Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Once you understand how a transporter in Star Trek works the use of it seems horrifying.

This was Robot's human form in Invincible. He helped the Mauler twins escape prison, because
they were experts at cloning. Once they were out, Robot asked them to create a body for him
and then when it was done, he had them transfer a copy of his complete brain to the new body.
Then the old body was taken off life support and allowed to die, but its death was very real.

I've been thinking of the transporter lately. I'm sure you've seen it. People in the multiple television series step into it and get "beamed" to another location almost instantaneously. What is actually happening is that a person is killed (disassembled) and their memories and personality and everything up to and including the moment of their death is reassembled in another location. To the person being reassembled it is fine. To the person being killed...that is their final moment of life. So the only one that notices it is the person who is being killed. In other still sucks for them.

The reason I embarked on this thought exercise about the transporter has a lot to do with Amazon's Invincible. I was discussing with a friend the idea of the intelligent clones that are in that show and how they invented technology to create an identical imprint of the mind into the living tissue of another body. This effectively creates an immortality scenario, because the new person is equipped with all of the memories of the old person. Every single one. Only, it isn't quite so simple. You see, the old person is still alive trapped in their body, and when they die in that is for real.

So, my friend and I had a discussion centered around this question: knowing that the transporter in Star Trek actually kills you, would you be okay using it knowing that the other clone of you would be identical to you in the same way? The clone would not be able to tell it wasn't the real person. Only the person who died at the proverbial hand of the transporter machine would actually know. He said that he would make the choice very easily and use the transporter. I said I probably would not. To me, it would be no different than dying with a bullet through the brain. It would be final death. Sure, my clone would have all of my experiences and my memories and would be identical to me. However, I would not be a part of that consciousness.

It's a strange mental exercise to imagine cloning and transporting in this manner. So, now that I've explained to you how all of that works...would you choose to use a transporter? Would you choose to be killed so that a bunch of time could be saved by recreating you in another location, even if that re-creation would be you down to the most minute detail? Your consciousness would end with your death and a new consciousness would be born in the transporter a great distance from you. The new you would not have any break in consciousness as the memories would exist all the way up to emerging on the other side. It would be the old you that no longer created memories (because you were dead). It's a strange question (I know), but I feel like it's worth asking.

And now I fully get why Bones (Dr. McCoy) did not like transporters.


  1. In that context, it is horrifying. It's like the movie The Prestige, only the original dies no matter what. And can a soul be truly duplicated?

  2. It was pretty nasty in the first movie when someone got turned into a puddle by a defective transporter.

    1. But really isn't how the transporter works is that you're scanned and all the biological information is digitized into the pattern that goes into the buffer and then that information is sent to whatever location and reassembled and un-digitized into its original form?

      So it isn't really "killing" the original so much as transforming that biological information into digital information and then transforming it back somewhere else.

  3. That is horrifying. When I think of cloning, I think of souls. (I know, you hate soul discussions, but it applies here.) Souls aren't transferred. So, when original you dies, that soul is gone. New clone (I believe) would then have a different soul. Unless the soul would transfer with the transport. Something to consider.

    If someone was dying, and then clones were in play, there would be all sorts of religious objections...