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The Transporter Problem

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Lawrence M. Krauss did this 5619 word expose on the Star Trek transporter back in 1995: Beam Me Up an Einstein, Scotty

Not that he provides the last word on the subject, he does reveal that the onion has many layers to it, and presents them from several perspectives derived from several of the fictional explanations provided.

Here's an excerpt from where he gets as close to discussing the consciousness issue:

When a body has no body

Perhaps the most fascinating question about beaming - one that is usually not even addressed - is, What comprises a human being? Are we merely the sum of all our atoms? More precisely, if I were to re-create each atom in your body, in precisely the same chemical state of excitation as your atoms are in at this moment, would I produce a functionally identical person who has exactly all your memories, hopes, dreams, spirit? There is every reason to expect that this would be the case, but it is worth noting that it flies in the face of a great deal of spiritual belief about the existence of a "soul" that is somehow distinct from one's body. What happens when you die, after all? Don't many religions hold that the "soul" can exist after death? What then happens to the soul during the transport process? In this sense, the transporter would be a wonderful experiment in spirituality.

If a person were beamed aboard the Enterprise and remained intact and observably unchanged, it would provide dramatic evidence that a human being is no more than the sum of his or her parts, and the demonstration would directly confront a wealth of spiritual beliefs.

 

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3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

The transporter is somewhat of a trifle... (not a tribble) but it has the potential to reveal how different Objectivists interpret (get wrong or right?) Objectivist metaphysics.

The way identity and particularity of existents has been ignored, flexed, bent, and word-smithed is somewhat alarming and disheartening.  There is plenty of room to ponder the questions raised by the teleporter within a solid philosophy grounded in existence/nature/identity... but unfortunately this is not what we see playing out, and to see the pondering result in bending that philosophy based on nothing but feeling or intuition, is sad.

There is nothing more or less than existence = identity.

Nah. Objectivist metaphysics only applies to phenomena that is ultimately apparent using only the human senses without the assist of technology, and is only valid in that domain. It also can't necessarily be applied outside those parameters, and then applied to physical phenomena that were only discovered via means of scientific inquiry, and the use of technology. You can't use the limited scope of Objectivist metaphysics to wipe out incontrovertible facts of reality such as the existence of quantum entanglement. You look at reality, and then it tells you what is true or false, regardless of any apparent "tension" between your metaphysics theory and observed fact. The tension doesn't actually exist in reality, it's only appears that way if you try to apply your metaphysics in a domain that it doesn't apply within. I.e., observed facts about reality that were used using technology and science, rather than simply the mind using data ultimately from it's senses alone.

Edited by EC

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3 minutes ago, EC said:

Objectivist metaphysics only applies to phenomena that is ultimately apparent using only the human senses without the assist of technology, and is only valid in that domain.

Nope

3 minutes ago, EC said:

It also can't necessarily can't be applied outside those parameters, and then applied to physical phenomena that were only discovered via means of scientific inquiry, and the use of technology.

Nope

 

3 minutes ago, EC said:

You can't use the limited scope of Objectivist metaphysics to wipe out incontrovertible facts of reality such as the existence of quantum entanglement.

Not limited.  No incontrovertible fact has been subject to an attempt to wipe it out.  What does quantum entanglement have anything to do with the status of existence = identity?

 

5 minutes ago, EC said:

The tension doesn't actually exist in reality, it's only appears that way if you try to apply your metaphysics in a domain that it doesn't apply within. I.e., observed facts about reality that were used using technology and science, rather than simply the mind using data ultimately from it's senses alone.

There is no tension between philosophy and reality.

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19 hours ago, EC said:

Grunching.

You taught me a new term today. Thank you! :)

19 hours ago, EC said:

The resolution to this is whether or not every particle from "the old body and therefore mind" was or wasn't entangled with the particles of the "new body/mind".

I think your proposed resolution is fascinating. In truth, I do not understand quantum mechanics/entanglement sufficiently to comment past that -- and especially what consequences entanglement might have for mind and consciousness.

So I'll offer some temporary agreement that this might approach one day solve the conundrum (which, as a Trekkie from a very tender age, would be awesome); but absent some quantum workaround, I believe that my criticisms of the transporter 1) stand as written, and 2) serve my central purpose in highlighting our sometimes varying approaches to the metaphysics of the FPE.

17 hours ago, EC said:

At this point, it is obvious to see what OP was trying to explain...

I am grateful that you have understood me.

17 hours ago, EC said:

Oh, and since I'm talking to other Objectivists that have a natural tendency to disbelieve quantum entanglement actually exists...

