Thursday, August 18, 2011

What makes you you?

Stefan's life is tough. When he comes home, instead of a cold beer (I support the local wineries) and dinner (ha-ha-ha) he gets one of the crying babies and a washcloth. And then there's his wife who lacks googletime and greets him with bizarre questions. What frequency does a CD player operate on? Something in the near infrared. How many atoms do you need to encode one bit? Maybe somewhat below the million it was in 2008. And why does he actually know all this stuff? Male brains are funny. He does not, for example, know that the Aspirin is in the medicine cabinet, out of all places. But yesterday he gave it a pass, so here's my question to you.

Suppose you have a transmitter, spaceship enterprise style. It reads all the information of all particles in your body (all necessary initial values), disintegrates your body, sends the information elsewhere, and reassembles it. Did you die in that process?



You could object that this process isn't physically possible, either theoretically or practically. Theoretically, there are for example the no-cloning and no-teleportation theorems in quantum information. But you might not actually need all the quantum details to reconstruct a human body. (I'm not sure though the role of quantum physics for consciousness has yet been entirely clarified.) And, if I reassemble you elsewhere you are arguably different in that the relative location of your body to all other objects in the universe has changed. But again, it doesn't seem like that's of any relevance. Or you could say that there won't be enough time to perform this process ever in the history in the universe or something like that. But these answers seem unsatisfactory to me.

Then you might say, well, if it looks like me, walks like me, and quacks like me, it probably is me. That is, nobody, including the person you have assembled could tell any difference. So that would seem like you didn't die.

On the other hand, the operation of your brain has a discontinuity in its timeline in the sense that it didn't do anything during transmission. That is in contrast to, say, anesthesia where your brain is actually quite active. (Interesting SciAm article on that here.) So that would seem like that what constitutes 'you' did cease to operate and 'you' did die.

But then again, who really cares if you stopped thinking for some seconds and then continued that process while in between you changed the set of quarks and electrons you're operating with. However, then consider now I don't send the information to one place, but to ten. And I assemble not one you, but ten. Which one are you?

Oh-uh, headache. I can understand Stefan does prefer to bath the baby. Now where is the Aspirin?

72 comments:

Physicalist said...

I say you survive the process but you also die. There's psychological continuity with the new body that's produced, so that means you survive. But clearly your old body was destroyed, so that means you also died.

We need to rework our concepts a bit to make sense of these sorts of scenarios. We assume there's a single "me" and so survival and death are incompatible, but here we're envisioning two distinct bodies that both count as "me": one lives and one dies.

Galileo Feynman said...

The question is ambiguous because of the ambiguity in the word "die" and the reification of "you." "You" is reified because "you" is a concept (in the question) which is treated in the question as having definite physical boundaries. So we clarify: if "you" means a set of objects with a specific functional relationships and "die" means they are destroyed at least to the point of non-function, then when disintegrated you die. that's true regardless of whether "you" is recreated in the future or not. Another way to see this is to posit that once the duplicator has received the information what's to stop it from creating new multiple "you"s (indeed, from doing so regardless of whether the original "you" was disintegrated or not)?

Hoelder1in said...

There is this whole concept of substrate-independent minds. As long as the information processing in your brain is perserved, you will still be you, and it doesn't matter whether your mind software is run on your current or a different set of atoms - or on a giant abacus for that matter. And yes, there could be differnet copies of a person, each one legitimately claiming to be the original. It's just an unfamiliar concept, but I don't see any logical problem with that.

Anonymous Snowboarder said...

Bee- You are dead and your clone is alive (assuming there is some kind of on/off switch they can use after assembling all the particles that made the former you.)

Perhaps the trees which crushed my car last week transported me but I don't think they have that technology yet and I do appear to be still alive.

Would it even be feasible to store the complete state of a human being at an instant of time? The atoms, molecules, bonds, spin, etc would comprise an exceedingly large data set. Talk about degrees of freedom!

Igor Khavkine said...

Fourth option. An idealization of the process is that first there is copying, which produces two 'you's. Then one 'you' dies (is disintegrated) while the other 'you' does not. The suspension of all conscious/metabolic functions of the copy in transit is no different from an idealized state of suspended animation (being 'frozen') that is encountered equally frequently in science fiction.

Uncle Al said...

If you do not die in process you have not gone anywhere, by default.

http://www.startrekanimated.com/mad_main.html
Note transporter segment.

More to the point... if you are Jewish (e.g., Kirk and Spock) can you be transported and still be buried in consecrated ground?

Real men make their aspirin by saponifying oil of wintergreen, then reacting with acetic anhydride and a drop of concentrated sulfuric acid (BF3-etherate is for dilitants, and ya gotta distill it before use), followed by aqueous workup in mild acid.

