[2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

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[2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby Tony » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:45 pm

Corey Mohler dealt with this issue in the first installment of his Existential Comics series:

http://existentialcomics.com/comic/1

It includes the astute observation that our consciousness arises not from specific atoms but from the pattern of interaction between them, which ceases every time we're knocked unconscious or fall into deep sleep and is started anew the next time our brain re-IPL's our consciousness. The question of whether your soul is eternal seems moot when you realize that it doesn't even survive a long nap.
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby TheCastro » Tue Dec 15, 2015 6:04 pm

I've always had this problem with the teleporter theory, but on star trek it was explained the atoms are moved to the new location and reassembled, so you're still the same person. This comic reflects the theoretical physics explanation of how a teleporter works. The movie the Prestige has this same issue, either Wolverine's character died the first time he used the machine, or the subsequent times it was used the original died, either way the original dies at some point, but that's never addressed.
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby pianoplayah » Tue Dec 15, 2015 9:41 pm

This concept is also explored pretty funnily in the novel Kraken by China Mieville. A character has the power to teleport but every time he does, he dies. So eventually his past selves get really pissed off and start haunting him as ghosts.

Also, lol Wolverine's character in the prestige. :) I agree with your nomenclature, and will similarly probably always refer to Orlando Bloom as Legolas.
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby Nurrdeer » Tue Dec 15, 2015 10:25 pm

TheCastro wrote:I've always had this problem with the teleporter theory, but on star trek it was explained the atoms are moved to the new location and reassembled, so you're still the same person. This comic reflects the theoretical physics explanation of how a teleporter works. The movie the Prestige has this same issue, either Wolverine's character died the first time he used the machine, or the subsequent times it was used the original died, either way the original dies at some point, but that's never addressed.

It doesn't matter what theoretical physics says, if you really look at it. It said on the first panel "Star Trek". So, Memory Alpha should have an explanation.
And it does: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Transporter
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby Guest » Wed Dec 16, 2015 5:15 pm

I still really like this animation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdxucpPq6Lc
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby Guest » Mon Dec 21, 2015 3:23 am

Nurrdeer wrote:
TheCastro wrote:I've always had this problem with the teleporter theory, but on star trek it was explained the atoms are moved to the new location and reassembled, so you're still the same person. This comic reflects the theoretical physics explanation of how a teleporter works. The movie the Prestige has this same issue, either Wolverine's character died the first time he used the machine, or the subsequent times it was used the original died, either way the original dies at some point, but that's never addressed.

It doesn't matter what theoretical physics says, if you really look at it. It said on the first panel "Star Trek". So, Memory Alpha should have an explanation.
And it does: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Transporter
Bit of a Trekkie.
STAR TREK IS ALWAYS RIGHT


So if you cut someone up into tiny little pieces, as long as you can and do reassemble them correctly, then you didn't actually kill anyone? I don't think Memory Alpha addresses the core philosophical issue here. And it seems fairly undeniable: Star Trek transporters kill. Yes, everyone else, including the copy, doesn't notice. But the person who got vaporized still got vaporized. At best there is a form of rapid killing and resurrection occurring. Whether the person that pops out on the other end is a copy or a reassembled original (if your response to the Ship of Theseus problem even allows for such a thing), someone died in this scenario. The funny thing is, though, that no one would have a memory of dying in a transporter because the output would be based on a scan from before that part happens. So it's actually somewhat plausible that such a method of transportation could become commonplace even despite it being always fatal. The "after" person would never have the experience of death-by-transporter.
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby DonRetrasado » Mon Dec 21, 2015 3:40 am

How is death any different from having your particles rearranged anyway?
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby MeisterKleister » Wed Dec 23, 2015 8:16 am

Here's a relevant excerpt from Daniel Dennett's 'Intuition Pumps':
You see the moon rise in the east. You see the moon rise in the west. You watch two moons moving toward each other across the cold black sky, one soon to pass behind the other as they continue on their way. You are on Mars, millions of miles from home, protected from the killing, frostless cold of the red Martian desert by fragile membranes of terrestrial technology—protected but stranded, for your spaceship has broken down beyond repair. You will never ever return to Earth, to the friends and family and places you left behind.

But perhaps there is hope. In the communication compartment of the disabled craft, you find a Teleclone Mark IV teleporter and instructions for its use. If you turn the teleporter on, tune its beam to the Teleclone receiver on Earth, and then step into the sending chamber, the teleporter will swiftly and painlessly dismantle your body, producing a molecule-by-molecule blueprint to be beamed to Earth, where the receiver, its reservoirs well stocked with the requisite atoms, will almost instantaneously produce—from the beamed instructions—you! Whisked back to Earth at the speed of light, into the arms of your loved ones, who will soon be listening with rapt attention to your tales of adventures on Mars.

