Would you use a transporter?

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

  1. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Indeed, the transporter is one of the few Star Trek concepts that showcases the limitations of our caveman brains - and quite accidentally at that, as this thought-provoking technology was a last-minute addition to the show's concept. Warp drives and death rays may invoke their own little tempests in scientific teacups, but it takes some doing to see the philosophical implications of those. With the transporter, the ontological oddities slap us in the face.

    ...I wonder what sort of statistics LaForge was referring to when assuring Barclay that transporting was the safest way to travel.

    Accidents per kilometer? That's a classic way to evaluate traffic safety, since covering distances is a typical purpose for traffic. Thus, air traffic today gets high marks. But transporters generally probably see very short distance use, from spot A on Earth to relatively nearby spot B also on Earth, even if Starfleet sometimes uses them at ranges of tens of thousands of kilometers. Transporters would be ideal for commuting, removing the vehicle from the equation and thus decreasing congestion and serviceability problems.

    Accidents per person? There are more people in the UFP than on Earth, but we have no good idea whether a greater or lesser percentage of UFP citizens use the transporter than Earthlings today use, say, a car or a plane. So, accidents per person actually using the device? Transporters have fewer modes for killing non-users, the way cars kill bystanders, so this sort of comparison is sort of unfair.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  2. Chensams

    Chensams Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, but will a car accident zap me back down to a deserted planet while my duplicate lives out his life ala Thomas Riker? I think not.

    Shuttle please.
     
  3. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    in the seconds before impact when your shuttle crashes and burns you wish you had a transporter duplicate to continue your legacy! :lol:
     
  4. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    I have no idea where you draw the line, but things end. If I burn my house to the ground, it is no longer a house, if I get shot in the head, I am no longer a person. Existence is finite. Everything you think of as an object has an identity that makes it more than a collection of particles. If you destroy an object and put it back together, what you have is a facsimile of the original. A copy is a copy, no matter how similar to the original.

    Perhaps a consciousness could be passed from original to copy, perhaps not. I don't even know if my mind right now is the same instance of my mind from a year ago or yesterday. I'll still take my chances with the shuttlecraft. I'd rather continue to be replaced one meal or glass of water at a time, not all at once.
     
  5. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    From Daedalus:

    EMORY: People said it was unsafe, that it caused brain cancer, psychosis, and even sleep disorders. And then there was all that metaphysical chatter about whether or not the person who arrived after the transport was the same person who left, and not some weird copy.
    (Emphasis mine)

    I would say that the implication here is that, whether we can understand the ideas or not, the transporter is not a kill-copy machine. And given the amount of use the device has seen, that's hardly surprising. Would so many people willingly go into a suicide booth with no more reassurance that a clone would appear at the other end?
     
  6. Chensams

    Chensams Vice Admiral Admiral

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    However, that is a scenerio where I would opt to use the transporter, duplicates and accidents be damned.
     
  7. SeerSGB

    SeerSGB Admiral Admiral

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    Would I use a transporter? Fuck and no.

    I don't care if it's a difference that makes no difference, I'm too go damn egotistical for that shit. Plus, I'd rather risk a shuttle crash over being scattered to the molecular winds or turned inside out if the transporter fails or the operator's hand one to many with lunch.

    The plot of "The Prestige" is exactly that.
     
  8. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    Ok, I think we hit the spot here. The idea that objects have identities is just that, an idea. It's Platonism and neo-Platonism all over again. It's not something about the physical world. It's all in your mind.

    So the idea that you are not the same person after being transported is just that, an idea. It has nothing to do with the physical world: it has everything to do with what you believe about the physical world. The difference is all in your mind.
     
  9. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    Everything is all in your mind. EVERYTHING. The universe and your perceptions of the universe are one and the same.

    An idea is no less real than something you can physically measure.

    I am typing on a computer right now, the fact that it is a computer and not just a bunch of atoms is an idea.
     
  10. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    Do you get a bonus for collecting unrelated sentences?

    "Everything is all in your mind." No. Solipsism won't get you a date on Saturday night.

    "The universe and your perception of it are one and the same." No. Do the universe become invisible when you close your eyes?

    "An idea is no less real than something you can physically measure." Of course it is. Ideas have no physical reality. They are just names that we use to call stuff for our convenience. Or, after Plato, do you believe that ideas exist independently from the physical realm, and independently from your mind?

    "I am typing on a computer right now, the fact that it is a computer and not just a bunch of atoms is an idea." Of course it is an idea. Of course, it doesn't negate the fact that it is a bunch of atoms.
     
  11. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    Do you get a bonus for collecting unrelated sentences?

    "Everything is all in your mind." No. Solipsism won't get you a date on Saturday night.

    "The universe and your perception of it are one and the same." No. Do the universe become invisible when you close your eyes?

    "An idea is no less real than something you can physically measure." Of course it is. Ideas have no physical reality. They are just names that we use to call stuff for our convenience. Or, after Plato, do you believe that ideas exist independently from the physical realm, and independently from your mind?

    "I am typing on a computer right now, the fact that it is a computer and not just a bunch of atoms is an idea." Of course it is an idea. Of course, it doesn't negate the fact that it is a bunch of atoms.
     
