I was talking to a friend in work about teleportation, a subject which he found implicitly frightening. This is the science-fiction version of teleportation, as true teleportation is impossible as far as we know.
So, if you think of teleportation as: disassembling every atom in your body in one place and assembling identical atoms in the exact same configuration in another place.
So why would this be scary? Well, as my friend said, “You’re not the exact same person. You’re not looking out of the same set of eyes.”
That’s true. The collection of atoms in one place no longer exists. It’s been disassembled. The original version has “died”.
This is where it gets interesting though, and where you find out what you really, truly believe. If we are just collections of atoms in a particular configuration, then what difference does it make which atoms they are? If it’s this carbon atom instead of that one, why does it matter?
That being the case, it becomes the equivalent of cloning a computer. Why does it matter that you’ve disassembled the original computer if you’ve cloned it?
If you fall into a coma for seven years and wake up again, every atom in your body has changed. Are you a different person when you wake?
If we do manage teleportation (again, impossible as far as we know), then you can just as easily copy someone. That person is an exact replica, down to the atom, of the original person. Are they somehow not as real?
It’s a very interesting question, I think, and one that will only be answered hundreds, if not thousands of years in the future. If we can map and arrange every atom in order to make a person, are they any less human than the rest of us for that?
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