The ethics of teleportation

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mister k
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The ethics of teleportation

Postby mister k » Wed May 02, 2007 4:27 pm UTC

Let's suppose, for a minute, that teleportation, despite being deeply implausible, is a possibility. Whether along wires or in the form of em radiation, it transmits you instantly (or possibly at the speed of light. Fastest we can get anyhow) to a different point in space. Ignoring the multitude of physical problems created by this situation, more importantly... is it ethical?

You could claim that you are essentially vapourising someone and then recreating an exact clone of them a few seconds later in a different place.

Let's ask this a different way- suppose I have a machine that makes exact replicas of someone, but transported to a different region, and every time it happens the person who has been transported picks up a gun and shoots the original. Is THAT moral?

Are they even the same case?

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Postby Belial » Wed May 02, 2007 4:37 pm UTC

Suppose I put you into a state of suspended animation, cut you into 6 pieces (four limbs, torso, and head), essentially killing but preserving you, then put you on a truck to your destination, where you were reassembled and revitalized.

I don't really see a problem with that. The teleportation you're describing is pretty much the same situation, at least in the first part.
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Re: The ethics of teleportation

Postby crazyjimbo » Wed May 02, 2007 4:45 pm UTC

mister k wrote:Let's ask this a different way- suppose I have a machine that makes exact replicas of someone, but transported to a different region, and every time it happens the person who has been transported picks up a gun and shoots the original. Is THAT moral?


Before I can even address the moralilty of this, I need to get my head around what would happen to your consciousness. Assuming a copy was created at exactly the instance the original was killed, I suppose it would seem like you just teleported. But the original you would be dead. But the clone would feel the original you. Mind blowing! I don't think there are any moral issues with this though, just weirdness.

If the clone shooots the original? Of course this would be wrong, but then you aren't talking about teleportation, you are talking about cloning and murder.

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Postby demon » Wed May 02, 2007 5:06 pm UTC

Actually I was obsessed by this topic. When I was about 12, that is. But that's just because I don't really like the thought of dying. If you believe in a soul that is separate from your body, you'd be effectively killing a person and creating another one, is that your point? But on the other hand, if there is no soul, nothing will really happen. I mean - if our consciousness is just a function of our bodies, than the entity that each one of us is can be copied, dismantled, reassembled and so on - and that would be dying and being reborn. While you'd technically be something new, there would be no other you that would now be dead, because in fact death and life are the same if there is no soul, since whether a person is alive or not is just a consequence of the order of atoms in the universe and can easily be changed using the proper tools. More importantly, self-consciousness is just an illusion if there is no soul - that is self-consciousness as something unique. If there is no soul, self-consciousness can be constructed, extinguished or rebuilt - or duplicated, why not. So you have three choices, pretty much:
1. There is a soul and it gets magically transported to the new body.
2. There is a soul and you die, then a new person with a copy of that soul comes to existence.
3. There is no soul and there is completely no point in discussing all this, because humans are fundamentally objects, so you can do anything to them with no moral ramifications whatsoever, it's just like dismantling a chair and reassembling it someplace else.

Depending on what you believe, you have a fixed (or fluid) set of moral rules. And according to those rules, you can either believe that this is an issue or not. Since I am a bit too scared of dying, I would probably go with 2. While I'm quite atheist, I believe that consciousness is somehow separated from your physical self and hence teleportation would kill the me that I now am.

I find the XXIst voyage from Stanislaw Lem's Star Diaries a very interesting work on this subject. Sorry if I'm not being clear, but I never had the chance to discuss such issues over the net:D


also I would like to add that this is all quantum, why not.

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Postby HenryS » Wed May 02, 2007 5:36 pm UTC

demon wrote:While you'd technically be something new, there would be no other you that would now be dead, because in fact death and life are the same if there is no soul, since whether a person is alive or not is just a consequence of the order of atoms in the universe and can easily be changed using the proper tools.


There's no value in a person if there's no soul? Why would you require some spooky supernatural thing to value people? Presumably you're able to tell the difference between a dead person and an alive person. Given the choice I'd prefer to spend a lazy Sunday morning with the latter.

I don't see what the ease with which one can change life into death has to do with anything. We can do that direction pretty easily these days.

