Would you use these new technologies?

Sorry, not sure if this is in the right forum or not.

Imagine that in the near future technology advances to the point that teleportation and ‘backing up’ the human mind has become possible, ie: like backing up your computers hard drive.

  1. The teleportation machine is similar to the one on Star Trek. Its based on the concept that your body is broken down into its constituent molecules converted into energy/information, and then sent to another device which reassembles you on that side.

  2. As for backing up the mind this comes from the technique used in the Culture series by Iain M. Banks (I’m sure its used elsewhere).

A 100% perfect method of instantly recording and storing your mental state has been developed. Basically everything that makes you, you, personality, memories etc

The interesting part comes from the implications of this. Many people use it to take a snap-shot of their mind and then store it. If they are subsequently killed this backup is introduced into a new body and rebooted. They consider this to be effectively immortality, create the backup and then do whatever you want. Doesn’t matter if you get killed, you have the back up right?

So the question is, would you use these new technologies and why/why not?

For myself I wouldn’t use either because:

The Transporter

In using the transporter you are effectively killed every time. Your molecules have been converted into energy and you no longer exist as an organic life form. What appears on the other side is a perfect copy of you who believes he is you because he has all his memories up until the moment until he stepped onto the transporter. I would argue that you are destroyed and the copy only thinks he’s the exact same person as the original.
The Mindstate Backup

In a similar manner to the transporter the person resulting from the use of the backup only thinks he’s the same person as the original but isn’t. I think I can prove this by two examples.

In the first a snapshot of your mind is taken, called the Pattern, it is saved in an inactive state. This is Pattern A.

You however move on and continue living secure in the knowledge that you have the backup, from this point on your mindstate is Pattern B because it is evolving and changing from the original Pattern A. A few days later you walk into the path of a stray nuke and are vapourised instantly. Pattern B is now gone, it no longer exists.

So as laid out in your will the take Pattern A, implace it in a new brain and body and boot it up.

How could Pattern A possibly be the same person that was just killed? There is no continuity of conciousness between them.

On a sidenote this raises the issue of what happens when you fall asleep every night. Is it possible that you effectively ‘die’ when your conciousness shuts down and the person getting up in the morning with all your memories isn’t actually the same person who went to bed last night?

I’m intruiged as to what peoples answers would be because I had this debate elsewhere and the majority of people would use both technologies with no qualms whatsoever and treat the Backups as get out of jail free cards enabling them to take insane risks with no consequences.

So, what say you? :smiley:

I’d use both depending on cost.

John Varley wrote a short story based on the second part. In it, rich people could afford to back themselves up on a daily basis. Others only weekly or monthly. Someone keeps killing the main character and she has to start over from the previous month’s backup (she gets a new body each time) in order to find the murderer. She figures out to leave herself clues, though.

I wouldn’t worry about the old me/new me thing. I hate to travel so I’d love the transporter, especially if I could have my own.

I’d use them and not worry about it.

Damn, most of my library is packed away atm There was a story I read where they invented teleport booths, they became the norm for travel within a decade and all other forms of transport were done away with. One traveler notices a gentleman just watching the line of people every day waiting for their turn at the booth but never approaches it himself. Conversation ensues. Turns out the observer was the scientist who invented it.

The principle is not what everyone thinks. Instead of teleportion, it really just scans the body, mapping out everything down to the electron level and recreates an exact duplicate on the far side out of a bank of ‘material’, making a duplicate of yourself. At the same time your first body is instantly ripped to atoms and stored in the ‘material’ bank to be used to make the next incoming traveler.

The scientist is the only person on the entire planet who has never used the system because he is worried about his soul. No one else knows how it really works and don’t realise they die every time they use it so they never thought to fear it. He does.

The person listening calls a couple friends over who pick up the scientist and toss him into a booth. ZAP He steps out the far side in a distant city. He tries to see if he feels any different or can tell if his soul is missing. Realising he doesn’t feel any different, he shrugs and goes on with his life.

<reading the above> … nope I can’t do the story justice. It was really thought provoking. Hopefully another Doper will know who wrote it.

Earthstone If possible i’d like to know the title and author of that story. Thanks.


I believe the star trek transporters work by actually transporting the atoms. When you appear on the otherside you’re the exact same atoms in the exactly correct order. Even not knowing that i’d probably use the transporter as I don’t really believe in the soul. However i’d be worried about the security features of the system. There is so much potential for abuse.

Mind-burning is an interesting and complicated beast, but I think I would probably end up using it. I have qualms with living forever, but I think that at some point I would just tell myself that it’s time.

What constitutes a person? I believe that there is nothing more to us than our physical selves. As such, the person stepping out of the recieving transporter is you.

