I just finished up migrating a customer from Windows Server 2008 R2 to 2016 Active Directory.  Thankfully, it was only a single AD forest and domain; nothing too complex in that regard.  I also migrated their DFS namespace from 2000 to 2008 mode.  Afterwards, we gently wrapped their 2008 R2 domain controllers (virtual machines) in duct tape, smothered them in imaginary rags soaked in ether, and carefully loaded them onto little imaginary rafts to paddle out into the river, where they’d be sunk with an imaginary RPG round.


During the process, we ran through the usual checklists of things; DNS, replication, and of course time.  Time, as in NTP.  w32tm, and all that.  Aside from having spent a lot of time on the micro- implications of time back in the early 2000’s, getting immersed in the concepts of NTP stratum, drifts, huff-n-puff, and intervals, I still think about the macro- implications today.  This is particularly apropos with the increased talk about SpaceX, Blue Origin, and so on, and all the talk about Mars expeditions.

That got me to thinking about time on Earth.  Julian dates, 24-hour time, leap years, and so forth.  These Earth-bound notions of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, seasons/quarters, years, decades, centuries, and millennia.  And, in turn, that got me into thinking about meetings.  After all, time and meetings go together like politicians and eggs, or ham and drugs, or one of those.  And, for the record, meetings are most closely associated with the time construct we refer to as an “eon“.

Imagine this:

50 or 100 years from now, we may have a colony on another moon or planet.  And that moon or planet is very likely NOT going to share the same cyclical frequency of rotations and revolutions as Earth.  In other words, the relative time from one day to the next, or one orbit around the Sun (or host planet), won’t be the same as that of Earth.  Their local “day” may be only a few hours of that on Earth, or may be much, much longer.

That said, will the concepts of an hour, a week, or a month, be relevant?

What if this imaginary colony rests on a planet that has a pattern of daylight that equates to 48 hours on Earth?  Or it orbits the Sun (or again, host planet) once every 3.5 months of Earth time?  What if one “year” on that remote place equates to less or more than a year on Earth?

Some would argue that their relative (local) perception wouldn’t be significant.  But that’s assuming they wouldn’t have seasons either.  Seasons are what give weight and meaning to relative dates and times on Earth.  Cold and Hot.  Crops grow or whither.  Animals graze or migrate.  You get the idea.  So, seasons have a HUGE impact on the significance of “annual” cycles, because they dictate much of the things on which human life depends.

Just because Earth has seasons, and the only remote places we’ve seen (Moon, Mars, Jupiter, etc.) don’t appear to have any reference of a “season”, doesn’t mean that in 50-100 years we wouldn’t have landed on (and colonized) another place that does have such a phenomena.

Will the locals of those colonies still insist on marking “time” and “date” in Earth units?  If so, why?  And for how long?

Keep in mind that even on Earth, we differ from one region to another on a great many things.  This includes social/civil things, like marriage, drinking, voting, enlisting for armed services, driving, and so on.  We also differ on time.  Some places recognized Daylight Saving Time, and some do not.  While others impose a half-hour offset, rather than a full-hour.  The basic point here is that even on this one ball of dirt and water, we don’t have uniform rules.

Now, add to that, our history of colonization and divestiture.  By that, I mean colonies that fought hard to win their independence (a-hem, cough-cough, no names please).  Some of those fared better than others of course, but, the takeaway is that many of the rules imposed by the former overlord were replaced or banished by the new management.

So, getting back to the plotted course of this diatribe, even if the initial colonization were established with strict Earth-centric rules, there’s nothing to prove, or even expect, that with enough time, the colonists might decide those rules make no sense and would therefore be replaced.

Now comes the fun part.

Imagine, during this interim period, being between the era in which the colonists follow the same rules (minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years) as on Earth, and the time before they revolt and declare full independence from Earth-mandated taxes, fees and regulations (akin to 1604-1776, let’s say).

There would likely be some business interests that exist on the colonized planet or moon which remain in contact with their Earth counterparts.  I would assume these would be contractors who are initially part of the expedition, much like those who are embedded with today’s exploration and military engagements (you can guess their names I’m sure).  Probably related to things like telecommunications, mineral extraction, human support (medical, subsistence, housing, entertainment, etc.)

At some point, one of the project teams on Earth will be scheduling a meeting with their counterparts on the remote colony.  They’ll click “Friday, April 23, 2117” and “9:00 AM EDT” and when it arrives in the inbox on the other end, what will that mean?

Pick up the voice comm…

(crackling sound)… “Hey!  How are you guys doing?”

“Great!  You sound pretty clear and your video feed is clear as well.  How are you?”

“Not bad. Not bad.  Say…. We were wondering if you guys are available next Tuesday, say…. around 9:00 AM our time?  That would be like 14:35 AM your time, tomorrow.”

“Hold on.  That’s actually around 14:55 AM, but yeah, we should be good.”

“What’s it like there ?  I mean…. how do you sleep and work and all that?”

“Oh yeah.  So, an hour for us, is like 4.25 hours for you, but 4 days for you is like 0.99 days for us.  So our sleep patterns are very different from yours.”

You get the idea.

I think like this all the time.  Like whenever I see a Sci-Fi movie and the aliens are always humanoid (a head, 2 arms, 2 legs, etc.)  I think “what if we can’t even imagine other life forms?”  Even the Star Wars bar scenes are filled with loose variations of this bi-pedal form, with other (Earth-centric) animal features glued onto various parts of the body.

What if they look like a coffee cup?

What if they “talk” in a way that, to humans, sounds like farting?

What if they think extending a hand for shaking is a gesture for sexual activity?

What if a Asian-protocol bow of formality, is seen as a request to be attacked or eaten?

What if?

So, all digression digestion aside, back to the time and date thing.  How will computers will be configured?  How much Y2K-ish work will become heavily in-demand, in order to handle such date/time offsets, especially across more than one remote colony?

I’m guess too, that AI/ML will be so commonplace by then, that we won’t even be aware of the translations that occur in the background.  It’ll be something that we’re taught in school as a “just-in-case the machines crash” scenario, and then will be forgotten.

Date and Time.



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