As for the teleportation question, yes it often comes down to whether one thinks that it's possible to duplicate all of you, consciousness included. There are also some interesting questions of identity, when there might be two of you, and no way to identify which is the "real", "original" you.

We have some small bit of evidence of this kind of thing in split brain patients, which really do act as if there are two people in there, the left and right brains, with detectably different personalities. I don't know how souls could fit into situations like this. Did the soul get split as well?

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Postby space_raptor » Wed May 02, 2007 5:58 pm UTC

HenryS has the strongest avatar dealy on this website.

I think the first one is fine, and the second one is cloning, which is not a good idea.

With the first one - If someone's physical structure is changed, transmitted, and changed back, but there is no other effects, does it matter? No. It's kind of like thinking that the universe is created and destroyed every time step. Is this happening? Maybe. Does it matter? No.
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Postby demon » Wed May 02, 2007 6:14 pm UTC

HenryS: I don't mean that there is no value in people. I mean that if everything we are is within our bodies [imprecise, but you know what I mean], then in a fundamental sense we are no different from animals or inanimate objects - hell, the root word for inanimate is anima, isn't it? You don't need to have a soul to have a value, why would you? If I kill your puppy, is it wrong? If I smash your box, is it wrong? You can have morality without the concept of a soul, you can value without the concept of a soul. But without this concept, death is just lack of life, and life is just a matter of organizing matter in a particular way. If you could undo any death, what different would murdering somebody be from breaking his property?

edit: to make this more related to the original question - if there is nothing supernatural in humans, then transporting all of a person's mass in any form will be just that - transporting, and as such it will be different from cloning a person and killing the original. on the other hand, if there is a soul, it might get lost along the way, effectively killing the original being. so i don't think there's anything wrong in teleportation if there is no soul, because it won't hurt anybody.

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Postby Peshmerga » Wed May 02, 2007 6:32 pm UTC

I really don't see any ethical dilemma is exactly replicating something while destroying the original.

It's all just sentimental vanity.
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Postby HenryS » Wed May 02, 2007 7:02 pm UTC

demon wrote:HenryS: I don't mean that there is no value in people. I mean that if everything we are is within our bodies [imprecise, but you know what I mean], then in a fundamental sense we are no different from animals or inanimate objects - hell, the root word for inanimate is anima, isn't it?

Well yes... I guess I was also responding to your choice 3 above, the only one you allow for if there is no soul:
demon wrote:3. There is no soul and there is completely no point in discussing all this, because humans are fundamentally objects, so you can do anything to them with no moral ramifications whatsoever, it's just like dismantling a chair and reassembling it someplace else.

Perhaps I'm misreading you though. I had thought that what you said implied it would be fine to disassemble them and not reassemble someplace else (because it would be fine for a chair).
demon wrote:(...)you can value without the concept of a soul. But without this concept, death is just lack of life, and life is just a matter of organizing matter in a particular way. If you could undo any death, what different would murdering somebody be from breaking his property?
Not so different. Although I think it would be more akin to unlawful imprisonment. If someone is "offline" (disassembled, or not running), then they cannot protect their interests. The word "murder" would presumably be reserved for taking someone offline and erasing all backups of them.

Edit: Thanks space_raptor :)

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Postby tallest » Wed May 02, 2007 7:16 pm UTC

This is not a new question by any means. Off the top of my head, I can think of one of the newer Outer Limits (I think it even had velociraptor aliens) and The Prestige.

Would a perfect duplicate create two identical consciousness that would begin to diverge the instant after the duplication? If so, then which is your consciousness?

If we assume yours remains in the original body, then a teleporter based on this duplication would result in your death. Although no one would know about it, not even the new you.

I wouldn't use it. I don't want to die.
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Postby HenryS » Wed May 02, 2007 7:26 pm UTC

tallest wrote:Would a perfect duplicate create two identical consciousness that would begin to diverge the instant after the duplication?
Yes.
tallest wrote:If so, then which is your consciousness?
Both. Neither. The question assumes a uniqueness and continuity of consciousness that isn't really there.
tallest wrote:I wouldn't use it. I don't want to die.
"You" die every second of every day. The consciousness thinking about reading this now is not the same as the one thinking about what to eat for lunch an hour ago, and certainly not the same as the one sitting in a classroom on the first day of elementary school however many years ago. Most likely, at some point in the last 24 hours, there was no consciousness anywhere that one could claim was you, as the body that usually runs the consciousness called "you" was asleep.

