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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by Lethologica View Post
    Then let's look at another scenario: how do we know that someone woken up from cryosleep is the same person? The time dimension isn't special, so why should this time-transferred consciousness be any more continuous than the space-transferred consciousness of the teleported person?
    Why would that present a problem? No discontinuity exists.

    A lack of activity for a period is not the same as ceasing to exist. If one sat perfectly still for a time, it would not raise questions about ceasing to exist. So too with cryosleep. It is not necessary that one be continuously active in order to be considered the same entity. Whatever physical bits that enable your conciousness to exist remain there in cryosleep.

    Now, if you put someone into cryosleep with no intent for anyone to ever reawaken them, that may be murder, but that is little different than say, locking someone in a fridge.

    Time travel would present a discontinuity, though. That's be a good analogy. A time machine might also kill you in the same way as a teleporter(presuming the deconstruct/reconstruct thing).
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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    It's actually really simple and really solid. If I cut off your leg and you can still talk, your leg was not a necessary condition for you being able to talk. There's no 'but you don't really know...' or 'but the variables, what about the variables?!'.
    I can still come up with many scenarios where the results of ablation shows erroneous or misguiding results. Take "phantom pain", for instance. If I am a man with no knowledge whatsoever of neuroscience or psychology; I might come to the false conclusion that; since amputees still feel "pain" from lost limbs, therefore the body has no saying whatsoever in the sensation of pain. Which is partially true (there's a mental component), but if that's the conclusion it's still false (pain also IS a reaction of the body).

    My point isn't really that ablation doesn't work, my point is that I think you still need to reasonably have a broader knowledge of whatever you are studying (i.e: a problem of psychology shouldn't be solved by engineers). Not every field of science is holistic enough to take ANY problem and solve it by dissecting thing at random. But I digress, I'm not saying in any way that ablation can't work, so let's just leave it like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    I'm ablating your body while maintaining the pattern of organization of the particles that composed your body at one point in time. If it turns out that that pattern is actually all you are or ever were, then it turns out I didn't ablate you. If it turns out that there's more to you than that pattern, then I ablated you.
    Ok, that's more clarifying. I still think you are trying to solve a problem of psychology/philosophy from a purely engineering/physics perspective; so I expect you can understand now where my suspicions come from.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Your 'theory' here that we're testing is this definition by which "which, ontologically CAN'T be me, for it's very definition is being Not-Me". According to that theory, 'you-ness' is stored in a degree of freedom the teleporter doesn't transport. It's not the only theory you could have - a competing theory for example would be one in which the ontology is different and identity doesn't distinguish between things and perfect copies of them.
    If you ask me, I don't know where my consciousness comes from (really, I'm tired of having to remark that claim on every post). The idea that "consciousness" is a thing, is more like an axiom in most fields of science (linguistics, psychology, etc.) and to some schools of philosophy; not necessarily part of the "theory". As I said, the problem of consciousness is that it is self-evident, but we can't truly detect or discern it. Definitions of it vary for the very same reason that we haven't located yet.

    And please, stop putting words in my mouth that I never ever claimed. I NEVER said the teleporter can't possibly transport the quality of consciousness from one body to the other. All I said, is that most ways of testing are inconclusive and non-definitive.

    The teleporter may be even transport "souls" and "ghosts" (if they were real). Nothing (in theory) is beyond the possibilities of technology, as long as it involves real science. If ghost and souls are in fact, on the realm of science (and not merely speculation), then nothing should stop us from creating a machine to deal with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    The prediction of your theory is that when you teleport, 'you-ness' must be lost. Your theory also doesn't allow you-ness to not be lost.
    The part I underlined is precisely what is NOT part of any theory or hypothesis of mine. The part I bolded means just the same as the other (?). If not, I didn't understand your double negative.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    If the evidence on performing the experiment is that behavior is entirely unaffected, then that means exactly one of two things:

    1) The theory is wrong (most likely in the axiom which assumes that ontological identity matters)

    or

    2) 'You-ness' has nothing to do with behavior
    But WHAT evidence? That is my question, and what makes all your testing impractical. You can simply go around asking "Are you really Joeltion?" to random people and assume any answer has any kind of value. You need to thoroughly know "joeltion" and experiment for DECADES with a subject to determine if:
    a) It is in any way related to the person previously known as "joeltion"
    b) this "joeltion" hasn't suffered any kind of trauma by being teleported that drastically changed his world view (and if his memory was in fact, "wiped" in any way; there's almost no way to tell for sure if the machine was to blame, or it was simply something natural)
    c) this "joeltion" won't present any kind of aberration or degeneration of the psyche (or even the body) that was caused bby the machine.

    And even then, you would probably have to test hundreds of subjects for stupidly long frames of time before reaching any kind of useful conclusion (that is, one that the authorities, or at least specialists from the field would accept). And that is why your experiment is simply "INCONCLUSIVE" by the standards you present me. You are trying too hard to over-over-oversimplify a HUGE problem of the human condition. It's just not that easy, pal. I agree, your experiment is funny and interesting. Were I a scientist, I would even want to partake in it. But it's not as useful as you think (for the answers we are looking now). It might have success with different questions (as in, can a machine copy what are essentially random states (at cellular and subatomic level) without actually needing to read the whole pattern? That is a question this experiment CAN actually solve. The other? If it reaches a definitive answer, it's mostly impractical. We'd better spend time trying to invent mind-reading machines (that don't fry or disintegrate the subject ).


    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    However, if its 2), then that raises the question - when you talk about how you're you and how that matters to you and how you'd know if it ended and so on, where is that speech coming from? That speech is part of your behavior, after all. If 'you-ness' has no effect on behavior, and yet you claim to be aware of it, then the only possibility is that you are not telling the truth (either because you yourself are deceived, or willfully).
    I never said my self-awareness doesn't effect behaviour. It's obvious that part of being self-aware involves behaviour. Just like language is related to behaviour (both ways).

    But the machine can't really show that consciousness is a "deception"; it can only show (if anything) where it actually comes from (for you, that would be emerged simply from the "pattern"). And even then, it still fails to make a clear distinction between a "pattern of you" from a "pattern copied X times"; in case there is a distinction. Like I said, the machine is inconclusive. It doesn't provide positive answers (what actually makes you) but negative ones (what DOESN'T make you).

