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Old 07-09-2009, 11:38 PM
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Question Friendly Aliens, Transporters, and You

Transporters that only make copies of the original entity and then beam the copy to another location basically kill the original entity in the process. (It's like faxing a note to your friend and then burning the original that you faxed. Your friend only has the copy, not the original.) Thankfully, Star Trek transporters convert the original to a matter stream and then reassemble it at the destination. But that's Star Trek.

Given that, if a friendly advanced alien race said that they had a transporter for you to use, how would you know that you would survive the process? If you died, your copy wouldn't know.

Last edited by Star Trek Viewer : 07-10-2009 at 06:00 AM.
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Old 07-10-2009, 05:18 AM
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I suppose I'd send one of my cats through - if it's heart was still beating I'd roll the dice on the "killing the soul" issue. Cause that's really what the issue is about - a body is just a bunch of matter, but how do you transport that which has no matter?
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Old 07-10-2009, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by jerhanner View Post
I suppose I'd send one of my cats through - if it's heart was still beating I'd roll the dice on the "killing the soul" issue. Cause that's really what the issue is about - a body is just a bunch of matter, but how do you transport that which has no matter?
It's not just a question of soul, however. It's a question of personal identity, otherwise known as "self."

Suppose that someone scanned you and made an exact copy, but otherwise did nothing to you. Then suppose that they sent that copy somewhere else. Would what happened to that copy somewhere else be experienced by YOU, or, in other words, your own SELF?

I don't think so.

A copying transporter (though not a matter-stream transporter) that destroyed the original would result in the above, except that it would disintegrate the original person forever after it scans him or her to make the copy. In that case, whatever happened to the copy wouldn't be experienced by the destroyed original person, which would no longer have any experience of self (or anything at all!). The person (self), or the "you," that existed until the transporter destroyed him or her would be dead. Now, this might not matter to the outside world or the copy, for that matter, but it would VERY MUCH matter to the original, who would no longer have any true personal continuation at all.

Last edited by Star Trek Viewer : 07-10-2009 at 05:49 AM.
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Old 07-10-2009, 05:53 AM
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The person (self), or the "you," that existed until the transporter destroyed him or her would be dead. Now, this might not matter to the outside world, but it would VERY MUCH matter to the original, who would no longer have any true personal continuation at all.
Thats the whole funny thing about it: There would be no discontinuation for nobody, neither society, nor the beamed person. The original body would be gone, and the beamed person would "awake" in a new body, completely simillar to the old one.

Sure, conciousness depends on a body. The trouble is that we are used to identify ourselves with this body and equal us with it. But there is quite a lot of clues revealing that we are not our bodies. Instead we seem to adopt our bodies like we adopt houses as our homes.

Take this neat little experiment for instance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=281Xk2AL47M
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Old 07-10-2009, 05:58 AM
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Botany Bay, in the end, I am a philosophical materialist.

Please let me also quote someone named "Mercutio" in Post No. 83 in the following thread in the James Randi forum:

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To the extent that "consciousness" is a meaningful term, there would be one consciousness per person. Each, after all, is aware of his/her surroundings, can think, can remember, can do all the things anyone else can. If you interacted with any of them, you would say each was conscious, without having to reference any of the others. If you have no access to the others (as my first interpretation), you would not have access to the others to have reference to them anyway.
See: http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=133721&page=3

About the YouTube video, sadly: "This video is not available in your country due to copyright restrictions."

Last edited by Star Trek Viewer : 07-10-2009 at 06:02 AM.
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Old 07-10-2009, 06:03 AM
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Botany Bay, in the end, I am a philosophical materialist.

Please let me also quote someone named "Mercutio" in Post No. 83 in the following thread in the James Randi forum:
Yes, but thats what I mean, when saying that there would be no discontinuation for no one, neither for society nor for the person beamed. You step on the platform and get disintegrated. Then another you awakes on the surface of a planet and remembers having been beamed down. Society sees the whole process from an outside perspective as we do when watching a Star Trek episode.

Now, we can ask who was the person geting disintegrated on the transporterplatform? You! Is this person dead now? Are you dead? No. You stand on the planets surface remembering to have been disintegrated on the transporter pad. Therefore you are still alive and well, no one died here.
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:31 AM
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Yes, but thats what I mean, when saying that there would be no discontinuation for no one, neither for society nor for the person beamed. You step on the platform and get disintegrated. Then another you awakes on the surface of a planet and remembers having been beamed down. Society sees the whole process from an outside perspective as we do when watching a Star Trek episode.

Now, we can ask who was the person geting disintegrated on the transporterplatform? You! Is this person dead now? Are you dead? No. You stand on the planets surface remembering to have been disintegrated on the transporter pad. Therefore you are still alive and well, no one died here.
I agree that that's what happens when the actual matter stream is beamed, but I cannot agree that that's what happens when a mere copy is made, using information scanned from your body. How could it?
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:55 AM
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Transporters are indeed legitmized death machines. Anytime one's body is atomized--you can call it whatever euphemism for distintegration ya want--one ceases to exist as a living entity.

But...

The cheat with transporters is that it does indeed reassemble the object back to the way it was before the disintegration process began (this is where transporter patterns, pattern buffers, and Heisenberg compensators come into play). If we go by the tech manuals, the reason why a transporter is capable of doing so is because the partially decoupled molecules are briefly held in a form of stasis within the transporter beam itself and that at the end of the process, the binding energy that normally holds molecules together is restored to full strength.