Eric said...

Actually there is a good real world example of this in identical twins.

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=poliscifacpub&sei-redir=1#search=%22alford%20twin%20study%22

Remarkably, they act a bit like they have asymptotic freedom. When they are raised together they try to differentiate themselves from each other so they can get individual recognition from their parents. Also from siblings and peers but to a lesser extent.

However when they grow up and live apart they actually behave much more similarly than their early life. Their similarities grow. So they act sort of like nucleons. The analogy would be complete if you were talking about identical triplets. Weird. Biology is quantum interaction on large scales.

Eric said...

The only question left for the identical twins/ triplets analogy to nucleons would be to ask if there is a spatial distance at which they are rigidly confined. I suppose the straight forward answer would be to scale quark size (if they have a size) to the average size of humans. Its sort of a ridiculous problem but it does somehow seem like like there must be distance in which identical biological beings cannot be separated farther than this distance.

Kaleberg said...

There is a similar problems that shed surprisingly little light:

As part of your metabolism, your body is replaced atom by atom with more recently ingested atoms and the older atoms are excreted. Sometimes this happens at a molecular level, sometimes at higher levels, on a cell by cell basis with the old cells apoptosed and eliminated. Granted, complete replacement within a usual lifespan is unlikely, but is there a point at which we declare you to be a new person?

2)

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

I’ll go out on a limb on this one, as just to speak my mind, or perhaps should I say rather have it speak for me:-) That being I think what we relate as being ourselves is primarily our mind or better consciousness, with the rest just the machinery to have it maintained and able move to about in the world. Moreover I think the mind itself is nothing but a combined aperture/lens, with the aperture defining what in total can be taken in and the lens as to what degree of clarity we can bring to what is received. This aperture/ lens however is simply a portal enabling us to look into the more general plane (or realm) of consciousness, such that what each of us realizes for ourselves to be what we find to recognize as individuality.


So then to address your question, I’d say that in its destruction this aperture/lens would temporarily be closed and yet if exactly duplicated would be opened and able to gather and focus once again. Perhaps such transport over distance is what will allow us to visit other worlds one day. Then again if an aperture can be opened wide enough and able to focus what is gathered to greater levels of resolution perhaps it won’t be necessary to leave as to go anywhere since all to be realized can be had from wherever we are.

The unconscious has no time. There is no trouble about time in the unconscious. Part of our psyche is not in time and not in space. They are only an illusion, time and space, and so in a certain part of our psyche time does not exist at all.

-Carl Jung

Best,

Phil

Adam Olszewski said...

I would really like if you could disassemble me now, keep me in my youthful condition on your USB drive and reassemble when a working quantum gravity formulation is available. Feel free to photoshop all the moles upon reassembly, it will be still me!

Plato said...

Many years ago now this question of,"What makes you you?," was most puzzling to me as well.

I mean logically, can one say anymore about "life after death?" I thought this next clip quite funny.

Well in this case it is quite funny how the question is tackled?:)

What survives after such a disintegration of the body...?

What survives, that such a re-assemblage of you, that you are in this body now? It's not the same body, is it the same you?

Imagine sometime shortly then that when the twins are old enough to leave their bed and walk into momma and papa's room. Standing, looking at the two sleeping....one of your daughters stares at you while you open your eyes to her presence. How much more aware are you of the space around you that you had already sensed her there? Who, was sensing?


Best,

Bee said...

Hi Plato,

Yes, I like the Monty Python clip too. However, the whole issue of 'life after death' seems a misnomer to me. If death is what ends life, then there is by definition no such thing as life after death. What people mean is either a funny notion of 'life' or the absence of death or some combination thereof. In any case, about the question of what makes you you, I am wondering if there is such a thing as self-selfawareness. I mean, it's like that weird feeling you have if you read a text about how your brain processes text, language, visual input etc. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

It is interesting in this context that neurobiology is telling us how heavily our brain works on the input that we receive. Not only is it filtered, it is also strongly influenced by our expectations, what we are doing, or were just thinking about. There is pretty much no such thing as 'just input.' Funny, isn't it? Like, imagine you bite into a banana and it tastes like sausage. You'll probably spit it out immediately. Why? Not because you don't like sausage (I'm assuming) but because it's not what you expected from a banana, so rather than your brain just saying 'tastes so-and-so' it says 'something's wrong.'

In any case, my problem with the idea that in the process of transmission you just temporarily cease to obtain input is that it seems to me if that was possible, I could equally well just create somebody who believes he has lived all his life being Phil without you ever going through a transmitter. So if I do that, are you then fine if I shot you because, actually you live twice now? I guess not, but why? Because, you see, that what you consider yourself has not vanished and jumped into your copy. But the only difference between both cases is one of simultaneity which, as Einstein told us, is relative anyway. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Galileo,

Yes, that's entirely correct. It's actually unclear what the question even means without explaining what 'you' and 'death' means. Problem is, that I can't come up with any definition that makes sense on all ends. (The possibility of multiple copies I had also mentioned in my post.)

