I mentioned a thought to a co-worker about taking a smart phone back
in time 50 years to the 1960’s, the very early days of computing. A
consumer smart phone, a ubiquitous battery-powered device today, has
many orders of magnitude more computing power than was available to
all humankind at this time. Not to mention the amount of digital
storage would be unimaginably huge. It would likely be the single most
valuable device on Earth. If it goes back just a couple more decades
it would significantly impact the events of World War II. What would
the engineers of a half-century ago do with it?
I like to assume that it had no useful software installed, so it’s
just the advanced hardware. I guess time-traveling erases digital
storage in this scenario. Suppose the engineers of the day could work
out a way to interface with it electronically using the technology of
the time — something that I believe would be very difficult
considering the bandwidth and speed of the interfaces — and use that
interface to program it. Outside of study, some of the hardware would
be pretty useless, such as the H.264 decoder/encoder, wireless radios
(what would it talk to?), and probably the graphics chip, but the CPU
would definitely be useful.
This was a time before mice, monitors, conventional operating systems,
and all the modern computing paradigms. Not only was the computer
hardware primitive but so were the concepts about computing. I imagine
they would build and run the same sort of
timesharing operating system that existed at the time.
They would probably attach thousands of typewriter-based consoles to
this one smart phone so that several buildings worth of people could
make use of this one smart phone. Picturing in my head all these
old-timey typewriters attached to a cell phone is amusing.
My co-worker said that there needs to be a word for this.
Specifically, if you use time-travel to benefit yourself in some other
time period. For example, something like the word “nepotism”: favoring
relatives because of their relationship rather than their ability. I
came up with the word autoism for this.
Crony - ism: The word “crony” means “friend.” Favoring friends
regardless of their ability.
Nepot - ism: The Latin “nephos” means “nephew,” which was
also a euphemism for “natural son.” Favoring family regardless of
Auto - ism: “Auto” comes from ancient Greek for “self.” Favoring
yourself regardless of your own ability.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the technology needed in order to
actually practice autoism, time travel, doesn’t currently exist, so
the word will only be useful in science fiction for the time being.