    Now, this is probably philosophy we are leaning towards; but if the claim "consciousness is a lie/deception" were taken as a fact... Then there's even more of the reason to avoid to know the "truth" (that consciousness is an illusion) at all costs.
    Spoiler
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    The simple way to phrase it would be:
    If your consciousness is a lie, that means 'you' aren't real, but the figment of imagination. If 'you' aren't real, there's simply no value in searching 'truths'. Truths do no affect lies, just as lies don't change truths. A dreaming chimpanzee isn't threatened by the lion that chases him in dreams. For the chimp is real, and the lion is not. Yet the lion is safe from the hunted that has trapped the chimp.
    If consciousness is a lie, then only lies are real for consciousness.

    And that is why I find the claim that consciousness is an illusion rather silly. The very fact that I am convinced that I am self-aware, makes me self-aware; and the very fact that I am deluded, makes delusion the only thing that is "real" for me. At least, from a pragmatic POV. In any case, let's just not delve there. Let's not debate philosophy, please



    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    That just buries your deduction - when you claim that its possible that a perfect copy could be made, but still wouldn't copy your personal experience, that relies on a particular view about what personal experience is. Imagine if I said 'it may produce perfect copies of this statue, but it can't assure that the leg will be in place correctly'. In order for that not to be nonsensical, I have to accept that 'the leg of a statue is not a priori part of what is implied by a perfect copy'.
    No, it relies on a particular view of how logic, philosophy and math works. And ultimately, ontology/language. A copy isn't the original in any realm we know of... except for the silly real you are trying to depict, which funnily enough, resemblances more a Platonic point of view than anything else. You think the "pattern" (that's what Plato called "idea") is the thing, instead of the nature of the thing (i.e: the specific physical properties all combined). I'm sorry, bu I don't think Plato was ever right. He was smart, but I don't share his view. There is no mathematical "Ideal me" that is preserved in a form of equation, even if I am destroyed completely. Or at least, I am not so crazy to actually try.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Since I'm not willing to accept that particular deduction just as a matter of axiom, I'm objecting: 'a perfect copy, by definition, copies everything - including your consciousness. If it doesn't, it wasn't a perfect copy.'
    That has nothing to deal with consciousness. You are mixing two completely different objections of mine. Even if it copies my consciousness that doesn't mean that "copy of mine" is still "me". I am Me, there is no "Ideal Me". Even if you go the Utilitarian definition that a Chair is always a Chair despite which copy is which; only you are crazy enough to accept that a chair can be destroyed and rebuilt from different materials* and still be the original. It's not, it's a perfect copy. That doesn't make it me. Just like Superman from Earth 1 isn't Superman from Earth 1.1 despite them being perfect copies of each other. Just like the copy of a book isn't the same copy another person may have; despite being functionally the same. Just because for all pragmatic purposes from your perspective is the same; that doesn't mean logic necessarily agrees with your personal view of how the universe works.

    *The materials are different because the machine is relocating them in form of energy. The source (energy) may be the same -altho it needs additional energy to perform the act of relocation- but the materials are created (somehow) by the machine. They aren't the original atoms anymore, they are brand "new".

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    It would be different if you said e.g. 'well, I don't think a teleporter that makes a perfect copy can ever be built', because while that's denying the premise we could at least say 'alright, lets talk about teleporters that can be built' or 'I take your point but I'd rather talk about what if a perfect teleporter could be built'. But you're saying 'under the premise that the teleporter is perfect, (the teleporter is not perfect)'.
    What? I repeatedly claimed that our whole understanding of physics and the universe makes a "perfect" teleporter (as the one you described) IS impossible, and if your premise is "but it totally copies everything in perfection with no secondary effects whatsoever" then you are simply claiming "a magician did it". "Perfect" isn't a working concept in science. Maybe math, but not science in application. No machine can be perfect, for it's very nature resides in being just as close to "perfect" as mankind and science allows it to. An "Ideal Teleporting Machine", therefore; is a neat philosophical exercise; but it never reflects on anything related or concerning actual science (nor even theoretical science, for science knows it always falls short, and perfection is impossible).

    Teleporters that could be built (IF and only IF teleportation is possible) will always be imperfect. Sorry, but they will always be like that. That is the very reason we test anything we built before blindly trusting anything previous testing may have indicated. And since my first claim was a concern about safety, I don't understand how you mistakenly assumed I ever accepted the idea of "perfect machines".


    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    I hold that either:

    - Consciousness is observable in a meaningful way
    - Consciousness doesn't actually exist

    Take your pick.
    Why? The first one isn't clear yet, and the last makes the whole point irrelevant.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    If we replace the word 'consciousness' with, say, 'vim' or 'vital force', it's the same story. If someone comes up to me and tells me that unless they eat a spoonful of tictacs every day, their vim will be depleted, then either there is something which they are detecting which actually does have this relationship with tictac consumption or they're delusional and made something up. Either 'vim' is observable, or its imagined. Consciousness doesn't get a special pass - until its observed, its just another random word.
    You know, it's kind of annoying where every comparison you make with my argument always deals with religious and philosophical terminology and theories. I'm not arguing philosophy here, except for the fact that A =/= A'. Consciousness is taken for granted for a whole bunch of sciences, because otherwise they can't work at all. Physicist don't question whether math is real or an arbitraty convention to communicate between humans. They simply accept that Math is real, because it works. It's an axiom.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    You can't convince me, but you definitely can talk about your self-awareness. You've been doing so. Either that's deluded, made up stuff, or its actual evidence of you detecting your own self-awareness. I'm actually assuming the second, which is the more generous option. But under the assumption of the second case, I'm not going to give you privileged status in being trusted in talking about your self-awareness - if someone else talks about theirs, I have to assume that what they say holds exactly equal weight.

    If I just assume that you're deluded, this entire conversation gets much, much easier in some ways. I can then say 'it doesn't matter if you the teleporter preserves consciousness, because consciousness doesn't exist, and there's no 'you' to be killed in the first place'. But I find that while that is also a theory consistent with our observations, its much harder to have a civil conversation with people while holding it.
    I don't think it's about civility. If we are all NPCs and no PCs are present; then **** the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Torath View Post
    Note that "detecting something" counts as measuring it. That might be the only thing you can measure about it, but that is still a measurement.
    While the verb "detect" necessarily involves measurement; that's not how internal sensation works. Humans can't "detect" color; we see color. We "feel" color, if you want. Human mind, while able to perceive and feel; is unable to judge anything with the sufficient objectivity that is necessary to say we "measure". That is why, even when we "feel" time; we can only detect the passage of time with external aide. We also need external aide to determine colors, sounds, and everything. Human mind is simply incapable of making measurements of any kind on its own.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    *In reality, uncertainty poses a huge problem for doing this, probably rendering both such observation and the teleporter itself impossible.
    Not strictly impossible; for as long as the teleporter is able to create "functioning" copies; it is successful. For pragmatic/business purposes, at least
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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    Not strictly impossible; for as long as the teleporter is able to create "functioning" copies; it is successful. For pragmatic/business purposes, at least
    In the sense of perfect copies, as per this thought experiment. Probably impossible. Like going FTL. There may be some clever dodge around it via principles of physics yet undiscovered, but...that's pretty far out there.