See, the problem with saying well, you just die, is that the only way this makes sense is if 'you' have some quality that is not contained in what I said is all the information that makes you you.

Vaguely what I am thinking is that the total exchange of all constituents may be the issue, but I can't quite pin it down. What I am thinking is, see, our bodies replace constituents all the time. You eat, drink, breathe, cells die and fall off etc. "You" don't die if you replace some cells because you are an organized assembly. You do however slowly change (you age), but in this process you maintain your identity. I am wondering if there is some critical speed of that replacement that ruins the maintenance of your identity (your 'you').

Analogy: Consider you have a group of people and they have some agenda, they do something (whatever). But people come and leave. Whenever somebody leaves, the new person that comes in needs to learn what the group does and how to fit in. (Sociologists have a name for that, I forgot.) That may slowly change the group, but you could say it's always the same organization, it maintains its identify. However, take away people too rapidly and put together new ones, and even if they have instructions you will create something new.

That analogy clearly sucks if you think about it because it only works if the people have some difference to them that I just hadn't fixed, while an electron is an electron is an electron. So. I remain confused. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Kaleberg,

Yes (see reply above to Galileo), my thoughts were going the same way. You don't declare yourself a new you because your software is your (continuously changing) hardware. However, the difference is that in the process of transmission, you have to 'stop' the process of change. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Snowboarder,

Did you have an accident? Yes, it would be a very large data set. Not sure all of it is really necessary though. If you could really assemble some human from information, you could presumably just have a default body and transmit the brain or something. And you could change the body if you wanted to. (Get rid of the moles as Adam said). However, that would have made the question even more confusing. Best,

B.

Alexander Kruel said...

The problem is the vagueness of the word "die" and the concept of "death". The concept of death does most of the time work in our world but breaks down under extreme circumstances where it is so far undefined or not applicable.

If we are talking about perfectly rational agents then all we have to ask is if the utility function is conserved.

If there is more than one instantiation of the same utility function then both processes will cooperate and converge.

I wrote a bit more about on this topic here: The Nature of Self

Bee said...

Hi Hoelder1in,

I don't think I know what a 'substrate-independent mind' is supposed to be. Your 'mind' is 'substrate' of some sort. No, there is, in principle, nothing inconsistent about the multiple copies that claim to be you, just that I can't figure out what happens to your sense of self if you copy yourself 10 times and then shot yourself. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

I think I see your point and yet the laws of the quantum realm seem to deny the existence of any more than one thing which could be considered being as unique in state; that is right down to single quanta. This would then forbid the existence of another you regardless of what nature also implies about simultaneity; as here conservation laws take presentence. As for what happens in the time that you no longer are able to take in reality is unimportant as what is reality for each of us by definition is what has us to be individuals to begin with. Anyway as I mentioned earlier if the aperture were wide enough and the lens sufficiently powerful and adept then having us temporarily not to exist in time and space wouldn’t become necessary at all.

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Just for the record as taken from the Bohmian perspective decomposition and reconstitution would be impossible as decohorence in the Bohmian sense can’t lead to recoherence as this could only come as resultant with the reversal of time; which I think as of late has become ever more convincingly denied as being possible.

Best,

Phil

ThingumBob said...

I vote you live. To my knowledge, we haven't found anything "special" that ties an individual's consciousness to a particular collection of matter. The amount of information that is you may be impractically large, but it is finite.

As for the quantum business, if the original and replica wave functions are the same, then I don't think any information has been lost.

So I guess this is an ineloquent way of saying I agree with Hoelder

Regards,

Arun said...

If I could freeze you down to absolute zero and defrost you at any later time back to normal, would you have died?

Plato said...

Bee:If death is what ends life, then there is by definition no such thing as life after death.

This would seem to be logically so.

In any case, about the question of what makes you you, I am wondering if there is such a thing as self-selfawareness.

I believe this is an important observation. Who is reading? The contextual effort to define this observer in subtle ways is recognized.

Is there such a way to recognize that such objectivity can be seen in context of any of us as we look on life stand back from it and assess?

In my view, this potential is real, and as if given language to interpret where is the basis of experience which draws from and manifests in the neural network. What schematics sign each neuron pathway to find such a pattern that will speak to all life? Where is this patten and is it survival able after the decomposition of our bodies?

In my view, this is a very deep assessment of what you are as an observer about the whole context of what is you.

