Transporter Dilemma

A place for discussion and feedback regarding the Non-Prophets podcast and/or the Atheist Experience TV show.

Postby anthonyvh » Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:20 am

As long as there's still communication between the construct and what was an independently functioning "me", during the process, I agree.

But if there's no communication with the construct, what's happening is that I (the original) am slowly being turned into a vegetable.
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Postby LtCmd.Lore » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:00 am

OK, lemme throw some more confusion into the mix... or maybe some clarity I won't know till I finish writing it.

WHAT IF.... instead of an instant destruction and creation. We copy you slowly bit by bit starting at the back. We disassemble the entire back half of you and build it miles away in Russia. And using super advanced technology like tractor beams and forcefields or magic we hold those two halves intact.
And all of the blood that pumps out of your veins from the back of your body is disassembled and built flowing into the front half of your body, and vice-versa.
Same goes for air and food.
You eat food with the front of your body and as it goes to the back of your mouth it is disassembled and assembled into the back of your mouth miles away.
And most importantly it also applies to brain activity. As neurons fire and chemicals are transferred, any activity that would take place between the front of your brain and the back of your brain is taking place via this transporter. So the front of your brain from your original body is communicating with the back of your brain in the new body by this computer/transporter system.

Image

And the beam slowly moves forward through your body. All the while transferring copies of your blood from the veins of the new body miles away back into your original body.

And it gets to your ears, and suddenly you can hear stuff from Russia but see stuff from Texas because your eyes are still in Texas.
The back of your body is warm and the front of your body is cool because they have the temperature set differently in the lab in Russia.
Eventually just the tip of your nose and a little bit of your belly is still in Texas. And finally after about 5 minutes you have been completely copied to Russia.




Is THAT really you? Your new brain and your old brain were functioning as one for a few minutes, in a weird convoluted way.
Or were they?
Was your original brain just being tricked into thinking it was functioning properly because of the simulated brain activity from the transporter beam. Were you actually just slowly dying all the while thinking that you are being moved to Russia without any loss in conscientiousness. Maybe you actually died the moment the beam got to a certain part of your brain.

Edit: I realized after I reread this that it is VERY similar to the original post. But I'd like to bring us back to it because I have an important point to make if we all agree that this is an acceptable means of transportation to keep your.... self (?) alive through the copy.
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Postby Mythman » Tue Sep 22, 2009 2:33 pm

I will agree that the above method is acceptable, though I resent the implication that my belly is even with my nose, sir. I have yet to meet this alleged "Freshman Fifteen."

But please, do go on.
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Postby LtCmd.Lore » Tue Sep 22, 2009 3:00 pm

I will agree that the above method is acceptable.

OK, then in that case, what if instead of building a physical copy of your body elsewhere, it instead makes a virtual copy of your body.

Maybe a functioning 3d model of your body and your brain inside the computer. And it uses the same slow method of transfer I just described except where it would have replicated your blood, food, air, and nerve impulses, in Russia it just makes a 3d model of it in the computer.
And of course when the virtual blood, and virtual nerve impulses pass out of the half of you in the computer, it's replicated into the real half of your body that is still in Texas.

As long as the computer model is programmed with accurate physics, so that the virtual you is doing exactly what a real body would be doing.
Would you be transferring your conscientiousness into the computer model?
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Postby anthonyvh » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:23 pm

I would say that in both cases you outlined, this would preserve individual identity. Although in the case of the transfer into the computer, I would hope that I would be given some method of sensory input that functioned like my old meatbag. Otherwise it would be like being in a sensory deprivation room!
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Postby LtCmd.Lore » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:45 pm

Well I was assuming you'd hook up a webcam for eyes, or just stick the computer in an android body with sensory feedback.

I'm inclined to think it would work too. But then you have a buttload of additional problems. Like what happens if the computer locks up and we have to restore it to an earlier point. And if we stop the computer for a few minutes will you be dead for a few minutes and then come back to life or would it be a different individual when they start it back up the same as the original transporter problem.
Or if making the computer process the physics faster would make you perceive time in a different way.

But now it's completely a different topic.
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Postby Cephus » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:47 pm

anthonyvh wrote:No, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Because I'd be DEAD.


Funny, the guy standing there with all of your thoughts and all of your memories down to the finest detail, not only doesn't think you're dead, he thinks he's you. And there is no test that medical science can conceivably perform which would prove him wrong.

Imagine that.
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Postby anthonyvh » Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:31 am

If you line up the two of us side by side and shoot one of us, you're still a murderer. And if my physical body is the one you killed, then I don't exist. It only matters if you're the one being replicated.

If you think it doesn't, then are you saying that if it was you being replicated and the gun was pointed at you and not your copy that you wouldn't mind being shot because nobody could tell the difference afterwards between you and your copy?
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Postby LtCmd.Lore » Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:42 am

Funny, the guy standing there with all of your thoughts and all of your memories down to the finest detail, not only doesn't think you're dead, he thinks he's you. And there is no test that medical science can conceivably perform which would prove him wrong.

