Put Me Through the Meat Grinder, Scotty!
Sometimes me and one of my brothers discuss teleportation. We’re not sure why, because we always disagree on a main issue with it; whether or not the person teleported survives or not.
We’re talking about teleportation as it is shown in most SF shows: where someone is dematerialized at one spot (let’s call this place A), sent via radio or subspace beams or whatever, then rebuilt at the destination (B). Wormhole travel would not be teleportation, since following curved space is all we ever do anyways.
My brother maintains that since person arriving at B is identical in every way to person disappearing at A, they are in fact the same person. I myself hold the view that what is left at B is merely a copy, and that the A person died in the transfer.
It all seems very obvious to me.
I have no idea of how teleportation would actually entail, but from what SF shows tell me (TV never lies) it generally is something like this:
- You are scanned
- You are destroyed
- You are sent
- You are rebuilt
Steps 1 and 2 might be concurrent, but sending would probably be a discrete step in order to ensure proper transfer. This means some sort of buffer is needed. A very large computer memory sounds intuitively useful in the circumstances, and is probably what will be used.
Is the scan instantaneous? If not, then what you teleport isn’t even a representation of the person/object, but kind of a “smear” across the timeline. Even if it is so fast so that it doesn’t matter much, I don’t see why the speed would be important.
But perhaps a snapshot can somehow be made. I wouldn’t put it past those sneaky scientists.
The destruction might happen simultaneously as the scanning, so if the scanning is of the snapshot variety, it would also be instantaneous. So then the information about the person is now in the computer memory.
Here’s the thing though:
What is the difference between being stored in a computer memory and, say, a really big stack of paper? None. Now imagine that instead of sending your data electronically they just print out the data and ship it by train, have people manually enter the data, and hey presto, five million years later you are reassembled.
The electronic transfer is quicker, yeah, but it cannot be immediate. So the only difference to the train example would be time.
Now imagine that you fork the signal and send one of them to yet another destination at the same time (C). At C they reassembled the person too. If you were the one being transmitted, then where are you now? There is one of you at B and one at C. Which one is you?
The destruction phase is in my mind the biggest clue as to the whole dying thing. I mean, does it matter that the information about me is stored somewhere if I’m destroyed? The specifics of the destruction are not important; it could be a fancy-shmancy teleporter or a giant meat grinder. You would be dead in either case.
The reassembly would be a kind of resurrection, but it would be like building a house from a blueprint, not like moving the house itself. It would be a copy. That’s why the forking is even possible. You could even store the information at A forever, and assemble new copies all the time.
I don’t see how my consciousness would travel with the signal. A new consciousness would be created at the other end and it would be identical to mine in every respect, but it still would not be me.
I have a really hard time grasping why people don’t see this.