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Ever had a powerful and tragically unrealizable urge to go back in time and change things for the better? I have.
Mine has been a life of abject, miserable failure, countless unforced errors, and if I could have just a second shot, as it were, maybe I would still be with her…
So you can imagine my squeal of porcine delight when I came across a mysterious press release dispatched by one Alex Polischuk, a tech enthusiast based in Kyiv, advertising something that looked an awful lot like a solution to all my ills:
“A Newly Created DAO Aims at Building a Time Machine,” the release began, understatedly. “The DAO’s core team intends to raise funds to enable a Thai professor to realize his invention.”
It went on: “Quite recently, in 2022, a team of scientists from South East Asia invented a time machine, whose work is based on relativistic electrodynamics and quantum effects. The theory behind it is described in a few papers published in peer-reviewed journals (which means it has been approved by independent experts)."
As an example of these independent expert reviews, the release linked to a paper in something called Chinese Optics Letters. (To be quite honest, I have no clue whether that paper has anything whatsoever to do with time travel.)
Nevertheless, peer-reviewed! I exclaimed to myself and my empty life. The release described a full roadmap for the project.
The first stage, it said, would be a prototype that “will be able to send to the future or to the past information rather than material objects,” costing around $3 million. Next, a “full-fledged time machine able to carry passengers will be built.”
Supposedly, the machine is to be built in Thailand, where the 64-year-old professor behind the concept, Preecha Yupapin, is based. If enough fellow time machine enthusiasts can be enlisted, it would be co-owned and run by a decentralized autonomous organization.
There is, of course, a token. Twenty percent of the DAO’s treasury would remunerate the “core team” and “anybody from anywhere can contribute and thus become a co-owner of the first time machine in the history of humanity.”
How much does the DAO seek to raise? Funny you should ask: “Due to the fact that only the cost of building the first time machine is known, the funding target is configured on Juicebox as ‘Indefinite.’”
For the sake of due diligence I ran the attached paper by a scientist friend, who told me that the paper made no sense to him whatsoever. Thankfully, my desire for a scoop helped me overcome and entirely forget this minor issue.
“Well!” I oinked to myself enthusiastically. “Count me in!”
Desperate to redress life’s karmic injustices, I reached out to Polischuk, a Ukrainian who loves “observing tech progress.”
He responded enthusiastically.
“All processes in nature go with finite velocity, that of the speed of light,” he explained sagely after I asked him to unravel the mysteries of time travel. “If, by some technological trick, this speed is exceeded and the trajectory of motion is circular then you, as it were, go upstream the flow of events and you get to previous stages of the development of this system in the past.”
Interesting!, I thought, pretending I had some clue what the hell he was going on about.
The machine will be based on the so-called “Rabi cycle quantum concept,” meaning “energy levels are changed from lower to higher one and vice versa and all that,” until “quantum collapse” occurs and a “timeline opens to future or past depending on the frequency.”
Asked about the project’s origins, he told me that it began on a time travel group on Facebook, where he had been introduced to the professor, Yupapin, who had previously outlined the blueprints of a machine based on Einstein's theory of relativity in the Journal of Industrial Technology and Innovation.
Polischuk said he tried to verify Yupanin’s expertise by looking over a number of published papers; he assured me it was all above board. (For the record, I arranged to speak with Yupanin, but it didn't work out. Perhaps he was traveling in another era.)
Polischuk agreed to support Yupapin financially—the only slight problem was that he didn’t have any money. He did have an idea, however: Launch a time machine DAO.
He determined to crowdfund the thing and reached out to a number of Southeast Asia-based crypto guys via Facebook, a perfectly normal way to launch a complex new venture if there ever was one. The founders plan to launch the DAO after a marketing blitz coordinated via Reddit, YouTube and Twitter. (I resisted mentioning the precipitous drop in crypto prices in 2022.)
Polischuk estimates it will take just 10-11 months to build. Fast!
Now, the critical question: What sort of time travel are we talking about here? There are two major philosophical schools of time travel theory, one in which you can’t change the past and one in which you can. In the former, time is a closed loop—future, past and present are all inextricably linked, and going back to “change” the past is impossible; you can only go back and do the thing you had always done.
Yupapin’s paper focuses on the second school of thought: that changing the past forks the timeline and produces a parallel spinoff with major differences. That means TimeMachineDAO’s machine will, in theory, allow users to change the past. So it’s a little alarming that use of the machine will also be in the hands of a bunch of token-incentivized crypto bros, who will, no doubt, use the opportunity to fill their bags with BTC circa 2009.
That said, high-risk time travel ventures like killing Hitler are off the table, because Professor Yupapin is a very “ethical person” and “wouldn’t be glad,” the Ukrainian says. The more likely use for the machine will be something like “time travel tourism” or even time travel immigration for, I don’t know, hipsters who want to live in the 50s and smoke cigars without ostracization.
“Many people would like to go to the past,” mused Polischuk. “Some for an excursion, while others want to stay there.” I certainly couldn’t disagree with that. I just hope the damn thing will be built soon, so I can go back to the start of 2018, when she still loved me and there was no such thing as Decrypt. Wen token?