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Postby demon » Wed May 02, 2007 8:04 pm UTC

HenryS: Well, if you never reassembled a chair or a person, you'd be robbing the world of said chair (or person). And since a person inherently contains some information, you'd be destroying that information, or at least making it inaccessible as long as said person isn't reassembled. That is enough for me to consider it wrong, since that information was never yours to start with. Also, never reassembling a chair wouldn't really be fine for the chair, because as an entity it would cease to exist. Although I really don't think a chair could care, so I'm not going to push this any further. So yeah, since killing a person and leaving him or her dead would effectively mean erasing him or her forever, equaling the destruction of the entity that they represent, it would be wrong - but under the "no-soul" set of rules, that would be wrong because they and their bodies are their own property, and so it would be sort-of-equivalent to smashing their stuff permanently, but it would indeed be wrong nonetheless.

Also - yeah, unlawful imprisonment seems more appropriate. But destroying property would follow if you destroyed the body.

tallest: kind of my thoughts exactly when I was crazy about the subject.
Oh yeah, check out Stephen King's The Jaunting. It's a short story on instant transportation - not precisely teleportation, but quite close, and it's rather "fun" IMHO:)

HenryS:
How about going one step further - if indeed there is no such thing as a continuity of consciousness, then wouldn't what you feel as your self-consciousness be merely an illusion of itself? My friend at one point brought up the idea of quantum time, or so he called it - what I mean is time that has a finite grain, so to speak, that is - isn't truly continuous. Then, since consciousness would be constrained by the grain of time itself, what you would perceive as a continuity would be not more continuous then a movie - you'd feel an illusion of a stream of consciousness when in fact it would just be a set of frames, each one separate from the previous and the next with no provable link between them. Then there would really be no such thing as "You", although nobody would notice. I know it's nothing new, really, and that not only cannot this be proven, but it also has absolutely no impact on our lives. But it's just so much fun to discuss these both irrelevant and fundamental issues that I kind of can't stop:D

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Postby Andrew » Wed May 02, 2007 8:31 pm UTC

In both cases, it's ethical if the teleportee consents, otherwise it's not (presuming the teleportee has been given all the information available and told no lies, of course). What part of that was complicated?

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Postby Tchebu » Thu May 03, 2007 12:42 am UTC

If the "cloning" process is a direct consequence of the "vaporizing" of the teleportee, its all good.

If the cloning can be done independantly (so basically i can just simply make a copy of you, without necessarily killing you) then the vaporizing is immoral, especially if you dont get vaporized the very instant you get cloned. If you get cloned before your vaporization and the other clone is conscious this means

a) its one "soul" per body, so it is immoral to destroy living bodies
b) you can now make a clone army and start a galactic empire.

If the only way you can actually make the replica is through a process which requires you to vaporize the person, then this is "real" teleportation and its all good. As long as you don't end up realizing that the person got a different "soul" after (severe changes in behavior and such). yeh, just my 2 cents

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Postby toysbfun » Thu May 03, 2007 1:40 am UTC

Assuming humans have souls, I'd say it depends on what happens to one's constituent matter. If one uses a matter stream like on "Star Trek", one could argue the soul is teleported as well. If a human is destroyed at one end and re-created with different matter at the other, that would be un-ethical. One person has been murdered while another comes into existance with the memories and thought processes of another.

If humans don't have souls, then what's lost by the destruction and recreation of a being? Consciousness survives. Information continues. What else is there? I think it all really comes down to whether there is something more to us than the chemical reactions of neurons, axons, engrams, and dendritic tissue.

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Postby Andrew » Thu May 03, 2007 1:20 pm UTC

toysbfun wrote:Assuming humans have souls, I'd say it depends on what happens to one's constituent matter. If one uses a matter stream like on "Star Trek", one could argue the soul is teleported as well.

What if you're held in the transporter buffer while an alien enforcement probe scans the ship for psychic beings?

Edit: Do Vulcans have souls?

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Postby mister k » Thu May 03, 2007 1:59 pm UTC

Tchebu wrote:If the "cloning" process is a direct consequence of the "vaporizing" of the teleportee, its all good.