It might be argued that it is the activation of this stasis field--or annular confinement beam--that prevents a person's consciousness from simply drifting into the ether during the decoupling and recoupling process.

And I officially no longer have any clue what the hell I just said...
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:08 AM
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Transporters are indeed legitmized death machines. Anytime one's body is atomized--you can call it whatever euphemism for distintegration ya want--one ceases to exist as a living entity.

But...

The cheat with transporters is that it does indeed reassemble the object back to the way it was before the disintegration process began (this is where transporter patterns, pattern buffers, and Heisenberg compensators come into play). If we go by the tech manuals, the reason why a transporter is capable of doing so is because the partially decoupled molecules are briefly held in a form of stasis within the transporter beam itself and that at the end of the process, the binding energy that normally holds molecules together is restored to full strength.

It might be argued that it is the activation of this stasis field--or annular confinement beam--that prevents a person's consciousness from simply drifting into the ether during the decoupling and recoupling process.

And I officially no longer have any clue what the hell I just said...
Most interesting. You and I are in philosophical agreement, I believe.

I think that any reassembly of the actual matter (even in the form of energy) will result in the continuation of personal identity. I do realize that to some extent it is argued that energy is fungible, but I think you've put through a plausible explanation as to how, and by extension, why, certain packets of energy corresponding to each atom of an individual's body can be uniquely preserved.

Again, this works only if the matter (in the form of uniquely identified and preserved energy) is actually beamed to the destination. Any use of any other matter would not work.

----- The question of why this would not work is bound up in the idea of philosophical materialism, but also suggested by the "faxed-copy" analogy and examples, as noted above.
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:35 AM
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I agree that that's what happens when the actual matter stream is beamed, but I cannot agree that that's what happens when a mere copy is made, using information scanned from your body. How could it?
What I discribed is what happens no matter wether there is a matter stream or not. In both cases, with or without a matter stream, the person gets disintegrated and reassembled or recreated at another location. It really isnt important wether the material used to recreate the person is won from the body or from the planets athmosphere or wherever it comes from. In both cases a person is vaporized and then reassembled from gas.

Now, my reasoning why this does not lead to any practical discontinuation goes somehwat like this (and I can only paraphrase it, because I am not a philosopher, so I hope I can make it clear with analogies):

You have a good friend called Jack. You play poker and he loses. He now owes you ten bucks. He promises to pay you the ten bucks after he returned from his trip to Mars. The next day you see him geting beamed, he disappears in front of your eyes. Half an hour later a Jack gives you a call from Mars and tells you he arrived safely and that he hasnt forgotten that he owes you ten bucks.

A week later you stand in the transporter room awaiting another Jack geting beamed up. This Jack sees you, approaches you, shakes hands with you and pays you ten bucks. He also makes an appointment with you for another game, because you are good old friends, right?

That evening you ask him how it was to get beamed and he tells you: "I stood on the platform, there was this blue light and woosh, I found myself on Mars. I met a native, who wanted my watch for ten bucks. I remembered that I owe you ten bucks, so I sold my watch. Then, a week later, I was to be beamed back. Blue light, swoosh, and here I am playing poker with you like allways. Mars was awesome."

Now, what do you conlude? That Jack is dead? How can he be dead when he is sitting right in front of you and telling you he is alive and well? And from Jacks perspective all your questions dont make any sense. He told you how he was beamed down and beamed back. No discontinuation involved, all fine and well.

Now you may say, Jack was disintegrated on the transporter pad and this is Jack # 3 talking to you, merely not understanding that he is not the "real Jack". But Jack will very likely protest and does it really matter anyway? Isnt he the exact same Jack with all the memories and everything playing poker with you right there, as allways?

Where is the dead Jack you are speaking of? But most important: Who owes you your ten bucks?

Let me give you another analogy: You see a man jump from a house, breaking his neck. His vital functions are gone. He is dead, Jim. His family identifies the dead body, cries and mourns, is sent home and you start the autopsy. Yes, his broken neck caused the death. A week later you call the family and to your surprise they tell you their son Jack is alive and well. They come around together with their son, you show them the dead body and the family and the "new Jack" are puzzled.
Now, is Jack dead or not? Who is the dead guy on your table and who is the guy who returned home?

Is Jack dead, or do you have a body that looks like Jack, but lacks his conciousness, while the new Jack seemingly has the conciousness of Jack and can tell you he is alive and well and nothing happened.

Finally the last analogy from an episode of Columbo. He investigates a murder, but there is no dead body and the woman proclaimed dead is alive and well, telling Columbo she was merely on a long vacation. Friends and family talk to the woman and can confirm her to be the person that was presumed to be murdered. When will Columbo seaze his investigation and conclude no murder ever happened? No dead body, no proofs and the victim is there, happy, healthy and telling Columbo nothing ever happened.

So, where is the dead person?

Thinking about all of that you stand in the empty transporter room with ten bucks in your pocket, puzzled, confused, unable to solve the mystery. Who died and who payed you the ten bucks? You feel the cold breeze of death in your neck.
But Mr. O'Brian tells you its actually just the air condition.

Last edited by Botany Bay : 07-10-2009 at 09:05 AM.
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