I am currently agnostic as to quantum mechanics; my default approach is to trust scientific matters to scientists.

15 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Continuity of experience (the sort of feeling when you wake up, whether that is from sleeping or a coma)
Continuity of memory (feeling that your past history is connected to your current history, and your imagined future history)
Some progression or linear set of events from original form (how you change from when you wake up in the morning is a pretty straightforward change)
A sense of free will

I will stipulate that the person who emerges from the transporter experiences all of these, except that there would not necessarily be "the sort of feeling when you wake up." Rather, there need not be any residual effect from the transportation itself.

15 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Any amount of time.

Again, perfect. You're defending the ideal position against which I can demonstrate my own.

15 hours ago, Eiuol said:

It can be any of those things. I question if a purely online form could meet all the criteria, (e.g., do you need sense perception to have continuity of experience?) but nothing makes me say no right off the bat.

Fair enough. We will initially concentrate on the transporter, then.

Here's where I believe we are currently: you believe that you could step into the transporter (#1, living room) and emerge from the other (#2, garage) and be reconstituted from any material (meaning: not necessarily the original atoms) over any given time frame.

I'd guess that we agree that transporter #2, then, reconstitutes you according to some pattern. It takes the atoms or molecules (or whatever) that Eiuol requires and puts them in proper position -- just so -- and the result is you, Eiuol. Do I have that correct?

8 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Perhaps we will be better able to address these questions once we have a better understanding of exactly how the brain works and exactly how it gives rise to the mind and the FPE.

Perhaps. But at present I am not convinced that all of these questions are fundamentally scientific in nature; I suspect they may be philosophical instead.

7 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

FWIW, this happened on Star Trek, the Next Generation, and the time span was considerably more than a single year.  They found a place where two people had been stranded long ago and had put themselves into the transporter, in effect being indefinitely in the middle of being transported.  Presumably the hope was that someone would come along to complete the transportation and rescue them.  One of the signals had deteriorated over time and the person could not be brought back.  The other could be.  It was Scotty from classic Star Trek.

Yes. "Relics," I believe. Star Trek has had a few interesting explorations of transporter technology (as perhaps could be expected). We may run into another episode or two shortly.

5 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

The transporter is somewhat of a trifle... (not a tribble) but it has the potential to reveal how different Objectivists interpret (get wrong or right?) Objectivist metaphysics.

I agree that it is a trifle, somewhat. But the persistence and ubiquity of these sorts of fictional devices (not just transportation, but also continuation via clone, hologram, android, virtual presence, avatar, etc., etc., etc.) leads me to believe that the underlying matters are important to people generally, and also that in some future, near or far, people will attempt to implement them practically.

But yes, I raised the example to draw attention to the underlying metaphysics -- and most specifically, that of the FPE.

5 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

The way identity and particularity of existents has been ignored, flexed, bent, and word-smithed is somewhat alarming and disheartening.  There is plenty of room to ponder the questions raised by the teleporter within a solid philosophy grounded in existence/nature/identity... but unfortunately this is not what we see playing out, and to see the pondering result in bending that philosophy based on nothing but feeling or intuition, is sad.

I don't know what you're addressing specifically, but I don't consider this conversation "sad." If people make errors, that's to be expected in this context, and those errors can be addressed. I'm glad that people are here, willing to participate, even if they should err along the way.

5 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

There is nothing more or less than existence = identity.

I agree that "existence is identity" in the way Rand described:

"To exist is to be something, as distinguished from the nothing of nonexistence, it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes."

But this does not make any argument as to the nature or attribute(s) of any given entity. It does not tell us whether transportation is possible or not, or under what terms, and (if this is what you refer to, in part) it has no position with respect to quantum mechanics. So it is not true that "there is nothing more or less than existence = identity"; there is everything more, the whole of human scientific knowledge.

5 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

What is difficult to place into this framework is the transporter brushing with death in order to accomplish the goal.

So that my position is clear, I do not agree that there is any "brush with death," but simply death. When you are disassembled, you are dead. When someone else is reassembled according to your pattern? That person is alive. But you are not. You are still dead.

4 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Lawrence M. Krauss did this 5619 word expose on the Star Trek transporter back in 1995: Beam Me Up an Einstein, Scotty

Not that he provides the last word on the subject, he does reveal that the onion has many layers to it, and presents them from several perspectives derived from several of the fictional explanations provided.

Here's an excerpt from where he gets as close to discussing the consciousness issue:

When a body has no body

Perhaps the most fascinating question about beaming - one that is usually not even addressed - is, What comprises a human being?