If the cloning can be done independantly (so basically i can just simply make a copy of you, without necessarily killing you) then the vaporizing is immoral, especially if you dont get vaporized the very instant you get cloned. If you get cloned before your vaporization and the other clone is conscious this means

a) its one "soul" per body, so it is immoral to destroy living bodies
b) you can now make a clone army and start a galactic empire.

If the only way you can actually make the replica is through a process which requires you to vaporize the person, then this is "real" teleportation and its all good. As long as you don't end up realizing that the person got a different "soul" after (severe changes in behavior and such). yeh, just my 2 cents


Thats kind of what I was saying, although I don't believe in such concepts of a soul. Basically, it seems like teleportation would work by turning someone into information and then using that information to recreate them. But would the destruction of said person be required to do that? Because otherwise all you are doing is creating a spacially relocated perfect clone. I'm not saying that wouldn't be YOU, although the concept of you is a rather fine one if someone can make a perfect copy of you..... Thats too many "yous" for one sentence.

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Re: The ethics of teleportation

Postby CDarklock » Thu May 03, 2007 2:00 pm UTC

mister k wrote:suppose I have a machine that makes exact replicas of someone, but transported to a different region, and every time it happens the person who has been transported picks up a gun and shoots the original.


Did someone just see The Prestige?
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Postby toysbfun » Thu May 03, 2007 2:51 pm UTC

Andrew wrote:
toysbfun wrote:Assuming humans have souls, I'd say it depends on what happens to one's constituent matter. If one uses a matter stream like on "Star Trek", one could argue the soul is teleported as well.

What if you're held in the transporter buffer while an alien enforcement probe scans the ship for psychic beings?

Edit: Do Vulcans have souls?

Since the Federation seems able to quantify psychic power, I'd say psychic being exist in some etheric medium that the probe would scan for.

And I thought Star Trek III established Vulcans either had souls or something akin to a soul.

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Postby Scarblac » Thu May 03, 2007 3:59 pm UTC

What if the teleporter malfunctions? It creates a perfect copy of the person, who walks away from the teleporter on the other side, but fails to destroy the original, for some reason.

Would it then be moral to shoot the original? After all, that was his intention, if he wanted to just make a clone of himself he'd have done that instead, right?

Somehow I doubt he'd agree when asked, though.

Should the "teleported" copy have any say in this?

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Postby hotaru » Thu May 03, 2007 4:06 pm UTC

Scarblac wrote:What if the teleporter malfunctions? It creates a perfect copy of the person, who walks away from the teleporter on the other side, but fails to destroy the original, for some reason.

Would it then be moral to shoot the original? After all, that was his intention, if he wanted to just make a clone of himself he'd have done that instead, right?

Somehow I doubt he'd agree when asked, though.

Should the "teleported" copy have any say in this?

sounds like that outer limits episode...

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Postby Hex » Thu May 03, 2007 8:11 pm UTC

I'd just walk, personally. I mean heck, I don't even drive.

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Postby Castaway » Sun May 06, 2007 3:32 am UTC

Hex, you'd be a retro rebel.
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Postby LordLandon » Sun May 06, 2007 4:34 am UTC

How practical would it be to transport the original matter of a person? Is there a difference between one particular electron/proton/neutron as opposed to another? Wouldn't it be quicker to make some sort of "map" of a person down the e/p/n states and send that map over to the desired location where a person will be assembled using locally available particles while the "original" gets dismantled into them and used for building people teleporting in (after some sort of verification of the copy being created correctly)? It would at least make debugging easier ^.^;

As for the ethical part, I don't see anything wrong with this, as long as the tech is kept under some sort of control to prevent people from making crazy amounts of copies of themselves and getting rid of the enemies in the process (throwing them in as materials),

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Postby SubsonicElephant » Sun May 06, 2007 9:01 am UTC

First off, "Hello." First post.

I hate hate hate to admit it, because I'm scared so badly by death and my inevitable complete loss of existence, but the answer is 3.

All this talk of "souls" is wishful thinking. Right now this discussion is carrying on implying that there is a little guy sitting in our heads controlling our brains. There isn't. We are all biological machines. We have 5 senses that we use to input data into our storage center. All those nerves firing off in our brain create our conscience for us. What creates our identity is our memories, the total of our mental storage center.

