something more?)

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