Home » Random Bubbles » Don’t beam me up, please

Don’t beam me up, please

It’s an old dream, the ability to move instantly from one place to another, far off.  Only shamans were ever able to do it, though.  But now, there’s a chance it might actually happen for all of us, in the not too ridiculously distant future.

Technically, there is no reason why we can’t eventually have teleporters – little booths you can walk into and walk out of thousands of miles away at the speed of light, providing there’s one at each end.  Sort of.

You knew there was a catch, didn’t you?  Using existing technology, the process involves reading all the information of which you are composed at one end, and reassembling you at the other end by dumping it.  This does involve your complete destruction at the transmitting end, of course.

That’s the interesting part.  The reassembled you at the destination would have all your cells, synapses, and nerve endings reproduced exactly as they were at the moment of your dismantling.  This includes your brain, where everything you know is stored in the precise configuration of its parts.  The original you may be destroyed, but the new you will remember going into the transmission booth, and coming out unscathed at the end.  So, is that you, or isn’t it?  What exactly do we mean by “you” anyway?

To an outside observer (scientist, friend, mother) it would be indistinguishable from you.  Come to that, to an inside observer (the reassembled you), the same would be true, since it would contain all that defined the earlier you.  But the original you was destroyed in the process.  What we always knew as you is dead, my friend.  It has been reduced to its constituent components, little electrons whizzing around little protons and neutrons, completely devoid of the patterning we came to love all those years before the experiment.

Here’s the weird part: because the teleportation involved reading all the information that constituted you, then transmitting it to a new location, it could presumably be saved.  You could be stored on a disc and not reassembled until later.  Much later.  Multiple copies of you could be made, all of which would insist it was the real you.  Each of them would be the real you, by any existing standards of evidence.

So, we end in a situation in which you are dead, because we killed you to get at your information, but you are still walking around in multiple iterations, perhaps having violent confrontations with each other over their authenticity.

Here’s the real question, which is so bizarre I’m having difficulty putting it into words:  Would you, that entity which now lives in and looks out at the world from your body, which is the experiencer of your history, which debates with itself over the nature of the reality presented it by your senses, would you inhabit any or all of your new selves?

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23 thoughts on “Don’t beam me up, please

  1. I’ve thought about this theory for some time….Michael Crichton even used elements of what your referring to in one of his novels…….if humanity were ever able to create a “computer” big enough to accomplish such a feat we might determine conclusively whether or not us humans have souls, after all, when our original self dies in the dismantling process to be teleported, if there really is a soul then it would cease to exist within the new self that has been teleported….right? Lol….maybe I shouldn’t philosophize a science subject….but then again I think the two often go together

  2. You are right but I do have the choice whether I want to have a copy made i.e. be transported. Because I want to be the person who arrives at the other location and not just be a copy that has experienced my life, I, and I suspect most other people, would choose not to be copied.

  3. This is fascinating and mind-bending. But aren’t we already all copies of ourselves? All of our cells turn over into something new every so often. So, we are not what were were 10 years ago. Does that mean there is more to us than meets biology?

  4. I wonder if someday citizens of Earth will look back upon these concerns with a patronizing smile. Oh those millennials, always so worried about their souls! As for me, I’d prefer to drive my own car.

  5. Huh. Interesting, and a little unnerving. Beaming myself to work no longer seems as appealing…unless you can transmit a copy without the disassembling death, but then you have something that’s kind of morally reprehensible if they “beam” back each night (and you’d never have any new work stories), and if they decide to walk home you’ve got twice the financial burden…and an interesting dinner guest.

    • It wouldn’t be long before you and the other you became, well, different people, since you’d be having different experiences. I can imagine the arguments! One of you might well decide to kill the other you. Now there’s a story idea…

  6. I’ve heard some theories that insist this sort of thing is possible. What I find intriguing is that question you asked at the end, whether or not we’d inhabit one or all of the copies. I think there are some physicists that would say it’s possible that you would, that, for all intents and purposes, those copies would all be you and that you could be “conscious” of the fact. Sounds like something out of the many worlds theory.

    Nice. I want a teleportation device.

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