But unfortunately, people have strokes, get wacked in the head really hard, or take LSD, and their entire existence changes. People suffer amnesia, and lose things that made them... well... THEM. My "conscience" right now is telling me that I'm sitting at a computer typing on a forum, that I live in Washington, and that my girlfriend is hot. Tomorrow, I could lose all of that by some unfortunate event. It's really hard for us as human beings to come to grips with the fact that all we take away our receptors to the world, we have no conscience. If we take away our memories, we have no identity.

The funny thing about this discussion is that there is no right answer. "Ethics" are a product of humans in an attempt to distance ourselves from the fact that we are biomachines, and we should be treated as if we had souls. And so this conversation pretty much boils down to "If humans contain X amount of soul, they should be treated with X amount of ethics." X=X, insert any value.

So I guess my answer is not 3, but instead of "so you can do anything to them with no moral ramifications whatsoever", change it to "so you can do anything to them with any moral ramifications you see fit to assign yourself." :-)

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Postby tendays » Sun May 06, 2007 9:10 am UTC

Hello everyone. My two cents on the topic...

I guess the main question is that, assuming you are the one entering the teleporter, will your consciousness be preserved, or will you suddenly die, while the "other" you will *believe* that the teleportation was successful, as the (few seconds old) memory of being afraid to get teleported are still vivid in his mind.

I'll try to answer from a physics point of view (I'm not good in particle physics so please correct but not flame me when I say silly things...)

My main point is that particles are believed not to have identities. Say you put two electrons in a box. Let's call them John and Fred. John is the one on the left and Fred is the one on the right.
Now you close the box, let them interact and have discussion about the meaning of (an electron's) life and all that.
Then you open the box. You still see two electrons, but there is *no* way to say which one is John and which one is Fred. It's actually more than that - the question does not even make sense! Let's say that, instead of two electrons in a box, you have two lit pixels on a black and white screen, that move around. If the pixels come close enough, the same thing happens.

My second point is the no cloning theorem (I had to give a seminar on that one the other day. I can even give you the proof, based on quantum physics postulates). You can't clone a quantum state, unless you know it is one of a set of orthogonal states. The whole of quantum physics, and physics itself, actually, would break down if you could. Causality, for instance. You *can* teleport an (unknown) quantum state but the instant the target particle receives the state, the source particle falls into a different, well-known state (simultaneous as in EPR).

So, replacing single particles by huge and complex mass of particles, that happen to be shaped into a thinking human being, there is no reason the same properties wouldn't scale:
First, you can't say which particles belong to your body, or more precisely you can't say if that electron that was in that molecule in that cell on your skin one second ago still is there, or if it is another one.
Second, unless you already know the quantum state of each of your particles (which you don't, unless you're a really boring person), you can't make a faithful copy of yourself. I guess you could (if you have a very good digital camera that can see all molecules of your body at once - that is lots of mega-pixels ;) ) make an approximate copy, down to the molecule level, but delicate things like electro-chemical signals going on in the brain at that point would be altered, and it definitely would be a different person, with different (broken) memories and (crazy) thoughts.

My point is, should teleportation ever become possible, there would be no fundamental difference with being teleported from here to here (i.e. when you "don't move") compared to being teleported from here to there.

So - no, no ethical problems IMHO. I'd do it.

There are so many difficulties that I don't see it coming any time soon or even during my lifetime, though. Teleporting an electron, or even an atom - ok, but a living being - that's going to take time.

EDIT:BTW: I think we shouldn't really talk about "souls", as it has religious implications, so it adds one unnecessary dimension to the debate - instead talk about "consciousness" or something - no one can deny it exists - so we don't need to wonder whether it emerges from the physical body or the other way round. (Not too sure about this actually - anyway I've written it, I'll leave it)

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Postby demon » Sun May 06, 2007 11:42 am UTC

tendays: we were pretty close to denying the existence of a consciousness in at least one aspect of it, or at least I was, teehee. Yeah, I was wondering when somebody would mention the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and what follows. This at least eliminates the "what if we get two identical people" scenario.

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Postby Andrew » Sun May 06, 2007 12:46 pm UTC

tendays wrote:My point is, should teleportation ever become possible, there would be no fundamental difference with being teleported from here to here (i.e. when you "don't move") compared to being teleported from here to there.


Yeah?

