Would you use a transporter?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Third Nacelle, May 16, 2013.

  1. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    But the world will notice. And what a sad day it would be for the universe! :(

    On the other hand, if another me was somehow created at the same time, with the same memories and the same brain patterns, no one will notice any difference. Not me. Nor anybody. So, for all reasons and purposes, there will be no difference.

    That makes no sense. If they are identical, then they are identical, which means there is no way to distinguish between the two.

    If you disassemble a house, brick by brick, move it in another place, and they reassemble it without any loss of information, then it's the same house.

    Beside, if you look small enough, matter is basically empty space, energy, and information. If we can transport energy and information, then we can transport matter.

    In the end, it all boils down if you believe there is some "ineffable" quality in matter that can't be measured, copied, or transported (even using "magical" technology as the transporter). Basically, if you believe in souls.
     
  2. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    I don't believe in souls, which is precisely why I DON'T believe the original person survives transport. You're the one claiming that there is some immeasurable identity being passed from original to copy during transport.

    I am saying that what I am is a body sitting at a desk right now. If I am converted to energy, I am no more, regardless of whether that energy is converted into an identical copy of me or not. Saying that the copy is still me means there is something more than the sum of my parts that gets passed on, and I just don't see it.
     
  3. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    "Survives" is a loaded term. The original body/person is in one place, then it is no more, and then it is in another place.

    Is it the same body? Yes (or at least, that's how the magical technology of transporter is supposed to work). So, the issue can't be one of material component. The issue seems to be continuity of consciousness. You seem to imply that there should be continuity of consciousness to be the same person. But we don't have continuity of consciousness. Every time you fall asleep, your consciousness is interrupted. During the night, a lot of stuff happens inside your body: molecules are created and destroyed, atoms are shifted around, and particles do all the crazy stuff that particles do. Does the original person survive the night? Or a slightly different copy wakes up in the morning, thinking it is the original?

    If you fall asleep on a plane, you can travel thousands of miles before you regain consciousness. From your own point of view, how is it different from travelling with a transporter?

    Or, taking a slightly different approach but still asking the same question: what is lost inside the transporter? It can't be matter, it can't be energy, it can't be information. So what is it?

    No. I am arguing that identity is a consequence, not a premise. (*)

    But then you are again.

    If the copy is identical, how is it not you?

    No. Refer to (*).
     
  4. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    if I take your car, make an exact duplicate of it and then destroy the original, has your car remained undamaged?
     
  5. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    But that's not how the transporter works.

    A better analogy would be that you disassemble the house brick by brick, get an expert sculptor to make exact duplicates of each brick, then put the duplicates back together and destroy the originals.

    No, I'm just saying that an exact copy of me isn't me. If it was, it wouldn't be called a copy.
     
  6. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    Given the duplicate is mine as well, that is my car now.

    So let me ask you: if I take your car, make an exact duplicate of it, and give it to you, will you notice any difference? Will the car?
     
  7. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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  8. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, in the magical universe of Star Trek, that's exactly how the transporter works.

    From Memory Alpha:

    Matter stream

    In a transporter system, the matter stream referred to the energized form of the matter being transported.

    Transporter matter stream
    The matter stream consisted of the stream of sub-atomic particles that resulted from the dematerialization of a transport subject. The stream was relocated from the original site of the subject, passed through the pattern buffer, transferred as an energy beam, and rematerialized into its original form again at its destination (often a transporter platform).

    Given the above explanation, an even better analogy (always taking in mind that analogies are inherently flawed - quantum particles are definitively unbricky in their properties and behaviour) would be this: disassemble the house brick by brick, make each brick into powder separately, move the separate bags of powder into a different location, remake every brick with the same matter and the same pattern, and rebuild the house. As you can see, the issue becomes much more muddied.

    The point is that it isn't just a copy. It's a copy made of the same materials, with the same patterns, who thinks it's the original.

    I don't know. That is the point. You have no way of knowing which one is which.

    You are arguing from an ontological point of view: there is the "original", and there is the "copy". I am arguing from a practical point of view: the "copy" is indistinguishable from the "original", so it's irrelevant which is which, especially given that the "original" is no longer when the "copy" is created.

    How do you know he doesn't? You don't know what happens when you are asleep. :p Point is: if we believe your theory, then you can be actually be dead and not realize it because you are still alive. That's a contradiction. Reduction ad absurdum.

    Matter and energy are just different states of the same stuff. Like ice and water.

    If I switch one for the other, will you notice any difference?
     
  9. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    A difference is not what we're talking about here. To the person who just transported, there is no difference. He has all the memories and is identical to the person who dematerialized moments ago - it makes no difference to him.

    But the guy who dematerialized? He's dead.

    If I break a cake down into flour, butter, sugar, and eggs... then rebake them into an identical cake, there is no difference, but they are not the same cake.

    Consisting of the same matter does not make you the same person. There may be water molecules in me that used to be part of a tyrannosaurus, yet I am not part tyrannosaurus.
     
