This topic contains 18 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  PopeBeanie 2 years, 6 months ago.

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    It’s the Star Trek transporter problem: Should you let Scotty beam you down to the planet from the Enterprise’s transporter room?

    In theory, the transporter disassembles a crew member sending a beam consisting of the needed atoms down to the destination and assembles them precisely on the far end, effectively recreating the crewmember at the destination.

    Does the consciousness go with the body? That’s the question.

    Of course it does, you think. There’s never any sign that the crew members are any the worse for wear? They seem to know who they are and why they’re there.

    What could be wrong?

    Well, perhaps the original consciousness that entered the transporter died when the crewmember was disassembled and a duplicate was installed at the destination. A brand new one that thinks it’s the old one because it has everything the old one had: all the neural pathways, etc., and so all the same knowledge and memories.

    Is a duplicate consciouness the same consciousness.

    Suppose there was a glitch and the transporter assembled, instead of one crewmember, three of him or her, all the same in every respect. Would there be one consciousness in three bodies or three distinct consciousnesses going forward, each in a different body?

    Philosophically, the question is this: What exactly is the relationship between a consciousness and the body it’s in?



    Perhaps there were three consciousnesses in one body to start with, colluding to separate. See, three seperately fertilized blastocysts merged into one blastocyst during a passing gravity wave pattern created by three colliding black holes.

    Scientists (like Deepak Gould, Stephen J. Hawking and Stephan Chopra) have called this phenomenon “post-modern tri-collisional collusion, preconceived with reverse-time soul pool vortexing, and supra-magnetic crystal harmonic overlays”.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 1 month ago by  PopeBeanie. Reason: forgot to include "supra-"
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 1 month ago by  PopeBeanie. Reason: and then we replaced "with" with "and", right after our comma
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 1 month ago by  PopeBeanie. Reason: ps we meant "our *last* comma"


    I’d do it because I’d never know the outcome.  If “I” died instantly believing I was fine, so what?  I’d never know.  The new “me” could trundle along until the next transportation when I/We would be replaced again.  Even the aging process would continue.  Sort of like a relay race with a Strega baton.

    edited to add:- it’s the same thing really when you sleep, or have a general anesthetic – how do you know your consciousness hasn’t died and been replaced with a new one?

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 1 month ago by  Strega. Reason: afterthought


    In the case of the mistaken triple beaming, if consciousness survives the trip, then all of a sudden the consciousness is aware of three bodies in three places leading three lives. Or…?



    Like triplets, only just now separated. (Hey, I’m a doctor, not a magician.)


    It’s like the Christian god. He is one god but made up of 3 gods, the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. He can be everywhere at once. He can transport the souls of dead Christians to his house faster than the speed of light. Hang on, I am not really helping am I?

    Captain, it’s the engines here. Scotty can’t take it anymore.


    Dang Martin

    Someone told me that they find comfort in the idea that our brains can be “backed up” into a computer.

    Unless it’s moved, then it is only being copied, which suggests that the original is still slated to die.


    The problem with the original is that it decays at just over 1% per annum or even faster if there is a serious system crash and no available backup. My headstone might read “He died due to a corrupt .dll”. If I can take the “upload via move” option then sign me up.



    Beta testers and laymen, please sign the following statement to be eligible for your No Muss, No Fuss Early Bird Discount!

    I, [birth name + SSN], understand that in Consciousness Upload Services, Inc. terminology, MOVE always means COPY THE ORIGINAL, THEN DELETE THE ORIGINAL.

    (We reserve the right to code-tweek your new Consciousness Host(s) into signing it for you, for any reason.)

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 1 month ago by  PopeBeanie. Reason: Move along now, nothing more to see here

    Before I sign up will I be conscious of the “move” process? If I am ever restored from a previous nights’ backup will I lose all memory of everything that happened since then, once “I” am restored. This means I will not be aware that I was ever “restored”. If you were to play “God” with my existence and do a restore everyday from the initial backup then everyday would be a “virtual groundhog day” but only you would know that. Where would all that “Information” of my experiences between last night and my restoration disappear to? Hang on a minute – have I written this before?



    This is quite similar to The Ship of Theseus. For those unfamiliar with it, it is an important philosophical question about the continuity of identity. It goes something like this: That is, a ship replaces various planks and parts over its life. Eventually not a single original plank of wood or other part remains…meaning the ship is not composed of any of the material of the ship when it was first made. Is it still the same ship? The most common answer is that it is the same ship…as the essential property of the ship is not the structure of its atoms and parts but a continuity of structure and composition over time. The problem gets a lot more difficult if we imagine that the ship also makes structural changes but that is irrelevant with this transporter problem.

    In the transporter problem I don’t think there is a big different between it and Theseus’s ship. It is true that consciousness isn’t the same as a ship, in that it has some form of emergent property (assuming you are a materialist). but it still doesn’t change anything about identity.

    In reality nearly every bit of our brain is replaced with new atoms over a stretch of a few months. It means much of your brain, by September, is made up of totally different molecules than at Christmas time. What remains is a continuity of structure (form). The difference between the brain becoming a totally new brain (matter) over the course of a few months, with the transporter problem in that when you transport…absolutely all molecules are replaced at once (and you travel some distance super quickly).

    If consciousness is just an emergent process that comes from the organization of molecules and their interactions…then there would be just as much continuity of consciousness when we transport….than say, living for several months and having the molecules gradually replaced.

    As for the identity of the consciousness (is it yours? are you still you?) I think that the transporter problem allows for the same kind of continuity of the structure of matter (your identity) as a body that is slowly replaced over months…as well.

    If in the unlikely case that consciousness is more than an emergent property through the arrangement of molecules and their interactions (say with some bizarre quantum effect or another form of matter or whatever you can dream up) then perhaps it isn’t possible to transport and still be alive (assuming whatever consciousness is will not come along with you) or that it may be displaced or disembodied or whatever fantasy you like.

    If the tecnology as safe and there was near absolute continuity in the structure of my molecules (and quantity) then I don’t think we should have any fear about it…nor worry that “we aren’t the same person anymore” as the molecules you were made up with before you transport, simply fall apart into a slight goo after you transport.

    If however you could replicate yourself or somehow divide the beam and materialise as two copies…that is an insanely enormous can of worms.


    Daniel W.

    @strega, I’ve thought about general anesthetic that way too.  Around here, it’s pretty jarring. They don’t make you count or something, they just inject you and then you wake up in recovery feeling really bad. Or maybe, the old you died, and you are now a replacement you.


    The other day somebody stole everything in my apartment and replaced it with an exact replica… When my roommate came home I said, “Roommate, someone stole everything in our apartment and replaced it with an exact replica.” He looked at me and said, “Do I know you?”
    Steven Wright


    Simon Paynton

    @danielw – “Or maybe, the old you died, and you are now a replacement you.

    – lol, that’s a rabbit-hole right there.  If you think about it though, if there’s a spectrum from “life” to “death”, then being under general anaesthetic is somewhere uncomfortably far out in the middle.


    There are reports that some people have out-of-body experiences during operations while under anesthetic. There are also reports of people feeling “like new” as many of their past worries and the impact of bad experiences appear to be no longer a problem for them.

    Maybe I need a straight jacket, face facts

    I am nuts for real, but I’m okay with that

    It’s nothin’, I’m still friends with the monster that’s under my bed.

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