I agree that this is the most fascinating question; it is the question I am pointing to; and it is not addressed, to my knowledge, in Star Trek (except perhaps tangentially), which implicitly takes Eiuol's position.

What I argue is missing in the Star Trek conception of "what comprises a human being" is: the FPE and its metaphysical reality.

4 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Are we merely the sum of all our atoms? More precisely, if I were to re-create each atom in your body, in precisely the same chemical state of excitation as your atoms are in at this moment, would I produce a functionally identical person who has exactly all your memories, hopes, dreams, spirit?

If you were to re-create each atom in your body in the described fashion, yes you would produce a "functionally identical person who has exactly all your memories, hopes, dreams, spirit."

But there is quite a devil in the detail of "functionally identical person" -- and that devil is, it would not be you.

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3 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

I don't know what you're addressing specifically, but I don't consider this conversation "sad." If people make errors, that's to be expected in this context, and those errors can be addressed. I'm glad that people are here, willing to participate, even if they should err along the way.

DA

 

Can you not see??  You have made NO reasoned argument... only an assertion!!  (You DO know the difference... yes?)  The FPE is not transported - is not an argument, it is an assertion.

Sigh... I hope you did not only make your argument to Euoieouiouoieoil.. because I am not following detailed back and forths with other people which may have no bearing on my conversation with you....

I guess I'll scan the thread again... but you really need to make a reasoned argument.. i.e. state your reasons for any and every assertion which is not self-evident.

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On ‎11‎/‎18‎/‎2018 at 10:10 PM, DonAthos said:

I yet argue that there is a fundamental metaphysical difference which cannot be assessed from "outside," i.e. it is a different person with respect to the FPE. The Kirk who leaves the transporter is not the same Kirk as the one who entered it; the Kirk who entered the transporter is dead.

 

On ‎11‎/‎18‎/‎2018 at 10:10 PM, DonAthos said:

Whatever interruption or discontinuity of consciousness that sleep provides (as well as being knocked unconscious, in a coma, or "legally dead" then revived) it is not the same as the death of the transporter, which I argue is utter obliteration.

 

On ‎11‎/‎18‎/‎2018 at 10:10 PM, DonAthos said:

I argue that the answer to that question depends on whether we believe that a consciousness can be reconstituted such that the associated FPE remains the same

 

On ‎11‎/‎19‎/‎2018 at 1:20 PM, DonAthos said:

If I assume that the transporter cannot make a perfect copy of Kirk 1, then I agree that the question disappears; but I cannot assume it. Rather, I argue that the transporter cannot make a perfect copy of Kirk 1... in one -- and only one -- respect: FPE.

 

On ‎11‎/‎19‎/‎2018 at 1:20 PM, DonAthos said:

But again -- and this reflects my argument, not an "assumption" -- with one crucial difference: FPE. A transported brain will have a mind and it will necessarily have an FPE -- but it will not be the same FPE.

 

On ‎11‎/‎19‎/‎2018 at 1:20 PM, DonAthos said:

Disassembling and reassembling a bed is "exact copy" enough for any conceivable purpose, in my opinion. We can allow this to be true of a brain as well. Rather, I argue that the FPE is utterly unique in this regard.

and TODAY DonAthos said:

"What I argue is missing in the Star Trek conception of "what comprises a human being" is: the FPE and its metaphysical reality. "

 

All of the above contain the claim that you "argue" something... I have not been able to find that argument anywhere... as such it reverts to a bald assertion... i.e. an assumption.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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9 hours ago, EC said:

Objectivist metaphysics only applies to phenomena that is ultimately apparent using only the human senses without the assist of technology, and is only valid in that domain.

Objectivist metaphysics is very thin. As far as the law of identity, there is nothing else to be said other than the thing can't be itself and then not be itself at the same time. A thing can't be entangled and not entangled at the same time - leaving aside if the science of quantum physics is valid. In other words, the scope is very wide, and applies just fine when using technology and peculiar scientific theories that go against common sense. 

Your speculation is fine, but I don't think you even need entanglement to make the point. I don't think there is any meaningful way to say that the "you" has disintegrated or ceased to be. If QM explains how consciousness is continuous across time, even in gaps of awareness, fine, but we don't need that detail. The fact is, regardless of how, it's simply continuous in the same circumstances as the transported person.

2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

except that there would not necessarily be "the sort of feeling when you wake up." Rather, there need not be any residual effect from the transportation itself.


I meant that you don't feel as if your consciousness "froze", or that you were "out". If the transported person is the same way, that is one less reason to think the person died.

