Thursday, November 16, 2006

Would You Get Into The Transporter?

Okay, the situation is this. Bob has developed a transporter device. The machine scans your entire body, breaks down the molecules into its constituent parts, sends them at nearly light speed across the room and then rebuilds you exactly, using the scan as a template. The machine has been approved as perfectly safe and every person that has already gone through has been certified as exactly the same afterwards on all manner of measures and tests.

Would you get into the transporter?

My answer is no. Here is my reasoning. How do we know that the person that steps out of the transporter really is the same? First Bob assures us that on a physical level there is no difference between the person who got into the machine on the left of the room, and the person who steps out on the other side. Except that in nature we already know that although people may have the same genotype (and therefore are almost identical on a physical level) they all have different perspectives (that is, identical twins argue they are separate people and not one consciousness). So firstly, can the scientist convince me that he is not destroying me, and then rebuilding another human being (albeit to my specifications) to produce my twin, so to speak?

Bob shows me psychological testing that is identical before and after transportation and also shows me videos of people recalling the same memories from before and after. Again there seems no difference between before being transported and after. But then I ask Bob to imagine waking up with somebody else's memories. Wouldn't somebody who woke up with your memories and your intentions answer the questions in the same way? To all intents and purposes wouldn't they think that they were you? On the couple of occasions I've ever fainted, I have noticed that there is distinct confusion when coming to. Without access to your memories you wouldn't know who you were. Hence your memories are crucial in defining who you are. And so I would not get into the transporter, just to let my twin with my memories take my place.

Everything might be pointless, but let my twin get his own life - I'm living mine!