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November 09, 2021


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Exquisitely, deliciously unsettling, that thought experiment!

Clearly this is one of those questions that have no right answers, only different perspectives. My take would be different than Anil Seth's. I'd say the original me is the real me, and the other, teleported, "me" is someone else --- someone very similar, but someone different, and regardless of whether or not the original me survives the vaporization and the gun-toting technician.

But of course, that's just my off-the-cuff take, that I'm not sure I can properly, philosophically, defend. While Anil is clearly both the technical expert here, as well as someone who's clearly thought deeply about this; so chances are his view, should he choose to defend it with clearly articulated reasons, will probably end up making more sense, I realize that.

Create two tables with same wood , dismantle table 1 , put table 2 on Mars , table 2 is not table one by any yardstick.

Eve1: Before you kill me, could I have a private moment with Eve2?

Tech: Make it quick!

Eve1: [dials,whispers] Is that really you, Luv? Listen, time's short....[explains].
How do we, er, I mean "I", get outta this little pickle?

Eve2: Oh my, you took the words right outta me mouth. Tell the nasty bloke I
wanna talk and hand him the phone. When he reaches out, use that tai
chi move we learned on the blog. Be strong, dear.

Eve1: Dearie, you pinched the idea right outta me brain... That's cricket I'd
say... you being as good as flesh 'n blood anyway.

Eve2: Could it be though.... we're actually, what's the word, "soul mates"?

Eve1: No, no, no... we teleported for a new start, remember.

Eve2: Oh, righto... righto. Maybe we're diverging a little already. Now...
when you've finished with that bit of nastiness down there, step in the
teleport... properly, mind you... and we'll have a spot of tea at my place
up here. It'll be lovely.

Three unrelated thoughts/questions around the plot:

(I know, I know, all three are entirely incidental to the actual argument being explored in the thought experiment, but still.)

(1) Why is being 'killed' by gun so much worse that being killed by vaporization?

--------I suppose I can venture an answer myself. Probably because being shot might be more painful than the presumably instantaneous and wholly fully entirely painless vaporization.

(2) That being the case, why wouldn't the technician simply rig up the vaporization kit one more time, instead of pulling a gun?

(3) Would her/my/your reaction be any different if the technician, instead of coming in with a gun, would simply request her/me/you to step into the vaporization chamber one more time, since the first time didn't take somehow? (After all she/I/you did go in voluntarily the first time around, so why not a second time as well?)

*Anil Seth states: - “The point of this thought experiment, which is called the "teletransportation paradox," is to unearth some of the biases most of us have when we think about what it means to be a self.”
*And: - “The self is not an immutable entity that lurks behind the windows of the eyes, looking out into the world and controlling the body as a pilot controls a plane”.
*Brian summarizes: - “This shows that our sense of self is closely connected with our memories -- a sense of personal history that makes us feel "this is who I am." Of course, that sense is altered as we experience new things over a lifetime.”

This reflects the understandings gained from science and philosophy with insights from Zen and Taoist thinking and provides a simple formula to understanding the mind, body, self experience.

This is basically how the whole issue of the mind, self and the conscious experience appears me: -

Simply put, our human organism interacts with its environment via the senses. The experiences (information) are stored in the brain as memory and can be reflected upon and actioned as situations demand. The whole mental realm of thought, memory and consciousness becomes the structure called mind. From this wealth of the mind’s information, gained from our cultures, community, family, education, beliefs etc., an identity emerges from a young age as a ‘self’, a ‘me’ or ‘I’.

The mind structure, the self or ego can and has a great need to survive, often feeling more important than the body. To maintain itself, many thought structures are employed such as beliefs, opinions, views, ideologies, philosophies etc. – along with a general need to be right. Of course, nothing wrong with some of these except that unless mindfully employed they can only result in internal and external pain and conflict.

The mind of course is real, but only in the sense that it is an ever-flowing mental process that is not separate from the physical organism – or its environment.

We have our doubles in this very same world and time quite often. It is no matter. Genetic variation is not as great as we like to think

Should your consciousness flip places you would not even remember the difference.

Because it does this moment by moment. You are blindfolded and put to sleep then awoken several times per second.

And in the course of one second most of that time you are entirely unconscious.

It is only memory that keeps you aware of who you are, and the opinions you are supposed to defend as "me" and "mine." And when you forget any of it, it's gone.

That part of you has died, but this clone that re-implants your memory moment by moment is all that there is.

The teleportation paradox is our actual life moment by moment.

