A Conversation for John Titor: a Time Traveller From The Year 2036?

I fixed the Millennium Bug

Post 1

Gnomon [193]

The reason the Millennium Bug did not strike down Western Civilisation is not the magical intercession of some future time traveller. It was me, and the thousands of people like me, who spent years trawling through computer code, finding examples of the bug and fixing them. It is saddening to see that this immense effort by the computer industry to fix a problem created by careless programmers a generation previously goes unrecognised.


I fixed the Millennium Bug

Post 2

You can call me TC (But now there's someone else who'll be calling me Granny) - Back from holidays

It's the sentence about the Millenium Bug that makes the whole thing sound like a hoax to me, too.

"After collecting the IBM 5100 Titor then travelled to the year 2000 because, he said, he wanted to visit his family and his younger self, and to see the effects of the Millennium Bug. "

If the whole thing is a hoax, then this would have been written in the year 2000, when that was the big topic of the day. It has, even today, disappeared into oblivion - and I am sure someone in 2036 would possibly not even have heard of it, let alone thought it worth travelling back in time to have a look at.

Thanks to people like Gnomon. smiley - cheers


I fixed the Millennium Bug

Post 3

quizzical

If he'd truly been from the future and had studied his history, he'd have known that most of the Y2K 'fun and games' actually occurred in 1999 when, as Gnomon pointed out, thousands of us were running around like crazy people and fixing code. I remember summer 1999 when things starting blowing up (because the 2000 fiscal year began on 1 July where I worked) and we got to fix production programs on the fly, usually at 2.00am or so. One program had a *1-digit* year field and wrote to specific addresses in the machine! smiley - yikes


I fixed the Millennium Bug

Post 4

Leo

Agreed. the whole thing sounded sane until he claimed to have fixed the bug.
Aside from the fact that that would mean intevening in the past- something that someone from the future wouldnt be allowed to do, the concept is ridiculous. It was computer programs and data that needed to be changed. Nobody from the future could just snap his fingers and make it all better.

And I'm wondering about that nuclear war--if it ends our civilization, how do we peice ourselves together fast enough for General Motors to build a time machine 15 years later?!

Otherwise it was quite a nice story. I was almost going to indulge in beleiving it.


I fixed the Millennium Bug

Post 5

Dark Side of the Goon

Mr. Titor's intervention could have been relatively minor.
All he would have needed to do is travel to 1999 (heh..."all") and mention to the right person that he too is in the software industry and that he'd found an interesting little anomaly in the date function of a piece of code...

If (big if) Titor is telling the truth, his intervention would have been a piece of social engineering. And we'd never know the difference.

Personally, I think it's probably a load of entertaining tosh.

Probably.


If Only

Post 6

Islave

ah the joys of a noble mind sat within reach of electronic gizmonodos and plastic, and the human bodies old fashioned way of typing, whilst occasionly looking at the monitor, to see how well one is expressing.

Came back to pick up a pc smiley - erm how odd? but a clever piece for a plot.
that would suit Hollywood no end smiley - laugh

Time Travel. Has a nice ring to it doesn't it?

....9.00 p.m (UK Time)....Major Earthquake due within 48hrs.
and for the sceptical.. One hell of a near miss Meteorite will be seen by many nations both in the night and daylight hours.

Time Travel it's rather quaint, and every species has the ability for this "magic" yet like many of the senses long ago gone to "sleeper" mode
the "craft" is cuddled up like a baby in a warm blanket.

Ohh, nearly forgot.. The Millenium Bug. Mass Media frenzy nothing more nothing less. Was under control all the time.
Anyone want the cure for the common cold? smiley - magic


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Post 7

Dark Side of the Goon

As Gnomon pointed out, the mass media frenzy came along at the same time as a mass IT industry frenzy.

There was a problem.

We fixed it.

But like every time the IT dept. does something wonderful, no one remembers.

To all my fellow IT people who, like me, worked over '99 to 00 on Y2K: we saved Western Civilisation, folks. Thanks!


If Only

Post 8

Orange A (formerly known as DunlopVolley)

I was always under the impression that nothing would have happened anyway, and everyone was wrong. Obviously not the case.

Surely something would have got missed by those who helped fix the problem, and something would have gone wrong?