Bet your life?

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Postby tendays » Sun May 06, 2007 1:17 pm UTC

demon wrote:we were pretty close to denying the existence of a consciousness in at least one aspect of it, or at least I was, teehee


Sorry, what do you mean? What aspect of consciousness?

Andrew wrote:
tendays wrote:My point is, should teleportation ever become possible, there would be no fundamental difference with being teleported from here to here (i.e. when you "don't move") compared to being teleported from here to there.


Yeah?

Bet your life?


As I said, if I had the option (and if it were interesting for practical reasons), yes, I would use such a device. I'd take the risk.
I would not, however, bet my life in the sense "agree to get killed (and not just teleported) if it is not true"...

There's no way I could be certain the hypothesis I gave is correct, even if a possibility comes and people start using it every day ... But I believe it makes sense...

By the way (I hope this is not too much off topic) - what if, instead of realising the teleported body into a bunch of matter, it were realised into the memory of a (quantum) computer and then ran through a simulator?
(To my understanding of quantum teleportation, there is nothing - except practicalities - in quantum physics that would prevent that). Would the consciousness of the real person be transported into the computer's memory and algorithms? Then, what if, after running the simulation (which wouldn't necessarily follow precisely the same rules as the real world) that being is teleported back into actual matter - would it still be the same person?
I'd answer yes to all these questions - I tend to believe that consciousness emerges from information processing as it occurs in our brain, and it's continuity (in the sense *I* am the same as I was one minute ago) emerges from stored information a.k.a. memories.

What do you think?

EDIT: I'm not sure I gave my opinion about the original question btw - I'm with Andrew here - it's up to the "teleportee" to decide whether he wants to use such a system or not. If agrees to do it then I fail to see what would be immoral to let him ...

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Postby mister k » Sun May 06, 2007 1:41 pm UTC

Yeah, but the problem is if the teleport machine is essentially killing you and making a perfect clone somewhere else. So perfect, that no-one would ever know, but by that logic, it should be possible to allow the original to keep on living... which poses problems.

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Postby tendays » Sun May 06, 2007 2:30 pm UTC

mister k wrote:Yeah, but the problem is if the teleport machine is essentially killing you and making a perfect clone somewhere else. So perfect, that no-one would ever know, but by that logic, it should be possible to allow the original to keep on living... which poses problems.


Do you mean ethical problems or theoretical problems?

Because it does create theoretical problems serious enough to make me believe it is impossible. Not only it violates quantum physics postulates, but it permits things like breaking causality.
Example: Create a pair of entangle particles and move them very far away from each other. Then, repeatedly clone the one that is on your side and then perform observations on the clones. Because you are acting on the clone, the entangled one is not affected.
At some point, someone near the other particle performs a measurement on it, thus modifying collapsing its state, and that of the remote particle. But you can instantly notice the state change because of your repeated cloning+measurements. Because it's faster than light, you can do the same in the other way round, in a bus or something, so that the notion of simultaneity changes, and transmit information about the measurement to the far side before they had done it. So you break causality.

I do agree with you, however, if we replace exact teleportation by approximate teleportation (s.t. quantum states are inaccurately transported), or if we assume for a moment that quantum physics and/or relativity do not hold.
Even assuming that memories and thoughts and the body in general are not too much altered in the "copy", or even not altered at all, I would not agree to do it (i.e. have someone create a copy of myself somewhere and kill me). Because I would not be able to do the reasoning I exposed in that other post. And so I would not be convinced enough that it's actually "me" who is created over there, and that I'd not actually die.
Now, I'd still have nothing against other people doing that to themselves.

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Postby Andrew » Sun May 06, 2007 4:41 pm UTC

tendays wrote:
Andrew wrote:
tendays wrote:My point is, should teleportation ever become possible, there would be no fundamental difference with being teleported from here to here (i.e. when you "don't move") compared to being teleported from here to there.
Yeah?

Bet your life?
As I said, if I had the option (and if it were interesting for practical reasons), yes, I would use such a device. I'd take the risk.
I would not, however, bet my life in the sense "agree to get killed (and not just teleported) if it is not true"...


I mean, if your thinking is wrong and teleported people turn out to just be identical clones of the now-dead originals, then you'd die the first time you got in that booth. How can you use a teleporter without "[agreeing] to get killed (and not just teleported) if it is not true"?