People are so afraid of death not realizing they die several times a second. And every moment of awareness is a reconstruction. The physical body does this for you. And you are not the same 'you' even from a second ago. That one died. This one lives for less than a millisecond, and the next one is in construction even now. Indeed the next two hundred copies of your consciousness are in construction all the time.

Dungness, that was awesome, your comment yesterday. Deliciously diabolical!

This thought experiment thing that Brian's introduced here --- while of course at one level it isn't really new, Stars Trek's pretty much ancient after all, but presenting the discussion in these specific terms I mean --- I found it fascinating, and find myself returning to it again now. What you were alluding to in your comment had escaped me yesterday, I thought you were simply entertaining yourself by writing a mock screenplay about a replicant bonding with their original. Rereading it now, what you were getting at struck me now, somewhat belatedly. Very cool!


And you know what your comment set me thinking? That this thought experiment itself, although it is clearly intended as a philosophical argument/discussion, but as presented it completely skips the philosophical and is, essentially, an argument/discussion/plotline highlighting the psychology of the thing. Much like your own very witty comment, except of course in your case that is exactly what you were going for in the first place.

Here's what I mean:

See my comment immediately preceding. This 'pessenger' whose vaporization pod has misfired, why is she so very put off at being faced with the technician's gun? Well, obviously one part of it is the sheer vulgarity of the instrument itself, the gun I mean. Another would be the perfectly rational assessment that getting shot is a great deal messier than getting vaporized, and it might be (somewhat) painful as well. But you know what the crux of it is, the reason why even a firing up of the vaporization chamber a second time, while far more civilized than bringing a gun into the picture, would still make for horror? Here's why:

Clearly when she'd bought a ticket for here "teleportation" she'd imagined that it was like buying a plane ticket. She'd clearly thought she'd enter the exit point 'here', and emerge at the entry point 'there'. The whole thing about she herself being snuffed out, and a separate creature with near identical attributes emerging at the other side, that's something she'd clearly not really given thought to. You know, like the small print in red herring prospectuses, that none of your garden variety punter really absorbs.

In other words, the philosophical question had clearly been bypassed altogether. It is only when things went wrong, and Eva was told that her replicant has already 'arrived' at the destination, that the full implications, and the full horror, of her situation actually became clear to her. And, via her, to us the readers.

Which leaves us then grappling less with the philosophy of the thing, than gasping over the horror of the actual situation.

Which is why, I say, the thought experiment, although intended as a philosophical discussion, turns out, as presented here, to actually be basically about psychology. Kind of like how the diabolical replicant in your own plotline goes ever so adroitly with her very skillful and diabolical gaslighting --- it's not so much about philosophy as about psychology.

Last night my wife watched The Fly (1986). The night before she watched Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). Coincidence? Or is Hulu making recommendations through the modem based on what I read here???

She remembers times together for which I have no recollection, and I've come to suspect a replicant is involved. Does anyone have the number for the Clone Emergency Hotline ("If a clone is following you...")? I knew it in the 80's, but Google acts like it never existed, and WHY are all the payphones GONE???

This "teletransportation" technology is actually REPLICANT technology. DON'T YOU SEE???? It will be abused to produce clone armies and must be stopped!!!

Quick, go underground, umami. RRUUUUUNNN!! The very next knock on the door, that might be them!

(By the way, is that what lies behind the shift from anami to umami? The replicant asserting its individuality, and breaking free of the shadow of its original?)

@ umami : [This "teletransportation" technology is actually REPLICANT technology. DON'T YOU SEE???? It will be abused to produce clone armies and must be stopped!!!]

I think you're right. It may be a bit late now to slow Replicant Tech though.
Look at all the obnoxious memes that go viral on the Net.


Glad you asked. There were several reasons.

1) One day I noticed someone else posted as 'swami anami' years ago. I didn't want to step on toes, and with the change to 'umami' then I too could use 'swami.'
2) It was embarrassing to be addressed sometimes as 'Anami' with a capital 'A.' The Highest Deity? Not I.
3) Umami is the delicious fifth flavor, savoriness, perceived through taste receptors sensitive to glutamates and nucleotides. Science!
4) When I had covid, I realized that "umami" was easier to say with nasal congestion. Why not make it easier for everyone?

On the other hand, how would I know I'm not a replicant? I could've been replaced under anesthesia and have no memory. During a colonoscopy, say.

People looking at you different? Dog or cat acting strange around you? You might be a replicant.