    For "sorta close" copies, sure. I buy that. But I think the whole thought experiment relies on the copies being exact.
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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    Why would that present a problem? No discontinuity exists.

    A lack of activity for a period is not the same as ceasing to exist. If one sat perfectly still for a time, it would not raise questions about ceasing to exist. So too with cryosleep. It is not necessary that one be continuously active in order to be considered the same entity. Whatever physical bits that enable your conciousness to exist remain there in cryosleep.

    Now, if you put someone into cryosleep with no intent for anyone to ever reawaken them, that may be murder, but that is little different than say, locking someone in a fridge.

    Time travel would present a discontinuity, though. That's be a good analogy. A time machine might also kill you in the same way as a teleporter(presuming the deconstruct/reconstruct thing).
    There at least appears to be a major discontinuity of consciousness due to cessation of major life processes at extremely low temperature. The body's there, but nobody's home. Sitting perfectly still is not nearly the same thing. Nor is sleeping, for that matter. Neither of those processes involve the cessation of brain activity.

    If I destroy the body and reconstitute it somewhere else before waking the person from cryosleep, what's the basis for your claim that this is the step destroying one consciousness and creating another? If consciousness can resume from cryosleep (person -> frozen body -> person), why can't consciousness resume from cryosleep with intermediate teleportation (person -> frozen body -> bunch of atoms -> frozen body -> person)? Or from simple teleportation (person -> bunch of atoms -> person)?
    Last edited by Lethologica; 2017-09-29 at 11:41 AM.

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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by Lethologica View Post
    There at least appears to be a major discontinuity of consciousness due to cessation of major life processes at extremely low temperature. The body's there, but nobody's home. Sitting perfectly still is not nearly the same thing. Nor is sleeping, for that matter. Neither of those processes involve the cessation of brain activity.

    If I destroy the body and reconstitute it somewhere else before waking the person from cryosleep, what's the basis for your claim that this is the step destroying one consciousness and creating another? If consciousness can resume from cryosleep (person -> frozen body -> person), why can't consciousness resume from cryosleep with intermediate teleportation (person -> frozen body -> bunch of atoms -> frozen body -> person)? Or from simple teleportation (person -> bunch of atoms -> person)?
    I mean, the whole point of being cold is that things move very, very slowly. That's what cold is. You're not more yourself because you happen to be a warmer temperature and your atoms are bouncin' about more.

    Being cold, even very cold, for quite a while, is not really the same as complete disassembly to constituent atoms.
    Last edited by Tyndmyr; 2017-09-29 at 12:28 PM.
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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    If you ask me, I don't know where my consciousness comes from (really, I'm tired of having to remark that claim on every post). The idea that "consciousness" is a thing, is more like an axiom in most fields of science (linguistics, psychology, etc.) and to some schools of philosophy; not necessarily part of the "theory". As I said, the problem of consciousness is that it is self-evident, but we can't truly detect or discern it. Definitions of it vary for the very same reason that we haven't located yet.
    If it's self-evident, you're claiming that it's evident to yourself. Evident, as in 'capable of being seen or noticed', 'clearly revealed to the mind or the senses or judgement', etc. Evident, as in the word which is the basis of 'evidence'.

    If it's evident to yourself, then that's either detection or its delusion. You're actually detecting something that's really there (in which case you may not understand it, but you can certainly detect it), or you think you're detecting something but you're incorrect about what it actually signifies. It's not at all necessary that you understand something in order to detect it.

    And please, stop putting words in my mouth that I never ever claimed. I NEVER said the teleporter can't possibly transport the quality of consciousness from one body to the other. All I said, is that most ways of testing are inconclusive and non-definitive.

    The teleporter may be even transport "souls" and "ghosts" (if they were real). Nothing (in theory) is beyond the possibilities of technology, as long as it involves real science. If ghost and souls are in fact, on the realm of science (and not merely speculation), then nothing should stop us from creating a machine to deal with them.

    The part I underlined is precisely what is NOT part of any theory or hypothesis of mine. The part I bolded means just the same as the other (?). If not, I didn't understand your double negative.
    You did say "You disintegrated me, then created something back; which might as well me "resurrected" or a perfect copy from me (which, ontologically CAN'T be me, for it's very definition is being Not-Me)." - that's not me putting words in your mouth, those are your words. I know you wanted to say that as just a fragment of logic, but contains axioms which must be assumed in order to hold - e.g. we have to assume that reality reflects this particular choice of ontology. Since that's not a unique choice of ontology, that's what ends up acting as your theory or hypothesis in the context of the 'you-ness' discussion: whether this particular choice of ontology is physically meaningful/predictive of reality/etc.

    But WHAT evidence? That is my question, and what makes all your testing impractical. You can simply go around asking "Are you really Joeltion?" to random people and assume any answer has any kind of value. You need to thoroughly know "joeltion" and experiment for DECADES with a subject to determine if:
    a) It is in any way related to the person previously known as "joeltion"
    b) this "joeltion" hasn't suffered any kind of trauma by being teleported that drastically changed his world view (and if his memory was in fact, "wiped" in any way; there's almost no way to tell for sure if the machine was to blame, or it was simply something natural)
    c) this "joeltion" won't present any kind of aberration or degeneration of the psyche (or even the body) that was caused bby the machine.

    And even then, you would probably have to test hundreds of subjects for stupidly long frames of time before reaching any kind of useful conclusion (that is, one that the authorities, or at least specialists from the field would accept). And that is why your experiment is simply "INCONCLUSIVE" by the standards you present me. You are trying too hard to over-over-oversimplify a HUGE problem of the human condition. It's just not that easy, pal. I agree, your experiment is funny and interesting. Were I a scientist, I would even want to partake in it. But it's not as useful as you think (for the answers we are looking now). It might have success with different questions (as in, can a machine copy what are essentially random states (at cellular and subatomic level) without actually needing to read the whole pattern? That is a question this experiment CAN actually solve. The other? If it reaches a definitive answer, it's mostly impractical. We'd better spend time trying to invent mind-reading machines (that don't fry or disintegrate the subject ).
    If a teleporter like this were invented, it would be practical (if not necessarily ethical) to for example have someone sit in a room and do tasks while being teleported once every few seconds, for a period of days, months, or years. We would almost certainly do it to harddrives and rats and monkeys first. We would almost certainly make teleporter clones first before trying destructive teleportation. None of this is excluded by the thought experiment.

