When a person is beamed up it's not the same person

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by ReadyAndWilling, May 1, 2010.

  1. jefferiestubes8

    jefferiestubes8 Commodore Commodore

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    Transporter accident

    also see
    what are deemed "Transporter accidents"
    Split one entity into good and evil entities
    (TOS: "The Enemy Within")

    Split one entity into two identical entities
    (TNG: "Second Chances")
    This is the episode Scrawny71 mentioned about Riker.

    Two entities merged into one
    (VOY: "Tuvix")
    via
     
  2. SpyOne

    SpyOne Commander Red Shirt

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    Nope: matter stream. No conversion to energy occurs.
     
  3. SpyOne

    SpyOne Commander Red Shirt

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    Saw an excellent short animated film about this (I believe on Cartoon Network's Oh Canada program):
    At an invention fair, there is a guy showing off his teleportation booth. When the narrator asks for more details, he reveals that it makes a copy at the destination then destroys the original, she balks at the exactness of the copy. To prove it is exact, he sets a delay in the destruction (30 seconds or so) so that she can view both copies side by side. As before, the creator goes through the booth so she can see. The two versions of the creator then start to argue about which should be destroyed.

    The narrator then points out that neither of them can hold the patent to the device, since neither of them is the original inventor: they are both just copies of the inventor. :)

    The Star Trek Transporter, however, seems to work by putting you back together out of the same stuff you began with. In fact, it seems to not work any other way. (Setting aside a few episodes where established facts were not allowed to derail the story.)

    IIRC, in The Enemy Within, one or both of the copies of Kirk were dying.

    Here's my theory (gleaned from many sources):
    When you beam someone, some of the matter gets lost. Usually not enough to matter (no pun), but sometimes enough to be life-threatening. Usually, the transporter makes up for this loss by adding a bit of material from the replicator stores, but this only works for replacing a very small percentage of the original matter: for reasons not fully understood, transporters only work if most of the material used to reassemble the person is the same material that was disassembled.
    There has only been one known case of someone surviving rematerialization from as little as 50% original material (Second Chances), and that was an unduplicatable freak accident, made all the more freakish by the fact that it actually happened twice, simultaneously. Best bets are that unique atmospheric conditions played a role.

    Tuvix? Either ignore it or say that Tuvix was extra dense or something: about 300 to 400 pounds of matter in that guy.
     
  4. Londo

    Londo Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Are we not entirely replaced through cell division many times in our lives anyway?
    If so having the transporter create new ones would seem like little difference.
     
  5. Cheapjack

    Cheapjack Fleet Captain

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    I'm not the same person I was years ago.

    :shifty::shifty::shifty:
     
  6. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Very philosophical question. And the problem is: nobody could ever find out. Because from the point of view of other people, you disappear and reappear, with all your thoughts, memories, personality, because your brain pattern is copied perfectly. If you actually die and a copy of you continues to exist... no one could ever tell.

    Then there's the problem: is there a soul or not?

    A soul means that you are way more than the sum of your parts, that your consciousness is way more than just the result of chemical reactions inside your brain. Somehow your soul is attached to your physical body. If you die, your brain shuts down, and your soul is set free (whatever this means, we will never know).

    Now what happens if you beam? Depends on how the soul - if it exists - is attached to you. Will it travel with you during the beam? Or does the beam "kill" you, so your soul travels to Heaven or Hell? But what happens to the copy of you? Does "it" have a soul? What happens to a human if you remove the soul and it suddenly is merely the sum of its parts?


    Though I think the answer is simple. If a soul exists, then some kind of masterplan exists. And if beaming is possible, then that masterplan includes it (about what happens if you switch from our world to the next place). And then your soul will travel along the beam, and you will be the same person before, during, and after the process. Because I doubt there can be multiple copies of a unique soul, and I doubt there can be humans created without a soul.

    If a soul doesn't exist... well then it doesn't matter. You cease to exist (whatever this means) but a copy of you carries on. And nobody else but you will notice a difference (which doesn't matter, because you don't exist anymore ;) ).
     
  7. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    This has all been discussed elsewher, I think in a "Tuvix" thread. All the cells in us die and are replaced except neurons. But even the matter in them is replaced over time (one reason we eat). The calcium in bones replaces slowest, over 7-10 years iirc. "I" am quite literally a different person than the "I" of 10 years ago, even aside from any learned behavior/personality changes.
     