The answer for me came from a philosophic journey about why I might differentiate something in the midst of the immediate reaction so as to define the relevance of these differences in and about your action over mine, in a very simple experiment.

It points back to the question of who is observing and why you unconscionably might act according to that individualism.

Best,

Plato said...

Can we look at entanglement as a reconstituted process?

For example, all of us human beings and all the objects with which we deal are essentially bundles of simple quarks and electrons. If each of those particles had to be in its own independent state, we could not exist and neither could the other objects. It is the entanglement of the states of the particles that is responsible for matter as we know it.LET’S CALL IT PLECTICS Murray Gell-Mann

If you are not aware of a reconstructive process, as if a Higgs potential existed around all such states of real things, then your question falls short of what or who you are, is?

Without the {a}observer in the body does the body continue to live?

Best,

msleifer said...

Just for the record, there isn't a "no teleportation" theorem in quantum theory. There is a teleportation protocol, so that amounts to a "yes teleportation" theorem.

The fact that quantum teleportation requires the original copy to be destroyed makes me want to believe that the teleported copy would be "you", since it neatly resolves issues about which successor is "you" when you don't destroy the original. A technical issue is that quantum teleportation cannot be done with 100% efficiency for continuous variables, since it requires an unphysical EPR state. You can approximate it as closely as you like, but this always leaves some wiggle room for those who think that the copy has to be perfect. Of course, this would not be an issue if nature is fundamentally discrete.

Plato said...

But for the first time, quantum physicist Seth Lloyd of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that memories of entanglement can survive its destruction. He compares the effect to Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights: “the spectral Catherine communicates with her quantum Heathcliff as a flash of light from beyond the grave.”Quantum Entanglement Benefits Exist after Links Are Broken

Ratatosk said...

Well, the Buddhists have a cause-and-effect alternative that could help here:

When conditions are sufficient for a "thing" it arises. When they are not, "it" goes away. You can get cause-and-effect when you have "continuity in time" as a necessary condition.

So, I say that you die while you are in transit but live when you are reconstructed. I can disassemble my bike but unless I reconstruct it to plan, I would not say that it exists. It only has potential existence.

JPH said...

I think the question points to the breakdown of one of those innate mental models of the world that works pretty well in everyday experience, but doesn't actually reflect the way the universe works. A common one I've seen in physics is that force is proportional to velocity (they usually state it as you need to push on it that way to make it move that way, etc).

In this case, it's the idea that there are living objects with minds that obey certain rules. For example, they are unique (there is only one "Barack Obama" even if others share that name) and distinct (the experience of one person happens only to them, so Joe Biden won't remember Barack Obama's childhood memories). This is a really useful approximation of nature. Imagine trying to raise a child if you didn't recognize that they were the same child you saw 5 min ago, let alone that they were fundamentally different from a chair. But it doesn't reflect nature, just like the "forces cause velocity" physics model works poorly in the absence of friction (yes, I know it isn't right regardless of friction, but it accounts for the effect of friction passably well).

The question "Do you die when teleported?" is akin to "What pushes the planets around in circles?". It's baffling, but just because you've reached the limitations of your model. In stating the problem, you already gave an unambiguous description of what happens and it's clear that there is a person before and after the event. The problem is just in our model of how these living objects behave. Namely, all instances of living beings need to be stitched together into a continuous and unique history defining a "person" (or "animal" or whatever). That works really well in everyday life (I've never seen anyone get destroyed and reappear somewhere else, or get duplicated, etc), but that doesn't mean it's a fundamental law of nature. The terms “living”, “person”, and “death” are parts of this model and become gibberish when posed outside their realm of useful approximation.

Christine said...

Hi Bee,

Ultimately, as current physics sees it, ie, as a physical phenomenum, you are matter (energy) and a product of space-time and its various space-time dependent fields (interactions). Given the uncertainty principle (quantum mechanics), it would be impossible to describe you as a complete set of initial conditions with no uncertainty, even supposing that in principle you have access to storage all bits of information describing your matter-energy content (ie, no statistical issues to worry about). Furthermore, even supposing possible an instant determination of all fields acting on each space-time "point" that you "occupy", and hence the potential effects on you (these should be given as initial/boundary conditions to complete the description of you as a physical object), you would eventually need to know what space-time *is*. You are a product of space-time, it acts on you and you on it. This information is only currently understood in classical general relativistic terms.

All said up to now is ultimately speaking. Supposing you still cope with all this, does such an ultimate description be "you"? This have to be answered before teleportation issues.

Let us not be so ultimate, so that we can advance the argument. Suppose you are able to describe yourself at a classical, more coarse-grained level. Then suppose the teleportation is able to reproduce that coarse-grained description of you exactly at another space point after a lapse of time, deleting the original description. Would the copied description be you? 