    If you said for example 'here are the standards of evidence I would accept: a set of a million subjects, each being teleported 1, 10, 100, or 1000 times over the course of a decade, interviewed by their friends and family at 1 week intervals, 1 month intervals, and 1 year intervals for different sub-sets, and compared with a set of 100000 control subjects who aren't teleported and are interviewed the same way' then that's fine - we could, and probably would, quibble over experiment design and statistics and reasonable standards of proof, but I don't think there'd be anything intrinsically incorrect about that position - just very paranoid.

    However, if you claim that no amount of evidence would be sufficient and that the question wasn't even subject to resolution by way of evidence by definition, then I'd say that's irrational because it involves the construction of a prior belief that categorically denies anything that questions it.

    What? I repeatedly claimed that our whole understanding of physics and the universe makes a "perfect" teleporter (as the one you described) IS impossible, and if your premise is "but it totally copies everything in perfection with no secondary effects whatsoever" then you are simply claiming "a magician did it". "Perfect" isn't a working concept in science. Maybe math, but not science in application. No machine can be perfect, for it's very nature resides in being just as close to "perfect" as mankind and science allows it to. An "Ideal Teleporting Machine", therefore; is a neat philosophical exercise; but it never reflects on anything related or concerning actual science (nor even theoretical science, for science knows it always falls short, and perfection is impossible).

    Teleporters that could be built (IF and only IF teleportation is possible) will always be imperfect. Sorry, but they will always be like that. That is the very reason we test anything we built before blindly trusting anything previous testing may have indicated. And since my first claim was a concern about safety, I don't understand how you mistakenly assumed I ever accepted the idea of "perfect machines".
    Well, it was the premise of the thought experiment in this thread, so presumably if you find talking about it worthwhile...

    But okay, realistically? No, I don't think we will ever build a teleporter of the read/write sort - even a grossly imperfect one. Forget about quantum mechanics, the logistics of actually scanning individual neurons with an external device are terrible, much less scanning macromolecules; and if you don't do it fast, its like trying to take a panoramic photo from the roof of a moving train. So, realistically, by what we know of our universe the question of 'what happens to your consciousness if you get teleported?' is 'don't worry, you can't actually teleport things like that, its not an issue that will come up'. Easily solved, no philosophical dilemmas, done.

    Why? The first one isn't clear yet, and the last makes the whole point irrelevant.

    You know, it's kind of annoying where every comparison you make with my argument always deals with religious and philosophical terminology and theories. I'm not arguing philosophy here, except for the fact that A =/= A'. Consciousness is taken for granted for a whole bunch of sciences, because otherwise they can't work at all. Physicist don't question whether math is real or an arbitraty convention to communicate between humans. They simply accept that Math is real, because it works. It's an axiom.
    I'm making those comparisons because they're comparable. The overall strategy of taking a word, giving it strong emotional and self-identity connotations, and then claiming that something about it is self-evident because people are loathe to deny their own identity is a pretty common approach in pseudoscientific philosophy. Vitalism, for example, held that being alive was a self-evidently special property, and therefore there should be no way for non-living things to give rise to life. Arguments supporting vitalism could make use of the emotional difficulty in denying one's own specialness.

    So when I see argumentation like 'we should assume consciousness exists, because if it doesn't then nothing we do has value' it strikes me as just the same old stuff with a new name.

    So that's why I replace 'consciousness' or 'vitalism' or things like that with nonsense words. If we're talking about something with a strong basis in evidence, changing the name shouldn't make a difference. Conversely, if changing the name but none of the actual evidence or definitions ends up making a difference, that usually helps to point out where the sleight of hand is.

    And, no. 'Accepting that something is real because it works' is not taking it for granted, its using evidence ('it works') to support the claim of the thing being real. Or, in the case of math, 'correct'. I don't have to take Fourier transforms on faith or just assume they're fine, because I can check that they work.

    While the verb "detect" necessarily involves measurement; that's not how internal sensation works. Humans can't "detect" color; we see color. We "feel" color, if you want. Human mind, while able to perceive and feel; is unable to judge anything with the sufficient objectivity that is necessary to say we "measure". That is why, even when we "feel" time; we can only detect the passage of time with external aide. We also need external aide to determine colors, sounds, and everything. Human mind is simply incapable of making measurements of any kind on its own.
    With humans, a subjective report is generally not to be trusted as being truth, but the fact that that particular subjective report was made can be trusted. Combine that with statistics and you can pull objective stuff from out of the noise.

    If you show people a Necker cube, of course its a 2d image and not a cube pointing inwards or a cube pointing outwards like they will report seeing. But if you have them press a button whenever they see it flip, and measure the pattern of button presses, the statistics of those reports are an objective measurement of the phenomenon of perceptual switching - and you can see how those statistics change when you provide confounding stimuli, etc, in order to make an objective measurement of a subjectively detected phenomenon.
    Last edited by NichG; 2017-09-29 at 01:02 PM.

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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    In the sense of perfect copies, as per this thought experiment. Probably impossible. Like going FTL. There may be some clever dodge around it via principles of physics yet undiscovered, but...that's pretty far out there.

    For "sorta close" copies, sure. I buy that. But I think the whole thought experiment relies on the copies being exact.
    Welp, yeah. But if the "thought experiment" in question (which, as a side note, it's totally not the same OP brought here himself) involves aspects of reality that are beyond the realm of what we know about science; then the thought experiment is a question either for philosophy or religion. No scientific answers can be provided to "problems" that violate the very principles that fund scientific knowledge. Or to put it bluntly: science has no saying in problems that involve fictional magical devices.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    If it's self-evident, you're claiming that it's evident to yourself. Evident, as in 'capable of being seen or noticed', 'clearly revealed to the mind or the senses or judgement', etc. Evident, as in the word which is the basis of 'evidence'.

    If it's evident to yourself, then that's either detection or its delusion. You're actually detecting something that's really there (in which case you may not understand it, but you can certainly detect it), or you think you're detecting something but you're incorrect about what it actually signifies. It's not at all necessary that you understand something in order to detect it.
    You are just playing with words now. If you continue like this, then we can have no conversation.

    "Sweet" is evident to myself when I feel it. That doesn't mean I am not simply misguided, confused or wrong about the terminology. That's the human nature, human perception sucks. Deal with it*. Knowing a truth you can't express is knowing no truth at all. Truth involves language and communication. If said truth can't be communicated efficiently, it simply becomes subjectivity (c'mon, it's a very simple concept!).