One last survey of the damaged spaceship convinces you that the Teleclone is your only hope. With nothing to lose, you set the transmitter up, flip the right switches, and step into the chamber. Five, four, three, two, one, FLASH! You open the door in front of you and step out of the Teleclone receiver chamber into the sunny, familiar atmosphere of Earth. You’ve come home, none the worse for wear after your long-distance Teleclone fall from Mars. Your narrow escape from a terrible fate on the red planet calls for a celebration, and as your family and friends gather around, you notice how everyone has changed since last you saw them. It has been almost three years, after all, and you’ve all grown older. Look at Sarah, your daughter, who must now be eight and a half. You find yourself thinking, “Can this be the little girl who used to sit on my lap?” Of course it is, you reflect, even though you must admit that you do not so much recognize her as extrapolate from memory and deduce her identity. She is so much taller, looks so much older, and knows so much more. In fact, most of the cells now in her body were not there when last you cast eyes on her. But in spite of growth and change, in spite of replacement of cells, she’s the same little person you kissed good-bye three years ago.

Then it hits you: “Am I, really, the same person who kissed this little girl good-bye three years ago? Am I this eight-year-old child’s mother or am I actually a brand new human being, only several hours old, in spite of my memories—or apparent memories—of days and years before that?” Did this child’s mother recently die on Mars, dismantled and destroyed in the chamber of a Teleclone Mark IV?

Did I die on Mars? No, certainly I did not die on Mars, since I am alive on Earth. Perhaps, though, someone died on Mars—Sarah’s mother. Then I am not Sarah’s mother. But I must be! The whole point of getting into the Teleclone was to return home to my family. But I keep forgetting; maybe I never got into that Teleclone on Mars. Maybe that was someone else—if it ever happened at all.

Is that infernal machine a teleporter—a mode of transportation—or, as the brand name suggests, a sort of murdering twinmaker? Did Sarah’s mother survive the experience with the Teleclone or not? She thought she was going to. She entered the chamber with hope and anticipation, not suicidal resignation. Her act was altruistic, to be sure—she was taking steps to provide Sarah with a loved one to protect her—but also selfish—she was getting herself out of a jam and into something pleasant. Or so it seemed. “How do I know that’s how it seemed? Because I was there; I was Sarah’s mother thinking those thoughts. I am Sarah’s mother. Or so it seems.”

A song or a poem or a movie can undoubtedly be teleported. Is a self the sort of thing—a thing “made of information”—that can be teleported without loss? Is our reluctance to admit the teleportation of people a bit like the anachronistic resistance, recently overcome in most quarters, to electronically scanned legal signatures on documents? (I learned in 2011 that Harvard University’s Society of Fellows would not accept a scanned signature on my letter of recommendation; they required some dry ink that had actually been laid down by the motion of my actual hand, and it took me half a day of riding around in taxis in Beirut to get, sign, and express-mail back the relevant form—on cream-colored bond paper. It is my understanding that the Society has now changed its policy, but I hope Harvard still insists on putting wax seals on their diplomas. There is a place for tradition, in all its glorious gratuitousness.)


I don't think it actually matters much that you "die", if it's painless and the teleporter creates an identical copy of you in the process. Because you do live on in a non-metaphorical, literal sense.
Last edited by MeisterKleister on Sat Feb 06, 2016 5:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby Guest » Thu Dec 31, 2015 11:14 pm

If you believe in metaphysics, it matters and hopefully using a teleporter doesn't get you fed to the harpies. If you don't, it probably doesn't matter much.
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby Guest » Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:44 pm

The real problem is each teleportation causes a death trigger, unbalancing a lot of older cards.
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby knowan » Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:02 pm

Would you be opposed to a teleporter that could edit the copy? Say you step into a teleporter for transportation. When it does its initial scan it notices that there's something wrong with a certain number of your cells. Unbeknownst to you, you have cancer. The transporter corrects the error and the "new" you has the cancerous cells deleted, and you emerge cancer free.

But in this case, information wasn't merely transferred, it was altered. The "you" that stepped out of the transporter was significantly different that they "you" that stepped in. You are demonstratively a copy.

And if they can correct for cancer, what else can they correct for? Sure, at first the mind reels with "hey, there's no more need for surgery, ever! We can scan the body and correct the error!"

But then what would be considered an error that need correcting? A broken bone or a blocked artery shouldn't be a problem right?

But don't forget, your thoughts, your consciousness, is nothing but an information pattern to the machine. If you have schizophrenia it can correct it. If you have a traumatic memory that causes toy PTSD, it can remove it.

If you have a bad thought about the current president, or the Republican Party, it can correct it.

If you reject the use of teleporters because you think that destroying the original and creating a copy is murder of the original, well guess what, it can correct that thought as well.