The naive answer would be yes under all practical purposes if,  in order to describe the copy of "you", exactly the same standards of measurement and same regime of validity of physical laws are adopted. Any fine-grained differences do not emerge at the coarse-grained level description of you.

That's the naive answer. Suppose the following now. At the same instant (in classical description, "instant" can have an arbritary precision), the teleportation apparatus is itself teleported at another point, with a 100% coarse-grained efficiency, while also teleporting you. But once it and you are teleported, it is programmed to perform a new teleport, again  of itself and you, and repeat that a very large number of times.

It is clear that the final integrated time of teleport has as limit the velocity of light, otherwise faster than light propagation of information would be possible. Not only this, but the total time of possible teleportations of the apparatus and yourself would be constrained, as the universe evolves, and at some point the apparatus would no longer work, and also the copy of you would have a hard time to continue its coarse-grained description intact. This would be even more problematic if physical laws evolve.

The above argument reveals that there are physical constraints in the process of teleportation itself that are not known a priori, but become important after multiple self-operations. They are not important at a given instant, but nevertheless do exist. Now, if there aren't any partticular physical differences of you and the apparatus (ie, "mind" is just a subjective outcome of electromagnetic connections of your brain), then you are also subject to unkown constraints, even at the coarse-grained description, just like the apparatus.

Then what you were before being born and the instant  of the deletion of you by the teleport (non-existence of you, in both cases) appear to have different boundary conditions, and for the same reason, you before and after teleportation also seem so, even at a cosrse-grained level. Then you have to consider if "you" is just you at every instant, or "you" must also include further non-obvious contraints that are not important at an arbitrary instant.

Best,

Christine

Alejandro Rivero said...

There is a linguistic meta-puzzle here: how is that the question was about "me" and no about "him"? The first and second person can never die; "I died", and "you died", are almost as rethorical as "I rain". In languages having a neutral third personal prenom, it becomes even more interesting: "I passed away", "you passed away" and "it passed away" sound absurd, but "he passed away" and "she passed away" sounds ok.

So answers are:

You and I will never die, we are always alive.
It will newer die, but because it is not alive.
She and he could eventually die. But in this particular process, it is clear that we keep speaking of the pre- and post- persons as alive, and we are identifying them as the same (by the premise), so they do not die during this process, it is just we look at them across a window, then across a different one.

Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

There was a movie about this very idea a few years ago, The Prestige. In it a magician teleported himself to another location. He did this physically and not through illusion. So he had the inconvenient problem of what to do with the original of himself. He would drown himself in a sealed container of water hidden from the audience every time he performed his act. It wasn't pretty and it certainly wasn't neat. It was just hidden from the audience. In a way the Star Trek series also hides this inconvenient problem from it's audience. It always technically involves either a murder or a suicide, depending on the interpretation.

However once you realize it DOES involve a death of one of the biological entities that changes everything. Entanglement involves the splitting apart of an entity that involves a unitary quantum state of some kind. Even though there can be no super luminal communication between the two separated entities there will still be a super luminal correspondence of quantum states between the two. If the entanglement is perfect at a coarse grained level it would probably mean that if you killed the original entity there is a good possibility the duplicate entity would experience great damage or death. That is what a perfect unitary quantum state implies. I don't see how you could avoid it.

Kernel said...

You die and then come back to life. When a person is declared clinically dead but is then brought back to life by some miracle or another, we still say the person died. You're clearly alive after the teleportation, though: I can just ask you if you're alive, and you'll say "yes" with a funny expression on your face.

Anonymous Snowboarder said...

Bee - I would say a better description would be that I was assaulted by Ents. See if this link works for you. And yes, we were in motion when it happend.

William said...

That is an easy one to answer. I looked it up Wikipedia and the answer is no.

Although, it seemed there might also be the possibility that the answer is 42 ... but I confess to having a hard time with understanding it.

Okay, ... just joking about Wikipedia. But I did answer "no ... impossible" to the survey. And back in 1978 (33 yrs ago) I was asked the same question, and answered no then too ... at that time my "no" was based mostly on the uncertainty principle and therefore of the impossibility of knowing both the position and momentum of particles, especially in a simultaneous way for *all* the particles.

Other than that, I mostly agree with Christine ... props for excellent use of logic in tackling the question in a comprehensive and rational manner ... and clear to understand way.

One aspect to consider which I didn't notice being addressed (but skimmed-read a lot, so maybe misssed) in the teleportation dynamics is the fact that matter dissapears for some time. Since the matter is transformed into the creation of information, and since energy must be conserved, that information must have a huge energy equivalency ... E=mC^2. How does the transporter deal with all that raw energy? Is it possible to store that amount of raw energy in a room-sized space?