    *I'm simply baffled I just have said those words in a "Science and Technology" forum. It should be pretty much evident for anyone with a little literature on the subject.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    You did say "You disintegrated me, then created something back; which might as well me "resurrected" or a perfect copy from me (which, ontologically CAN'T be me, for it's very definition is being Not-Me)." - that's not me putting words in your mouth, those are your words. I know you wanted to say that as just a fragment of logic, but contains axioms which must be assumed in order to hold - e.g. we have to assume that reality reflects this particular choice of ontology. Since that's not a unique choice of ontology, that's what ends up acting as your theory or hypothesis in the context of the 'you-ness' discussion: whether this particular choice of ontology is physically meaningful/predictive of reality/etc.
    You assumed that when I used the word resurrection (between " ", no less) I was referring to any mystical form of bringing people back from the dead. Sorry, but your assumptions were completely erroneous. I thought the " " would have been enough to demonstrate that I used the term because we simply lack the proper terminology to describe something that is impossible for current Physics.

    The statement means that what the machine does only has two possible outcomes: First, it disintegrates me ("killing" me, in the case the process is stopped between the transition). Then it spontaneously creates something somewhere else (that is the act of what we call teleportation, both in SF and science). Now that thing could either be Me, or be Not Me. There is no approximation, it's really a case of black or white. Either the thing is something or it is something else entirely. In the case it's Me; then I have been successfully "transported without actual movement" (that is the most accurate definition of the word "teleport"). Now, since I was technically "dead" (for all medical standards, disintegration implies death=ceasing of all vital processes); it is accurate to use the euphemism "resurrection", since that's what resurrection means in the end: bringing people from the a "dead" status (they were just vaporized).

    So, in the first possibility, where the one teleported is Me, it's not a copy at all. Because it's even more perfect than a "perfect" copy*. I am the closest thing to myself, making me the only perfect copy of me in the universe. But having to state that every time, would be playing with words. It's self evident: A(me)=A(me) A(me)=/=A'(copy of me)

    *I just noticed that in my previous statements the "perfect copy" is also euphemistic. It isn't totally perfect, because it isn't me (lacks the quality of my self-awareness). It's less "perfect" than myself (yet very close), as long as we place the parameters of "perfection" on Me, for this experiment.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    However, if you claim that no amount of evidence would be sufficient and that the question wasn't even subject to resolution by way of evidence by definition, then I'd say that's irrational because it involves the construction of a prior belief that categorically denies anything that questions it.
    I never said "no amount". I said we lacked the proper understanding to have any definitive information. To me, it sounds like you are clinging too hard in your belief that we have all the knowledge we need (we don't) and just can't simply accept we aren't there just yet. When body swap is a reality, then we have no way to distinguish who is who with the current knowledge in Psychology, Biology and Neuroscience we have. If a parallel universe version of You teleported to your house and killed you, a la Rick&Morty; I'm sorry, but nobody in this universe would be able to tell the difference. Your consciousness won't magically "teleport" to the version of you that killed you. The only consolation you would have is that nobody would miss you

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Well, it was the premise of the thought experiment in this thread, so presumably if you find talking about it worthwhile...
    This was OP's post.
    Quote Originally Posted by TheManicMonocle View Post
    So, there's a few things I have trouble with in the realm of science fiction.

    First let's start with teleportation. As I understand it, teleportation is the act of taking an object apart atom by atom, sending those atoms elsewhere, and reassembling them. I don't see how this could be anything but lethal to any living creature. Of course, I don't mind teleporting non living objects, but as far as I'm concerned, as far as instant travel is concerned, portals are the best way, provided you don't touch their edges.

    (snip)

    So, do you think these concerns make sense? Obviously this only applies from a scientific perspective, magical teleportation has its own rules.
    You proposed a magical teleporter that fails not, via a mechanism you have yet to properly explain in scientific terms.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    But okay, realistically? No, I don't think we will ever build a teleporter of the read/write sort - even a grossly imperfect one. Forget about quantum mechanics, the logistics of actually scanning individual neurons with an external device are terrible, much less scanning macromolecules; and if you don't do it fast, its like trying to take a panoramic photo from the roof of a moving train. So, realistically, by what we know of our universe the question of 'what happens to your consciousness if you get teleported?' is 'don't worry, you can't actually teleport things like that, its not an issue that will come up'. Easily solved, no philosophical dilemmas, done.
    While I find this answer reassuring that you aren't crazy, I kinda feel wasted now.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    (snip)
    So when I see argumentation like 'we should assume consciousness exists, because if it doesn't then nothing we do has value' it strikes me as just the same old stuff with a new name.
    (snip)
    And, no. 'Accepting that something is real because it works' is not taking it for granted, its using evidence ('it works') to support the claim of the thing being real. Or, in the case of math, 'correct'. I don't have to take Fourier transforms on faith or just assume they're fine, because I can check that they work.
    On the other hand, twisting my words and comparing them to religion in a forum of science is also demeaning, to say the least. Specially when I was never talking about what was real or not; I simply spoke about what we can scientifically test or not. Never I did make strong claims on what consciousness was or wasn't; only that scientific fields that deal with the study of psyche, the senses and the nature of language need to assume it exists. Precisely because "it works". Most of the studies of the Human mind needed to rely on things that were little more than beliefs when they originated, because that's the only way they could perform any actual scientific research. Just like "dark matter" is pure speculation and not evidence of anything. It's simply a thing we do not understand or comprehend; but we still put a name on it and give it some hypothetical properties, because otherwise we can't deal with them at all.

    Also, this is not my claim: 'we should assume consciousness exists, because if it doesn't then nothing we do has value'. My position on the existence of consciousness has nothing to do with the worthiness of value of research. It's about the impossibility to do ANY research if we weren't real. At least, not any research on "real" things. If we are on a virtual simulation, then what we call "Physics" should be called "Programming" instead. Because there is nothing physical in what is but a mere software. It's impossible for anything enclosed in a virtual world to know anything about the physical world. That's how knowledge works.

    So my claim is: "If we aren't conscious, then there is no I". We would be all mindless machines, NPC's with no sense of free will or claim to be alive.

