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?
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.
There are many factors that could make people use mundane methods.
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.
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.
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?
Firstly assuming that by "perfected" you mean:
- very low risk
- very high accuracy
- very low/zero direct cost to the user
Given these allowances, one might consider the following:
- the pleasure of just walking
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
- The person at the origin is the person who arrives safely at the destination.
- The person at the origin is ripped apart and experiences a brutal death, and an exact clone "arrives safely" at the destination.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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?
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.
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?)