@ A.R. [ In other words, the philosophical question had clearly been bypassed altogether. It is only when things went wrong, and Eva was told that her replicant has already 'arrived' at the destination, that the full implications, and the full horror, of her situation actually became clear to her. And, via her, to us the readers. ]

I have to confess to really only having a bit of fun with the notion that the
teleportee's consciousness would magically reconstitute itself at the other
end of the teleportation. It seems a little sketchy even for a hard core

Thank you for adding a deeper analysis. I agree totally with it :)

P.S. A cool up-thread eye-opener is Spence describing how our inner
clone reconstitutes our memories moment to moment while we're
simply napping.

True that, and no one is ready, but push a button and a replicant loaf of bread materializes! Like the internet it will start innocently, but then...

Even the famous Sci_Fi writers from before the eighties realised that only
a strong mind can do tele_transportation

Some like VanVogt did machines doing it
Brian, . . You believe this but not a God?
Big Time Laurel coming back to prevent U falling back in spirituality


"...I have to confess to really only having a bit of fun with the notion that the
teleportee's consciousness would magically reconstitute itself at the other
end of the teleportation. It seems a little sketchy even for a hard core

Dungeness, while I enjoyed your little bit of fun with that screenplay thing, but I'm afraid I squarely disagree with the sentiment you express above. I'm cent per cent with the larger broader argument that Anil Seth presents in his book, and that Brian seconds in his comments, as far as that. That our consciousness is a function of our body (broadly speaking) stands to reason, given what we know so far; and, given that, should our body be reconstituted then I don't see anything "magical" in that reconstituted body generating a similar consciousness as the original. Indeed it the non-material nature of conscious that you imply here that is literally "magical".

My objections were around the details, not the broad idea itself. If I may clarify on the precise nuances over which I found myself disagreeing:

(1) Much like the free will problem, you know, it is clear that if you should know the position and the qualities of every relevant bit about someone, as well as all of the relevant functions/relationships between all of those variables, well then you can map out everything about what that individual will say or do --- except of course, that the sheer volume of information needed to be collected and to be processed makes the whole thing an impossibility. You know, you miss a single butterfly, and you have a tsunami you hadn't figured on, in which the subject actually drowns and dies, and your God's-eye-view tells you nothing about it, since you lack that detail. Likewise.

I think the enormous detail, every small single detail about every small single thing, that will need to be replicated to ensure full absolute total replication, is actually an impossibility. So that the consciousness generated at the other end is likely to differ from the original in some measure. Who knows, a kindly goodnatured pacifist Dungeness goes in, and a psychotic murderous Dungeness comes out the other end. Or at least subtly different, even if not that dramatic a variance.

(2) Regardless of how much, or whether, the replicant consciousness differs from the original, the fact remains that it is a separate consciousness. The original Eva that is going to be snuffed out, is going to be snuffed out for good. What will carry on afterwards is the replicant Eva. There's no getting around that.

(3) And finally, like I'd said, there's the wholly incidental issue of the thought experiment, as presented, speaking less to the philosophy than to the psychology, and the situation horror, of this business.


"...A cool up-thread eye-opener is Spence describing how our inner
clone reconstitutes our memories moment to moment while we're
simply napping. ..."

As far as pointing to the essential fragility of our sense of self, and also the essentially chimerical nature of such, true, that's something we'd do well to keep in mind. As a general observation, as a metaphor, as a poetic-ish allusion, it is all well and good.

But if Spence meant that at all literally, then I don't think it makes any sense at all. No, we don't die every moment. No, we don't die when we sleep. No, we don't die when we're comatose. Our consciousness continues even when we're asleep, even when we're operating at the level of the subconscious. Sure, we keep changing every moment, in the sense that the me of now is not exactly identical to the me of even one single moment ago; but that is not to say that the change is of my identity itself or of my consciousness itself. That continuity stops only at the time of death, only at the point when that consciousness, that ...flow of everything that makes up our sense of self, gets snuffed out for good.

@ AR : [ Indeed it the non-material nature of conscious that you imply here that is literally "magical".]

Frankly, I think both stances are "magical". The materialist with his rigid mantra of
absolutely "no observable evidence" of non-materiality VS. the non-materialist
fanatically espousing opinions that he hasn't yet confirmed experientially within
via mindfulness practice.

The materialist too easily adopts the priestly robes of Scientism while his counter-
part non-materialist turns into a blind religious zealot touting his membership in
the "Chosen Ones" club.

Er, I plea "guilty", Your Worship, at least part of the time, and throw myself on
an enlightened Court's mercy. Wait, there's more. Pinch off or re-configure
the odd molecule and I could be spouting another scripture.

P.S. the chap below doubts we can change though:


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