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The Problem With Teleportation

Illustration for article titled The Problem With Teleportation

Teleportation is a safe, convenient mode of travel in the Star Trek universe. But what if the Star Trek transporter is essentially a “suicide box” instead? That’s the unnerving conclusion of a new animated video from CGP Grey about the trouble with transporters.

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Think about it. All your atoms are scanned and destroyed in the process, because there’s no cloning allowed in quantum mechanics. Then all that information about you is teleported to the new location, where a bunch of new atoms are used to build a whole new you, complete with memories, personality quirks, and that oddly shaped birthmark on your left butt cheek. But is it really you in the truest sense of the word? How could you ever know for sure?

This is hardly the first time someone has pointed out that teleportation—as depicted in Star Trek or otherwise—comes with some serious adverse effects. But this video goes beyond the usual purely scientific discussion to delve into deeper metaphysical questions, like the philosophical puzzler known as the Ship of Theseus, and the problem of consciousness. Check it out.

[Laughing Squid]

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DISCUSSION

For me the line was crossed when Star Trek had a clone of Will Riker show up. That indubitably proved that transporters are kill boxes.

Until then, I could imagine that transporters didn’t “break up” someone into their constituent pieces, but that instead transporters was just a variant of warp technology which joined two points in space and moved matter intact between them (basically like mini-wormholes).