Hello, as some of you may know I am a fan of Blade Runner and it is with the philosophical questions that arise in that wonderful film in mind that I
considered the following when it was raised in a BBC programme, Visions of the Future
by Michio Kaku. There was a conversation with Prof. Anton Zeilinger
over teleportation at
the Institute for Experimental Physics, University of Vienna discussing the teleportation of Photons. (I would love to could go into a lengthy and
explanation over the exact details of quantum entanglement here but I feel that the dual concerns over (a) such an exhaustingly detailed piece being
potentially off putting to some, and (b) my utter lack of understanding of the subject to any worthwhile degree, prevents it.)
Anyway, moving on quickly, the salient point here is that Prof. Zeilinger induces quantum entanglement, where when change is affected upon one photon
that exact change is visited upon the other instantaneously. Here lies the fun; the photon itself isn’t teleported, just the information
What we really teleport in quantum teleportation is the information contained within a system. This information is teleported over to another
system which assumes exactly that information, therefore it becomes identical with the original. The original loses its properties and the new one is
made up of different matter, not the same matter as the original.
... If we dream about teleportation of humans then all kinds of questions arise, like ‘What does it mean to be me?’ When someone teleports me and
I know that what’s being teleported is information and not matter, not the stuff I am made of... who is it that ends up over there?
This is what put me in mind of a question that I’ve discussed with friends before (yes, I am that exciting to know in r/l) and I’m sure one that
many reading this have considered before.
What makes me, me?
Upon considering this I thought one interesting way of approaching this might be to see if there was a situation when the ‘I’ that existed would
no longer be ‘me’.
I imagined a clone scenario. If an exact biological duplicate of me were created instantaneously am I right to assert that I am me more than the
clone? Is it simply a case of ‘I was here first’?
Then I imagined a scenario where the complete human body was available in replacement parts. A record is kept and, if needed, identical biological
copies of any damaged body part can be created instantly by busy little nanobots possessing the ability to manipulate matter. Being a somewhat
reckless daredevil I find myself requiring varying parts. As they are all organic, exact replicas, am I always me even if I need complete brain
replacement? I am a shiny, new Jak, butter blond and beautiful! but am I me?
What about if science had not advanced quite so far and although perfectly functioning artificial body parts were available they were more mechanical
in their nature? Again I am accident prone and gradually all parts of my body need replacement, ending up with my head. Here, all the information
contained within my brain (stop laughing at the back) can be instantly downloaded and put into a drive which is then inserted into my new head without
any problem; all my life’s experiences along with any predispositions my genetic makeup may have granted me, everything that goes to make up my
present personality is completely transferable. I am mecha-man, it’s great! but is it me?
If it is not, then is there a point of the gradual replacement of body parts that I become no longer me? At what point? Is it when a percentage has
been replaced, say as soon as we move past 50%? Is it when a particular part has been replaced; the heart, the head?
I can see that from a particularly scientific perspective the argument can be offered that there is no ‘essence of me’ to be concerned about and
it is a point I don’t have a particular problem with. If that is the case though let’s look at it another way, not just from a spiritual
perspective: When would an agreeable time for someone to morn my passing? If the above scientific stance is taken when would be comfortable in
walking away from a loved one who found themselves completely rebuilt? At what point are you agreeable to informing them that they are not your
brother or sister etc. and you have no feelings for them over and above that which you have for any other human?
Quantum teleporter or the bus?