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Human (or any other) uniqueness: Does Captain Kirk die going through the transporter?


Sabine Hossenfelder admits that “The problem has kept her up at night for decades, she says, and it appears we are no closer to an answer”

Why so difficult?

Assume that all the information about a person is contained in the exact configuration in which it appears at one moment in time. Hossenfelder accepts that as the correct view. So the transporter converts you into a different medium, putting all your life processes on pause. But then what?

She notes that “strictly speaking, the only way to copy a system elsewhere would require you to also reproduce its entire past, which isn’t possible.”

News, “Physicist: Does Captain Kirk die going through the transporter?” at Mind Matters News

But there’s another reason you might not be able to read out the information of a person without annihilating them in that process, namely that quantum mechanics says that this isn’t possible. You just can’t copy an arbitrary quantum state exactly.

Sabine Hossenfelder, “Does Captain Kirk die when he goes through the transporter?” at BackRe(Action) (October 23, 2021)

In a multiverse, she notes, an infinite number of transporters may produce an infinite number of Captain Kirks, some of which may be exact replicas. If a multiverse exists. Otherwise,


The sci-fi version:

Takehome: The key problem: The transporter might require us to abandon the idea that we have a continuous self to begin with. Many won’t go there. Alternatively, it will never happen.

You may also wish to read: Theoretical physicist: Colonizing Mars is a ridiculous idea! Making Mars habitable (terraforming) has been kicking around engineering circles for decades. What are the chances, given Moore’s Law-level increases in technology? Sabine Hossenfelder points out that the Mars’ biggest habitability problem is lack of a magnetic field and no plausible technology solution is in sight.

As in this article, one major function of science fiction and speculative science is philosophical, getting people to stretch their minds thinking about fundamental beliefs and their world views. In this piece, the concept of "self" is questioned: is the person going into the transporter the same as the person leaving it? If so, how? If not, how would anyone know? Does the transporter transport your soul along with your body? If so, how? Or does your soul merely connect with the proper body (i.e. the one it is tuned to) wherever it may be? The time-travel stories and the multiverse speculations serve the same purpose: what options or possibilities open up and how to work through them mentally? The later UD entry about scientists studying philosophy ties into this nicely. Philosophy may not be able to answer many deep questions, but it knows how to ask them, thereby making the questioner a deeper thinker, and perhaps a tad wiser. Fasteddious
Transporters, much like time travel, make for good fiction. BobRyan
There was a movie, or an episode of something, where people can be transported from one place to another instantaneously. Sounds great until there is a malfunction. Not in the reassembly of the information back into a living person. But in the fact that the process necessitates the disintegration of the original person. In this episode, this didn’t happen, resulting in two people with the same identity. Joe Schooner
the multiverse is as science fiction as it is anything. It's just an ad-hoc way to solve the fine-tuning problem. It's also not testable, observable, repeatable... it's all theoretical dialogue. BA77 and other posters/readers... did you see this article? "Study finds a striking difference between neurons of humans and other mammals" https://news.mit.edu/2021/neurons-humans-mammals-1110 main point followed by "could might've possibly" just so conjecture. zweston
Much as I would like to visit the Moon or Mars I suspect that, once the novelty had worn off, having to live underground or in heavily-protected surface habitats and put on a space-suit every time you wanted to go out would pall pretty quickly. Plus, have you looked at the surface of the moon, pock-marked with all those craters? It'd be like living in a shooting-gallery. And that fine dust gets everywhere. Seversky

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