Tuesday, 8 March 2016

the ship of theseus or the trouble with tribbles

As visionary as Star Trek was and continues to be, I wonder if the creators could have guessed at the metaphysical implications of the teleporter, which was dreamed up as a cost-saving measure. The natural consequence of faster than light travel might be transporters, as replicators were to follow, but like the Ship of Theseus—which begs the question how much of a vessel can be replaced before it’s no longer the same or asking whether one can step in the same stream twice (or even once) beaming one’s molecules may not be as straightforward as other forms of telegraphy.
Courtesy Miss Cellania, here’s an interesting primer that explores these quandaries as well as feeling out the technological boundaries and hurdles. When one considers the unsettling fact that this hypothetical technology is probably less magic and more a process of disintegration and reintegration, Doctor McCoy’s grave reluctance to subject to having his atoms scrambled. If only information is relayed, regardless of how flawlessly, and not matter, is an individual still the same person—when moulded from the dander and detritus of one’s new location? What if there’s insufficient or the wrong type of stuff at the target site to remake a whole away-team? Our bodies are far from permanent fixtures and large portions of them are refreshed in short order, though we don’t feel transported for it. Would one die only to be resurrected an instant later in some other place? What about the soul? This is all very disorientating. A functioning transporter might be a factory-psychomanteum for the mechanised production of disembodied spirits. What do you think?