January 5, 2007

Trust Yourself?

Let’s say you meet up with someone who looks just like you, but older. And that this person convinces you that he/she is you, but from the future, come back to give you a warning.

Would you trust the future “you?”

Assuming you’re relatively confident this person is you (perhaps you think of a password that only you know, and you decide never to tell it to anyone, and this person knows the password somehow) how much do you trust the future you?

Does it depend on what he tells you to do? If he told you to do something innocuous, like “don’t take the bus to Ohio next week” or even less dramatic: “put two sugars in your coffee today instead of just one.” What if he told you to do something you would consider against your morals… like kill somebody.

Would you think “just because you’re from the future doesn’t make you perfect.” Or would you figure that you can’t trusty anyone if you can’t trust yourself?

Posted by James at January 5, 2007 1:38 PM
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I believe the older guy was me if he told me one of a few things only we would know about. And I'd trust him unconditionally unless he started displaying obvious signs of mental illness. That plans has its flaws, sure, but I'd take the chance.

Posted by: Mike at January 5, 2007 1:57 PM

Hmm, has someone been watching South Park?

If I'm confident that person is me, then yes. I've often wished I could go into the past and give myself advice, so I feel pretty sure I'd be open to it. Being from the future doesn't make her perfect, but it does make her someone who knows something I don't.

BUT Future-Julie knows as well as I do that just because you've made a mistake, doesn't mean that the alternative wouldn't have been a worse mistake. So I would definitely want an explanation of the reasoning behind the request. And Future-Julie would have to give a pretty good reason for killing someone.

Posted by: Julie at January 5, 2007 2:24 PM

Was this question on South Park?

I saw a discussion on another site about making a password so that you could verify whether someone was a "future you" and it got me to thinking about whether I would even trust a future me.

I would trust my motives, but I'm just not the sort of person to not ask for an explanation.

For me, it would really depend on the situation. The problem is, future you isn't you. Future you is somebody who shares the same past as you.

What is future you's motivation?

Posted by: James at January 5, 2007 2:34 PM

I'm not sure what future me's motivation is, but I can assume that she is either trying to correct an error or make an improvement. Either way, she's likely doing something that will benefit her. Right? Unless she's a religious zealot or something.

South Park - Cartman was getting impatient waiting for the Wii to be released, so he had Butters bury him in the snow so that he could wait in suspended animation. For some reason, Butters didn't dig him up, so Cartman overshot his goal and ended up hundreds of years in the future, which sucked.

A popular toy in that century allowed him to make crank calls to people in the past, so he called 2006-Cartman to warn him not to have Butters bury him in the snow. But 2006-Cartman didn't believe Future-Cartman (since Cartman isn't trustworthy). I forget how it was all resolved, but I assure you it was dumb.

That episode was rerun two days ago, which is why I thought it might have sparked the question.

There was another one where some of the kids' parents hired actors to pretend to be the kids in the future, all grown up, warning them against doing drugs. But the kids didn't fall for that one.

Posted by: Julie at January 5, 2007 3:07 PM

I think Star Trek did a time travel episode once, too.

Yes, I'm a cheeky monkey.

Posted by: James at January 5, 2007 3:25 PM

I see we've gotten someone else hooked on Craig Ferguson.

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at January 5, 2007 3:48 PM

I would not believe anyone who told me she is "me from the future."

Even if I did, I would not want to listen to or take advice from this person because altering the past with knowledge you have from the future could be dangerous--who knows how many changes would be effected from changing just one thig?

James, you are referring to creating a rift in the space-time continuum, which is what I'm talking about.

There are other concepts that fit here, such as the Grandfather Paradox (see http://www.answers.com/topic/grandfather-paradox).

See also http://www.st-minutiae.com/academy/cosmology247/terms.xhtml

Posted by: Patti M. at January 5, 2007 4:08 PM

I think that knowing my duplicate's future would not change his past. It would only change my future.

The "Many Worlds" theory has always made more sense to me.

Posted by: James at January 5, 2007 4:13 PM

I guess I hadn't really thought about it until I read this blurb (http://www.answers.com/topic/predestination-paradoxes-in-fiction), but when Harry Potter and Hermione go back in time at the end of the book, they're involved in a predestination paradox (or causality loop).

My god, I could get totally absorbed by this topic. Fantastic.

Posted by: Patti M. at January 5, 2007 4:15 PM

Craig Ferguson is awesome. His throwaway lines have me in stitches. Must be the delivery.

Posted by: Mike at January 5, 2007 4:25 PM

The accent helps, too. He kills me.

James, do you do what we do and watch the tape of the show the next day, or do you stay up and watch it live?

I think I already know the answer.

Posted by: Patti M. at January 5, 2007 4:28 PM

Ah. I just found Will it Blend: Thanksgiving Dinner. http://www.willitblend.com/videos.aspx?type=unsafe&video=thanksgiving

One difference: I know our friends didn't grind up any bones.

Posted by: Patti M. at January 5, 2007 4:30 PM

Actually, I watch them on the weekend. I go through the week's worth of monologues, because I often don't care about the guests.

Posted by: James at January 5, 2007 4:39 PM

There was also the beginning of an Office episode where Dwight is receiving faxes from Future Dwight. That's hilarious, of course.

If there was no explanation, I wouldn't listen, and I certainly wouldn't kill somebody. But I'd sure keep an eye on them. I'm not a very trusting person.

Posted by: Maggie at January 6, 2007 7:46 AM

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