  10. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    So I ask again: what exactly makes you the same person?

    If it's not the matter, not the information, and not the consciousness, then what is it?

    You haven't given a satisfactory answer yet. (Or any answer, for what is worth.)
     
  11. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    Let's say you have a porcelain vase.

    If you drop it on the ground and it breaks into 10 pieces, the vase still exists, but it is broken. You may even glue the pieces back together, and it would still be the same vase.

    But if you take a hammer and start pounding away at those pieces, at some point the vase ceases to exist. Whatever it is that made that porcelain dust a vase is gone forever, despite every molecule that was in that vase still existing.

    It is not something you can quantify scientifically.
     
  12. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I have to admit, I really don't get the argument of the people saying they'd be fine with using a kill&copy transporter. Sure, the person at the destination would think they were you, they'd have all your memories, and everyone else would think they were you as well. From their perspective, nothing has changed, and there is no difference.

    Unfortunately for the person who stepped into the transporter at the departure point, they are not able to revel in this sense of continuity and oneness, what with being dead and all.

    Once you step into a kill&copy transporter, your life is over... hence the name. You don't emerge at the other end, or anywhere else. Ever. The new version of you continues on unaware.

    As a thought experiment, say the transporter is able to create the copy *without* killing you. Now a version of you exists at both the departure point and the arrival point. Both validly claim to be you. Do you see out of both sets of eyes? No, they are discrete people. What if someone now murders the version at the departure point? Yeah, the version of you in that body is gone. Sure, the destination you is fine, and it wouldn't affect them at all. But that's cold consolation to departure you. And that's basically what a kill&copy transporter does, except the departure you is killed at the time of transport, rather than after the fact.

    (Now that i type that out... I think that may have actually been the premise of a SF story I read once.)

    Anyway, as has been mentioned upthread a few times now, the transporter in ST does not appear to be a kill&copy type, probably to avoid this very issue.
     
  13. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    Once you take an atom and convert it into energy, that atom is GONE. You can convert the energy back into an atom, but it's not the same atom.

    That's what happens when you ENERGIZE - you convert it into energy. Change it back into matter, and it's not the same matter.

    No it isn't a good analogy, because the bricks still remain as matter. They never go through the destructive "change to energy" process.

    No, it isn't made with the same matter, because the original matter ceased to exist when it was converted into energy.

    Anyone who saw me make the copy would say that the original is the one I put onto the glass scanner and the copy is the one that came out of the paper tray. The fact that you can't tell them apart in no way changes the fact that one was put on the scanner and the other wasn't.

    Are you kidding me? You're defending your position by claiming that, "Well, maybe we're physically destroyed when we go to sleep!"

    Come on, is that the best you've got?

    And how the hell did you get the idea that I was saying that "you can be actually be dead and not realize it because you are still alive."

    No, it's not.

    Ice is made up of H2O molecules. So is Water. It's the same building blocks, just arranged differently. Changing matter into energy doesn't rearrange what's there, it changes it fundamentally. If I take some iron and some gold and convert them into energy, could you tell me which energy came from the iron and which energy came from the gold? No. There's no way to tell. But simply heating something up until it turns into a liquid, you can tell just fine. If I show you liquid water and some liquid iron, could you tell me which came from ice and which came from iron ingots? Of course. So your analogy doesn't work.

    Way to avoid answering my question.
     
  14. GalacticWierdo

    GalacticWierdo Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    This conversation, while fascinating to watch, will obviously go nowhere fast because of the apparent vast differences in morals/perceptions that each one of the speakers has.

    Though I suppose that's the most stimulating conversation to have?

    I suppose I'll weigh in (Considering that this is a subject which is very fascinating to me)

    I'm mostly concerned with continuation of consciousness rather than life or death, especially in this situation. This does raise a point that shakes me too the very core:

    Several months ago, I had a bone marrow biopsy. They administered me anesthesia to keep me happy through the procedure. I thought I handled it extremely well, apparently remembering the whole procedure and requiring no recovery time afterward. From what I recall, I was walked out of the operating room (Having not remembered feeling a thing) into my recovery room, where I presently took to eating a cracker and quietly drinking some water. However, all of those in attendance at the time say that I lucidly described the entire procedure in great detail. Still to this day I can't believe that this is the case. I remember everything except about the operation itself, and anything pertaining to it afterward.

    ANYWAY. How does this relate to transporters? Well, during the entire time that I was in the operation, presumably, I was awake and realizing what was going on, and even then, my subconscious continued to function (extremely poorly mind you) But my brain did not go on pause during this experience. I continued thoughts and whatnots all throughout, and so I am the same mind.

    That's really the concerning thing about the use of transporters, not whether one's body is preserved during transport or not (As it certainly seems to be,) nor whether one remains the same person with the same thoughts, memories, etc. etc. etc. And indeed, this person is functionally identical to the first. However, what the people who WOULDN'T use the transporter (Myself included) are concerned about is if the same mind continues to work through the process, or if it is merely a copy. We probably could never know for certain.

