Original paintings from the masters are prized and valued,both for their content as much as their originality. There are many prints and images of the Mona Lisa, for example, but when you stand before the real thing, there is more; originality, history, value, a general weight that the copy seems to lack, even though the two may appear identical.
Identical twins, identical DNA. Differing only in their characteristics as acquired through life, they are the same in appearance and yet different in all other ways. How so? And which is the one with the greater value?
Cloning holds the same argument. Is there a difference if you clone someone? You have copied all the essential DNA and at that snapshot moment in time, the attribution of the original to the clone is merely perceived. In fact, were clones to switch labels you would never know which was the original and which was the copy.
And does it matter?
Limited edition series gold collector coins. Identical, but for the value imparted by content and quantity produced.
That is the premise for my chat on teleportation, a science fiction device that this year took a giant step toward reality. Yes, I am talking about “Beam me up, Scotty,” that phrase that was never uttered in the Star Trek realm, but which we are globally familiar.
So here is the brief explanation. First you map the person down to the smallest level. Then you must disassemble the structure of the person – they would become a pile if loose atoms, not unlike a dust cloud. Then you must transmit the data of their sequence to another machine at the destination point which, using the raw materials of which you are comprised, down to the last gram, would recreate your form, somehow binding atoms and molecules into the shape of you, complete in every way. And if you are lucky, and nothing got moved, shifted or nudged into the wrong place, you would step from the transporter pad/device and continue as though nothing had happened.
And yet something did happen, even if the machine is perfect in every way. What happened was that the pile of matter that was your form was destroyed and a copy made. Dolly the sheep had many clones that were identical. Cloning is transportation without destroying the prototype. You use matter and allow the DNA to sequence it in the original form.
So is there something missing in this equation? Will your soul get lost? Would a Catholic ever be able to step on such a device knowing that while the form may indeed be transported light years away, the soul, as yet unidentified in corporeal (and reproducible way) be lost? And as an aside, were you to indeed identify and quantify a soul, would you be able to change it for the better – turn evil into good, so to speak?
So what is originality but for our feeble human quest for retaining a value? We see this in the world where hand made items are considered valuable because of the skill that went in to the creation, while machine made items are just – well – machine made items. Disposable, if you will.
Are we so afraid that we are worthless as a species if we are able to be duplicated? We certainly feel that way in our jobs, when our boss demands more of us for no greater pay and then, after twenty years of dedicated service replaces you with a cheaper (and cuter) model, someone lacking your acquired skills and experience.
At the end of the day we all die – no matter how great we are, no matter how big our accomplishments. The longest lasting artifacts of our race are crumbling in the Egyptian desert, or are buried in the sands somewhere. Dinosaurs, humanity, aliens (if some did crash land.) The originals that no matter what are finite.
Were you to transport, you could achieve much more as the process refines. After the scan, abnormalities and cancers could be identified and those pieces removed and replaced with harmless tissue. You could cure disease that way. You could also build an army that way – one person’s complete data and piles of chemicals that make up the matter of that person’s body and you keep duplicating, like a pirated DVD being shared across the Internet. You could plug in characteristics from the composite data banks of thousand of people who beamed before you and finally get that head of hair back, or those thinner thighs and tighter butt, perkier breasts, bigger muscles and more. Perhaps you could adjust the brain elements to eliminate phobias and other mental disorders by replacing that coding with the coding of that really cool person you admired for many years. And all those celebrity addicts that have to have a piece of their favorite over-hyped celeb could likewise add those pieces to their own makeup.
Yeah, yeah, you say. But we cannot teleport anywhere. Wrong! Quantum physics has shown the unique manner in which a pair of photons in different locations can respond simultaneously when only one is affected. Now researchers have managed to enhance the functionality “opening the way for high-speed, high-fidelity transmission of large volumes of information” which is the first in a series of step that will ultimately lead to transporting people. That said… “One of the limitations of high-speed quantum communication at present is that some detail is lost during the teleportation process. It’s the Star Trek equivalent of beaming the crew down to a planet and having their organs disappear or materialize in the wrong place. We’re talking about information but the principle is the same – it allows us to guarantee the integrity of transmission.”
You can read the details HERE. “The experiments were conducted on a machine known as "the teleporter" in the laboratory of Professor Akira Furusawa in the Department of Applied Physics in the University of Tokyo.”
As science leads us towards these once fantastical ideas about the future, we are left pondering the ethical implications. Despite naysayers, I do believe that change is good, and more so, that change is survival. Left alone we tend to become a petty and bickering species, not unlike children left unattended who bicker and fight rather than focus productively on something greater.
What we need to get past is the sense of importance that we believe to be so fundamental to our existence. Forgetting that before life and after death, without enduring the endless religious and philosophical debates, that we lose the physical realm we enjoy for this lifespan, and ignoring the fact that hundreds of millions of bipeds have roamed this same earth before us and will after us, we need to understand that sense of uniqueness is flawed. Originality is a construct that we cling to in order to feel more secure and stable in this existence. It is a bit like looking at an ant colony and arguing that one ant is filled with more originality than the next. As cloning, teleportation and other progresses of science bring us toward a more Blade Runner way of life, the value of life becomes a subjectivity only and not a matter of national pride.
If you like this sort of thing you would love a book I have been reading “The Self-Aware Universe” by Amit Goswami which you can look at and buy HERE. The book runs $11.95 although you can get it for as low as $4.95.
Dr. Goswami is Professor of physics at the University of Oregon’s Institute of Theoretical Science for over 30 years and author of many books. You can read about him HERE. I am reading this book on my iPad, about three quarters the way through and I find it is exciting reading in that it opens up possibilities that you rarely hear discussed, although more so now that you have scientists working on teleportation in the mainstream media. His whole focus is on consciousness over reality; that the development of consciousness resulted in the creation of the universe. You may sound a little skeptical but if you read this you will have to consider the merits of the suggestion. After all – if a tree falls…sorry just kidding – reconcile existence as a measure of physical atoms with consciousness developing afterwards and you have a one sided perspective. But consider, if you will, the effect of a global consciousness, the collective mindset and the effect that it has on the resulting reality.
Need a video break? Click HERE.
While many people may be skeptical of such a concept, whether teleportation or a universal consciousness that forms reality, consider the sheer number of popular movies that have dealt with time travel, multi-verses, black holes leading through dimensional doorways, Stargates, The Matrix, and even the latest in the Star Trek films that brought old Spock back to an earlier time resulting in a change in timelines so that he could exist both young and old, while totally changing everything enough to launch a whole new series of films, or television without having forgotten the original.
There is that word again… original. If the original was changed and never happened, and a new one is the result, then isn;t that new one now the original? Whew – headache!
Beam me up, Scotty. Anytime.