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Old July 30 2008, 07:21 PM   #1
Zachary Smith
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Quantum Teleportation and the Self

I'm sure most here have considered the implications of teleportation "Star Trek" style and blundered across the concern that teleportation doesn't actually MOVE the "essential" being but merely creates a duplicate at another location and destroys (effectively killing) the original. Who in his right ind would ever allow himself to be teleported in such a case? It is basically suicide, even if, to the outside world, the being lives on.

Say, though, we conduct experiment in quantum teleportation, wherein the INFORMATION, position compostion etc, of ever facet of a being or object is communicated via quantum entanglement and duplicated at another location. Never mind the technical considerations at the moment. I'm interested in concept.

We duplicate an exact copy of the original being at a distant location. We have only now to destroy the original and we can claim "teleportation" after a fashion. Would you do it?

On the surface, I'd say now. Consider, however if, when the "copy" or duplicate is created at a distant location and while the patricals are still entangled on a quantum level, the subject's AWARENESS is of being in TWO PLACES at one. The psychological complextities of dealing with the situation aside for a moment, what if the SUBJEC, while entangled is unable to differentiate between which "body" is native to his awareness and that, his perceptions, BOTH are valid? Would you, as the subject allow one or the other "self" to then be destroyed?

The thought has interesting considerations as to the nature of human consciousness. WHERE does it reside? Can it be in two places at one, as in the example of a duplicated body still in a state of quantum entanglement and communicating instantly between original and duplicate?

Before addressing, let me add also this detail. As biological creatures, the cells of our bodies live and die. There is a turn-over. We are NOT the same physical beings we were 8 or 10 or 20 years ago. EVERY ONE of those cells is dead--gone. We are physically new bodies and our old ones are dead and gone. Yet we maintain the impression we are the "same".

Perhaps consciousness is a function of anatomy and lives in the brain but perhaps that SAME consciousness can be extended, or even MOVED by manipulation at the quantum level. What, if any, are the implications for teleportation and, beyond that even, the idea of the existence of, for lack of a better term, the human "soul"?
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Old July 30 2008, 08:15 PM   #2
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

Zachary Smith wrote: View Post
Before addressing, let me add also this detail. As biological creatures, the cells of our bodies live and die. There is a turn-over. We are NOT the same physical beings we were 8 or 10 or 20 years ago. EVERY ONE of those cells is dead--gone. We are physically new bodies and our old ones are dead and gone. Yet we maintain the impression we are the "same".
Issues of consciousness aside, I'll address this part because it's essentially a question on the philosophy of change and identity, which is fun.

My take on it is this; we operate on a level of abstraction that is significantly above the identity of our core constituents. In other words, when we as human beings identify objects or people our criteria are not the atoms or the molecules but emergent properties that are several levels above that. If you're familiar with the Ship of Theseus problem (if you replace all the parts of a ship as they wear out, is it still the same ship?) then that's my solution to it... in all the ways that a ship can have an identity the ship is still the same ship.

To use another example, lets take this very forum. If you refresh this webpage (go ahead, right now!) then discounting any randomized ads or someone quickly adding a reply, the webpage appears identical to you in every qualitative way that we measure the identity of a webpage. But every single core constituent has changed. The packets used to contact the webserver and send the information back to you are entirely different packets which may not have even taken the same path. The electrons that zipped around your computer to process the information are different electrons. And the photons that have been spat out from your monitor to relay the webpage to your eyes are completely different. In every single physical way, this page is entirely unique on each viewing yet on the level of abstraction that we define a webpage as it is wholly identical.

Extrapolating back onto the issue of consciousness, it is my opinion that the individual atoms (or subatomic particles or what have you) that make us up are not what we used to define our identity and thus are largely immaterial in terms of "sameness". If we take the position that our consciousness is an emergent property that is wholy based on our biology then in every qualitative way the teleportation duplicate, if you will, is the same person. Numerically the duplicate is entirely unique but we don't define ourselves that way. There's a similar thread about the replacement of molecules inside our bodies and I say the same thing about that: it doesn't matter if our constituents change because our identities do not.

So to sum up... while the teleporter is destroying the original constituents and making an exact duplicate somewhere else, those constituents don't define us and therefore our identities are not being destroyed in the same fashion. You are still the same person in every way that matters.

On the other hand, if we do in fact have "souls" that behave in a totally different fashion then all bets are off... in which case, I'd be afraid of coming out the other side as a p-zombie. I like having qualia
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Old July 30 2008, 08:42 PM   #3
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

From what I understand there are some portions of the human body that are formed during early development and aren't replaced during life with growing/replacement tissue/cells. These include, but probably aren't limited to, portions of the nervous system and immature Ova. Because cancers are rapidly developing tissue, the therapies that fight cancer tend to adversely affect the tissues that relatively quickly replace or replenish themselves like hair and portions of the interior of the digestive tract.
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Old July 30 2008, 11:51 PM   #4
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

If quantum entanglement works both ways, wouldn't information (therefore changes) in the target particles ALSO influence the condition of the original particles? Therefore, in the case of an original being and a duplicate being elsewhere, there would be a perception of being in TWO places at once.