Actually if it was a copy of me then it WOULD think I was dead. Because I think I'd die if I was transported that way.

My copy would think they killed the original in the process of making him, and there's no test that medical science can conceivably perform to prove him wrong either.

Yours wouldn't think you were dead though. :wink:
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Postby clippo » Sun Sep 27, 2009 1:46 am

Jumping into this a little late. I hope you don't mind.

I've always been really irritated by this "beam me up" thing because it brings up so many interesting philosophical and physical questions, some of which have come up in this discussion. But these fascinating topics are totally ignored in the show.

Anyway, here's my main objection to the whole deal: It requires the scanner to not only record every particle of your body and it's relative location but also, since everything is in motion, it must record the direction and velocity of each particle's motion. Now anyone who has dabbled in quantum mechanics, and believe me that's all I am capable of, knows that you can define the location of a particle or its direction and velocity, but you cannot define both!

To me this takes the fun out of the whole enterprise. No pun intended.
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Postby Cephus » Sun Sep 27, 2009 7:17 pm

LtCmd.Lore wrote:Actually if it was a copy of me then it WOULD think I was dead. Because I think I'd die if I was transported that way.


Only assuming your copy knew it was a copy. If nobody told it, then it would go on happily thinking it was the original and it wouldn't have any way of knowing the difference.
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Postby donnyton » Sun Sep 27, 2009 9:14 pm

clippo wrote:Jumping into this a little late. I hope you don't mind.

I've always been really irritated by this "beam me up" thing because it brings up so many interesting philosophical and physical questions, some of which have come up in this discussion. But these fascinating topics are totally ignored in the show.

Anyway, here's my main objection to the whole deal: It requires the scanner to not only record every particle of your body and it's relative location but also, since everything is in motion, it must record the direction and velocity of each particle's motion. Now anyone who has dabbled in quantum mechanics, and believe me that's all I am capable of, knows that you can define the location of a particle or its direction and velocity, but you cannot define both!

To me this takes the fun out of the whole enterprise. No pun intended.


That's possibly the best point so far. The whole dilemma requires that every measurable aspect of the original be transported over to the copy, when in fact we can only transport our elementary particles as well as quantum mechanics allows us to.

That is, if we measured the velocities of the atoms in our brain and tried to replicate them accurately, it would be impossible to know their relative positions. And if we knew their positions, it would conversely be impossible to know their relative speeds.

Whether this discrepancy translates into a different individual altogether, I don't know. Maybe the inaccuracies are small enough that the same mind would emerge. But wouldn't any small difference in the new mind differentiate the identity from the original?
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Postby tomfoss » Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:30 pm

You guys are clearly forgetting about the Enterprise's Heisenberg Compensators :). They actually have addressed that point, albeit with technobabble. And they have dealt with some aspects of this--McCoy brought up the Transporter Problem in the original series, and there's always Thomas Riker as an example of the "making a copy" issue.

I don't have much to add to this discussion, though I think it's very interesting.
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Postby anthonyvh » Sat Oct 17, 2009 12:25 am

That is, if we measured the velocities of the atoms in our brain and tried to replicate them accurately, it would be impossible to know their relative positions. And if we knew their positions, it would conversely be impossible to know their relative speeds.


That is not strictly true. HUP only specifies that the product:

sx*sp >= h/(2*pi)

Where sx and sp are the respective standard deviations of average position and momentum measurements (at any scale or number of individual measurements). Any product of those two that does not exceed Plank's Constant divided by 2pi conforms with the principle. Is that sufficient to pick and place atoms? I haven't the slightest idea, nor do I care to calculate. :-) It may be, but that kind of computation and translocation is already beyond our means even if it is allowed by physics.
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Postby Louisup5 » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:09 am

You're all making it overly complicated. Just have the computer scan your every detail. Have the computer store that data. (possibly in multiple back ups, just to be sure) Then rip the old body apart for parts. Then send the data for you to where you're going and when it gets there, build a new one. Possibly do it while you're asleep or in a chemical coma to avoid discomfort.

There couldn't possibly be two of you, and you never know you moved until someone puts a Venusian laie on your neck at the space beach party.

It also avoids the episode of The Outer Limits that had this as it's premise. If there's not a copy at both places at once, you don't end up with two people. Since half of you isn't in each place you don't need special transcription technology that keeps you alive and working through the whole thing. Then the only issue is if you feel there's some magical thing that makes you you that an exact copy in every way wouldn't have. But I'm assuming if you feel that way, you can just not teleport.

Maybe I'm only addressing the practical problems, and not the ethical problems, but I can't for the life of me see any ethical problems.
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