Another aspect is what happens to the space which was occupied by the human body? Is the space transported too? Can it? Is that physically possible? Is that conceptually logical? Does the universe shrink for the time used to teleport? Or does the space remain and a vaccum is instantaneously created? Poof ... BOOM ... as air rushes in to fill the vacant space?

Nice thought-provoking question, Bee. :)

William said...

Oh, regarding the "alive or dead" aspect ... I would say it is not a question of either-or, or yes-no, or dead-or-alive ... and I'd introduce a third state of being, aptly named suspended animation, where the person is neither dead nor alive, but rather in a unique non-dead-non-alive state of "suspended animation". Which, of course, was an insight conceived many decades (centuries?) ago in sci-fi literature.

In a similar vein of thought, I consider that physicists put themselves in to a too-strict conceptual bind when they debate and ponder on whether the universe is finite or infinite. Like dead-or-alive, the possibilities of finite-or-infinite seems to cover all logical possilities. Must be either one or the other, it seems. But, as I see it, a finite universe is logically impossible, and also an infinite universe is logically impossible ... yet rather than to simply then say it is a paradox, or to side with one, eventhough it violates logic, I believe a third possibility should be considered for the size of the universe ... which would have the characterisitic of being neither finite nor infinite, but something different. And for me, freed from the conceptual binds of either-or, finite-or-infinite, I have ideas and thoughts on what a third state or category pertaining to the size of the universe might be ... but that is for another time.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

I personally believe that the Star Trek transporter operates a little like the subway. An individual enters an enclosed zone (station)in one space time location and emerges from a similar station somewhere in his/her future light cone. With luck, the individual emerging will be very similar to the one who entered.

The main differences are that instead of just changing the rest frame of the individual being transported, the transporter changes her into an energy pattern - which I assume means accelerating her onto the future light cone. And saving a copy, just in case something goes wrong.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

To be more explicit: why think that the individual who emerges from the subway is the same one who entered? They are not quite the same molecules or even the same chemical composition. What's preservered are certain characteristic correlations.

If the transporter preserves those, the speed of the signal between start and finish is only a detail.

Bee said...

Hi Snowboarder,

Oh, gee, sorry to hear & see :( I hope nobody was seriously hurt and some insurance covers. That car surely look out of service. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Eric,

Ha, sounds like a fun movie. That also explains why there are so many guys believing they're Captain Kirk ;-) Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Alejandro,

Indeed, this had never occurred to me. You're unlikely to hear somebody say "I died." And yes, I guess, a logically possible answer is that actually none of us lives. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Matt,

Thanks for the correction. I think I heard this in a seminar sometime and probably got it wrong. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Arun,

Considering that the human body's main constituent is water, that doesn't sound like such a hot idea, but I see what you mean. Hmm. Have to mull over this. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

Yes, it may be it is impossible to do. But as I wrote in my post, I don't think that you actually need all the quantum details. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Kernel,

If somebody was declared clinically dead and then 'came back to life' by some miracle, I wouldn't say he came back to life but wasn't dead in the first place. Best,

B.

Georg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Georg said...

Real men make their aspirin by saponifying oil of wintergreen, then...

Uncle Al, thats wrong.

Wintergreen oil is para-hydoxybenzoic acid methyl ester, Aspirin is derived from salicylic acid, which is ortho-(dox)
:=)
Georg

Plato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Uncle Al said...

@Georg: Aspirin, Organic Experiments Louis Fieser (Raytheon Education Company, 1968) p. 242.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methyl_salicylate
Oil of wintegreen is methyl salicylate, the methyl ester of 2-hydroxybenzoic acid. Aspirin is the phenol acetate of salicylic acid.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4-Hydroxybenzoic_acid
"It is isomeric with 2-hydroxybenzoic acid, known as salicylic acid, a precursor to aspirin."

http://chem.chem.rochester.edu/~chem424/bpsyn3.gif
Bisphenol-A polycarbonate plastic plus sunlight undergoes a photo-Fries rearrangement to salicylate ester. The polycarb yellows, shrinks, and goes brittle as cheap glass.

Plato said...

Science of Consciousness (David Chalmers)

I know there are scientists here amongst our commentators. Is Chalmers speaking correcting from a scientific point of view?

Best,

Plato said...

The Science of Consciousness: Consciousness as a Phase Shift?

Ya okay...all these opinions....it still begs the question of "What makes you you?"

baghdadserai said...