Imagine, the duplicate is rendered without the original being destroyed and BOTH remain in a state of quantum entanglement.

BTW, part of my thinking in this matter is owed to the neighboring thread about who we are when we are born and die. Credit where it is due. I was in a hurry when I wrote the original post.
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Old July 31 2008, 01:38 AM   #5
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

Zachary Smith wrote: View Post
If quantum entanglement works both ways, wouldn't information (therefore changes) in the target particles ALSO influence the condition of the original particles? Therefore, in the case of an original being and a duplicate being elsewhere, there would be a perception of being in TWO places at once.

Imagine, the duplicate is rendered without the original being destroyed and BOTH remain in a state of quantum entanglement.

BTW, part of my thinking in this matter is owed to the neighboring thread about who we are when we are born and die. Credit where it is due. I was in a hurry when I wrote the original post.
Entanglement would likely be broken very quickly afterwards because separate stimuli would start up and cancel out any quantum linking.


Plus most of us is replaced as we grow older anyways. I would step through a quantum teleporter, destructive or otherwise.

Arrghman wrote: View Post
On the other hand, if we do in fact have "souls" that behave in a totally different fashion then all bets are off... in which case, I'd be afraid of coming out the other side as a p-zombie. I like having qualia

I think souls are formed through experience, so if you killed/misplaced your soul on a quantum teleport your body would still work and after some time you would accumulate/grow a new soul. Maybe when you finally died all your soul fragments in heaven could meet up and re-form like a T-1000 and then you could party on as a whole and complete you!
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Old August 1 2008, 02:03 AM   #6
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

Already done in an "Outer Limits" episode.
("Think Like a Dinosaur" in 2001)

You just have to kill the original when the copy reaches the destination to balance the equation.....
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Old August 1 2008, 05:58 PM   #7
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

Zachary Smith wrote: View Post
I'm sure most here have considered the implications of teleportation "Star Trek" style and blundered across the concern that teleportation doesn't actually MOVE the "essential" being but merely creates a duplicate at another location and destroys (effectively killing) the original. Who in his right ind would ever allow himself to be teleported in such a case? It is basically suicide, even if, to the outside world, the being lives on.
I don't agree with your original premise. The Star Trek transporter has been described as actually disassembling your original matter, moving it to a new location via the matter stream and reassembling it. This is akin to sending snail mail instead of faxing something. It's the same particles in the same arrangement, not different particles in the same arrangement.

If I cut your arm off an reattach it and it works perfectly, are you still you? What if I remove a piece of your brain and reinstall it and it works perfectly, are you still you? I would say yes to both, obviously.

If I disassemble you temporarily down to the atomic level and reassemble you and you look fine, are you still you? I would say yes.

As for the real subject of this discussion, no, I don't think that would really be you stepping out on the other side. It would think it was you, and no one would be able to tell the difference, and maybe that's all that matters if there is no such thing as a soul, but it wouldn't be you. We can hypothesize that if there is a soul is somehow "knows" to follow along to the next body instead of fluttering off into the universe, but that would be pure and utter speculation, even more so than whether or not the soul itself exists in the first place. There's no way to know.
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Old August 1 2008, 06:16 PM   #8
Zachary Smith
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

FordSVT wrote: View Post
Zachary Smith wrote: View Post
I'm sure most here have considered the implications of teleportation "Star Trek" style and blundered across the concern that teleportation doesn't actually MOVE the "essential" being but merely creates a duplicate at another location and destroys (effectively killing) the original. Who in his right ind would ever allow himself to be teleported in such a case? It is basically suicide, even if, to the outside world, the being lives on.
I don't agree with your original premise. The Star Trek transporter has been described as actually disassembling your original matter, moving it to a new location via the matter stream and reassembling it. This is akin to sending snail mail instead of faxing something. It's the same particles in the same arrangement, not different particles in the same arrangement.

If I cut your arm off an reattach it and it works perfectly, are you still you? What if I remove a piece of your brain and reinstall it and it works perfectly, are you still you? I would say yes to both, obviously.

If I disassemble you temporarily down to the atomic level and reassemble you and you look fine, are you still you? I would say yes.

As for the real subject of this discussion, no, I don't think that would really be you stepping out on the other side. It would think it was you, and no one would be able to tell the difference, and maybe that's all that matters if there is no such thing as a soul, but it wouldn't be you. We can hypothesize that if there is a soul is somehow "knows" to follow along to the next body instead of fluttering off into the universe, but that would be pure and utter speculation, even more so than whether or not the soul itself exists in the first place. There's no way to know.
There doesn't need to be a soul for the consciousness of the subject to, in effect, exist simulataneously in TWO places at once. With all due respect to the eariler poster who suggested it would be difficult to maintain quantum entanglement, let's suppose for a moment that we CAN, and sustain it as long as we like.

