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Don’t beam me up, Scotty.
Posted: 04 October 2011 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]
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At the outset, I know teleporting is impossible and probably always will be.  My point is really about the philosophy of indentity.

It never occurred to me that some people would refuse to use a teleporter even if it was real.  Their argument is that what a (star trek) type teleporter does is destroy ‘you’ (in the show it apparently disintegrates your body completely) and produces a ‘copy of you’ down on the planet surface.  So whoever it is walking around on Rexel 5 is not ‘you’ at all (you got burnt up on the teleport deck) - it is a copy of you, someone very like you, but not you.  According to an ‘anti-teleportist’, the teleporter is not a mode of transport but a murdering clone maker.  Would you commit suicide to let someone else be somewhere else?

I’m pro teleport.  I would happily use a teleporter - I can’t stand the waiting around at airports these days! - but I think ‘antis’ may have a point.  Opinions?

For definiteness, let’s say the teleporter works by transmitting only data, so the teleported ‘you’ is not made of the same atoms as the original you (your original atoms are dissociated and discarded into space).  There may or may not be a time-lag between being disintegrated and re-built.  I think we can also assume the copy is physically identical to the original down to the subatomic level, because I don’t want to talk about physics but about ‘identity’, about what ‘I’ means, or is.

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Posted: 04 October 2011 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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But we “lose” our physical “us” all the time. Physically, you are not the same person you were ten years ago. What’s the difference between getting “a new you” over a few years or a few seconds? The one problem I find with teleporting would be an error where we get two twins on the other end. Which one is you? Both, of course. And now which of the two will get the one house, the wife, the job…

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Posted: 04 October 2011 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Philosophers have debated this for centuries. What makes a thing a thing? You could be talking about a person, an animal or a ‘57 Chevy. Suppose you find a rusty old Chevy and decide to restore it to be like new. In the process of restoration, you replace 49% of it with parts from other cars. Is the Chevy still the same car? What if only 20% of it is left? What if only the shifter knob is left? At what point does a thing lose it’s identity?

Of course it’s a bit different than talking about you and I, but not entirely. In both cases, I think, the answer lies in the illusion that a collection of parts—or a collection of atoms—is really a “thing.” In reality, all we have are systems which exhibit behaviors. Not only is the Mr. Spock who beamed back aboard the ship from the planet Vulcan not the same entity that arrived on the planet, he really is not the same entity now that he was a few seconds ago. In that time, cells died and others were born, new neural patterns were established, and so on.

As a practical matter, one could say that, from the perspective of the pre-transporter Spock, he no longer lives—but of course “he” doesn’t know that, so he experiences no loss. But from the perspective of the post-transporter Spock, he is the same person, assuming that the neural patterns which make up his consciousness and memories were faithfully duplicated.

Like you, I doubt that any such machine could ever exist. But who knows?  grin

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Posted: 04 October 2011 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I wasn’t aware that the teleporters operated like that, in effect every character on Star Trek was dead!  I would have to think about it.

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Posted: 04 October 2011 12:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Hmmm.  Was someone watching Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory?  He posed precisely the same concern recently. 

Startrek dealt with a wide variety of possible consequences of this kind of transport over all of the series.

My feeling is that I am not my physical body but rather my programming or mind that resides in my brain.  As such, it doesn’t matter whether my body and brain are destroyed then reconstituted as long as my programming remains, then so do I.

Occam

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Posted: 04 October 2011 12:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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For any who care, one of the best treatments of this is in Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons, where he discusses teletransporter issues as well as a host of other strange possibilities (split-brain double-transplants, etc.) that are at least theoretically physically possible. It’s a book of philosophy—metaphysics, personal identity and ethics—so it’s not easy reading. (I haven’t read it in ages).

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Posted: 04 October 2011 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’m not seeing people saying if they would actually use a teleporter or not.. I’m guessing that there aren’t many ‘antis’ on CFI.

Living in Uganda I don’t get BBT!  But we do have an Advanced Teleport Research Centre and they have recently discovered that the original feels very great pain during the disintegration phase which the copy is not aware of.  I don’t know if that would make a difference to one’s choice of using one.

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Posted: 04 October 2011 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Yeah, I’m down with being cloned and killed. I suppose I would cease to exist, but my consciousness is an illusion anyway, so whatever.

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Posted: 04 October 2011 10:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I find that a strange attitude… it seems to imply that you’d use a teleporter even if it didn’t produce a copy.  Imagine this scenario:

Say the teleporter malfunctions so a copy is produced on Rexel 5 but you are left intact on the teleport deck.  You have been cloned.  From what you say, you would be ok with if the original ‘you’ was then taken away to be executed by phaser (just to keep things tidy).

In fact, is that scenario philosophically any different from the original one?

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Posted: 04 October 2011 10:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I suppose I would be okay with it if there was a good reason to do it. But if I thought my clone (DNA) should live, then I might not be okay with it shock  (i.e. it depends on the ethics of human cloning, which may depend on the future environment [e.g. overpopulation, unfair DNA propagation, population genetics issues {i.e. not religious arguments}])

Of course I would not be okay if it didn’t produce a copy cuz then my DNA would be gone!

[ Edited: 04 October 2011 10:52 PM by domokato ]
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Posted: 05 October 2011 04:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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domokato - 04 October 2011 10:48 PM

... then my DNA would be gone!

But you aren’t your DNA, otherwise identical twins would be the same person, and they aren’t.

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Posted: 05 October 2011 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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George - 04 October 2011 10:10 AM

But we “lose” our physical “us” all the time. Physically, you are not the same person you were ten years ago. What’s the difference between getting “a new you” over a few years or a few seconds? The one problem I find with teleporting would be an error where we get two twins on the other end. Which one is you? Both, of course. And now which of the two will get the one house, the wife, the job…

Yes, I think this sort of thing tells us we haven’t got this, somehow, it’s still mysterious, we still haven’t cracked it.

Then the response will come, I’m a dualist, I’m a supernaturalist, or whatever.

But no, it’s just important to concede the way we are looking at it isn’t right and we don’t know why yet.

Stephen

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Posted: 05 October 2011 08:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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dougsmith - 05 October 2011 04:12 AM
domokato - 04 October 2011 10:48 PM

... then my DNA would be gone!

But you aren’t your DNA, otherwise identical twins would be the same person, and they aren’t.

Identical twins are not genetically identical. It’s been known for some time now.

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Posted: 05 October 2011 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I should probably add that I agree with you, Doug, that identical twins are not the same person, but the argument based on identical DNA is in this case a red herring.

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Posted: 05 October 2011 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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George - 05 October 2011 08:08 AM
dougsmith - 05 October 2011 04:12 AM
domokato - 04 October 2011 10:48 PM

... then my DNA would be gone!

But you aren’t your DNA, otherwise identical twins would be the same person, and they aren’t.

Identical twins are not genetically identical. It’s been known for some time now.

I’ve heard the same thing, but that’s an issue that doesn’t make a difference in this case.

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Posted: 05 October 2011 09:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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dougsmith - 05 October 2011 04:12 AM
domokato - 04 October 2011 10:48 PM

... then my DNA would be gone!

But you aren’t your DNA, otherwise identical twins would be the same person, and they aren’t.

Yes, I was simplifying. Body and epigenome count to me too. If no clone was made, then I would have no DNA nor body, and that is really a bad situation raspberry

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