Party Like It's 2099

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Would you like to be the center of attention at a party? I mean really the center of attention? So much so that the whole world will take notice?

All you have to do is show up at a party at the MIT campus tonight.

Is there a catch? Yes, there is. You have to first decide to go to the party tomorrow, or any day after that. Then all you have to do is go back in time and show up. Proof of future age required.

In other words, MIT plans to have a time traveller convention. Here’s the original party invitation. It says in part:

“We need you to help PUBLICIZE the event so that future time travelers will know about the convention and attend. This web page is insufficient; in less than a year it will be taken down when I graduate, and futhermore, the World Wide Web is unlikely to remain in its present form permanently. We need volunteers to publish the details of the convention in enduring forms, so that the time travelers of future millennia will be aware of the convention. This convention can never be forgotten! We need publicity in MAJOR outlets, not just Internet news. Think New York Times, Washington Post, books, that sort of thing. If you have any strings, please pull them.”

If nothing else, these folks pull strings really well:

New York Times article

Washington Post article

Economist article

No, you can’t sign up today, the guest list is filled. You’re just going to have to either go back in time a week or so now to sign up, or just decide to crash the party next week, year, or geological era.

Officially, only time travellers have full permission to crash this party, but if you’re just a bona fide space alien from a highly advanced slumming around Earth, I suppose they’ll settle for you and let you stay. If they give you any hassle, just tell them I sent you.

Yes, I suppose this is what MIT students do when they have nothing better to do on a Saturday night. Then again, just what do you plan on doing tonight that’s so much more productive?

Why Show Up?

The MIT folks have tried to think of everything, including exact geographical spots so you know where to go even if MIT no longer exists, or you don’t want to materialize into a tree.

Unfortunately, the organizers don’t seem to know the first thing about partying. Where’s the booze/drugs/sex?

There’s no booze at this party. No drugs. All we know about refreshments is that somebody’s bringing (presumably unadulterated) brownies. I don’t know about the third, but how wild and crazy can you expect people to get on milk and cookies?

I’m not advocating anything illegal, but it’s going to take at least three species’ worth of evolution before those sort of things stop being a come-on to go to a party.

Nor am I too sure how good they are at human psychology or economics, either. It’s not like you just have to travel through time to get your brownie. No, the party givers expect you to bring a little party gift, too, like the blueprints for a fusion reactor. And what’s in it for you? Nothing (at least I don’t see any rewards being offered outside of a little gratitude).

Sounds like a presumption of future socialism to me. Maybe future folks will be like that, but what if they’re not? What if everybody in the future is a capitalist or a conservative? What if a future society looks upon W as another George Washington? What would they do? What if the future sees this invitation in some old archive and ask, “What’s in it for us?” And why shouldn’t they? Look at all the debt and unfunded obligations governments all over the world are leaving to them, it’s not like we’re giving a damn about them financially.

If time travel proves to be no big deal some day and the future is filled with kind folk out to help mankind solely out of the good of their hearts, wouldn’t they have shown up already? It’s hardly like human history has been so terrific up to now that we couldn’t have used some help. If you had a time machine today, wouldn’t you go back and try to stop things like the Black Plague or smallpox or World War II if you could, with or without an invite? Wouldn’t somebody?

There also seems to be a presumption that time travel would be cheap. What if it ends up being possible, but very difficult/expensive? What if it costs billions/trillions of dollars for some future society to send a man to the past? As it stands now, anyone showing up can’t even count on getting a “I cured cancer, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt?” T-shirt for their troubles.

Yes, this is a bit of a long-shot, but expecting a huge handout while offering nothing just increases the odds.

Seems to me we need to increase the incentives. All I know is that if I were some 22nd century Michael J. Fox and saw this, I’m not going to go through the trouble of going back in time and bringing something worth billion or trillions of 21st century dollars that will completely rewrite history (which would probably get you in a heap of trouble in the future) just to get a %&$%%$ brownie.

I would bet that’s why time travellers won’t show up tonight. Think I’m wrong? Prove it. 🙂 After all, they didn’t show up the last time someone tried, either. Maybe they’re holding out for a better deal.

Now I don’t want to be blamed if no one shows up tonight, so if you’re someone from the distant future reading this, what you really ought to do to send not yourself, but a piece of paper saying what you got and what you want for it. Tie it to something worthless in both present and future, like Britney Spears’ last recording.

Make them show you the money. 🙂

Ed

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