As for the mind-copying, I wouldn’t use it for eternal life. I would copy my brain, put it on a computer, and talk to it… and stuff. I mean, I already talk to myself, why not?

I’m with the OP. People who use the transporter are fooling themselves. If I teleported from Detroit to Las Vegas, I wouldn’t find myself in Vegas. I’d be dead, and some other guy who thinks he’s me would be in Vegas. When that guy tried to go home again, he wouldn’t find himself in Detroit. He’d die too, and some third guy (who thinks that he’s both me and the first duplicate) would be created in Detroit.

As an analogy, let’s say that I have an important document that I need to send to a customer. I could mail the document, which involves physically transporting the document to another location, or I could fax the document to the customer. The fax machine records the relevant information about my document and transmits that information to another location, where another fax machine uses the information to create another document that is functionally identical to the original. The original document never leaves my location. The transporter works the same way, except that the “original document” is destroyed during the process.
Ditto for the brain backup. You’re only fooling yourself. You won’t wake up after the fatal accident, having been resurrected by a miracle of technology. You’re still dead; you’ve just arranged to create a clone who’ll take over your life now that you’re gone. If you’ve ever seen the Schwartzenegger movie The Sixth Day, then you’ve seen how this would work. The Sixth Day has a premise where the bad guys are using cloning and brain backups to supposedly cheat death. However:By mistake, they clone Arnie while Arnie himself is still alive. Although the movie doesn’t dwell on this point, the fact that the original Arnie and clone Arnie exist at the same time shows that clone Arnie is a different person. Also, near the end, the big bad guy clones himself because he’s gravely injured. He interacts with his clone before dying, again showing that they’re two different beings.

Actually, believing in a soul would make it easier to accept the transporter. If you have a soul, then there’s a possibility that it might get transported into your new body. If you don’t have a soul, then there’s no chance at all that the duplicate is really you. Whether or not the transporter uses the same atoms is irrelevant. If I dissolved you in a vat of acid, and then somehow re-collected all your molecules and used them to build a clone of you, this doesn’t change the fact that I killed you. The transporter just does it faster than the vat of acid would.

These dogs were clinically dead But when they were brought back. Just because they died did they stop being the dogs that they were?

I believe being is as much a mental state as it is our physical selves. If I believe I am me, then I am me despite having been killed and brought back to life as you put it.

My word! Could you imagine what would happen if something went wrong and you “disappeared” from Houston but appeared in Vegas in two different receivers at the same time! Who gets your stuff? Who does your wife love? Smith v. Smith would be the absolute most confusing case in history. And I wholly disagree with that awful Voyager episode. It doesn’t matter if Smith alpha wanted to stay as one person, there are two of them now with different wants. They would have their own rights.

I believe that we are confined to our programming and that we are the sum of our parts and nothing more. Right now, I can say what my history is. I was this same person who did various rotten things and wonderful things in the past. I wouldn’t be able to say that if I went through a teleporter like that. Actually I suppose I can’t really say that now, but I will.

Diceman’s point is a good one. A soul, spirit, whatever would be that mote that makes anything you. Maybe we couldn’t tell but there would be an answer somewhere. Being just fleshy robots there’s nothing that’s really us. We are a constantly shifting conglomerate of atoms and electrons. I don’t see what there is that people can pick and say “That one has the original’s ??? therefore he deserves to be tried for murder.” OK, that doesn’t work for teleporting but imagine another case where it does work.

The difference would be that these dogs atoms would have a solid 4D shape with time being the 4th dimension there. If those dogs were teleported like the OP states then there would be 2 distinct 4D shapes which make, imho, 2 different dogs.

Assuming that these technologies were 100% foolproof (i.e., I’m not going to get teleported and end up with one leg attached to my left ear), I’d go ahead and use them.

My feeling is that “me” is made up of all my thoughts and memories, rather than my body itself. If the thoughts and memories are assembled in a new set of gathered atoms, so what? I don’t see that as being any less “me” than, say, having a bionic arm makes me a different person.

So you’re saying that just because something stops continuously existing then
it is a different thing?
How about if the teleport acted instaneously that is there is no divisible amount of time between having activated the teleporter and being at the end location.

would it matter if a diety did it? What if Og sneezed and suddenly i’m in europe. Would I be a different person? Or would I simply have changed position in space?

I believe being is a mental state as much as a physical state, perhaps more so.

If I didn’t know I was a copy and not the original, why would it matter?

Yup, I’d do both, depending on the level of security handling the temporary containment of what constitutes “me.”

Forget about souls for a moment… what about the body?

