A philosophical question regarding transporter technology.

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by HAL.9000, May 20, 2011.

  1. Sean Aaron

    Sean Aaron Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think it could be, but the philosophical question would likely create a divide between those who aren't bothered and those who would avoid it if at all possible. In time people might be less concerned if they had friends and family do it and found them to be the same.
     
  2. CoveTom

    CoveTom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is what I was trying to take issue with up-thread. Everyone is starting from the premise that the transporter destroys and then recreates people. But in the Star Trek universe that's not true. It just changes their form. In Star Trek, matter and energy are interchangeable, and converting from one form to the other and back again destroys nothing. It's not making a copy, it's not reproducing something, it's just converting from one form to another.
     
  3. PathWithoutEnd

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    There were plenty of instances where persons in the transporter were treated like data - storing them in the computer hard drive, making two copies, etc.

    The original ideea behind the transporter was that it doesn't make copies, but sometimes the writers took liberties with the concept.

    In the real world, a transporter like technology, at present, is ony barely theoretically feasible - via entanglement.
    Specifically, entanglement is used to transmit quantum information; such a technology would not allow one to make two copies of anything because quantum information cannot be copied - see 'no cloning theorem'.
    So such a technology would not 'copy' you - the information that define you - despite the fact that this information would inhabit a different set of atoms after transport.
     
  4. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't doubt that we'll eventually construct computers with the processing capability of scanning and capturing the necessary information of every molecule in the human body, and in a matter of seconds. And it may very well be possible to transform a mass of matter into an energy form of some kind that can be transmitted... but re-assembly is out of the question. There just doesn't seem to be a cohesive rapid way that all of the molecules of a body can be re-assembled in just the right way as before, in a matter of mere seconds no less. Remember, it would all have to be done simultaneously. The circulatory system is under a lot of pressure... not creating all of the molecules for the entire system throughout the body the exact same time as the blood would result in hemorrhaging everywhere. Nasty...


    Interesting point. I would have to step back and say I'm wrong about the "destruction", because I'm now starting to remember various characters making reference to molecules being "beamed". So, it's not destruction but transformation, as you've pointed out. Thanks. :)

    Well, matter is certainly very easy to convert into energy... we do it all the time. The matter is converted, energy is released, in one way process that is irreversible. But converting energy back into organized matter? Sophisticated complex matter, like that of the molecular makeup of a human being? I just don't see how a remote beam can articulate something so complex. Even if you always had a target transporter pad for the destination. I don't see how a beam could get to the detail of transforming specific energy units into very precise elements, molecules, and be arranged just so to perfectly replicate the original source matter.

    Assuming for a moment that you could really do this. Ummmm... we'd have an instant fountain of youth. You store a person's pattern at a certain point in time. Then, periodically, the person steps into the transporter and is converted to that original pattern, with the one modification being the incorporation of the additional memories attained since the last conversion. Also... lose a limb or organ? Replicate it. There's no reason why you can't take any energy and convert it to whatever matter you wish, just like the replicators. Nobody really dies then, or ages if they don't wish to. Hypothetical of course, and very highly unlikely... but it's an interesting idea to toy with.
     
  5. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think the 'matter is converted to and from energy' school of thought is the fluffy wuffy interpretation that makes no scientific sense. Human memories are chemical signatures in our brains. If you turn those signatures into energy along with the entire person, you are erasing or destroying that physical being. You need something extra to preserve the person. While I agree, Trek has on more than one occasion postulated that digitised people are still the real people, it has on an equal number of occasions postulated that digitised people lose part of their humanity in some way.

    This is why I think that you need to rely upon some kind of quantum entanglement argument so that the person is quantum entangled while simultaneously being phased into a different dimension (the matter stream?). So the energy in our dimension that is being 'beamed' is quantum entangled with the real person but isn't them; it's just all the information needed to 'rephase' them intact. Probably Realm of Fear is the only episode that supports this theory though and that episode is considered something of an aberration in terms of Trek lore (the Enterprise episode featuring transporters might also add some credence). I think it's still more viable as an explanation if you are unhappy with the kill and copy machine.
     
  6. Sean Aaron

    Sean Aaron Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    There's certainly been issues with "pattern degradation" referenced before. I also suspect starship crews do a lot more beaming than anyone else and that part of their annual medical would be checking for signs of issues resulting from it.

    Regarding the "will we or won't we have the technology" I wouldn't rule out anything just because it sounds far-fetched or complicated. Not that I think humans have unlimited potential, but it's rather difficult (and arrogant) to make statements about what could be in the future. The Victorians believed they had invented everything that could be invented; I think they were proven wrong pretty quickly about that.
     