  12. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ALERT! Post transporter duplicate accident! But which is the REAL post of iguana_tonante?
     
  13. bryce

    bryce Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  14. GalacticWierdo

    GalacticWierdo Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I seem to recall that one argument from earlier on in the thread mentioned that the universe is just a series of distinct snapshots anyway, so just moving some of the snapshots over to somewhere else wouldn't really make a difference. I'm not really sure that that would be the case. I'd like to think of the paths of particles through the universe could be expressed as a line, and one can zoom in and in on a line and still find a line, rather than a collection of pixels, in an ideal situation.

    Actually, when I think of it this way, it seems that some kind of quantum teleportation method that would instantaneously shift a collection of particles a specific distance in space from their current location would in fact still be precisely the same object in every way, rather than just the same shape, material, memories, or information. This, of course, however, is obviously not how the Star Trek transporter is shown to work.
     
  15. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    :lol:

    Happens to me sometimes. Must be the quantum entanglement engine acting weird again.
     
  16. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    Current scientific thinking indicates that what we call consciousness is the result of the neurons in the brain interacting.
     
  17. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    Entropy. Once you destroy something you can't get it back.

    Does the tree still exist if you burn it and enjoy the heat? Is the heat the same as the tree?

    I may not care, but the piece of paper that I pick up off the scanner and set fire to certainly would care (if it was able to). Do you think it's comforted by the fact that an identical copy of it will continue existing, and that no one will notice that it isn't the original? Of course not.

    I didn't see one. Perhaps you could be clearer?

    And what exactly is your point here?

    If you were to die, you'd be happy because there would still be rocks and the rocks are made up of the same subatomic particles that you are, so in a sense you aren't really dying?

    I've already answered your question at least twice in regards to other examples - I may not be able to tell, but the original car will be able to tell, and that's what makes the difference.

    Because if I step into a transporter, the fact that an exact duplicate of me will come out the other side doesn't comfort me at all, because I know for a fact that I will die. The fact that what comes out the other side has my memories doesn't make it me.

    Now, answer my question. Would it be the same car?

    Me too.:)
     
  18. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    I doubt transporters are used often for short distances.

    Why would it when you can hop in a hover car and cover the same distance in a few minutes? What's the point of beaming ten kilometers when a car can take you the same distance in a fairly short time? Who is that pressed for time that they need to save every last second?

    I think transporters are used when alternatives aren't practical or when alternatives take a great deal of time. Beaming a wounded person to sickbay, for example, is going to be much faster than sending a shuttle down, loading him up, flying back to the ship and then carting him through the hallways to sickbay.

    But to me the idea of beaming ten kilometers to your work is like the idea of driving to your next-door-neighbour's place. It's just not practical.
     
  19. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    "Who are you?"
    One of the nice little details in TWOK was when Kirk and Saavik carried on their conversation while disembodied in the transporter beam, when beaming up from the Genesis Cave. The idea that life continues uninterrupted during transport was of course taken to the next level in TNG: The Realm of Fear. The transporter not interrupting any biological process at all, including cognition and consciousness, could be one portion of a convincing argument that what comes out at the other end really is the original.

    But some level of injury should be expected from transporter use; no mode of transportation in the real world is perfectly safe, not even walking. One of the nice little details in TMP was the addition of the radiation shield in the transporter room, to protect the operators from repeated exposure to some sort of radiation. Perhaps, if a person were repeatedly beamed enough times, with no breaks in between, eventually they would get sick. Maybe cancer would be a risk from too many beamings too often. While they didn't use Federation transporter technology, the terrorists who transported via dimensional shift in TNG: The High Ground suffered warped DNA which was cumulative and terminal on repeated use. Then again, as has basically already been pointed out in-thread, no activity in life whatsoever is perfectly free of risk. Because Geordi quantifies [in terms appropriate for TV show dialog] what he means by the level of safety, among my favorite TNG snippets is from The Masterpiece Society:

    And, whether I'd do it willingly would depend in part on what sort of argument was being made that the original me would be coming out on the other end. A portion of the risk of use would be the risk that one or more of the scientific theories upon which that argument is based is wrong. Those theories should be very well tested, so that the probability of any of them being measurably wrong is vanishingly small. Biological processes theoretically continuing uninterrupted throughout beaming could help make a convincing case that the original me would be coming out.

    Of course, if the ship were blowing up around me and there were no other chance, I'd probably shout "Energize!", even if I would be the first person to beam.
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    That's the point - with transporter technology, you can walk distances shorter than, say, a mile, and then you can do everything else with the transporter.

    There's no point in having a car (owning, it, renting it, having one materialize in front of you on demand), or a longer-range vehicle such as an aircraft, or a train, or a stagecoach. Indeed, extremely few seem to have or use any of those, suggesting they are only kept for their curiosity or recreation value. Vehicles are completely eliminated from "Earth-to-Earth" transportation, and indeed become a damn inconvenience to have around.

    Principally I see this as a feature of Star Trek because production realities mean we basically never get to see vehicles on Earth...

    Timo Saloniemi
     

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