    As a side note; I don't understand how anyone would compare "consciousness" with something supernatural. I simply don't get it. Also, many theories in a lot of fields of science "worked" for the task at hand; yet were proven to be false. Linguistics and psychology started from a bunch of wacky belief and wild assumptions that allowed the field to evolve into a more scientific approach. Said false theories "worked" in the sense that they were useful indeed. Otherwise we wouldn't have any true knowledge at all. Just it "works" it doesn't mean it's evidence of anything. "Work" is relative to the purpose. Having "dark matter" works for astrophysics. But we don't know if it is, in fact, real. Maybe we just lack the proper understanding. Science needs to fill those missing pieces with "assumptions" in order to not fall apart.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    With humans, a subjective report is generally not to be trusted as being truth, but the fact that that particular subjective report was made can be trusted. Combine that with statistics and you can pull objective stuff from out of the noise.
    That doesn't make the objective evidence useful to the purpose. Again, you are oversimplifying a problem we were struggling to solve since Descartes.
    Last edited by joeltion; 2017-09-29 at 02:41 PM.
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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    I mean, the whole point of being cold is that things move very, very slowly. That's what cold is. You're not more yourself because you happen to be a warmer temperature and your atoms are bouncin' about more.
    I don't buy that. People who are frozen are not 'equally themselves' and do not experience consciousness very slowly just because their constituent atoms are moving very slowly--that's a grouping fallacy. Rather, they do not experience consciousness at all. Nor, for that matter, do they experience unconsciousness. They experience a death, and then there's nothing, and then if there's science-fictional technology to revive the body, some consciousness experiences being revived. How do you resolve the discontinuity? Can you resolve it without creating an argument that equally applies if I disassemble and reassemble the frozen body prior to reviving it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    Being cold, even very cold, for quite a while, is not really the same as complete disassembly to constituent atoms.
    Right now, it certainly is the same. The state of the dead body is irrelevant--dead is dead. Whatever amount of magic you propose to use to change that and preserve identity across freezing, I can use to preserve identity across teleportation.

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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    Welp, yeah. But if the "thought experiment" in question (which, as a side note, it's totally not the same OP brought here himself) involves aspects of reality that are beyond the realm of what we know about science; then the thought experiment is a question either for philosophy or religion. No scientific answers can be provided to "problems" that violate the very principles that fund scientific knowledge. Or to put it bluntly: science has no saying in problems that involve fictional magical devices.
    Bluntly: if consciousness is beyond the realm of science, then it does not have any effect on the universe. Anything that has an effect on the universe is within the 'very principles that fund scientific knowledge'. I'm objecting to trying to have your cake and eat it too. Either its doing something, in which case it has the potential to be studied scientifically, or its not doing anything, in which case worrying about it is irrational because it doesn't make a difference.

    "Sweet" is evident to myself when I feel it. That doesn't mean I am not simply misguided, confused or wrong about the terminology. That's the human nature, human perception sucks. Deal with it*. Knowing a truth you can't express is knowing no truth at all. Truth involves language and communication. If said truth can't be communicated efficiently, it simply becomes subjectivity (c'mon, it's a very simple concept!).
    If I prepare two powders - one composed of magnesium chloride, the other composed of glucose - and get a hundred people to put one or the other powder on their tongue without telling them what it is and then give a subjective report on the experience, I've made an extremely accurate detector that distinguishes the two powders using an objective measure constructed on top of subjective experience, without any underlying knowledge about chemistry in either the participants or even necessarily in the experimenters.

    Some of the reports will inevitably contain phrases like 'its salt!' (meaning e.g. table salt, which is sodium chloride and not magnesium chloride) or 'it's sugar!' (meaning e.g. table sugar, which is sucrose and not glucose), which will both be factually incorrect. But at the same time, it would still be sufficient to distinguish between the magnesium chloride and the glucose, since no one is going to say 'it's sugar!' when tasting magnesium chloride.

    If someone were to say 'the aspect of being sweet is real, but impossible to study scientifically because it relies on fundamentally flawed human perception', they would be wrong. The above experiment studies sweetness, shows that it's consistent between individuals, and establishes a grounding of the concept with respect to a couple reference compounds.

    Yes, you can feed these people miracle berry before the test and screw up the results, but that doesn't actually invalidate them - if anything, it just gives us more information to understand 'sweetness', by saying that its not just a property of the compound or a property of the wiring of the brain, but also can significantly vary based on reversible state changes of the sensors in the tongue - e.g. it lets us actually determine that the tongue is doing part of the computation to process the stimulus.

    All of that is gleaned from subjective, flawed, fallible reports - by enclosing them in an experimental protocol that treats those reports as data points the be analyzed in the abstract.

    You seem to have drawn a tidy little box around science, saying 'if things are pristine and perfect, we can science; once things get messy, we can't'. But science primarily deals with the messy - its a protocol whose main purpose is to stop ourselves from interpreting noise as signal while still letting us look for signal buried under the noise.

    Now that thing could either be Me, or be Not Me. There is no approximation, it's really a case of black or white. Either the thing is something or it is something else entirely.
    This relies on an axiom which the teleporter (if it could exist and worked as advertised) would disprove. You have to demonstrate that somehow 'Me/Not Me' is: binary, unique, and physically meaningful (as in, it has a causal consequence to how the universe plays out). Otherwise its just 'I feel that it should be'.

    I never said "no amount". I said we lacked the proper understanding to have any definitive information. To me, it sounds like you are clinging too hard in your belief that we have all the knowledge we need (we don't) and just can't simply accept we aren't there just yet.
    I've been mostly using logic to point out inconsistencies in the opposing position, rather than making a strong positive statement about 'how consciousness works' out of consideration for this. I'm trying to stick to things that would have to be true regardless of how consciousness works, so long as consciousness is an actual phenomenon and not just an invention or delusion.

    If I'm making positive statements about what I think we know, then I would say that with a high degree of certainty we know that (spoilered for length and sidetrack potential):

    Spoiler
    Show

    - Consciousness is a physical phenomenon. Whatever it is, it's encoded in the physical configuration of your body. That's because the physics of our universe is state-based and purely local: what happens next is determined entirely by the configuration of things now, not logical properties that extent across space and time. This is a hard bound from relativity - even if quantum mechanical entanglement appears non-local, when you do the math you can show that at no point does entanglement transmit information in a non-local fashion.
    -- There is no room for a 'new particle' or 'special matter' or 'a new field' responsible for consciousness - we have very strong bounds on the energy scales at which a new particle could appear, and they don't occur naturally anywhere on Earth.

    - Consciousness is an emergent phenomenon, not a property of matter itself, which (in the brain) arises from interactions between large groups of neurons and their surrounding chemical soup, not from any single neuron having the property intrinsically on its own. Proof is in ablation studies, robustness to fluctuation, many many neural-correlates-of-consciousness studies, etc.
    -- Emergent phenomena, as a rule, become insensitive to most details below their characteristic scale, because they have to self-stabilize against being fragmented by internal fluctuations. This is not a hard proof, but it means that it is very unlikely for consciousness to depend on e.g. the specific form of neurons' firing patterns, the specific chemical compounds involved in implementing neuron behavior, etc.

