No doubt this is a known issue in science fiction, but I’m too lazy to search online now…
I wonder if most people have ever wondered about how cool it would be to be able to teleport? Like, if that technology existed – such as in Star Trek, do most people think it would be cool?
There’s a huge problem with it though. Let’s go through a little thought experiment. Imagine that the technology to teleport already existed and you could use it right now. Here’s what would happen:
- Some technology, that we pretend exists, scans you and somehow makes a snapshot of you on a molecular level, at that instant.
- Zap. You are disintegrated.
- Bap. The snapshot is used, once again with that imaginary technology, to reintegrate your molecules in some other place.
Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Like, you can get up half an hour later and be beamed to work, or you can go on vacation without having to pay for a flight… Hooray!…
…Except there’s a problem. In step two you’d be killed instantly. Step three makes a copy of you on the other side, and reintegrates different molecules into the same structure as you were in the snapshot that was saved. For all intents and purposes, from the perspective of other people, that’s you. That person looks just like you, talks just like you, acts just like you, thinks just like you, and so on. But it’s not you. Your consciousness isn’t transferred to the other place. The person there will have your memories and will feel like they were you, but they weren’t you. You are no more. Your consciousness ends when you’re disintegrated. You fucking died, man… Bummer!
Besides the obvious ethical issues with anyone who would be OK with this, I wouldn’t want to be killed. I wouldn’t want to be disintegrated just so that a copy of me could be made somewhere else. No thank you. I like being alive.
There’s also another issue: If a snapshot can be made, and a copy of you can be zapped into existence, why not just do that? No need to be killed. Just make a copy. Now there are two you’s. I’m not sure what happens next, because you will develop different memories from that point onwards, and this brings up another ethical dilemma. I also can’t exactly send a copy of me to work so I can have some time off, because I won’t have his memories, and then we have an extra mouth to feed, plus the guy will have all my hopes and dreams and we can’t both have the things that are mine. And so on.
Maybe a better way would be if we could somehow fold space? Like, make a portal from here directly to someplace else. That way, I can step through and get somewhere instantly without having to be killed and duplicated.
There’s another technology that suffers the same problem as the teleportation problem. Apparently some scientists are working on a way of digitally saving our brains, so that in future they could be inserted into an artificial body, allowing us to live forever. The article glosses over the fact that they would use nanotechnology to copy the data of the brain, then use cloning technology to restore the brain. But once again, this would be a copy of the person’s brain. It wouldn’t allow you to live forever; instead it would allow someone to make a copy of you long after you’re dead. It wouldn’t be the same person who’s reading this, and thinking it might be a cool idea. And sorry… that’s not the same as living forever. Not by a long shot. Anyway, I’m highly skeptical of that article and pretty certain they’re promising something that can’t be done.
Anyway, these are the silly things I think about. Probably pointless… Maybe such technology will never exist?