If Only

Post 9

Dark Side of the Goon

"Surely something would have got missed by those who helped fix the problem, and something would have gone wrong?"

- thanks for that vote of confidence. smiley - winkeye

Actually, the US Naval Observatory's web-page got hit. On the morning of Jan 1st 2000 it was showing the date and time for the year 1900.
There were news stories all through '99 about emergency systems or traffic light systems that were tested and failed. So there was a real issue and a real problem. Like I said, it got fixed.


If Only

Post 10

Xanatic

Yes, fixing the Y2K problem is not as simple as keeping some guy from being shot. Did this guy run around and re-progammed all the worlds computers? If he did go back in time to pick up that computer, he should have told them about the Y2K problem then. They'd have had plenty of time to sort things out.


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Post 11

Leo

and if he fixed it, how could it have been a big mess in the past as he knew it?


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Post 12

Leo

and thanks to Gnomon and all the IT folks who kept the world from collapsing. smiley - applause


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Post 13

Dark Side of the Goon

"and if he fixed it, how could it have been a big mess in the past as he knew it?"

This would be a Paradox.

Here's where the Many Worlds theory comes in.
Mr. Titor travels to the past. He makes a change to established history as he knows it. Because what happened in Mr. Titor's history cannot "unhappen" an entirely seperate Universe is created in which John Titor's intervention takes place and Y2K doesn't really happen.

The interesting part comes when John Titor returns home, or tries to.

We now have two futures - one where John Titor's past has happened, and one where it has yet to happen. His actions have locked him into this second universe and he may be unable to return to his starting point. Even if he is able to travel forward in time, it won't necessarily take him to the Present he remembers. Events will have unfolded differently, possibly even to the point where the civil war he describes doesn't occur and where his time machine was never built.

What then?


If Only

Post 14

You can call me TC (But now there's someone else who'll be calling me Granny) - Back from holidays

That, I think, is where all time-travel stories go wrong. He did it in 1999 (or whenever) Even if he came from the year 2036 to do it, it still happened in 1999, so it will have already happened when he was born in the year 2000 or whenever.

My ideas may be too simple, but I basically reckon that there is only the one time line, and if anyone did travel back to a point in the past and "alter" something, this "alteration" would be visible from thereonin.

I use the inverted commas, because nothing has been altered. It happened once. And that's it. There's no undoing or re-doing it.

In other words, in the example above, there is only one 1999. The fact that the person doing whatever it was in 1999 came from the year 2036 to do it has absolutely no effect whatsoever.

You can't change the past - it's already happened. You might have gone "back" there and done it, but it _has_already_happened_. People can't get it out of their heads that there is no "now" (2036) in the background, happening at the same time.

I'm probably just too dim or too short-sighted to understand it, but based on my own ruminations, it is my humble opinion that the many worlds theory was only invented to make time travel fiction so interesting. Don't get me wrong, I love it and am an absolute ingrained fan of Doctor Who; and "Back to the Future" (all three films) are my absolute favourites. But I still think the stories are rubbish.


If Only

Post 15

Dark Side of the Goon

Dim? Short Sighted? No way.

The 'Many worlds' theory (I keep mistyping that as Many Words - coincidence?) is a byproduct of quantum mechanics, which science fiction writers then latched onto...although when I think about it Michael Moorcock had been exploring that sort of thing in conjunction with time travel way back in the Nomad of Time series, and in the Eternal Champion books generally.

Anyhow.

You're probably right. If there is one 1999 then anything that happens there stays happened and then 'now' builds on from it.

Here's the bit that makes my head spin: if you're right and there is a single timeline, any alteration to it will be invisible. Arriving in 1999 and making a change means that was how it happened, that's what we would remember. So it is entirely possible that there are time travellers all over history making small changes and we would never know the difference. As soon as a change is made, that's how it always was.


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Post 16

Xanatic

Or more likely that is how it always were. If there is only one timeline, any person travelling from the future would mean the future would already exist. So everything would need to be predestined. And if it were presumably the past could not be changed either and historical events that have happened might have happened due to time traveller interference. So it is possible to go back in time, but you don't actually do what you do out of free will, but because it had already been determined. So history doesn't change.