Well, it is well-established fact (and I’m sure some more erudite type will be along with specifics) that our bodies do in fact change over time. Given enough time (and not that much, either – months? A few years?) every single cell in our body is replaced. Is the “new” body still “you?” If so, how is this different from exchanging all the atoms at once?

Ugh… forgot to answer the OP!

I’d definitely use “teleportation”, as long as it was, in fact, bullet-proof (i.e., one, and only one copy exists both before and after the trip)

Not so sure about the backup, because, as people have correctly pointed out, “I” will diverge from the backed-up version as soon as I’m disconnected from the tape… but, arguably, a resuscitated backup would be the same “me” as entered that taping session.

I’d sure as hell use the transporter. Instant travel? Damnm, that’d be sweet. And I’d also like to piunt out to the naysayers, that “the copy” would be you. Youi would not die and then a copy made, you would be that copy. It has your memories, your personality, and your conciousness, how is it any less you then you were? Since you are the copy, you don’t think of it as a copy, you are jsut you. The only problem I see, as others have mentioned, is that either a) I am not reconstituted when I get transported, and b) There could be a glitch and my original is not destroyed, the result being two me’s.

A) is easily solveable. Just basically perform that computer backyup when a transport is made. Make sure there is a perfect image of me in the system files (and after it’s made double-check it to the original) BEFORE destroying the original makd re-maknig me at the new spot. If something goes wrong, just load up the saved file and try again. No harm done. Although there’s still the issue of the backup still being wrong, or a terrorist riging it up to fasley report a backup, but that wouldn’t be an attractive option for a terrorist, because all you have to do is make the machine self shut down if the other one commuicates that no person was re-made, and no backup existed to remake them. You shut down both the transporter and receiver until the problem is determined. It’s much harder for a terrorist to simultaneously set TWO seperate transporters to fail, and then it becomes impossible when you remember they have no way of knowing which locale you are transporting to, so really, there’s no point in doing it. I know, faulty logic, but still, ANY mode of transportation has a risk, you just judge the risk vs the odds of it happening. Cars have the highest risk, but also a good survivability compared to planes, ehich have a low risk, but more likely to result in death. Same with a transporter. It may have the lowest risk, what with dual comminucation between pods and backups, but almost certainly guarenteed death is the very unlikely event it fails.

Issue B is really not avoidable. At some point, someone somewhere will make a copy of themselves and not destroy the original. What to do then? Both are living humans, so you can’t kill one, and both are the same person, so what happens to their jobs, stuff, etc? My guess is that some kind of government program can be initiated for people that have this happen (who make it known. Obviously, someone doing it in secret isn’t going to tell everyone.) Perhaps some sort of island, or colony for these people. Or maybe just consider the new copy a new person, snice the orignal still exists. Re-issue a new SSN (or the future equivilent), new name (or maybe John Smith II) and give them some starting money and tell them to get a job. They are alllowed to use the orignals resume, education, etc… because it is still there’s too.

As for brain backing up in case you die. well, basically it’s the same tech as transporters, just without the hassle of destroying/recreating unti l you need to, so they go hand in hand. But I don’t think it should be used except as a backup for the transporter. No one shoudl live forever, if for no other erason then there is a finite space here, and we could run into an overpopulation scenario real quick. However, maybe, again, a government system where accidental deaths, or murder/suicide victims could be brought back, since it can be easily argued it wasn’t there time. But where do you draw the line? OK, bring them back if murdered, but what if it’s some non-genetic disease? Their body didn’t decide it was time to go, some outside force did. And so forth. Tricky situation indeed.

Diceman put it better than me.

I think it comes down to continuity of conciousness. In a purely material sense the transport destroys the original, the person that steps into the transporter is as dead as if he put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger, all that exists now is information on the position and state of all the atoms that made up the original body. Without getting into the issue of souls that information is in no sense alive or concious. It is reconsituted from material available on the other side but the person who steps of the transporter pad isn’t the person who entered it on the other side, they only think they’re same person.

And I’m sorry but that isn’t good enough for me. Besides I’ve read “The Jaunt” by Stephen King and there’s no way you could get me within the mile of a teleport machine on principle! :eek:

As for the Mindstate back-up machine, how could an old backup possibly be the same person as someone who has continued to exist after it was taken? From that moment you become a different person, if you subsequently die you are as assuredly dead as someone who didn’t have a backup. Sure they’ll boot up the back-up but that isn’t you, thats someone else with all your memories until the point of the back-up who, again, only thinks he’s you.

As someone mentioned people gradually changing over time, if a backup was taken when you were 15 would you at age 30 be happy to commit suicide secure in the knowledge that you’ll come back to life? Of course you wouldn’t, the 15 year old you isn’t the present you just as a backup with a few weeks difference (or minutes) isn’t you.

