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DonAthos

The Transporter Problem

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@DonAthos You are correct that what I have postulated has evolved, but that's only because I'm trying to envision a realistic scenario that involves "FPE" destruction, nondestruction, or the ability to transfer and therefore avoidance of destruction (assuming that's possible). I'm trying make to sure this whole debate isn't a form of debate that's essentially just talking about "squared circles" or something that is impossible in reality. As to everything I said about entanglement, that's mostly to suggest that specifically the fundamental principles of reality that might make such teleportation possible in reality might also provide a way out of the conundrum of "FPE death".

I've been thinking hard on this, and have decided the subject needs to happen on a more abstract level that includes human minds but isn't limited to only them, so that people aren't sneaking in preconceived notions about their thoughts on man in general. A general AI running on a specific "computer" vs another otherwise identical computer is something I will discuss in the future.

I'll be back with more when I completely flesh out everything I'm thinking of exactly in the near future.

But, I will leave one thing here for everyone to possibly discuss if it interests them: Imagine putting a living human inside of a skin tight "force field" such that the entire human body is completely separated from the environment with zero space between the person's body and this "force field". The person is then vaporized while inside the force field such that his now free flowing particles that remain are still confined to the volume left inside this force field and can not mix with the outside environment. Then "through the 'magic' of future technology is put back together exactly the same as prior to vaporization (likely impossible due to quantum fluctuations due to the uncertainty principle, and the second law of thermodynamics, etc. *which my be key to resolving all this due to loss of information at the quantum level*).

Would the identical mind that results then share the same FPE with the mind that existed before it's substrate/brain was vaporized? I think the answer is still no because the existence of the substrate was discontinuous. The substrate that causes any mind to exist must exist continuously, with no discontinuities for a particular FPE of a mind to continue existing. This is fundamentally different than a person experiencing a coma, a alcohol induced blackout, etc., or more abstractly a general AI having it's processor switched off then turned back on after some period of time, because the substrate (brain, memory, processor) never cease to exist even if it's unused for some period of time. Vaporizing a mind's substrate that is the cause of it's emergence is fundamentally different than those examples because there was a finite period of time that even the capability of mind "production" (and therefore that mind's previous FPE) was completely destroyed and obliterated. When the substrate is then rebuilt and the mind reactivated must be a new FPE because the previous FPE lost the ability to exist for a finite period of time.

Edited by EC

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On 11/28/2018 at 1:31 PM, DonAthos said:

But if the mechanism purports to disassemble a person and then reassemble (or as I would argue is more strictly true, "assemble") a person at a distance, then I do have questions about the nature of the result, whether we call it "transportation" or something else. I don't doubt that the person who steps off of the transporter has a first person experience; but I question whether it is the exact same first person experience as that of the person who'd initially entered the transporter. 

Perhaps consider this: Is it the vessel that validates reality, or its contents?

Your problem is essentially confined to a zero sum game for all intents and purposes (setting the Riker, and other examples aside); one individual in - one individual out. The food unit, for example, uses additional stuff to produce the meal, but the transporter does not. So unless you're struggling with the concept of a disembodied soul, what you put in is exactly what you get out.  If this were a computer with software, which includes AI, I doubt you'd consider the reassembled AI as a different program.

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Here's another scenario that assumes future technology that may or may not turn out to actually be possible.  A person uploads a complete copy of his consciousness, memory, convictions, character, personality, and what-have-you to electronic storage.  Then he suffers a catastrophic stroke that completely trashes his brain, erasing most of the content there.  Then medical technology regenerates the nerve cells, making a physically healthy brain, but with the content still missing.  Then the backed-up content is downloaded back into the healed brain.  Things are now as they were before, with the same content, but it is a copy of a copy.  

For FPE purposes, is this the same as beaming someone down to a planet's surface and then beaming them back up to the ship, or is there a significant difference?

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50 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

For FPE purposes, is this the same as beaming someone down to a planet's surface and then beaming them back up to the ship, or is there a significant difference?