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Postby tendays » Sun May 06, 2007 5:24 pm UTC

Andrew wrote:
tendays wrote:
Andrew wrote:
tendays wrote:My point is, should teleportation ever become possible, there would be no fundamental difference with being teleported from here to here (i.e. when you "don't move") compared to being teleported from here to there.
Yeah?

Bet your life?
As I said, if I had the option (and if it were interesting for practical reasons), yes, I would use such a device. I'd take the risk.
I would not, however, bet my life in the sense "agree to get killed (and not just teleported) if it is not true"...


I mean, if your thinking is wrong and teleported people turn out to just be identical clones of the now-dead originals, then you'd die the first time you got in that booth. How can you use a teleporter without "[agreeing] to get killed (and not just teleported) if it is not true"?


Well, if I'm wrong and get "teleported" anyway, then at least my body will live on. People who like me will still have me (or someone who is in no way distinguishable from me - they won't even know it's not the same one).
The projects I have started will be carried on by that other me.
Things I am the only one to know will be known by him. etc.

In a way, it would indeed make no difference to me, because in both cases I die, but it would make a difference for others. I do hope some people care for who I am and what I do .. so it makes sense :-)

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Postby crazyjimbo » Sun May 06, 2007 5:44 pm UTC

tendays wrote:By the way (I hope this is not too much off topic) - what if, instead of realising the teleported body into a bunch of matter, it were realised into the memory of a (quantum) computer and then ran through a simulator?
(To my understanding of quantum teleportation, there is nothing - except practicalities - in quantum physics that would prevent that). Would the consciousness of the real person be transported into the computer's memory and algorithms? Then, what if, after running the simulation (which wouldn't necessarily follow precisely the same rules as the real world) that being is teleported back into actual matter - would it still be the same person?
I'd answer yes to all these questions - I tend to believe that consciousness emerges from information processing as it occurs in our brain, and it's continuity (in the sense *I* am the same as I was one minute ago) emerges from stored information a.k.a. memories.


Holy crap, that just blew my mind. Just when I had my head around what would happen to your consciousness when you were teleported, you go and throw this at me!

Given that we are 'machines' and have no 'soul', there is no reason that we would even notice a difference let alone have it affect us in any significant way if we were simulated for while. Or is there? I'm not sure. I don't think so, but until someone reliably answers the question 'what is consciousness?' it will be impossible to tell.

Even without a knowledge of what consciousness 'is', you can still draw the conclusion that so long as everything is simulated perfectly, there would still be the factors required for consciousness and therefore you would be conscious inside the simluation. Maybe due to trying to equate this back to the type of simulatoins we can do presently, but this just doesn't seem possible. Even though I have logically decided it is! ARGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!

mister k wrote:Yeah, but the problem is if the teleport machine is essentially killing you and making a perfect clone somewhere else. So perfect, that no-one would ever know, but by that logic, it should be possible to allow the original to keep on living... which poses problems.


The transportation technology being described is essentially just copying technology, which has it's obvious inherent moral problems. However, so long as we are talking about it in a purely transportational manner, the issue of you dying and then a copy being created is not relevant. I say this because by my defintion of dying, you are not. Even without souls and stuff, you are still inherently you.

Now creating a copy of you without killing you would not result in 2 yous, it would result in 2 people who up until the copying process, were both you, but are now different people. So so long as you 'kill' the other you, at the same instance you are created somewhere else, you would still be you. And therefore I put 'kill' in quote marks because nobody is dying as YOU are still alive.

Phew...

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Postby HenryS » Sun May 06, 2007 7:53 pm UTC

Anyone interested in the ramifications of copying minds onto computers and so on should read "Permutation City" by Greg Egan.

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Postby mister k » Sun May 06, 2007 8:44 pm UTC

crazyjimbo wrote:
tendays wrote:By the way (I hope this is not too much off topic) - what if, instead of realising the teleported body into a bunch of matter, it were realised into the memory of a (quantum) computer and then ran through a simulator?
(To my understanding of quantum teleportation, there is nothing - except practicalities - in quantum physics that would prevent that). Would the consciousness of the real person be transported into the computer's memory and algorithms? Then, what if, after running the simulation (which wouldn't necessarily follow precisely the same rules as the real world) that being is teleported back into actual matter - would it still be the same person?
I'd answer yes to all these questions - I tend to believe that consciousness emerges from information processing as it occurs in our brain, and it's continuity (in the sense *I* am the same as I was one minute ago) emerges from stored information a.k.a. memories.


