Sunday, June 15, 2014

Travel and technology

Traveling, i.e. going to from point A to point B, was initially done out of the need to find food.  You traveled to follow herds of buffalo, or to find where the edible plants are in season.  I'm guessing that travel was done initially by foot.  Then come animal domestication, followed by mechanical forms of travel.

Technological advances in travel allow for more people to travel greater distances in shorter periods of time.  What sort of cultural consequences are there to technological advances in travel?

As societies became agrarian, groups traveled in order to look for arable land.  It was inevitable that as more people were able come into contact with other groups.  This led to such consequences as trade, conflict, cooperation, etc.

Technological advances in travel are accompanied by at least two cultural consequences.

First, travelers are able to physically interact with more people.  The further you can go in a shorter period of time, the more opportunities you will have to interact with more people.

Second, technological advances in travel allow individuals to travel for leisure, rather than out of necessity.  This comes in at least two forms.  First, the mode of travel itself can be a recreational activity, like horseback riding, driving, flying airplanes, etc.  Second, destinations can now be purely recreational, like camping, going to the beach, skiing, etc.

Now, suppose that something like teleportation were possible.  Suppose that people could travel anywhere in the world in a moment's time.  It would take me just as much time to travel from New York to China as it would take me to walk from my bedroom to my kitchen.  At this point, it seems that there is no longer travel in the sense that there is some kind of process or journey.  Older forms of travel are now done solely out of recreation.  What would society be like if everyone were able to travel via instantaneous teleportation?

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