The difference would be the creation of a mind-body dichotomy similar to the example of cloning.  A copy, by any definition, creates a 2nd something (or a 3rd, 4th, etc), which the Law of Identity posits as NOT the same.  In your scenario, the original mind remains with the body, suffers the stroke, and is brought back to life, i.e.  once the body is returned to normal function, one presumes the original mind returns as well.  By "original", I mean whatever mind is present as a result of the body that generates it; same body - same mind.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
clarification

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Well Doug, I'd say the terms you're using, e.g. "erased", "copied", determine the difference, but DonAthos may be more agreeable.  My contention is that resurrection (if you will) of the body implies resurrection of the mind according to the Law of Identity, i.e., the "first person" having the experience remains the same person that arrives on the other side by default.

Edited by Devil's Advocate
clarification

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Something else from science fiction tangentially related to this thread and/or the more recent "Is Your Self an Illusion?" thread.

Last night I saw part of a Doctor Who episode in which the Doctor at the time said regeneration feels like dying.  The old person dies and a completely new one walks away.  

(I don't recall the mechanics of regeneration ever being explained.  It does seem clear that the Doctor retains a lot of memory and skills through the regeneration process.)

Edited by Doug Morris
Correct title of referenced thread.

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@Eiuol

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On ‎11‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 2:43 AM, ReasonFirst said:

What is not consistent about it?  What does not fit in with the argument that I am going for?

I mean, if you don't think the mind is or has fundamental constituent(s), there's no reason to bring it up.

I am not sure what I am “bringing up?”  I mentioned that your body has fundamental constituents, not your mind.

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Separate experience or not, it shows that you don't need absolute continuity. The whole integration you describe is no different than me saying the mind must be embodied. You can lose access to mental faculties with the split brain but still act in a way as if you never lost those mental faculties. And if you effectively quarantine the hemispheres, there is a complete inability to integrate any information from the other side. It isn't that they are quarantined, but there are *portions* of processing that become completely inaccessible and not integrated. But if you identify an individual there, an individual personality and thinker, you are including a piece of consciousness that is coming from and unique to a body part.

There is not an absolute continuity here, portions of your experience have been torn apart. Control and awareness that you normally have goes away, but behaviors still occur. Continuity is wildly disrupted. At the very least, you acknowledge some information can be reintegrated in a very roundabout way, but I don't think this would be much different than reintegrating everything at the end of the transporter. I don't think I would change your mind completely with this, I just think it would make you consider more about how continuity can be gained in one way, but lost in another, at the same time. If we want a complete and utterly continuous body, we can't lose portions of continuity then gain them again.

All these points that you have made about continuity being “wildly disrupted” have all referred to higher-level mental faculties.  The absence of those faculties does not imply that the continuity of the individual has been “disrupted.”  As long as you exist, your body undergoes a basic process (a continuous self-sustained, self-generated action) that continues to exist until you don’t exist anymore.  Whether you have a split-brain or not, whether you get injured or not, whether you’re in a coma or not, whether you are sleeping or not, as long as you are alive (i.e. as long you exist), that basic function of your body still exists and that is why you still exist in all of those scenarios.  What that basic function is is up to scientists to show.  I guarantee you that no one in the scientific community is interpreting your ability to go to sleep and wake up as evidence for your ability to die and come back.  It’s not evidence for your ability to die and come back.  And that’s because you going to sleep is not the same as you dying.  And that’s because your continuity goes on during sleep, regardless of the fact that your higher-level mental faculties may be absent.  And this equally applies to brain injuries or comas or whatever.  I think that current scientific knowledge states that oxygen respiration done by the lungs and the consumption of oxygen done by the brain are examples of bodily functions that are always present as long as the individual is alive (i.e. as long as the individual exists).  The higher-level functions you mentioned might not be required to occur to keep your existence going.  It would be no different than you choosing to raise one of your hands.  The EXACT bodily function that happens when you raise your hand is not going to be the same as the function of your body when you are sitting or relaxing at rest.  But that doesn’t mean that your continuity gets disrupted when you choose to stop raising your hand.  Your circulatory/nervous system was functioning the same on some level before, during, and after you raised your hand.  It’s that function, that most basic function, that must continue.  And “basic function” does not mean that your functions have “fundamental constituents.”  Your body has fundamental constituents and the processes that your body goes through can be impaired or they can intensify or they can become more or less complex and they can still remain the same process without the continuity of the process being disrupted.
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On ‎11‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 2:43 AM, ReasonFirst said:

However, I think even if it is valid, that its validity would be consistent with my argument, especially because it has to do with a lot of stuff that doesn't exist as an entity, such as laws or ideas.

