Future shoes

Recently I have found it convenient, when saying why I like the term “Future Reality” to describe our research focus, to talk about shoes. Specifically, future shoes.

Imagine you could travel back in time to, say, the year 1863. As PhilH points out, you can’t actually do this, for very sound relativistic reasons. After all, if you were to attempt such a foolish thing, Novikov consistency dictates that our entire timeline would immediately collapse down to a zero probability event, and *poof*, we’d all be toast.

Fortunately we are just doing a thought experiment here, so you’re not actually putting yourself, all your loved ones, and the entire Universe itself at risk by reading this.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh right, shoes. In our hypothetical thought experiment, you set your Wayback Machine to 152 years ago, because you’d like to discuss some finer points of the Emancipation Proclamation with Abraham Lincoln. To your surprise, as soon as he meets you the 16th president of the United States looks down at your feet and says “Hey, where did you get those shoes?”

At this point you realize that the shoes on your feet are impossible objects. They rely on materials, methods of manufacture and assembly, and global shipping practices that will not exist for a very long time. So to Lincoln, they’re going to look like future shoes — because they are.

But to you, they’re just shoes. And that’s the point.

In our research we are not interested in studying fantasy worlds where you sit in your chair holding a game controller and pretend to travel at warp speed to far off galaxies while shooting mutant space zombies out of the sky. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Rather, we are interested in experiences that at some point in the future will be so ordinary that nobody will even think about them — as ordinary as the shoes on your feet.

What Abraham Lincoln might once have called future shoes, we now just call shoes.

Likewise, future reality may seem exotic now. But one day, we will just call it reality.

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