The concept for quantum teleportation, as I understand it, involves linking particles on the quantum level so that they, in essence, "harmonize" and the state of a particle at one location is DUPLICATED (*Note: NOTE moved, but duplicated) at another. The second particle becomes identical to the original. If we were somehow able to do this with every particle in a person's body, you would have an exact copy of the person appearing at another location.

Here's the conundrum; IF the duplicate is rendered and IF the quantum entanglement moves information BOTH ways, i.e. the state of the duplicat effects the state of the original just as the state of the original effects the state of the duplicte, WHAT is the effect on the perceptions and consciousness of the PERSON?

My impression is that the subject would have the awareness of being in two places at once, receiving sensory input from both environments simulatanously. The psychological implications of dealing with a situation aside; how would the SUBJECT then be able to discriminate between WHICH of his two "bodies" was REALLY him? I understand he could recognize that the "self" at the point of origin was the ORIGINAL body, but how would he be able to tell which was him INTRINSICALLY--the SOURCE of his awareness and therefore the "REAL" self.

I'm not sure he could. So long as both "selves" are quantum entangled and presuming that information flows BOTH ways, we have a being of EXPANDED awareness and one which has real consciousness in two seperate locations at the same time. Once the quantum entanglement was broken, the two subjects would then begin to have "seperate" experiences and lives and would become indiviudals (albiet more similar in nature than probaby even identical twins).

But for the ESSENTIAL identity at that moment of twin existence, can there be any sense of "unique" self? Or would it be no different if, in destroying the original form, the essential being simply has the sense of changing bodies and locations they way we might just change cloths?

If, in the process of this type of teleportation, you COULD percieve BOTH selves and environments from both locations simulatenously while quntum entangled, would you hesitate at all to allow your "original" body to be destroyed?
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Old August 2 2008, 11:19 PM   #9
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

Anything that involves the original ME being disassembled or destroyed is a big no-go for me.
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Old August 3 2008, 02:28 AM   #10
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

Venardhi wrote: View Post
Anything that involves the original ME being disassembled or destroyed is a big no-go for me.
I guess the quandry I'm trying to address is what decision do you make if you feel simulatenously and equally "connected" to the two "selves" and can make one or the other the more dominate and essential being simply by shifting your attention and concentration? Do you STILL feel the same committment to your original "self"?
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Old August 4 2008, 09:10 AM   #11
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

Couldn't that potentially lead to multiple personalities (as similar as they may be) in the same mind though? Lets say the second body is created and a 'network' is formed between the two, with the ability to use either or both bodies equally. When the second body is connected, it should be connected with the same electrical patterns in place as the original did at the time, so both minds should theoretically be active, and therefore want to survive. If both cluster into the one brain that is going to survive are they going to fuse into a single mind? What happens with two minds in the same brain? Do they fight it out and one eventually wins? Do they play leapfrog for a while, sharing the body? Can they both be active at the same time and communicate with each other? Too many variables in there for me to say. In general, I'd just rather not at any point have to question if my mind will survive, even if the mind on the other side is the same.
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Old August 7 2008, 07:27 PM   #12
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

There is the theory that the human body, in particular the mind, is like an R/F "receiver" which only listens in on one frequency - the frequency that your soul operates on that nobody else can tune in to. If each body is physiologically (or metaphysically) designed to only listen for that one frequency, then the soul should theoretically be safe, as once the new body is materialized and the old one dematerialized, the frequency listening capabilities are still there and the soul automagically transfers to the new body instantly without real interruption of the connection.

This, of course, is a BIG assumption on the fact that the universe is that well designed.
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Old August 7 2008, 08:12 PM   #13
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

That isn't a theory, that isn't even logical. I'm not worried about my soul transferring because I'm not convinced I have one. If you could prove there was one, and that it would transfer, my worries would cease. But since you cannot because a soul is a purely religious and metaphysical concept. . . well, I shant be taking any teleporters anytime soon.
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Old August 11 2008, 08:34 AM   #14
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

I thought I read somewhere recently that quantum information can't be copied, just "moved" because during quantum teleportation, the original information is destroyed by the copying process...and there's no way around that.

Still doesn't answer the basic philosophical question, but it means there would always be only one unique you, copy or not...
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Old August 11 2008, 01:30 PM   #15
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Re: Quantum Teleportation and the Self

^We've covered that, this thread is just a philosophical discussion with no real bearing in reality. There is no possible way for an entire set of particles to become entangled and stay that way long enough for a human to experience "two" consciousnesses. It's an even more "magic" idea than warp drive and would violate everything we know about entanglement and quantum theory. But I too believe that if the original is destroyed, that was the "real" you and the "new you" just thinks it's the original.
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