2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I'd guess that we agree that transporter #2, then, reconstitutes you according to some pattern. It takes the atoms or molecules (or whatever) that Eiuol requires and puts them in proper position -- just so -- and the result is you, Eiuol. Do I have that correct?

That's right. The implication here is that for something to be meaningfully the same, there must be some kind of similar pattern. That is, in this case, there must be a similar "mind pattern", even if everything else is different. Further, to be the same instance of a mind pattern, continuity is required. To say I'm wrong, you have to demonstrate that either continuity ceases, or that my tests of consciousness and self are not sufficient to determine if someone is the same person.

In case my use of the word similar throws you off, I'm saying that because physical form can change, which might require converting from an electric pattern to a digital one. The pattern is otherwise the same. This might change my position about a digital mind upload (going from electrical chemical patterns to digital patterns might qualify as loss of continuity), but this doesn't affect what I say about the transporter.

Edited by Eiuol

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The following is a slightly slippery slope: Let's get to the essential part of the argument though. A strong artificial intelligence (AI) that has the same mental capacities of a human (or greater) that is designed to run on supercomputer A. This fills in for Man A (Kirk or whomever) in the original argument, but assume this AI is a rational conceptual entity. It's mind is an emergent property of the software installed on it's supercomputer (similar to our brain).

The creator's of this AI wants to transport this AI's mind from it's original location in the US to China (or wherever). They could simply copy all it's code, memories, etc. and load it up on supercomputer B and bring it to life. That second AI having all the originals memories and thoughts would think it is the original, but it's not. The original wasn't destroyed in the copy/transportation process. These two are not the same and if the original AI was erased or destroyed, then it is "dead", and the copy is just a copy. That is DonAthos point in the original teleporter  scenario. The copy is not you, because it is not your mind, even though it's an identical in every way copy that believes it is you.

The entanglement part that I added was to allow mind/consciousness transfer from an original to a copy without destroying the mind of the original person in the process. I.e., to avoid death of the original you. To relate this to the AI mind transfer above, it would be like the mind of the AI transferring via the internet from the original supercomputer in the US to the one in China without creating "a copy" at any point or involving the "death" of the original AI. It's mind/consciousness stayed itself through the whole process, and was never shut down or blinked out of existence for any period of time in it's travel.

Edited by EC

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3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Can you not see??  You have made NO reasoned argument... only an assertion!!  (You DO know the difference... yes?)

I understand your frustration. I often feel similarly and struggle in dealing with it appropriately. I hope that we are nonetheless committed to being polite to one another. And if you can maintain sufficient patience and composure, I hope eventually to explain my argument to you.

31 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

That's right. The implication here is that for something to be meaningfully the same, there must be some kind of similar pattern. That is, in this case, there must be a similar "mind pattern", even if everything else is different. Further, to be the same instance of a mind pattern, continuity is required. To say I'm wrong, you have to demonstrate that either continuity ceases, or that my tests of consciousness and self are not sufficient to determine if someone is the same person.

Very good -- you can be reconstituted by the Eiuol-pattern and by the requisite constituent elements (which need not be the original elements).

So far we have envisioned the transporter as taking place in two steps -- a "deconstruction" and a "reconstruction," if you will. But if, in order to build Eiuol, I only need the Eiuol-pattern and the requisite constituent elements, as above...

Then couldn't I build a Eiuol without first deconstructing you?

Or, if not, what would stop me from doing this successfully?

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I just thought of something else. I believe what Eiuol is envisioning is something more like a traversable wormhole where a person could step into a "portal" in one place then travel instantaneously to another place outside of conventional spacetime. In that instance he would be right that the person is identical and never dies, he just traveled. But that's different then a teleporter that disassembles a person and puts them back together somewhere else, that would be the original person's death.

Sorry to come back to this but my entanglement idea would avoid this in the same way a wormhole would, because there is a serious chance that quantum entanglement and a wormhole are one and the same phenomena.   

 

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Another (classic this time) Star Trek episode that might provide food for thought for this discussion:

Kirk and some other crew members are on a planet.  Kirk is beamed back, but there's an issue with the transporter, so they hold off on beaming back the rest.  After everyone's left the transporter room, another Kirk materializes, with a strange look on his face.  It turns out that Kirk's personality and character have been divided into two parts, one in each copy.  (Whether this actually makes sense, and whether the parts as presented in the episode make sense, might be a subject for a separate thread.)  

The first Kirk to materialize turns out to be weak and indecisive.

The second one is aggressive and out of control.  He assaults a female crew member, who fortunately escapes without serious harm.

