25 Comments

  1. I’ve heard the argument that one shouldn’t object to the break in consciousness between killing Me-1 and reconstituting me on Planet Zargon as Me-2, because in fact I “break” my consciouness multiple times a night when I fall asleep. (Those of you who are insomniacs perhaps break it only once or twice, but same idea.)

    So, how do I *know* I didn’t die when I nodded off, and was brought back to life as a new organism with implanted memories of the previous me when I woke up a couple of hours later? (Given the number of times I wake up in the night, I guess we could argue because that’s really an inefficient use of Me-Resources, but maybe the Glaroon or the Rulers of the Sevagram or the Matrix or whoever would be doing this has an infinite quantity of Me-Resources to play with — and, we can postulate, doesn’t get bored easily.)

    Nonetheless, seriously, would I take a “kill and reconsitute me” teleportation trip if it were made available to me? Well, I would at least strongly consider it. For Planet Zargon, it might be worth the philosophical weirdness. For a quicker way to get down the block to the bus stop, naahhh.

  2. Is he synchronicity just the word “luddite”? That’s a pretty low bar for synchronicity.

    Shrug: When you sleep there’s still a continuous single entity that can be associated with “you” the whole time. But we saw that there were lots of transporter accidents where a second copy is made without the first one being destroyed. So the process in the transporter is apparently (a) make a copy B and (b) destroy the original copy A, with the two steps being independent: you can do step (a) without doing step (b), you can do step (a) well after doing step (b), etc… Under those circumstances, it’s hard to see how copy B isn’t a new copy, rather than a continuous extension of the original.

  3. I’ve always felt that it was a mistake to use “dissolving & reconstituting” to explain how the transporter worked, but it was an obvious consequence of the way they chose to do the special effect in the original series (a matte outline around aluminum dust sprinkled through a spotlight). An artificial “worm hole” (such as those that appeared as a foreign gating mechanism in a number of episodes) would have been much simpler, but might not have looked as impressive.

  4. I believe that McCoy’s dislike of the transporter had already been established sometime in the original series, even before the movies.

  5. This is a long-running discussion among fans.

    I suppose it’s a philosophical conundrum, but that isn’t the part that would bother me so much. The bigger problem would be that the transporter would be maintained and run by the same co-workers who don’t make a new pot of coffee after taking the last cup or who jam up the printer at work and leave it that way.

  6. Does it hurt to go through the transporter?

    In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Ford describes a hyperspace jump to Arthur.
    Ford: It feels unpleasantly like being drunk.
    Arthur: There’s nothing unpleasant about that.
    Ford: Tell that to a glass of water.

  7. The problem of teleportation was also addressed in ‘Kraken’, by C. Mieville, I think. It changed you in unpleasant ways, but I cannot remember exactly how.

  8. This makes zero sense. You already get taken apart and all the parts moved around, all the time. No one reading this contains a significant number of our original atoms, and right now, your own metabolism is breaking down a lot of the protein in your body and making new protein to replace it.

  9. Furthermore, there was an episode that clearly showed transportees retain both continuity of thought and coherence of body within the transporter pattern.

  10. IIRC, McCoy’s dislike of transporters was because of the dangers of malfunctioning – not because he thought a correctly working transporter was a murder machine. Could be wrong, though, it’s been a long time since I wanted ToS.

  11. Furthermore, there was an episode that clearly showed transportees retain both continuity of thought and coherence of body within the transporter pattern.

    That would seem to contradict others where duplicates or in one episode a new person that was a combination of two were created.

  12. @ Brian – “That would seem to contradict…
    Of course there are contradictions, we’re talking about a TV show, not scientific reality. The people who review these scripts for continuity are producers, not physicists. They are (probably) capable of noticing “Wait, we killed that red-shirted heart-throb in episode 7, we can’t bring him back in episode 12!”, but I would not trust them to compose a comprehensive set of rules for an alternate scientific reality, especially when their utmost goal has nothing to do with ensuring believable physics, and everything to do with generating maximum excitement and higher ratings.

  13. True, but that seems to be an outlier, with the preponderance of the scenes supporting the “copy./destroy/recreate” method.

  14. Read “Think Like A Dinosaur” by James Patrick Kelly. He/it won the Hugo for novelette in 1996. What happens when the copy and recreate actions are completed, but the destroy action remains undone. You have to think like a dinosaur, a “species” known for clear thinking and facing the facts.

  15. Robert is online with Wil Wheaton and WW discusses things about the show and in general ideas and occurrences it all seem to have been planned out. (Spoiler alert) – This goes so far as his character’s departure from the story line towards the end of the show was planned from the beginning when the character who escorts him away was first introduced and everything that happened to his character during the series is setting up the later event.

  16. Okay, just ran down to the washer and dryer to switch loads and since, as I mentioned in a recent post, that my mind always works differently, while coming back up I had the idea –

    What if in the future people’s physical self data and also their mind info is storeable in computers. So when they “beam” the data is sent to the other point where a new physical being is constituted (from basic assorted cells of physical nature – when the words I am missing come to me I will post them) and their mind info is placed in it – sort of like a new computer with the back up of the old computer?

  17. Then a) you could have any number of copies of any person who has been scanned, so then which copy is the “real” person? and b) you could also restore from backup at any point of the person’s existence when they were scanned. Picard has gone evil? Restore from backup. Wesley is no longer cute now that he’s hit puberty? Restore from backup! Redshirt got killed in away mission? It’s OK ma, we restored him from when he beamed down.

    Jack Williamson and Fredrick Pohl’s “Saga of Cuckoo” explores the first one pretty thoroughly, or at least was the first one I recall encountering so it left a big impression; Corey Doctorow explores the second one a lot in his novel’s, specifically “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” and “Walkaway” come to mind. (Actually, I think in his collaborations with Charlie Stross is where they really delve into the second one…)

  18. I told everyone (in a future strip post that I made last week) – I tend to think outside the box and get confused by others and others end up confused by me. Hence my idea (since the 1960s) of how one is “beamed about space”.

    And yes the only way the extra versions could be dealt with is that when one arrives, the last original automatically disintegrates.

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