You’ll continue to exist in a way but it is not immortality in the classic sense.

I started this thread because I literally can’t comprehend how casually people would use these new technologies if they become available. The vast majority of people would apparently use them without a single qualm.

As a fan of Star Trek I certainly love that “Beam me up” device, finding McCoy’s objections to its use quaint. So I’d definitely have no problem using it.

It’s not until this post I’d never considered this mode of transport in any way similar to the one described in Way Station

This novel, by Clifford D. Simak describes a society of planetary travellers who consider Earth culture yet too immature to join the club, but nonetheless need to set up a “way station” on earth. These way stations are devices that act as relay points for their mode of travel. You enter the device, are scanned down to the soul level, and this information is beamed to the next way station where the information is used to reconstruct you (repeat forward to the next way station until you reach your destination).

What makes this device interesting is you know full and well that you are being copied (IIRC you wait around until successful reconstruction has occurred) You then voluntarily commit suicide using the convenient, painless facilities provided.

As I said, until this post I had never thought that Star Trek uses the same approach, really, except the process is faster and fully automated (no voluntary, explicit suicide involved). This gets to the heart of the OPs reluctance to use the transporter, and elevates McCoy’s squawking to more legitmate concern.

It would be a very selfless act to submit to the suicide once this imposter-that-is-me has been created. There is no benefit to me whatsoever. I will have never flown to Jupiter or wherever else that copy has been created. It’s not really travel at all, then is it?

You’ve changed my mind StaberindeMk2 Although the ideas are way cool, in all honesty I would not be selfless enough to use the transporter.

Brain backup is a no-brainer for me (heh). I would gladly submit to the backup procedure, and I would be highly intrigued to meet any replica spawned from the restore - but I would never have considered it a mode of immortality.

Now that I really think about it, I would consider it an act of inflated self-value.

Me: “I want to leave my personhood intact beyond my death as a gift for future generations.”
Future Generations: “Uh, thanks, you shouldn’t have [regift later]”

Immortality is meaningless unless I experience it.

Hope this isn’t too much of a hijack, but while we’re talking about how this has been dealt with in sci-fi…

There was a collection of short stories (3 I believe) published with the intent to explore teleportation. Three sci-fi authors were commissioned for the collection to write about the impact of teleportation. Does anyone know the title of this collection or of any of the stories therein?

One of the stories described a society that was identical to present day earth except that teleportation booths were as ubiquitous as phone booths. People would literally dial the number of their destination and zap yer there. This prompted a new societal evit of instant riots. Every major news story was followed by hoards of people appearing at the location either to protest, join in, or merely watch. Neat idea.

Another story: Teleportation is commercialized but still quite expensive. It is a status symbol to take your next vacation using this method, and the protaganist was one trying to save up enough, impress his wife, boss, etc (details fading). One aspect I well remember is the description of how the device handles momentum. If you could literally make something disappear in one place then reappear in another, the fact that in the old place you were travelling at a certain velocity means in the you would fly off in a new relative direction in the new location, crashing into furniture, knocking people down, etc. - a detail usually handwaved away in sci-fi. This story tackled it saying the momentum was peeled off and sent into a huge shock absorber in the ocean. Neato.

The third story (unless I’m conflating a different collection) dealt with a very mysterious encounter with what appeared to be a shyster claiming the ability to whisk you away to a paradise. Protaganist buys the ticket, is ushered into a creaky broken down old barn with a bunch of other “suckers” and left for a long time. Dude finally loses patience, says “I’ve been had. I’m outta here.” Just as he closes the door behind him there’s a flash and the others are gone, leaving him with the memory of a glimpse of the paradise that had the sweetest air he’d ever smelled. Shyster (not-so-shyster now) denys all knowledge/recollection of having met the guy and Dude is left with the regret.

Unless you introduce metaphysical entities, this already happens to you from moment to moment anyway (well, except for the destruction and creation bit) - at any given moment, the you that existed a moment before is no more - gone forever - and the you that exists now only believes it is the same person.

So it shouldn’t be any different than walking through a door, but no, you’d never get me into on of those things.

100%? In the real world? :dubious:

Think about this graph. If y is greater then 1 then x = 1, If y is less then or equal to 1 then x = 2. I see 2 seperate lines on the graph. That’s what I see with the dogs. I doesn’t matter how instant it is what concerns me is that when viewed in 4D like I said you have 2 regions seperated from each other. Two dogs.

And actually it’s much worse then that. There is nothing that defines me as me. Our bodies and memories are all built from the same basic building blocks. Every proton in my body is an exact copy of every proton in your body. Nothing is very comforting here.