  8. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And it is besides the point. You can change the hardware without having to change the operating system. The brain is the only important thing, because that seems to be the place where "you are".
     
  9. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    A matter stream is a form of energy.

    So there is indeed a conversion to energy as the binding force that holds molecules together has to be decoupled (at least partially) to enable a person or object to be transported as seen in the show. Heck, it's even been said onscreen more than once that a transporter is a matter/energy conversion device.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2010
  10. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    They were not clones.
    It had absolutely nothing to do with cloning. They were same people.

    Well, in Kirk's case, they were both versions of Kirk and neither was the same as the original Kirk, but that plot never really made any sense.

    Riker, however, was simply duplicated as exact same person, with same personality and memories... only those two Rikers were at different places in the next 7 years and had completely different experiences. It amazes me that people are still confused about this, even though Beverly explained it right away in the episode: "So which one is the real Riker?" "They both are."

    That's how I see it. As pointed out, cells in our organism die and change all the time, so if this was the criterion, we could say that we aren't technically the same people as when we were born. Although the above criterion is somewhat problematic, if you think about people with severe brain damage or amnesia...

    Here's an excellent essay on the subject of personal identity - it was written in relation to BSG, but it is relevant here: "I'm Sharon, but I'm a different Sharon: the identity of Cylons"
    (very fitting here, with Scrawny71's avatar ;) ).
     
  11. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
    Yes, but from the beamee's own perspective (in the "destroyed" argument), he's just plain DEAD. The new person created at the other end may have continuity of consciousness, but it's no longer the original consciousness, it's a recreation. It's a whole new person.

    So in this scenario, you're committing suicide when you beam. You cease to exist. Done. Kaput. Finito.
     
  12. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think you've completely missed the meaning of the "continuity of consciousness".
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    You risk the same every time you fall asleep, of course. Perhaps you'll wake up, perhaps you won't. When you do, you may tell yourself you are the same person who went asleep, but that's no consolation to the person who went asleep - he didn't possess this knowledge of continuing existence when his head hit the pillow. Yet the sane among us do go to sleep.

    Intellectually, we can easily convince ourselves that life goes on despite sleep. We learn that through experience, Intellectually, then, we can do the same with kill-copy transporting. The only question is, shall we? And the answer is likely to be, it's too damn convenient, so we will.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The thing is that when you fall asleep, your brain isn't dematerialized. When you sleep, you do have a continuity of consciousness. Your dream experiences are just not saved in your memory (most of the time). Your brain continues to controll ALL your body functions, it never stops. That you can't remember any of it doesn't change anything.


    What you guys talk about: cell division, sleeping, brain damage... this is not comparable to beaming in any way. Beaming means that your entire body, including your brain, is decomposed completely and reassembled thousands of kilometers away.

    Brain damage doesn't affect your conciousness at all. Yes, you are disabled after it on a certain level, but you still exist. There is no break in continuity.
     
  15. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    Semantics. What is a clone but an exact duplicate of another person from the same genetic material?
    In the end, however, there were two Kirks created from one Kirk. By any other name, that's cloning.
    In other words, a clone of the original.
     
  16. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In other words, you have no idea what a clone is.

    Next you'll be saying that identical twins are people with the same personality and memories. They are genetically identical as well.
     
  17. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No, an exact duplicate is an exact duplicate on an atomic or even subatomic level. A clone is not. A clone doesn't even have the same amount of cells. I doubt that a clone even has the same fingerprints.
     
  18. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Or when you compute a math problem.

    Abel 1: 2 + 2 = ?
    Abel 2: 2 + 2 = 4

    To Abel 2, information has been added, which requires a physical alteration of his brain--hence Abel 2 is not the same person he was before he knew the answer.

    Those who fear transportation, should logically fear an idle thought or mere passage of moments.
     
  19. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No, he switched to a different states, but he's still the same instance.
     
  20. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    Obviously, you don't.
    Actually, I won't because they don't have the same personality and memories.
    Which does make them clones, albeit from nature. But rather than call them clones, we call them identical twins, or triplets, etc.
    Actually, some cloning does involve an exact duplication on an atomic or even subatomic level, particularly in the field of molecular cloning.
    It depends on the cloning method, of which there are many. In embryo cloning, you do start off with cloned embryos that do have the same amount of cells.
    But they can have the same face, body type, and even hair color.

    But I think you and DevilEyes are both taking my usage of the word "cloning" earlier a bit too literally since we're still talking about the creation of an identical-looking person.