It's actually a serious science mystery

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    Autumn, I don’t know if you will be having surgeries again in the future and how much the truth (at least for some about anaesthesia is) so, I’m giving you the option to say “no I don’t want to hear this” before I tell you about it…



    I am undecided regarding surgeries, but I doubt I will be bothered one way or the other.



    Okay. So yeah, a tiny minority of people, are paralysed by the anaesthesia but are aware (to some extent) of the surgery and recall or somewhat recall) events which may include the sensation of pain. It is called Anaesthesia awareness and there have been varying levels of awareness during surgery ranging from vague memories of what doctors said during the surgery to awareness and experience of pain sometimes with PTSD following.

    Having said that, the incidence is very low (especially ones which are traumatic experiences). A fairly terrible film was made about it called “awake” which I would highly recommend not watching. Hard to get out of your head.



    Ah yeah. I’ve heard of that (I think it came up in a medical drama once), but was never certain how real it was. One of the women who had surgery same day as I did woke up during the operation. Fortunately she just came out of sedation. The epidural was fully in effect.

    Personally, I’ve had trouble with certain anesthetics lasting, lidocaine in particular. The only contexts where it was used on me were dentistry and electrolysis on my upper lip. With the dentistry it would just fade out, and I’d decide if I would bother to tell the dentist or just ride out the surgery as-is. With electrolysis, it would wear out unevenly, so every zap would be a mystery as to whether I would feel nothing or the rough equivalent of a wasp sting on my face. I found the stress of not knowing what was coming worse than dealing with the pain.

    Obviously neither of those compare to the horror of being paralyzed, powerless, and enduring massive surgery. It’s just, when everything works properly, it really makes you appreciate how far anesthesiology as come to date. How many surgeries simply wouldn’t be possible without fully immobilizing the patient?

    But who knows; maybe if we one day crack this teleportation tech, we can look at humans in their information state and do a little clean up. As your body dematerialized and your consciousness slips into the data aether, Clippy pops up and says:
    “I noticed you had a few pre-cancerous cells; would you like some help?
    []Delete cells.
    []Reconfigure cells to previous state.
    []Just teleport without help.
    []I would rather die of cancer than deal with you, Clippy.”



    Back to Scotty’s transporter…

    It seems to me that the issue at the heart of the transporter problem has little to do with the physical destruction and then reconstruction of a physical entity. That would be the same whether Scotty is sending the Captain or a coat rack.

    The central problem has to do with the gnarly issue of what the heck IS consciousness anyway? Is it something which, like a physical being or object, is just a configuration of constituent parts? Is it like a clock you can take apart and put back together again? When you put a clock back together, you have the same clock. Somehow, it’s not obvious you can do the same with consciousness.

    When you transport a consciousness, you do so by reconstructing the physical entity that is associated with the consciousness: the nervous system including the brain. But did the consciousess come along for the ride as the physical reconstruction did? There is no proof one way or the other but clearly it’s very easy—and not at all unreasonable—to doubt that it did.

    I don’t think we can even take a stab at solving the transporter problem until we have an analysis of consciousness. There are four or five proposed theories of consciousness, but none of them is so compelling or satisfying that it might even be called the leading theory. Clearly, science is still grasping at straws.


    I am working my way through Anil Seth’s book “Being You” and the effort is proving worthwhile.



    Very cool Reg. Let me know how the book is when you are done!




    But do you know if it’s Anil Seth who wrote the book. Or is he dead, Jim, dead, Jim, dead, Jim, dead? 😁



    Fellow Unbelievers,

    A typically cynical libertarian in the Star Trek Universe would say: “Meh! It’s close enough for Federation work!” 😁

    And if Wash from the Firefly/Serenity Universe were to use Transporter technology he’d say: “Don’t know how this Gorram thing works, but I better not look in my bunk. I just might be in there!” 😁

    Zoë then says:”And you better not be in Inara’s shuttle either!” 😁

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by  TheEncogitationer. Reason: Tweaking code

    @Enco –

    Reg, But do you know if it’s Anil Seth who wrote the book. Or is he dead, Jim, dead, Jim, dead, Jim, dead? 😁

    Jim, I think he is alive but maybe not as we know it. Man, I can really clingon to a bad pun. Sorry, its’ just a silly phaser I’m going through and now it is time to bow out via the starboard side.

    To prove that he is alive he will be introduced in the next Sunday school.



    My first thought was about consciousness, too. But first…

    Alive vs dead are indeed matters of definition. Take viruses… the debate on calling them dead or alive is still happening, and in my opinion, it’s similar to whether one calls Pluto a planet or not. IMO, the only time you could call a virus anything close to “alive” is when it’s scattered around within a cell of another living thing, and even then there eventually are gazillions of copies of it’s genetic material before they’re all assembled into packages that usually look just like the original, with an outer covering that can travel to another cell or host, like pollen or seeds. Are seeds “alive”, before they are in the right circumstances to grow?

    It depends on context and definitions. I think in most cases, the better word to define in these cases is “viable”, which has its own baggage and jargony constructions.

    About consciousness, imagine it being uploadable and downloadable. Further, imagine it’s downloadable multiple times into different bodies, or (say) it’s just easier to “transport” a copy of a brain into a new skull with body than it is to transport the whole body. Would this be much different from just having twins or triplets who share the exact same memories? And if you planned to transport yourself by a copy method, would it be ethical or moral to destroy the old you who might otherwise continue to live a normal life?

    I do think it’s just as reasonable to say, if/when my body and consciousness are cloned to one or more other beings, there will then be several other beings just like myself that deserve the status of being declared “real people” and deserving protection to exist rather than to be eliminated… unless the bodies and brains were already dying in pain, in which case that’s where state laws rule the outcome just like they do today. (And state laws could matter even more than scientific definitions… just as they do for “life” in the womb.)

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