I’m on a commuter train, Caltrain, heading south to Mountain View, CA. The trip is about 45 minutes from San Francisco on a bullet train or an hour and a half on a regular train. 45 minutes doesn’t sound all that bad until you factor in the bus and a light rail to get to the Caltrain station. Add in a few blocks of walking and 10 minutes of waiting here or there and it turns into a 2-3 hour commute each way. Yeah, it’s a lot. I just had a chat with the woman in the seat next to me; her commute is equally as long. I would guess that most of these people have at least an hour and a half commute each way.
My mind starts wandering and dreaming of what it would be like if someone ever invents a transporter like on Star Trek – quantum teleportation technology. Remember how elegant and majestic it was? First they were on a spaceship, then they were anywhere they wanted. Just like that! It was easy. I heard it’s been done in reality, but only for something the size of a molecule. Wouldn’t it be great if they could actually transport a person? I could get those 4-6 hours a day back. My prayers would be answered. Beam me to work Scotty!
But how would life change on Earth with transporter technology? Let’s say this actually happens in my lifetime. My first thought is that people get more time and be able to enjoy life. Transporters would eventually replace trains, airplanes, cars and all freight vehicles. The Earth would get clean again (well, at least partially). Fresh food would now be readily available as it gets transported immediately from the farm to the store instead of via a slow shipping process, not to mention after being frozen or after being genetically modified so it doesn’t spoil on a truck. As a result, genetic modification of food has no place in this new society but of course, as they have found in some places, the pollen from the GMO naturally gets into the air and modifies food that is un-modified, so it may be too late and they can’t change the DNA back to its natural state.
One thing I thought about, that they never discussed on Star Trek, was what happens to the air, etc. that is in the place of where someone is beamed to? Does it get pushed aside from the inside out? Does it get replaced or do the atoms get converted into this replacement object’s atoms? If so, what would happen if there was something besides air there? What would happen if someone were mistakenly transported where there was a boulder? Would they be trapped in the boulder? Would they become part of the boulder? Would the boulder be pushed aside from the inside out and crumble? And what if the transporter calculations were off by a centimeter? Would your shoes and feet be molded into the ground? Would you be molded into the person next to you making a conjoined set?
Anyway, at first I’m sure this technology would be too expensive for everyone to own. In fact probably too expensive for anyone to own. So they roll it out for the transportation and freight businesses. So those businesses don’t go out of existence, they just “up” their technology (like the energy businesses should be doing). And to make sure no one beams into someone/something else, they make stations with required transporter booths.
So Caltrain replaces their train stations with transporter stations and reopens as “CalPort.” I like to think that all the railroad track property is converted into metro parks across the land. Who knows. It still takes me 45 minutes to get to the Caltrain but let’s say they put booths all over the city immediately. Beam me from my neighborhood to the CalPort transport station and then to a station near work. The neighborhood has lower energy transporters that only work within the city (as opposed to trans-ocean transporters); that way the transporter companies can charge more for greater distances or what might require more energy.
I wonder how long it would be until a couple secretly transports themselves in the middle of the night while having sex.
CalPort, USPort, SFPort, etc. would have to organize separate incoming and outgoing booths plus an electronic cue-system so people from various stations didn’t beam in to the receiving booth at the same time. Could you imagine that mix-up? I think untangling the inter-meshed-now-single-being would be impossible. And what if something broke or you got lost in a long cue and they forgot about you? Would CalPort sell insurance for that?
Once at the CalPort, there are long lines of people waiting to be sent to their Bay Area destinations. They would have to go to the AirPort to travel out of state or overseas. But at CalPort, no matter how many booths they set up, there will still probably be too many people at rush hour as they dont have enough booths so as to save money. Money still runs the world. My 2-3 hour commute still remains as the former train ride is now replaced by waiting in line at the transporter station. Again, some of the booths would be broken. The very thought of what happened to the person when the booth broke is enough to bring back the trains. But laziness prevails and here I am in line for the transporter. The guy ahead of me in line sneezes and some of the moisture and vaporized germs remain as he disappears. They hover and stick to me during transport. Maybe he has a wart or a cold sore that, some of which didnt go with him because its on the edge of the transported body and the matrix didnt catch it. On a similar note, transporting people with medical emergencies would take priority and do you think the blood from the bleeding person would all be transported or would some remain on the floor of the booth? Would CalPort have someone there to clean the booth at a moment’s notice? Yeah right.
Wealthy people would have priority booths. Then CEOs and even small business owners say that the time transporters save their workers is something that can be spent working instead, so now everyone starts working longer hours. People wouldn’t even have to leave work for lunch; restaurants could beam your lunch to the office. People turn into drones and even though their commute times are minimal, when they get home, they are so brain dead from sitting at the desk so long they start drinking more. There is an increase in drinking establishments and of course restaurants. On a good side, now people don’t have to worry about drinking and driving. On the flip side, alcoholism and obesity take over the country.
What would cities look like? Their wouldn’t be buses, taxis or even bike messengers. People could beam themselves in an instant. The streets would be more empty. Maybe the sidewalks and streets would be replaced with grass and trees. Plus now people can get jobs cross country. So metropolitan areas would have increasing numbers of business. Then when the day is over, people go back home to somewhere else. So they don’t have to move, ever. Many start to realize they might as well move to a place with fresh air like the country or tropical islands and transport to work at major metropolitan areas.
With all the people moving to the country, it’s not the country anymore. It becomes more like the suburbs. The cities eventually become more geared for just businesses. During the day, the cities are packed with people; at night, they clear out.
Many people never move as they don’t have to. City locals start to hate the “commuter carpetbaggers” and politicians spread hate language so people will take sides and hopefully vote for them. The hate language causes an even larger increase in anger and a crime wave takes over. How would the police do their jobs? They put up cameras everywhere and just beam to the location. Police would have protected and ultra-secure transporter booths so they could beam in and out unfettered. Maybe the neighborhood gangs would damage the police transporter booths in the neighborhood so the gangs would have more freedom to do as they please. Then police would be able to override other transporter booths so they could go where they want with priority. Hope you are not in mid-beam at that moment. Sirens are replaced with silent priority computer code.
The same code would be hacked by governments and underground organizations for use by the likes of all sorts of government organizations around the world. In fact, they would hack each others’ code and when one tries to transport one of their members, another would mess up the signal and the agent would never make it alive to their destination. A similar process would be used to get rid of people on a government list of known-terrorists (that technology wouldn’t use booths; you would literally just disappear forever). Lord help you if you have the same name as someone they want or you even resemble them. I wonder what would happen to someone who was beamed while they were running.
Would someone have to invent transporter blocking technology so prisoners couldn’t be taken out of their cells? How would that work? Would force-field technology also have to be created? Could it be created?
Getting back to Star Trek, with all those people flying around space for all those years, what did they do with the garbage and human waste? You never hear of it. Did they just beam it onto a planet no one ever talked about? I guess that wouldn’t violate the prime directive since no one was living there. I wonder if the captain put that in his log. Maybe they just beamed their waste into a star and then darted off to another part of the galaxy.
I am an optimist.