Holy crap, that just blew my mind. Just when I had my head around what would happen to your consciousness when you were teleported, you go and throw this at me!

Given that we are 'machines' and have no 'soul', there is no reason that we would even notice a difference let alone have it affect us in any significant way if we were simulated for while. Or is there? I'm not sure. I don't think so, but until someone reliably answers the question 'what is consciousness?' it will be impossible to tell.

Even without a knowledge of what consciousness 'is', you can still draw the conclusion that so long as everything is simulated perfectly, there would still be the factors required for consciousness and therefore you would be conscious inside the simluation. Maybe due to trying to equate this back to the type of simulatoins we can do presently, but this just doesn't seem possible. Even though I have logically decided it is! ARGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!

mister k wrote:Yeah, but the problem is if the teleport machine is essentially killing you and making a perfect clone somewhere else. So perfect, that no-one would ever know, but by that logic, it should be possible to allow the original to keep on living... which poses problems.


The transportation technology being described is essentially just copying technology, which has it's obvious inherent moral problems. However, so long as we are talking about it in a purely transportational manner, the issue of you dying and then a copy being created is not relevant. I say this because by my defintion of dying, you are not. Even without souls and stuff, you are still inherently you.

Now creating a copy of you without killing you would not result in 2 yous, it would result in 2 people who up until the copying process, were both you, but are now different people. So so long as you 'kill' the other you, at the same instance you are created somewhere else, you would still be you. And therefore I put 'kill' in quote marks because nobody is dying as YOU are still alive.

Phew...


Yeah, but if it's possible to make a perfect copy there pretty much are two yous... both of the yous will certainly think they are the original, and it will be impossible to distinguish between them, although they will certainly diverge. The point here is that you are creating new life and destroying other life- whether it is your or is fairly immaterial to my mind.

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Postby crazyjimbo » Sun May 06, 2007 9:10 pm UTC

mister k wrote:The point here is that you are creating new life and destroying other life- whether it is your or is fairly immaterial to my mind.


And my point was that you are not destroying life. Yes you are destroying a being, but the life of that being does not end, and therefore there is no destruction of life.

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Postby Messiah » Mon May 07, 2007 7:19 am UTC

A lot of this depends on how it's done. So far, they've only "teleported" laser light. Did they transfer the same light however, or did they just recreate light of the exact same composition on the other side? If it's the former, transferring the actual elements that compose us would be immeasurably difficult, and much slower than transporting pure light. It would, however, leave our body the same. If it's the latter, it's effectively cloning.

As our consciousness, memory and thoughts are a store of information, I doubt it could be maintained through teleportation. Which, in effect, would be killing us, or rebirthing us. If we could, as someone suggested, leave our "mind" on a quantum computer during transfer, then reapply it, then teleportation is plausible. However, we're nowhere near close to understanding the human brain, and specifically how it creates and stores our "consciousness" so that would be long after our time. It's possible later though.

Personally, I wouldn't do it until it had been through extensive testing of personality and memory on the other side.

One amazing thought I had while reading this - teleportation can lead to immortality. The main reason we die - oxidation. If teleportation is recreating the same molecular composition on the other side, we could merely adjust the process to include new materials, instead of the old, aged/oxidised parts. That, combined with storing our consciousness, means we can rebirth our body without losing our consciousness - immortality. Damn. There's a REASON why I'm the Son of God.
"The possession of anything begins in the mind" - Bruce Lee

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Postby Andrew » Mon May 07, 2007 11:31 am UTC

I don't think you could just "replace" bits of your brain with less aged bits and expect to be the same person afterwards.

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Postby Messiah » Mon May 07, 2007 12:27 pm UTC

Andrew wrote:I don't think you could just "replace" bits of your brain with less aged bits and expect to be the same person afterwards.

As we said above, you would only be replacing what was, in effect, a biological machine. The conscious part of yourself would need to be stored in the quantum computer. None of which is probably possible, but in very vague theory, it works.
"The possession of anything begins in the mind" - Bruce Lee



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