  7. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've always viewed pattern degradation as some of the quantum links breaking down or possibly leaking away from the confinement beam so that they can't be used to retrieve (or re-phase) the particular molecules linked to that energy. If too many leak away you end up with the TMP accident.

    We are well on the way to creating quantum computers and we can teleport a subatomic particle. I don't think we will be teleporting live creatures any time soon but we could be teleporting small amounts of gas by the turn of the century.
     
  8. CoveTom

    CoveTom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In the real world, I completely agree with your argument. That's why I don't believe that the transporter, as presented in Trek, is scientifically plausible. However, within the confines of the Trek universe, we've been told, fairly explicity, that the explanation you described as the "fluffy wuffy" one is the correct one.
     
  9. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I was watching "Our Man Bashir" this evening...

    In the episode, the transporter memory core containing 5 people was transferred to the holodeck computer system. We're talking about the copying of electrons here, not exact transfer of the original energy plasma derived from matter. So in this context, matter is really lost. The matrix of it having been converted to data was copied to another memory core. The essence of what was originally there is gone. I think that even the writers of Star Trek couldn't get a cohesive and consistent working theory behind the transporters to stick. ;)

    (reaching into the big bowl of fluffy wuffy and taking a bite)
     
  10. Paradon

    Paradon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    How would you make the atoms come a part without destroying the person first? :cardie: So, maybe it is valid question... You would literally have to destroy someone and put it together at another location. It isn't easy to break the bonds between atoms.
     
  11. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd completely forgotten about that episode due to copyright infringement. Clear example though isn't it - but of what? The individuals' bodies have clearly been destroyed and reproduced using photonic energy and yet the digital information is being treated as the original even though it obviously isn't.

    Further, using the quantum entanglement argument, it's possible that the entangled photons in our dimension could be converted by the holodeck computer so what you actually get is a 'projection' of the individual whose actual matter is still phased. In other words it's a way of preserving the reintegration links rather than 'reproducing' the actual people. Perhaps the consciousness is able to 'inhabit' the holographic body because the entangled information is in the form of photons.
     
  12. Sean Aaron

    Sean Aaron Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That episode was fun, but its Treklogic failed for me.
     
  13. Paradon

    Paradon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Eh. No one knows what consciousness is in people, except for the fact that it allows us to be conscious and aware of our surrounding and that we somehow exist in the universe. It's far fetched how they are able to recreate people on holodeck with resemble the original copy.

    The problem with explaining the transporter technology is that you would have to literally destroy something and put it back together. Something may be destroyed, like our memories, during the process of recreating the persons. And plus the person doesn't feel a thing when the atoms are comming apart. Yes, you destroy a person, transport it through space onto another location, and recreate it again using the original atoms. If it was so easy that you can recreate someone, even with photons on the holodeck, I think someone would have figured out a way to do that already. You never know what each atom is going to do, let alone put it back together. You have literally like billions of atoms, so how do the computer know what each atoms is going to do. They make it seem like the computer can put it back together by remembering everything, but there is literally billions of atoms.
     
  14. Sean Aaron

    Sean Aaron Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Big computers, problem solved!
     
  15. Paradon

    Paradon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aah! But a computer can't predict what the atoms is going to do; that can only be done by a person, which is theoretically impossible.
     
  16. Sean Aaron

    Sean Aaron Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Why not? Quantum computing would seem to make that more possible.
     
  17. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    From a purely scientific viewpoint, consciousness is the combined effect of electrochemical processes in the brain (neurons firing, storing memories as chemical signatures in certain parts of the brain etc). Since it is a purely physical thing, it can be recreated in exactly the same way whether holographically or physically. Although in the former there are memory issues I don't see how a transporter signature would require any less information to send and rematerialise. It seems to me that the problem is one of energy consumption rather than memory. Most holograms are illusory but a recreated 'real' person would have to be recreated in exact detail every nano-second to include the sub-atomic particle movement appropriate to carbon-based life forms. They would need 'real' lungs, 'real' blood to carry oxygen, and real organs to process waste. The Voyager episode where they created holographic lungs was far more in keeping with this notion than Our Man Bashir.
     
  18. Paradon

    Paradon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    No. ;) Too many variables. You can spend all your life trying to extract an algorithm to define what a single molecule is going to do, or what a single animal is going to do, and you still can't solve the problem. Nobody can predict the future. ;) We can take a best possible guess...rely on our intuition...but that's just about it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
  19. Paradon

    Paradon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    I think a jury is still out on what is consciousness.
     
  20. Paradon

    Paradon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Math is an art form...no matter what anybody will tell you. It's very specific. It depends on a person for life, for interpretation of something. Nobody can predict the future because their are too many variables; the computer can't do it without the artist(s) expressing the art! ;)