Eventually they get both Kirks to the transporter and use it to reintegrate the two into the original Kirk.  It is quickly clear that it worked; the difference between him and either partial one is plain from their behavior.  His first act is to order them to beam up the other crew members (now that the problem is fixed).

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The 1995 science fiction story Think Like a Dinosaur by James Patrick Kelly describes a different process of transporting (called migration).  The original body remains intact when the signal is sent.  If something goes wrong, the process can be repeated.  Once it is clear that the new body has been successfully created, it is time to "balance the equation" by destroying the old body.  A flunky presses a button to send "a killing pulse of ionizing radiation through the cerebral cortex of the migrator's duplicated, and therefore unnecessary, body.  No brain, no pain; death followed within seconds."  The migrator is fully aware that this will happen and can back out at any time, right up until the moment the signal is created.  

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9 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I understand your frustration. I often feel similarly and struggle in dealing with it appropriately. I hope that we are nonetheless committed to being polite to one another. And if you can maintain sufficient patience and composure, I hope eventually to explain my argument to you.

Ok.  That argument is precisely what i have alternatively attempted to draw out from you and asked you directly to provide.  I look forward to having something to discuss.

 

There are a few things about FPE which are interesting to note:

1. It is is not acausal or causally impotent, it participates in causing a whole chain of interactions and events including for example memories, decisions, actions, discussions, and the very real physical record of this thread.

2.  FPE is in the context of a person, who was slowly created (and continually) from constituents, both the person and the FPE coming into being as part of that process.

3.  The FPE is inseparable from the person, it never exists independent of the person.

4.  The FPE goes out of existence when the constituents of the person are disintegrated or caused to cease functioning in certain ways.

5.  FPE exists is natural and has identity

 

There are a few things about the relationship between viewpoint and existence that are interesting to note:

A. Existence of a thing is not caused by a viewer of any viewpoint viewing it.

B.  A person having a viewpoint or a particular awareness of something does not causally rely upon the person diverting part of the resources for viewing or awareness to introspectively view or hold as an additional object of awareness that first viewpoint or particular awareness of the something.  A viewpoint’s existence does not require viewing the viewpoint as a causal factor for its existence.

C.  In any case, a person and a mind are finite and cannot engage in an infinite number of self referential viewpoints of the self having a viewpoint of the self having a viewpoint of ...

D.  A third person view of a person can take into account the fact that a person has a first person view... it cannot BE that view but it can view the fact of that view.  My telescope can be trained on your telescope and confirm your telescope is pointed in a unique direction from mine.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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10 hours ago, EC said:

I believe what Eiuol is envisioning is something more like a traversable wormhole where a person could step into a "portal" in one place then travel instantaneously to another place outside of conventional spacetime. In that instance he would be right that the person is identical and never dies, he just traveled.

Not really. I've thought about that before, I view that as simply travel rather than any kind of transporter scenario.

I'm claiming that this "disassembly and reassembly" isn't destroying or annihilating what I call "you" and what you call "me". I don't see this as different than being completely frozen in a block of ice, then revived. In a way, I'm saying the mind is not disassembled at all through this transporter, because we are already assuming that at the other end of the transporter, the person feels as if they had been going about their day just like any other. Even if every single particle is pulled apart such that your body is a cloud (clearly biologically dead, but revived at the other end).

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

A viewpoint’s existence does not require viewing the viewpoint as a causal factor for its existence.

If you can't view the viewpoint as causal, then I don't think you can call it first-person experience. I don't think something can experience itself as not itself. If you mean "view" as in believe, this is fine, but if you mean as in experience, I think you're wrong.

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

a person and a mind are finite and cannot engage in an infinite number of self referential viewpoints of the self

There might be a "computational limit" for a specific mind, but I don't see why we can't say there are infinite self-referential viewpoints.

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5 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

If you can't view the viewpoint as causal, then I don't think you can call it first-person experience. I don't think something can experience itself as not itself. If you mean "view" as in believe, this is fine, but if you mean as in experience, I think you're wrong.

Read what I wrote more precisely and carefully please.  

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9 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

There might be a "computational limit" for a specific mind, but I don't see why we can't say there are infinite self-referential viewpoints.

ok you can start the regression but never complete it 

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I can't read B more carefully, what you wrote simply isn't very clear. I reread it like 10 times, so I rephrased what I understood. I don't think it matters much either, because we aren't questioning if the transported person has first-person experience. All we need to know is if it is the same individual.

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3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Ok.  That argument is precisely what i have alternatively attempted to draw out from you and asked you directly to provide.  I look forward to having something to discuss.

