The Reckoner!

You Found A Time Machine, You Get One Trip: Forward or Back?

Much to your surprise, when you come home from work or school, sitting in front of your door is a time machine. No one's around and you don't know where it came from, but it's there all right. And attached to its door is a nicely lettered card with detailed instructions on how to operate it.

The key piece of information is that you get one round trip ride. You can stay as long you like, but once you come back, that's it.

Let's not nitpick about what's possible according to science and physics or Back to the Future. Even if you run smack into your past or future self in broad daylight, there will be no repercussions. But you can also travel beyond the limits of your own lifespan.

Note that everything gets reset when you go back to the present, so don't worry about Butterfly Effect-ing the end of the universe inadvertently.  Also, don't worry about leaping into the future and indavertently jumping into the harsh vacuum of space because Earth got blown up by an asteroid.  Your one-time-use disposable time machine won't let you do that.  This is a no-risk trip.

You have one chance at this: do you go back to witness an event in history or experience the past, or do you boldly head into the unknown of the future?

Reckoning Results!
The Past
The Future
Gonna go back in time
The future is now
Previous Reckoning!
Should I fire my contractor?
Next Reckoning!
New Year's Resolutions: Valuable Motivations or Doomed to Fail?

Reckoning Comments!

Am I a terrible person because my first two thoughts were, "If I go into the future I can pull a Biff and get rich" and "If I go into the past I can pull a David Xanatos and get rich"?

It embarrasses me slightly to say this as a technologist, but I think I'd take the past.  I've got a few things going for me on this trip:

  • I can prepare for a trip to the past.  I know exactly what I'm getting into, and can take the necessary precautions.
  • I'm a white, Northern European looking guy, so there are a lot of historical places that I can blend into that would be shitty and callous to most people.
  • I'm not Billy Pilgrim from Slaughterhouse Five, so I'm already going into the future every day of my life.
  • I can see Bobby Thomson hit the Shot Heard Round the World

Maybe I wouldn't use this priceless historical opportunity to see a baseball game at the Polo Grounds, but maybe I would.  Hard to say. 

Hmmmm....The future might be amazing to experience...things beyond our imagination.  The past would put me at a huge advantage in almost every social and economic way.  As a history buff, it would enable me to experience some events first hand.  On the other hand, as someone in the early stages of gheezerhood, the medical advances of the future might work out very well for me.   It's a lovely choice either way.

If I could go back to the past and make changes, that would be very tempting, and dangerous.  However, if it only involves going back and seeing the past, I think I'd rather go to the future and see what's coming instead.  You know say go a thousand years into the future, and hope they've maintained good historical records of the last thousand years.

I think I'd go back time and subtly help my past self. Direct advice would probably be ignored by that arrogant young man. Since everything resets when I return I won't directly benefit, but somewhere in an alternate timestream I'll have a slightly better life. And maybe when alex mk2 comes across the time machine he'll pay it forward to alex mk3 and so on.

This may have already happened...

One big factor here, alluded to by Dan and Michael, is that one can read about the past, or experience it in memory etc...  the future is brand new.  Gotta go future here...

Wow!  Look at the number of votes on this one!

Absolutely the future. There are always obstacles, whether in historical, present or future times.

In the future, I feel confident that problems could be worked out more quickly, information will be more accessible to deal with situations.

That's assuming...there will be a future. 

I stand by going into the past. Depends at what time but I'd like to meet some historical figures and be there at key points in history.

The Reckoner!