If Only

Post 17

Leo


...shoot, that was my theory too. One timeline, intervention predestined.

Or, you could use the Douglas Adams theory that history takes care of itself, and whatever he did was lost or forgotten.
Like, if I went back and revealed all sorts of scientific wonders to, say, Ben Franklin or Leonardo da Vinci way back when, history would ensure that he'd have no access to paper to jot down notes or would get a bump on the head and forget it all, or something. Titor may have thought he fixed the millenium bug, but really it just happened as it would have anyway.


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Post 18

Atticus

Interesting ideas on timelines etc. I have heard something about time being influenced both ways, ie now is not just influenced by the past but the future too, but due to the limited way we can percieve the flow of time, only the past seems to influence events.

what this has to so with Titor, I don't know, lol.

Thanks to Gnomon btw for fixing the millenium bug, I always supected Titor was a bit of a story teller smiley - winkeyesmiley - ok


If Only

Post 19

Dark Side of the Goon

My favourite things about the future influencing the present...and the influence that people can have if their story is credible...come in two kinds.

The first is the short story "The Gernsback Continuum" by William Gibson. Go read it. I'll wait.
....
Back already? Isn't it great?

Stemming from the idea that someone can 'create' a future by asserting what it will be like in believable enough terms, we come to Star Trek. Trek has been responsible for an awful lot, not least of which is the flip phone and (debatably) hand held electromagnetic sensors.

John Titor might have been a prankster, a person heavily involved in Risk Management who had access to the kinds of predicive information that businesses rely on to help plan long term strategies who decided to turn some of that information loose to see what happened. Or he might have had a less fun motive - the viral marketing of a possible future.

Whatever Titor's motives, his posts were what skeptics call a 'cold reading' - a statement made to the gullible to assure them of a fake-psychic's powers and prowess. You'd be amazed at how accurate a well practiced con-man can be, with the right set dressing.


If Only

Post 20

MoJoRisin777

I got really interested in the John Titor story a month or so ago, and because I have mass amounts of free time and internet access at my job, I've read every post he ever made - what's more, I've read the entire correspondance between John and the people he spoke with.
The idea that John fixed the millennium bug - as ridiculous as it is - has nothing to do with him trying to fix something in his own past to alter his future. He maintained that our 'worldline' was completely separate from his, so if he did try to do something about the millennium bug, it would have been because he wanted things in our worldline to go differently from the way things went in his own. Needless to say, this solves the problem someone brought up about noone remembering the y2k scare, so why would he know about it if he fixed it already or why would he know about it if it turned out to be such a small insignificant thing, because if it was important enough to him to bother with it must have been quite an issue in his worldline. More than once he also mentioned that he held a bachelor's degree in history, which I would take to mean that he wouldn't know how to fix it at all by altering code and would have had to contact someone who did to make any difference whatsoever. This means either he warned someone who could fix something that made a huge impact or the knowledge of what COULD have fixed the y2k bug in his own worldline was common enough that he was able to do it himself. Or, of course, it's a complete load of crap.
But, again, he had no intention of changing anything at all in his own worldline. In fact, he never had any chance of making it back to his worldline at all by his own admission, which is what finally made me give up on the story as being at all possible. He maintained that he would return to a worldline similar enough to his own to be indistinguishable from it, but that the chances of him landing in the exact worldline he left were virtually nil. This makes me wonder what the point of sending him back for the computer was in the first place, since he would never return to his government with it. Truly a WTF moment. The only time he made any mention of this, he actually implied that his government was hoping that ANOTHER government on a similar worldline would do the same thing, and that the John Titor from the other worldline would appear in HIS worldline with an IBM 5100.
...
Even if you were to accept all these things as possible, STILL I don't see the point of sending him back in time. If the alternate John Titor was going to appear with the computer they wanted, wouldn't he appear REGARDLESS of whether or not this original John Titor made the trip? Are we supposed to believe the government sent John Titor on this insane expedition out of the goodness of their hearts, to benefit some similar worldline that WOULD get the computer? Maybe they sent him because IF the alternate John Titor showed up, having two John Titors might cause trouble with his love life? Insanity. The whole thing falls apart the second you give it any real thought.
It was an interesting read, though.


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