I have been endeavoring to provide it.

Some topics are relatively straightforward, in my opinion, and some somewhat less so. There is plenty to discuss here, as I believe the thread stands testament, and it is in the discussing that I hope to help you to understand what I'm pointing at. This is, in part, why I ask for patience.

3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

4.  The FPE goes out of existence when the constituents of the person are disintegrated or caused to cease functioning in certain ways.

All right. Here's a question in corollary: given transporter technology, which aims to "reintegrate" a person from constituent material according to some pattern, does the FPE come back into existence?

3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

D.  A third person view of a person can take into account the fact that a person has a first person view... it cannot BE that view but it can view the fact of that view.  My telescope can be trained on your telescope and confirm your telescope is pointed in a unique direction from mine.

Yes and no. This is what is so curious about the FPE and which makes these sorts of discussions rather tricky. We can infer the fact of the first person view of others', but we cannot observe it directly (meaning: not only the specific content of that view, but even that the view exists in the first place).

This is why, for instance and with respect to "artificial intelligence," we fumble with things like the Turing Test -- it is an attempt to infer something that cannot, by its nature, be observed directly.

So, I have a telescope. I know this for a fact, from my direct, first-hand experience of it. And I expect that every other human does, too, based on my observations (of behavior, of biology, etc.). I further expect, on this same basis, that someone who emerges from a transporter has a telescope.

But -- is it the same telescope that the entity which first entered the transporter possessed? A difficult question to answer, given that none of us can see the telescope itself. And yet that's what my argument intends to show -- that it is not, in fact, the same telescope. If you follow along with my current conversation with Eiuol (and yes, I do rather expect thread participants to read the posts in the thread; or at least, I do not intend to retype the same arguments or information to the various participants), then I hope you will soon agree with me.

2 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I'm claiming that this "disassembly and reassembly" isn't destroying or annihilating what I call "you" and what you call "me". I don't see this as different than being completely frozen in a block of ice, then revived. In a way, I'm saying the mind is not disassembled at all through this transporter, because we are already assuming that at the other end of the transporter, the person feels as if they had been going about their day just like any other. Even if every single particle is pulled apart such that your body is a cloud (clearly biologically dead, but revived at the other end).

Eiuol, I want to make sure you didn't miss it -- above I'd asked you a follow-up question about this stance (and to further clarify, you don't see this as different than being "completely frozen in a block of ice, then revived" OR waking up from a nap -- correct?):

Given that what I need to "reassemble" Eiuol is a Eiuol-pattern and the requisite constituent elements, couldn't I then build a Eiuol without first deconstructing you?

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Yeah, I missed that post. Yes, you have my position correct.

I think you're asking in the second question what would happen if I use a transporter that assembled another version of me at the other end of the transporter, while my current self stayed put. In a sense, that would only be one of me still. But this is where it would get weird. I would describe this as a "branched" version of me. It would be like having a parallel mind. I don't think in principle a mind must only have 1 first-person experience. Why not 5 distinct first-person experiences? Part for part, they are distinct, but they are still all me.

The point you seem to be trying to bring out is if reconstruction without deconstruction produces the same person, or two distinct persons. If they are distinct persons, then clearly, deconstructing the original person means the original person is completely gone, dead, kaput.

I know my solution is very weird, but I don't think that violates the law of identity. 

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4 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Not really. I've thought about that before, I view that as simply travel rather than any kind of transporter scenario.

I'm claiming that this "disassembly and reassembly" isn't destroying or annihilating what I call "you" and what you call "me". I don't see this as different than being completely frozen in a block of ice, then revived. In a way, I'm saying the mind is not disassembled at all through this transporter, because we are already assuming that at the other end of the transporter, the person feels as if they had been going about their day just like any other. Even if every single particle is pulled apart such that your body is a cloud (clearly biologically dead, but revived at the other end).

Assuming that this type of travel via transporter takes some finite amount of time, say the information that encodes you travels from one point to another at the speed of light, it seems to me you are implicitly saying here that a mind can still exist during this period where it has no physical manifestation. This should be impossible in my view, because while a mind is not a brain it requires the existence of a brain (or some sort of existing computational substrate, at least) for it to exist. But during the finite travel time before "reassembly" the brain, and therefore, the mind ceased to exist. A mind ceasing to exist for even a short time is what I, and I believe DonAthos would consider death, even if a perfect pre-death copy is created a millisecond later somewhere else from the point of view of the human (or whatever type of rational entity) that existed prior to the travel. To make that explicit, during the small but finite travel time the mind was "blinked" out of existence. You are claiming the mind doesn't cease to exist at any point? I don't see how that could be true when the substrate that mind needs to exist absolutely would cease to exist during the finite travel time.