Is there a question of our ability to draw the boundary, to neatly clip along a given line and cleanly separate the person from their milieu then place them in another and have them be the same? Roughly, is a tractor in Iowa the same as the identical tractor on the Alto Plano?
I once extracted a ninety year-old man from the Oregon State Mental Hospital (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest).
He was strapped down with a padlocked leather belt under a white, wrinkle free spread and had lost all sense of who he was. Only when he was returned to his cabin near Portland did he remember himself and fully come alive. Regards all round.

Hoelder1in said...

Well, I see a mind as a kind of algorithm which, like any computer program, can be run on different kinds of computing hardware (computing substrates), hence "substrate-independent mind" (see e.g. carboncopies.org which explores the concept). Hope that makes it clear. In that view, if you copy yourself and then turn yourself off, you only lose the time between the two events. I know this seems kind of counterintuitive and paradoxical - which, like all paradoxes, only shows that our underlying concepts (of "self" and "mind") are flawed. Perhaps Thomas Metzinger ("Being No One") has a better one? You may also want to read Greg Egan's "Permutation City" if you haven't yet done so... ;)

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Plato,

“Can we look at entanglement as a reconstituted process?”

Gell-Mann’s point of view aligns itself with the Copenhagen ontologically schizophrenic position, while what I was referring to was from the distinctly divided dual ontological perspective of deBroglie-Bohm respective of decoherence. In fact Bohm was the first to have such a mechanism to be conceptualized, for which Gell-Mann gives him no credit at all, only his distain revealing his own self absorbing ego as exemplified by his general ignorance regarding such matters.

To state the question more plainly from the Bohmian perspective, if what we refer to as state is that which is found between that of a real wave and a real particle what then can we say about existence when one is taken from the other? This is not to say I’m be certain that I know what it is to be me or be you, yet the Bohmian perspective offers something which can be contemplated that if in time is able to be demonstrated as credible then the answer to this question also will become more certain.

” It is widely believed by proponents of orthodox quantum theory that the measurement problem itself is somehow resolved by decoherence. It is not easy to understand this belief. In the first formulation of the measurement problem, nothing prevents us from including in the apparatus all sources of decoherence. But then there is no longer any room for decoherence to be in any way relevant to that argument. Be that as it may, one of the best descriptions of the mechanisms of decoherence, though not the word itself, was given by Bohm (Bohm 1952), who recognized its importance several decades before it became fashionable. (See also the encyclopedia entry on The Role of Decoherence in Quantum Mechanics.)”

-Sheldon Goldstein, “Bohmian Mechanics (Measurement Problem)” Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

Thanks for your interesting comment. This made me think there is something really funny here with the time evolution. If I could scan initial conditions (too sufficiently good precision) on some (compact) patch on some time slice and copy them to some other slice, wouldn't I also have to copy the evolution backward in time (at least to some extend since I'm not copying the full slice)? Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Hoelder1in,

But that's not how the human brain actually works. Its hardware is its software too. Best,

B.

Plato said...

To be fair Phil,

I try to forgive personalities, and focus on the work.

Murray Gell-Mann was referring to a state of complexity, "it is appropriate that plectics refers to entanglement or the lack thereof, since entanglement is a key feature of the way complexity arises out of simplicity," that foundational basis and recognition is important.

Perhaps I should have been more forceful. A name seems to be
inevitable. Various authors are now toying with such neologisms as
"complexology," which has a Latin head and a Greek tail and does not
refer to simplicity.
LET’S CALL IT PLECTICS

Best,

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Plato,

We seem to be talking past each other, as I’m addressing the subtleties involved in the ontological differences of competing theories as it relates to decoherence and you are focusing on what name should be given to something that was recognized years before. The fact is I’m quite aware what the term “plectics” is to mean and yet Gell-Mann doesn’t even make reference to it in his book “The Quark and the Jaguar” published only a year before the note you highlighted here; that is despite this books main theme being largely devoted to its conceptual implications.

That aside what I was talking about was the ontological differences between Bohm’s original conception as to what is now referenced as dehoherence and how Gell-Mann’s orthodox group fits it into their scheme of things. That is with the orthodox treatment there is no clear distinction made between wave and particle only that perhaps there can only be one primal entity of reality, where in Bohm’s version of the pilot wave theory has both as being distinctly real. So what I was pointing out is this has there to be significant differences in respect to what has a system to be unique and what allows it to remain as unique. Now as for what amount of uniqueness is required for you to still be you or me to remain to be me after teleportation boils down to what consciousness turns out to be; that as it relates to quantum dependence, classical ones or perhaps something new which supersedes both.

However in the end I can assure you I’m not concerned if something is to be called “Plectics” as opposed to “Implicate and Explicate Order” or it be “Quarks” rather than “Aces”. That is what I’m most concerned with is how such concepts are considered in respect to what context they are placed in as it relates to their implementations and consequences.