    - Consciousness is not a quantum phenomenon: the brain is too hot and neurons are too large and too slow to maintain entanglement between the quantum scale and the firing pattern of a single neuron. Mathematical models of neuron spiking accurately reproduce and predict neuron firing patterns without needing any quantum elements. Furthermore, neurons themselves don't have any intermediate structure which would amplify and preserve entanglement effects across the 6 orders of magnitude of scale they would need to cross (1 angstrom to 10 micron). Spike trains on axons and synapses aren't carried in a way that would preserve entanglement either.


    On the other hand, twisting my words and comparing them to religion in a forum of science is also demeaning, to say the least. Specially when I was never talking about what was real or not; I simply spoke about what we can scientifically test or not. Never I did make strong claims on what consciousness was or wasn't; only that scientific fields that deal with the study of psyche, the senses and the nature of language need to assume it exists. Precisely because "it works". Most of the studies of the Human mind needed to rely on things that were little more than beliefs when they originated, because that's the only way they could perform any actual scientific research. Just like "dark matter" is pure speculation and not evidence of anything. It's simply a thing we do not understand or comprehend; but we still put a name on it and give it some hypothetical properties, because otherwise we can't deal with them at all.
    'We need to assume a thing exists but we will choose to define it in a way so that it cannot be scientifically tested' is pseudoscience.

    'Dark matter' didn't arise from belief, it arose from a comparison between two experimental, observational results: one estimated the amount of mass in the universe by observing the density and masses of stars and extrapolating. The other estimated the amount of mass in the universe by looking at the patterns in the cosmic microwave background and using them to back out the expansion curve of the universe. These numbers disagreed, but did not 100% overlap in what they measured (since there could be mass which one could not see with a telescope) - so the difference is given a label 'dark matter' as in literally, 'matter we have measured to be there, but which we can't detect using light'.

    Einstein's cosmological constant, on the other hand, would be an example where prior belief established the term - Einstein wanted the universe to be able to be in static equilibrium, so he added a fudge factor to his equations. It was then observed that the universe was expanding (oops), something that he could have predicted if he hadn't introduced his own bias. Much later, observational data detected the signatures of that term actually being there, but that the term is positive (opposite of what Einstein expected). It's the observational data that ultimately made this thing meaningful to talk about, not Einstein's belief that a static solution should exist.

    Also, this is not my claim: 'we should assume consciousness exists, because if it doesn't then nothing we do has value'. My position on the existence of consciousness has nothing to do with the worthiness of value of research. It's about the impossibility to do ANY research if we weren't real. At least, not any research on "real" things. If we are on a virtual simulation, then what we call "Physics" should be called "Programming" instead. Because there is nothing physical in what is but a mere software. It's impossible for anything enclosed in a virtual world to know anything about the physical world. That's how knowledge works.

    So my claim is: "If we aren't conscious, then there is no I". We would be all mindless machines, NPC's with no sense of free will or claim to be alive.
    You're mixing value judgments with procedural considerations.

    A 'machine with no claim to be alive' could perform research just fine: it has sensors, information from the environment enters the machine through the sensors and is recorded, hypotheses are tested against the current evidence, as a result the machine outputs predictions and moves to a new location to obtain information which maximizes the likelihood in its current model of validating or disproving the highest entropy hypotheses under consideration. There are a lot of design variations and practical constraints on what will work and what is feasible to build and so on, but at no point does being conscious or having 'a sense of free will' or 'a claim to be alive' enter into the design specifications.

    You might end up with those things as a side-effect of making a really good research bot, but they have nothing to do with doing research.

    As a side note; I don't understand how anyone would compare "consciousness" with something supernatural. I simply don't get it.
    It's the insistence that consciousness must be unmeasurable but yet must still be considered to exist. That's a fundamentally supernatural viewpoint - that consciousness is somehow 'above' the world in a way that renders it special and untouchable, but at the same time is important and is not to be ignored.

    Also, many theories in a lot of fields of science "worked" for the task at hand; yet were proven to be false. Linguistics and psychology started from a bunch of wacky belief and wild assumptions that allowed the field to evolve into a more scientific approach. Said false theories "worked" in the sense that they were useful indeed. Otherwise we wouldn't have any true knowledge at all. Just it "works" it doesn't mean it's evidence of anything. "Work" is relative to the purpose. Having "dark matter" works for astrophysics. But we don't know if it is, in fact, real. Maybe we just lack the proper understanding. Science needs to fill those missing pieces with "assumptions" in order to not fall apart.
    What you're referring to here is the phenomenon of degeneracy. If I have some test, and theory A works on the test, that does not mean that there isn't a theory B that would also work on the test.

    However, if theories C, D, and E don't work on the test, then checking whether things work or not is still providing evidence. I go from a situation where I must consider theories [A,B,C,D,E] to one in which I need only consider theories [A,B]. That theory A works is still evidence - it reduces my uncertainty - but it doesn't definitively prove a single point of view.

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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Bluntly: if consciousness is beyond the realm of science, then it does not have any effect on the universe. Anything that has an effect on the universe is within the 'very principles that fund scientific knowledge'. I'm objecting to trying to have your cake and eat it too. Either its doing something, in which case it has the potential to be studied scientifically, or its not doing anything, in which case worrying about it is irrational because it doesn't make a difference.
    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    that are beyond the realm of what we know about science
    You are indeed trying way too hard to push my words where they don't belong.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    If someone were to say 'the aspect of being sweet is real, but impossible to study scientifically because it relies on fundamentally flawed human perception', they would be wrong. The above experiment studies sweetness, shows that it's consistent between individuals, and establishes a grounding of the concept with respect to a couple reference compounds.
    I'm simply wondering what this has to do with anything at this point. You can study subjective answers and generate objective science from that. It's what psychology attempts to do. Just because you study subjectivity it means it has an objective meaning. The conclusion may be objective, but it's still speaks about the nature of subjectivity, not objective phenomena. The taste of things never was, nor it will be, an objective aspect of reality. Things simply lack an "objective taste".

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    You seem to have drawn a tidy little box around science, saying 'if things are pristine and perfect, we can science; once things get messy, we can't'. But science primarily deals with the messy - its a protocol whose main purpose is to stop ourselves from interpreting noise as signal while still letting us look for signal buried under the noise.
    I dare you to find, among all my posts, to quote a phrase that conveys such a message in an unquestionable manner. So far, you only tried to twist my words to have the meaning you assume they have, without actually taking into account what I'm actually saying. I never said there were limits to science, or that there were things science would never reach out. I specifically, textually and repeatedly said in every single post that there were things science hasn't discovered yet. Which is such an obvious statement it hurts having to repeat it so much.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    This relies on an axiom which the teleporter (if it could exist and worked as advertised) would disprove. You have to demonstrate that somehow 'Me/Not Me' is: binary, unique, and physically meaningful (as in, it has a causal consequence to how the universe plays out). Otherwise its just 'I feel that it should be'.
    I have to demonstrate no thing at all. Such a teleporter isn't possible under our scientific knowledge, so my answer can't have any scientific perspective to work with. It is your duty first to clarify how such a machine works. Otherwise my answer would carry no scientific value, and is only relevant for a realm that which science does not belong (religion/philosophy).