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1 hour ago, EC said:

To make that explicit, during the small but finite travel time the mind was "blinked" out of existence. You are claiming the mind doesn't cease to exist at any point? I don't see how that could be true when the substrate that mind needs to exist absolutely would cease to exist during the finite travel time.

There would be a gap, and during that gap, I'm not claiming that the mind is still there. It goes out of existence, then it comes back. Not all things that go away can come back, but some things can. Capacities and processes, like the mind, can go away and then return. There is temporary amnesia, temporary aphasia. Does there need to be a strand of consciousness leftover in order for consciousness to return in full? I don't think so. Not only can you lose some of your consciousness, but all of it.

If I were designing the technology for a story, I would do a piece by piece disassembly then reassembly. I think there would be fewer potential problems this way, fewer ways for the technology to go wrong on the reassembly stage. But if disassembly is all at once, and reassembly is all at once, this is possible. A mind really does blink out of existence sometimes. If you get knocked out, you lose consciousness. The consciousness went away. It blinked out of existence. But when you wake up, there is continuity of you as a self, even if experience was completely gone for a period of time. You don't say that the old you died, and a new you came to be. In the case of the transporter, you are re-embodied. I'm not claiming that at any point there is a disembodied mind.  

In other words, any "death" is temporary. A biological death, probably.

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

I know my solution is very weird, but I don't think that violates the law of identity. 

LOL, well...

I won't contend that your solution "violates the law of identity," per se (though I imagine that SL, Plasmatic, et al., would gladly do), but "weird"? Is a bit of an understatement. You can grant me that much, at least, yes?

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

I think you're asking in the second question what would happen if I use a transporter that assembled another version of me at the other end of the transporter, while my current self stayed put.

Indeed I am.

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

In a sense, that would only be one of me still. But this is where it would get weird. I would describe this as a "branched" version of me. It would be like having a parallel mind. I don't think in principle a mind must only have 1 first-person experience. Why not 5 distinct first-person experiences? Part for part, they are distinct, but they are still all me.

So...

I'm trying to get a grasp on this. I know that EC suggested something similar, earlier, but (at the risk of confusing our sci-fi universes) I do not quite grok it.

You're saying that several physically distinct entities, multiple Eiuols (or is the plural simply "Eiuol"), would share the same consciousness? On the basis of having the same physical components in the same pattern?

I'll admit that I find that very difficult to imagine, much less to believe. You're positing a... hive mind, then? And if you were recreated in other fashions (like online, as we'd alluded to before), you would share a single consciousness between physical and virtual incarnations? And if you died today, but five thousand years from now, material was assembled into your particular configuration, you believe that you, yourself -- which is to say, your consciousness, your particular FPE -- would spring back into existence accordingly, as though you had just woken up from a nap?

That is... hard for me to credit. (But I suppose it might allay some of Boydstun's fears about inevitable nuclear war; to our scattered bodies, go!)

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

The point you seem to be trying to bring out is if reconstruction without deconstruction produces the same person, or two distinct persons. If they are distinct persons, then clearly, deconstructing the original person means the original person is completely gone, dead, kaput.

You have read my intentions exactly. And I will admit that I would initially suspect two people (for instance, Eiuol-Alpha, you; and Eiuol-Beta, the one I create in the garage) to be distinct persons; I find that easier to believe, at least, than the hive mind hypothesis. It seems to agree with my experience.

It also appears to comport with Star Trek's treatment of a similar case with Will Riker and his one-time transporter duplicate, Thomas. Given Thomas Riker's existence (and divergence from Will Riker), at the very least, I think my case is made that use of the transporter (as shown on Star Trek) is fatal -- is it not?

But in real life, I suppose we would still need to sort out this claim to a hive mind? Tell me, given that identical twins initially split from a common source, do they tell us anything about the subject? Granted, the separation is as early as can be, and there is no brain at that point (and therefore no mind), and yet... I don't know, Eiuol, would you give any credence to claims that identical twins have some sort of innate sense of one another?

1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

I know my solution is very weird, but I don't think that violates the law of identity. 

At the moment, your solution seems to me to verge on the mystical, but that's as far as I'm willing to go, for now. (How nice it would be to be wrong about this; I would love to believe that, at some indeterminate point past my "death," I might suddenly be summoned back to existence. Although, if it would make possible certain conceptions of heaven, then I suppose it might equally allow for hell.)