    However, it seems that to be absolutely sure, it would be wise to gradually shift someone from one place to another, not to pop someone out of existence in one place and into existence in another. If someone were to be functioning in both places at once, then SURELY every bit of them is the same life, not only the same structure. Then one can be destroyed because its perception was shared with the one on the other side (If destruction is even necessary.)

    I like to think of it this way: You have a choice of being teleported to far away lands using one of two methods: One way is to get shot in the head with a transportation-gun; it kills you, but makes a duplicate in the location of your choice.
    Alternately, you could be taken there piece by piece (Each piece still remaining connected some way, of course) including your brain, with parts transported working with parts still remaining, until all of the parts are transported.
    I don't know about anyone else, but the second option seems to preserve the SPECIFIC INSTANCE of the person, rater than just their form and function.


    (PS. I suppose the whole thing does relate to the ship of Theseus to me. I would be inclined to think that a a dynamic system, such as a brain or a computer, would have to be preserved this way, and to a static system like a ship, it wouldn't really matter.
    PPS: I also hate to think about the idea of completely suspending someone in time: I.E. freezing them. Does this count as death? Or at least the same conscious person? I don't think we could definitively ever say. But anyway, I'd take a transporer, but only if it goes *fade!* rather than *pop!*)
     
  15. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I agree. people won't convince anyone here, but it is fascinating to see how different the views on personality, consciousness and continued existence are.

    To me it all comes down to this:
    My conciousness and personality (which is subject to change every second in very minuscule ways) are a property of my brain.
    If I disassemble it and rebuild it else where it will continue to function.

    Everyone here is comparing this to houses and cars...

    But it is a lot closer to a computer.
    if you take it apart and and break it down into every single component, transport it to the other side of the world, and reassemble it exactly the way it was before every bit of information on the hard drive would still be there and the program that runs the AI would still function.

    What we perceive as us is a product of our parts. And it is produced continually but doesn't exist independently.

    Or try this:

    Your consciousness and personality is a river that keeps on flowing.
    If you stop the flow by putting a plug into source it will stop until you unplug it again.
    You don't get a new river... it is still the same one.
    That's how I see what we are.
    And that's why it would make no difference to step into a transporter. the product of the brain after transport is still me.
     
  16. Lt. Uhura-Brown

    Lt. Uhura-Brown Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    We don't know how consciousness works, perhaps it travels, intact, along the transporter beam waiting to be re-housed after the body is reconstituated.

    Similar to what happened with Captain Picard when we was beamed into space as energy, in whichever episode that was.
     
  17. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    So, where you draw the line? That's the basis of my argument. You just believe "there must be some point where identity cease to exists". My argument is that identity is fiction.

    Or, in other words:

    :D

    All our past selves are unable to experience continuity and oneness, since they don't exist anymore. The only self that exists (if it exists :lol:), is the present self. The transporter is just an extreme version of our continuity that makes us face something very uncomfortable: our self ceases to exist every second... and a new version takes over. It happens so fast we don't realize it. The transporter just make it apparent.

    Yeah, I think I've read that too. Can't remember the title, tho.

    Yep, I think most of us agree about that. :)

    How do you know that? That's the point you keep missing.

    I don't see why changing to energy is so fundamentally different that any other transformation (more on that later). In any case, we are fast reaching the point where no analogy is good enough, so I see no point in upping this.

    And your point is? It contains the same information. Why do you care which one is the original?

    I think you missed the point. Oh well.

    Water and ice are made of the same molecules, just in a different arrangement. Water and hydrogen peroxide are made of the same atoms, just in a different combination. Water and iron are still made from the same basic components (protons, neutrons, and electrons), just in a different mix. And protons and neutrons are again made from the same sub-components (quarks and gluons). You disregard molecular structure, fixate on the atomic level, and ignore subatomic hierarchy, but there is no logical reason to do that: it seems to stem more from personal preference. No level is more "important" than the other per se: it depends on the complexity of your system. Star Trek biological transporters, for example, claim to work on the "quantum level", which is different from your argument at the "atomic level". And that's ignoring all the shenanigans of quantum physics, which shows that the difference between matter/particles and energy/waveforms isn't so clear cut.

    Way to avoid answering mine. ;)

    I agree. Still, I think it's interesting. :)
     
  18. Chensams

    Chensams Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Aside from all the metaphysical and philisophical debate, no. I'm worried I would end up like Lt. Xon.
     
  19. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, sure, accidents happen, but very rarely. I think your chances to die in a car accident today are greater than to die in a transporter accident in Trek's future.
     
  20. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    "Believe" being the operative word.

    Memory exists, ultimately, because it contributes to maximizing the organism's survival and reproduction potential. A random side effect of it is that it "tricks" us into believing that something called "the self" exists as well.