Just a reminder that I'm one of the guests of honour at Kontakt, the 2012 Eurocon (European SF Convention) next weekend in Zagreb, Croatia. I'll therefore be disappearing on Wednesday, and not coming home until late on the evening of Monday 30th.
(For those of you who care, this is also why I won't be at the Arthur C. Clarke award ceremony in London on Wednesday 2nd; London is an international flight away from where I live, or an unpleasant five hour train journey, or an even less pleasant nine hour drive, and I'm simply not geared up for routine back-to-back trips like that.)
We need teleportation booths. Of course, if we had them we'd then get to find out exactly what the security-industrial complex could do to really make a misery of international travel ...
Actually, there's a thought-experiment there.
Let's postulate a new technology. To the end user it consists of a transmitter and a receiver that you can step into and out of like an elevator car, it can transport you from A to B at the speed of light, without physically intersecting with anything in-between. It's a switched network, like the old-fashioned phone system, i.e. any transmitter can talk to any other receiver (if the receiver is willing—"unfriendly" transmitters can be blocked). The transmitter/receiver units are not cheap—let's make them comparable to a Boeing 737 or an Airbus 320, around the US $30-40M mark—so you don't typically find them in private dwellings and there is an incentive for the owners to charge for access and to manage traffic flow through them.
Limits: maximum size of a gate is about 27 cubic metres (3 x 3 x 3) so forget moving tanks or APCs through them in order to invade your neighbour. Oh, and conservation of energy applies: if you want to move around the earth you have to pump in enough juice to equal the change in kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy of the cargo (remember, the earth is a spinning sphere: standing still at the equator you're moving at 1000 nautical miles/hour, while at the poles you're stationary). And I'm going to disallow the movement of radioisotopes through the gates by declaring that it just Doesn't Work™. (No nuclear terrorism here.)
You can ship the components of such a gate through another pair of gates, but there's a minimum size of, say, sixteen cubic metres of machinery weighing around 10 tonnes. No maximum range is known, and you can't conveniently use them for refuelling rockets in flight, so no, it's not going to magically open up the solar system.
What are the immediate consequences? (Beyond "international travel gets faster".)
And what are the security consequences?