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4 hours ago, DonAthos said:

But -- is it the same telescope that the entity which first entered the transporter possessed? 

While I patiently wait for you to reveal your argument let’s assume for discussion that FPE is emergent in the way you believe.

Emergence occurs only in the context of natural constituents giving rise to it.  One kind of emergence might occur with respect to a first thing while a second kind of emergence occurs with respect to some second thing but some third thing might not exhibit any kind of emergence.  Clearly there is something different about the first, second, and third thing which forms the different conditions for the different emergences.  In some cases the structure or arrangement or relationships between constituents in the thing is that something different, in other types of emergence it may be the interactions or dynamic processes ... whatever the case emergence emerges in virtue of the identity of that which forms the basis of that emergence.

There is something about the identity of the brain which gives rise to mind and to consciousness.  There is no doubt that the identity of the emergence is caused by the identity of that which is the source from which it emerges... and more particularly that something about it which matters and is operative to cause the emergence.

One question that comes to mind is, in what ways could the identity of the brain be manipulated without affecting the emergent mind.  This depends upon that something of the thing (brain) which causes emergence ... the particular how and why the mind arises.  Any fiddling with that particular something or somehow meddles with that particular emergence... other changes might in fact have no effect.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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also for purposes of discussion let us assume emergence is very sensitive, so that minor disturbances to that something about the brain which gives rise to the emergence affect that emergence greatly and possibly threaten it ( as opposed to a robust one which would only be greatly affected by major disturbances).  An analogy in the abstract might be a pyramid of glasses.

If we were a bit more primitive or naive we might think mind emerges from music of geometry of our head or brain matter similar to the music of the spheres ... our head constituents singing in the cosmos might be assumed to be mind.  Then shape and vibration might be very important to consider.

A transporter is nothing special then when it comes to the need to protect the FPE. IF subtle shapes and vibration in the mind are key one should be wary of excessively loud forms of transportation or extreme vibration.

Similar considerations would apply if we found that emergence depended on ambient pressure or altitude in the gravitational field or perhaps was simply limited in the amount of acceleration which could be applied to the brain.  Accelerate too quickly and our pyramid of glasses comes crashing down.

Here transportation involving air flight might be something to avoid.

Of course you might be thinking but we know that the special something about the. brain which gives rise to emergence of mind are not such that small pressure vibration or compression changes to the brain threaten emergence... 

My point only is that how the relationship between that special something and the resulting emergence are affected by the proposed mode or procedure of transport IS what is crucially important.

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19 hours ago, Eiuol said:

There would be a gap, and during that gap, I'm not claiming that the mind is still there. It goes out of existence, then it comes back. Not all things that go away can come back, but some things can. Capacities and processes, like the mind, can go away and then return. There is temporary amnesia, temporary aphasia. Does there need to be a strand of consciousness leftover in order for consciousness to return in full? I don't think so. Not only can you lose some of your consciousness, but all of it.

If I were designing the technology for a story, I would do a piece by piece disassembly then reassembly. I think there would be fewer potential problems this way, fewer ways for the technology to go wrong on the reassembly stage. But if disassembly is all at once, and reassembly is all at once, this is possible. A mind really does blink out of existence sometimes. If you get knocked out, you lose consciousness. The consciousness went away. It blinked out of existence. But when you wake up, there is continuity of you as a self, even if experience was completely gone for a period of time. You don't say that the old you died, and a new you came to be. In the case of the transporter, you are re-embodied. I'm not claiming that at any point there is a disembodied mind.  

In other words, any "death" is temporary. A biological death, probably.

I think I understand your argument completely now, though I don't agree with it. I would say that when you get knocked out, have amnesia, or in some way lose consciousness is a completely different thing than when your brain ceases to exist. During conventional loss of consciousness the brain still exists and can restart at any point it regains enough health to do so. In the case of it being vaporized the brain ceases to exist and thus a mind "loaded" on it can never be restarted, even though a perfect copy could at some point later.

Would I be wrong in assuming after the last sentence in your response that you would believe as a result that a person who died now, and who's body completely decays over the centuries could be brought back to life as the *exact* same person, say, ten thousand years from now using similar technology to the "reassembly" phase of the proposed transporter tech *if* somehow we could take a complete scan of their mind/body in our own time that could be saved to use for this future technology?

I'm starting to wonder how far into the arbitrary this whole conversation is starting to go now. If I had to put a number on the possibility of even the original transporter technology ever becoming possible, it would only be 50/50 chance at best based on what I know of the laws of physics.

Edited by EC

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