I am with Third Nacelle
, and I am a hard-core materialist, and I don't believe in a soul either. (If anything, belief in a soul would make me *more* willing to use a kill/copy transporter - because maybe my soul would re-attach to the new copy.)
The problem here seem to be one of differing definitions: Some people here seem to be defining "I" as any copy that thinks its me, and has all my memories, and is virtually indistuingishable.
But I define "I" as the person looking out through this skull and typing this now. This...node...of...awareness.
I have been thinking about this very "continuity of conscious problem", because recently I was listening to an audiobook version of Charles Stross' "Glasshouse
" (a book I read once before) and watching the first season of Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse", and thinking how casually ok people are with treating a tech that basically kills (or erases them) them and makes a copy, as the same things as them just hopping over to another body.
And it's not.
And take the "A-gate" technology from "Glasshouse", where a person is scanned and a "copy of their mindstate is stored" and then the original is taken apart by nanomachines, then a new version built - sometimes in a different location -- and often the body is altered radically, and sometimes multiple copies are made, or different individuals are merged into one individual -- and the mindstate (or states) downloaded into the new body/bodies (or potentialy just into a VR simulation)...
How is that any different from say, the Wraith or Asgard teleporters and storage devices from "Stargate" and "Stargate: Atlantis", ect, which, I presume, scan and break down the body, and store it's patten and it's matter - converted to energy, I assume - and then latter make a perfect copy elsewhere? Still seems to be a kill-copy process. (But as the Asgard are okay with coloning themselves afte rthe original body dies, this isnt' an issue - and the Wraith just need the meat, so to speak, and aren't concerned with ethical issues. Though, in both Stargate and Trek, living beings seem to have some sort of subspace/energy soul of sorts, which can be moved and stored...)
Of course, we really don't know exactly how Star Trek
s transporters work, because over the years we have gotten different explainations - and it's been called many things..."matter/energy transport" to "molecular transport" and what the person is broken down into has been called both a "matter stream" and a "data stream" and probably several other kinds of streams. (But all-in-all, it seems that Trek's kind of transporter tech, isn't a kill/copy - and people seem to have self-awareness and continuity of conciousness during the transport process...)
(And again, in Trek, there seems to be some sort of scientific equivalent to a soul...a being's...bio-energy...)
I mean, I can see it both ways...Stephen Baxter in his Xeelee Sequence/Destiny's Children novel "Transcendence" he introduces a branch of humanity in the far future which, using an internal technology that is now part of a person's genome, and grows with them, a person can "skim", or self teleport. And Baxter says that it's not an issue to them because, he says, 'if a person [which is just a pattern of atom and molecules and sub-atomic particles] can be expressed by a collection of atoms over *here*, then they can equally be expressed by a collection *over there*.' The pattern is the same. From their view, you simply cease to be *here*...and suddenly exist *there*. Like magic. But I'm not sure it's that easy. Especially if the new you is made of entirely different atoms and molecules.
But then again, on a subatomic level - and even an atomic level to some extent - every particle is the same as any other. One electron is *exactly* the same as any other electron. One up quark is exactly the same and identical to any other up quark. One carbon atom is identical to any other carbon atom. Well, basically - I mean, there are properties of subatomic particles like...like entanglement and spin and such, and different isotopes of atoms - but if those properties are also the same, then if suddenly every atom in my body was replaced (in the same physical location) by an exact duplicate - I *think* it would still be *me*. (Plus, there is nothing in those atoms with is particularly necessary to my identity - it's the over all *pattern* of those atoms.)
But, while I can see it that way, and even "grok" it - I would still have issues with a kill/copy teleporter...because, well, frankly, any device with not only destroies the original (aka "destructive teleportation") and recreates a copy...it still won't be the "me" starting out of this skull. This me...doesn't go anywhere. If I am about to step into a kill/copy teleporter, this "I" looking out from my skull can't expect to step out of the other end...just be destroyed. From the perspective of the *copy*, "I" have moved...but not from the perspective of the original. Unless somehow that new copy, being the same pattern, means the my awareness and countinuity of consciousness magically moves with it. (Which to *me*, seems to be implying that a soul exists, not the TN
's argument, as has been implied.)
And I think that *proof* that my conciousness doesn't
travel or change location, is that, even if an exact, perfect, copy of me can be made WITHOUT destroying this original - of if multiple copies can be made, even of the original is destroyed - they all WOULDN'T SHARE THE SAME AWARENESS. And this...locus of awareness is what I define as "me".
And I do have one issue with one of Third Nacelle
's issues - that of matter (of your body) being converted into energy and back into matter again - means that it isn't the same person..is that on a quantum level, the difference between matter and energy just...isn't there. If you get down small enough. I mean, what if the teleporter worked by just disassembling and moving our quarks for superstrings from one location to the next (instad of our atoms or molecules) and reassembling them? If superstrings that make up our matter are basically just bits of energy, you can say that I was converted into energy and back into matter again...in a sense.