And that's what we see in the world of Star Trek. A world where resistance to transporter technology has been selectively removed by the transporters themselves. A world where no one resists the Federation, because resistance is unthinkable. Use a transporter once and the "new" you will think that it's absolutely wonderful, because that thought, that worry, as been selectively removed. Use this incredibly convenient technology even once, and resistance to it is literally unthinkable.

You don't even need to transport everyone. Just enough people to overcome inertia.

So teleport babies out of the womb. Mothers don't have to go through hours of painful labor or possible complications, and it's even easy on the baby since it isn't squeezed through a 10 cm hole. How convenient!

What other behaviors can be corrected by modifying the thought patterns? Is the Utopian society in the Star Trek Earth obtainable without modifying the behavior patterns of its citizens?
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby Lethal Interjection » Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:38 pm

knowan wrote:
And that's what we see in the world of Star Trek. A world where resistance to transporter technology has been selectively removed by the transporters themselves. A world where no one resists the Federation, because resistance is unthinkable. Use a transporter once and the "new" you will think that it's absolutely wonderful, because that thought, that worry, as been selectively removed. Use this incredibly convenient technology even once, and resistance to it is literally unthinkable.



Did you just develop a conspiracy theory about a fictional interplanetary government?
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby Tony » Wed Feb 10, 2016 7:33 pm

knowan wrote:And that's what we see in the world of Star Trek. A world where resistance to transporter technology has been selectively removed by the transporters themselves. A world where no one resists the Federation, because resistance is unthinkable. Use a transporter once and the "new" you will think that it's absolutely wonderful, because that thought, that worry, as been selectively removed. Use this incredibly convenient technology even once, and resistance to it is literally unthinkable.

That hypothesis doesn't quite stand up to the evidence, does it? A number of characters in the Star Trek universe, Dr. McCoy being a prime example, despised transporter technology, avoided it whenever possible, and spoke vehemently against it. A pro-transporter "biofilter" would have edited out such an emotional response, or at least made the character extremely unlikely to voice it. Also, many vocal enemies of the Federation and all it stands for were beamed onto and off Federation ships using Federation transporters, remaining just as antagonistic toward it as before.

I'd wager that if such a capability existed or was likely to exist in the Star Trek universe, or in any reality with sufficiently advanced transporter tech, an opposition group would form and develop a cognitive integrity self-test that would function as a mental cryptographic signature. It would be simple for a transporter to transport a person and the device carrying their personal self-test, but to modify the person's mind and modify their self-test to make it consistent with those changes would be computationally impossible in the time allowed for the act of transporting.
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby Nachtie » Mon Feb 15, 2016 11:51 pm

I'm frankly surprised to see Star Trek being used as an example in the discussion? I know it's the pop culture entity that first introduced many people to this dilemma, but it's made perfectly clear that the atoms are not magically zapped somewhere and reassembled. If this were true, there couldn't be two Rikers in Second Chances. There's also the animated episode The Lorelei Signal, whose resolution depends on the fact that they can muddle around with the output of a transporter. Now, how it keeps their memories while returning their physical bodies to an earlier state is a mystery, but not as big of one as why this feature isn't routinely used for life extension. Then, there's the numerous references to Biofilters which, if memory serves correctly, are even able to remove nano-molecular virii, parasites, and bacteria. Also, I don't know if there's a proper name for it, but they can also find weapons and remove them when transporting. We never see or are told, but since there's no visible output when these things are separated (unless intentionally produced) it's safe to assume they just aren't fabricated at all. Oh, and lets not forget my personal favorite, Tuvix. Now, all of this does make it very bizarre that raw materials which cannot be fabricated using replicator technology can be teleported aboard. However, short of fiat claims made by proclamation, it's really the only strong argument for the actual atoms being transported and reassembled exactly.
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Re: [2015-12-15] Teleportation Is Always Fatal

Postby ChuckV » Tue Feb 16, 2016 5:52 pm

I think much of the attention paid to copy vs. original is based on human experience that doesn't apply to individual atoms. In human scale, two identical objects can have different actions applied and the result used to identify which is which. For example, with two identical minted coins one can be scratched. However, atoms are identical on a deep physical level which doesn't apply to human scale objects. Atoms of the same type and energy state are physically indistinguishable. It physically makes no difference whether it was the same carbon atom or not when the protein is reconstructed. Even if you take the energy from the original carbon atom to make the carbon atom in the new location, the new atom, in a physics sense, is a new particle (created from a photon or whatever) which is identical to the old.

Another confusion is that people are not used to being disassembled. In all our history, human disassembly means death. However with this fictional technology, not so. I think it better described as a stasis, as when my computer is disassembled. It's neither dead, nor alive. Using the term fatal doesn't get the correct nuance here. Fatal implies one cannot come back. In the story you can.
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