Sunday, December 23, 2018

Always A Bottleneck Somewhere

There were a few old Larry Niven short stories in which he tried to take teleportation technology seriously. I don't remember in detail, but one of the issues was that if teleportation is like getting in a phone booth in one place, and stepping out into a phone booth in another place, what happens when there's some event or sudden reason for a bunch of people to try to converge on one general location all at the same time? You can get a sudden mob, a flash mob as the kids would say, but more than that, assuming there are a limited number of these "phone booths" near to the desired destination, you have a traffic jam. Not everybody can teleport from all over the world into a small number of boxes simultaneously.

If you could replace your teleportation "phone booth" with something more like a "teleportation gymnasium" with lots of entrances so that a few hundred people could board quickly and then every few minutes or so they'd be teleported en masse to their destination and then exit at the other end, you'd reduce this problem.

You'd still have the potential mob problem, though, and this wouldn't work nearly as well if everybody tried to teleport 2 tons of steel with them. All those steel boxes gotta go somewhere.