Thus in relativity, movement is continuous, causally determinate and well defined, while in quantum mechanics it is discontinuous, not causally determinate and not well-defined. Each theory is committed to its own notions of essentially static and fragmentary modes of existence (relativity to that of separate events connectible by signals, and quantum mechanics to a well-defined quantum state). One thus sees that a new kind of theory is needed which drops these basic commitments and at most recovers some essential features of the older theories as abstract forms derived from a deeper reality in which what prevails is unbroken wholeness. “


-David Bohm, “Wholeness and the Implicate Order” Introduction page Xviii (1980)

Best,

Phil

Plato said...

Hi Phil,

I am at your mercy:)

There may have been a whole historical theoretical movement in the works, yet my mind goes back to the experimental progressions.

The procedural steps to expansion of experimental processes, helped me to propose that while consciousness may exist how is it that such communication may be possible, if you remove any means in which to communicate?

So however complex we may believe consciousness to exist amidst all the matter states of the world how is it such a pathway to be established as a measure of that which is not measurable.

Do we say logically it is dead, thus any connection to consciousness from this point irrelevant?

Bee:If death is what ends life, then there is by definition no such thing as life after death.

Plato:This would seem to be logically so.

So what makes you, you, still is an open question about which I sought to example "a beginning point" for such a question of communication between those measures which reveal brain activity and those that prevent us from continuing to communicate with the person in the coma?

You see the complexity of the situation is simplistically reduced too. You can call it a collapse if you like.

Best,

Plato said...

Quantum teleportation, step by step. Although the details of their experiments differ, both the NIST and Innsbruck teams have achieved deterministic teleportation of a quantum state between trapped ions:

First, an entangled state of ions A and B is generated, then the state to be teleported -- a coherent superposition of internal states -- is created in a third ion, P.

The third step is a joint measurement of P and A, with the result sent to the location of ion B, where it is used to transform the state of ion B (step 4).

The state created for P has then been teleported to B

(image and text credit: H J Kimble and S J van Enk Nature)


In quantum teleportation, complete information about the quantum state of a particle is instantaneously transferred by the sender, who is usually called Alice, to a receiver called Bob. Quantum superposition, meanwhile, allows a particle to be in two or more quantum states at the same time

Seth Lloyd was extending the parameters of this thinking. Susskind using elephants for thought experiments about inside an outside the black hole.

Best,

Michael said...

there is an episode of futurama about this

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Plato,

I wouldn’t deny that teleportation as they’ve described has information to be preserved and yet find as with some others reason to remain sceptical if that which is referred to as reality to be nothing more than information. This being as John Bell asked when such was proposed I would echo the same.

"Information? Whose information? Information about what?"

-J.S. Bell , "Against Measurement" , Physics World, page 34 (August 1990)

Best,

Phil

Christine said...

Hi Bee,

Maybe something of the sort of an integro-differential equation... ;)

Best,

Christine

Plato said...

Thanks Phil,

You and Lee share some correspondences with regard to Platonism views?;)Meno? How did the servant boy know?

Phil:With Penrose you have the unaltered Platonian view that mathematics while forming the bases for all, is not part of the world or rather on a separate plane.

With Bohm you have the action of particles, dictated by the nature and subsequent action of an unseen and undetected substance that forms to be what is called the wave. This substance while invisible to direct detection, still can be insisted to be real as revealed by the action of the particles which it impart such. Also, this combination of action of substance and potential which appear to be separate are essentially whole in the sum total of consideration (configuration space).


From my way of looking at it they both describe the same truth from simply different perspectives, resultant of different experience and knowledge. What they still hold in common however is science and that if they ever had met to share and considers the others experience and knowledge, this might have formed the bridge that could have expanded it further.


Best,

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

It seems that the votes between die and don’t die are coming closer to Schrodinger’s predictions regarding such matters; then again that's only when we look :-)

Best,

Phil

cody said...

As a strict physicalist, I found this problem a bit jarring when Scott Aaronson brought it up in his lecture notes for Quantum Computing Since Democritus (I followed along online).

To resolve it, I asked: if I were cloned while in a deeply unconscious state, how would I know if I were the original or the clone? And the answer (assuming perfect cloning) is obviously you wouldn't—even couldn't!

In some sense, every time we wake from unconsciousness we are faced with the question: was I cloned while asleep? The only reason none of us seriously consider this question is because the technology to do so is nearly inconceivable at this point in history.

I voted other, but I suppose I would say the transporter kills you. However, in a world with technology capable of capturing "you" so thoroughly death may be no more concerning than sleep. (Even less so I suppose.)

My money would be on: quantum effects are not essential to make 'you' but constraints on breaking down & recording the brain with enough detail to restore a person is probably just not physically possible. (Though seriously who the hell knows.)