The mind doesn't exist as an entity either (which you agreed with earlier).

Yes, but the argument I made was this:  Ultimately, regardless of the mind-related complications introduced into these debates, if an individual is an entity that undergoes continuous, self-generated action, then it follows that he is not any other entity, living or non-living, currently existing or yet to be constructed by a “transporter,” etc. 

And I agree with your definition of entity, a “physically bounded object, usually on the perceptual level.”  By forming this first-level concept of what an entity is, you should be able to grasp that it has to be a “*specific body*” which has to continue to undergo a continuous, self-generated action.  You can use the definition you mentioned to always keep track of an entity so you can differentiate it from all other entities, i.e, all other individuals.  If you ever encounter two functioning entities that are equal copies you can know that one is not the other because of the spatial relationship between their physical boundaries at any particular time.  If you damage one entity, you can tell that the other is undamaged.  If you destroy one, you can still see the pieces that it used to be made out of while seeing that the other entity is unharmed.  Like the car example, you know that one functioning car is not the other despite the fact that you can’t tell the difference between them because they have a different spatial relationship with respect to you and with respect to each other, just like two functioning human bodies that are equal copies.  Having a mind only means that each functioning human body can perceive that which exists, it's not a magical pass that gives a functioning human body an ability to be another functioning human body or as many functioning human bodies as the "transporter" constructs.  That is what is inconsistent and that is what you are arguing in favor of when you mention the alpha, beta, etc multiple Eiuols. Their physical boundaries are one way that you can always differentiate them.  You can at least know that there is a difference between them.

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7 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

I mentioned that your body has fundamental constituents, not your mind.

Right, so why are we talking about fundamental constituents? At the very least to say that the mind does not have fundamental constituents but the body does means that how the mind exists is qualitatively different than from how the body exists.

7 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

The absence of those faculties does not imply that the continuity of the individual has been “disrupted.” 

It does if the nature of your personality and self flows from those higher level functions. When I talk about continuity of the individual, I'm talking about continuity of personality and self.

7 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

It’s not evidence for your ability to die and come back.

That's why I mentioned earlier that the mind is a process, and processes don't die. They can resume, restart, or pause. Your personality and self is a process, which is embodied by some entity.

7 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

Their physical boundaries are one way that you can always differentiate them.  You can at least know that there is a difference between them.

We went over this before. It depends what level of sameness you're talking about. I mean, both of them would be human. 

7 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

if an individual is an entity that undergoes continuous, self-generated action

If you go strictly by that definition, I agree with you. But this is a poor definition when we are focusing on self and personality. This is a fine definition of life, but it is not good enough for a definition of personality and selfhood.

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7 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

Yes, but the argument I made was this:  Ultimately, regardless of the mind-related complications introduced into these debates, if an individual is an entity that undergoes continuous, self-generated action, then it follows that he is not any other entity, living or non-living, currently existing or yet to be constructed by a “transporter,” etc.

I don't believe the Law of Identity allows for any other interpretation.

14 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

It does if the nature of your personality and self flows from those higher level functions. When I talk about continuity of the individual, I'm talking about continuity of personality and self.

I believe that continuity implies the sameness of living, meaning those processes that any individual is in possession of that sustain their own life.  A momentary lapse of mental faculty doesn't imply a death of self as long as the body that animates both flesh and mind retain the ability of self-generated action.  Got body = got mind.

15 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

 If you go strictly by that definition, I agree with you. But this is a poor definition when we are focusing on self and personality. This is a fine definition of life, but it is not good enough for a definition of personality and selfhood.

The absence of a 2nd individual to dispute the original's claim to life implies no other definition is as reliable to posit self-hood, IMO.

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