Teleportation physics question

If a teleportation machine deconstructs you down to your elementary particles, transports those particles somehow, then reconstructs you somewhere else in the universe using the exact same elementary particles in exactly the same configuration, is that still you?

Or is it somebody else that is exactly like you and thinks its you while in reality it is a new human being while you ceased to exist?



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This is more philosophical than factual.

Moving thread from General Question to In My Humble Opinion.

If you just sit in a chair and wait for a second, are you still you? Why or why not? How, if at all, is that any different from the teleporter?

It’s whichever you prefer it to be. This is a magical question. Therefore the answer must be a magical answer.

Magic is much more flexible than science that way.

This is pretty much Theseus’ paradox. - whether an object that has had all of its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object.

Most (all?) of a human’s components are replaced during their lifetime by natural processes.

So… “If magic happens, please explain how the magic works with physics.”

Doesn’t work like that.

This is more of a philosophy question than a physics questions.

A very good recent sci-fi novel about this very topic is The Fold by Peter Cline.

This is more philosophical than a factual physics question.

As others have said, this is really more of a philosophy question than a physics question.

That said, physics (specifically quantum mechanics) tells us that fundamental particles (of any given species) are indistinguishable. There isn’t any physical difference between rebuilding you from the particles you started with or rebuilding you from a different set of particles, and in fact there’s no way to tell in principle that one particle has been replaced with another.

So, if you’d consider the teleported you to be the same, I suppose you’d have to consider the possibility that someone could make a duplicate of you that was equally the same. (There’s a “no cloning” theorem in quantum mechanics that says you can’t duplicate an arbitrary quantum state, but it’s not clear to me that this would be any obstacle in turning your hypothetical, magic teleporter into a duplicator.)

Didn’t we do this one fairly recently?

If Thor summons a hurricane to help him defeat Darkseid in single combat, while at the same time Storm orders up a sunny day because she and Clara Oswald are having a romantic picnic, what happens?

Yeah. They’re all quantum-equivalent so this one is a duplicate like **tim314 ** just suggested. :slight_smile:

To my way of thinking, it’s a Versed question.

Versed (for those of you who don’t already know) is an anaesthetic, sort of. Ten years ago or thereabouts it was quite popular for colonoscopies and similar procedures.

The “sort of” part of it is as follows (if I understand correctly; if not, my incorrect understanding is still a good analogy): it doesn’t make you unconscious (although you’re at a reduced level of consciousness), nor does it block pain. But it interferes with memory: you won’t remember a thing.

If you don’t remember pain later, does it “matter”? Is pain that you can’t remember the same thing as “painless” ?

The OP question is basically “if YOU die and some other consciousness is then subsequently created and it has all of your memories as well as your form factor, did you really die in a way that matters or is the new consciousness just as ‘you’ as you are now?” I would think it does not matter to anyone else but as to whether it matters to YOU becomes a more complicated question. Who is “YOU” in this scenario?

I think I might be cool with the procedure (at least after watching it work on other people first) but defining “YOU” as “your memories and other mental-state attributes” is sort of begging the question if you see what I mean.

It’s a matter of opinion, like a lot of philosophy questions. I suspect that if you did actually have something like Star Trek or Known Space teleporters, where you can teleport quickly, easily, and cheaply, selection pressure would end up with everyone except for a few religions and cults believing that the teleported person is you. If you believe that you die going through a teleporter, you won’t use one. But a huge chunk of jobs and social activities will require or be much easier with them, so the people who won’t use them will end up getting poorer over time, while their kids will see all of their friends using teleporters and apparently not dying, so likely won’t adopt the belief.

Plus if you do believe that the teleporter kills you, and the courts don’t (which is pretty likely since rich people will be the first to use them), then you’re probably going to develop mental issues from hanging around with what you believe are a bunch of zombies or doppelgangers.

If you actually transport the particles you were made of and re-assemble them later you are closer to you in some sense than the transporter concept where different particles are re-assembled. Whether that makes much difference in terms of what ‘you’ are I couldn’t say.

Also, relevant to this thread:

It’s funny, but I think it hits on the fact that it’s easy to say ‘oh yes, you’re dead if you use it’ when you’re thinking about teleportation in the abstract, but it’s a lot different if you’re actually giving up something valuable for that belief.

Genius! :smiley:

I like the comic. Not sure I agree with your conclusion.

If you (any you) truly believe that teleportation is death you’d no more do it than jump in front of a train.

The fact you’d teleport for some benefit indicates that even if you *say *“teleportation is death”, you don’t *mean *it. And you never did. Which is real different from thinking “Yeah, I’ll be dead, but I’ll accept being dead in exchange for a threesome (or a ham sandwich) after I’m dead.”

It’s a bit like the old joke about American breakfasts: “The chicken has an interest; the pig made a commitment.” If you’re willing to play the part of the pig, you’ve proven you’re not really buying into the idea that breakfast is real.