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    I've been mostly using logic to point out inconsistencies in the opposing position, rather than making a strong positive statement about 'how consciousness works' out of consideration for this. I'm trying to stick to things that would have to be true regardless of how consciousness works, so long as consciousness is an actual phenomenon and not just an invention or delusion.
    If your framework is based purely on logic, then it's a philosophical question, not a scientific question. I personally don't care for such things. I'm working with the broader definition of consciousness that doesn't severely changes our current understanding of science on human nature (i.e: consciousness exists, but we don't know exactly how or why yet).

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    If I'm making positive statements about what I think we know, then I would say that with a high degree of certainty we know that (spoilered for length and sidetrack potential):
    Spoiler
    Show

    - Consciousness is a physical phenomenon. Whatever it is, it's encoded in the physical configuration of your body. That's because the physics of our universe is state-based and purely local: what happens next is determined entirely by the configuration of things now, not logical properties that extent across space and time. This is a hard bound from relativity - even if quantum mechanical entanglement appears non-local, when you do the math you can show that at no point does entanglement transmit information in a non-local fashion.
    -- There is no room for a 'new particle' or 'special matter' or 'a new field' responsible for consciousness - we have very strong bounds on the energy scales at which a new particle could appear, and they don't occur naturally anywhere on Earth.

    - Consciousness is an emergent phenomenon, not a property of matter itself, which (in the brain) arises from interactions between large groups of neurons and their surrounding chemical soup, not from any single neuron having the property intrinsically on its own. Proof is in ablation studies, robustness to fluctuation, many many neural-correlates-of-consciousness studies, etc.
    -- Emergent phenomena, as a rule, become insensitive to most details below their characteristic scale, because they have to self-stabilize against being fragmented by internal fluctuations. This is not a hard proof, but it means that it is very unlikely for consciousness to depend on e.g. the specific form of neurons' firing patterns, the specific chemical compounds involved in implementing neuron behavior, etc.

    - Consciousness is not a quantum phenomenon: the brain is too hot and neurons are too large and too slow to maintain entanglement between the quantum scale and the firing pattern of a single neuron. Mathematical models of neuron spiking accurately reproduce and predict neuron firing patterns without needing any quantum elements. Furthermore, neurons themselves don't have any intermediate structure which would amplify and preserve entanglement effects across the 6 orders of magnitude of scale they would need to cross (1 angstrom to 10 micron). Spike trains on axons and synapses aren't carried in a way that would preserve entanglement either.
    Which is fine and all, but it makes your whole thought experiment merely an "assumption of an assumption of an assumption" (again, that's more akin to the work of a philosopher). Plus, I'm pretty sure there's simply too many other possible hypothesis on how consciousness might work that aren't covered by the ones you proposed. Making your entire answer biased, if you went by those parameters alone.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    'We need to assume a thing exists but we will choose to define it in a way so that it cannot be scientifically tested' is pseudoscience.

    'Dark matter' didn't arise from belief, it arose from a comparison between two experimental, observational results: one estimated the amount of mass in the universe by observing the density and masses of stars and extrapolating. The other estimated the amount of mass in the universe by looking at the patterns in the cosmic microwave background and using them to back out the expansion curve of the universe. These numbers disagreed, but did not 100% overlap in what they measured (since there could be mass which one could not see with a telescope) - so the difference is given a label 'dark matter' as in literally, 'matter we have measured to be there, but which we can't detect using light'.
    In reality, "dark matter" is the only hypothesis that matches most of the evidence gathered. Which is far from saying it is the only hypothesis at all. The link is merely descriptive of the fact that while dark matter is broadly accepted, it doesn't share the status that Gravity once had; which was the only accepted theory, despite never being directly detected (before 2015). We have yet a lot to learn about dark matter (saying that we "know" about it is even generous) or that it is in fact a thing, and not many different aspects of reality that for some reason we failed yet to uncover.

    Anyway, "consciousness" isn't exactly a "belief" either. The very definition of "belief" is that it goes against reason or perception. While it may be studied from religion, consciousness is also subject of philosophy and science. Calling it a belief would be a misnomer. And well, citing every damn article that start with the sentence "research on consciousness poses special difficulties..." or that points out why measuring consciousness isn't something we have conclusively done without possible objection would be too tedious for me.


    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    You're mixing value judgments with procedural considerations.

    A 'machine with no claim to be alive' could perform research just fine: it has sensors, information from the environment enters the machine through the sensors and is recorded, hypotheses are tested against the current evidence, as a result the machine outputs predictions and moves to a new location to obtain information which maximizes the likelihood in its current model of validating or disproving the highest entropy hypotheses under consideration. There are a lot of design variations and practical constraints on what will work and what is feasible to build and so on, but at no point does being conscious or having 'a sense of free will' or 'a claim to be alive' enter into the design specifications.

    You might end up with those things as a side-effect of making a really good research bot, but they have nothing to do with doing research.
    I guess by this point is understandable you misinterpreted my statement (or maybe I failed to thoroughly explain). No, I wasn't referring to the impossibility of unconscious entities to practice research on the self. The problem is an impossibility to judge what ultimately means to be conscious or to judge properly the intricacies of being conscious, if we weren't conscious in the first place.

    To phrase it differently: It's possible for a blind man to ponder on the issues and nature of light, in case he has the proper tools and means to detect photons. What is impossible for a blind man is to reach any significant conclusion about the nature of seeing light, or what it ultimately means (or rather, how the reality is for a person able to see). That was what I was referring to: If you weren't conscious then you have no way to realize whether you are conscious or not, for there is not "you" to work with in the first place (it's impossible to theorize about concepts you are unable to think). And if you were to "believe" that you are conscious despite, then you would have no way to question your belief, since it's impossible for you to determine how being "truly" conscious is*.
    Spoiler
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    Which ultimately means that, if humans are not in fact, "self-aware entities", we will never be able to truly find this "truth" anywhere, for no answer can be conclusive. The only conclusive answer is if we are in fact, aware of ourselves, and not victims of delusion (then again, false positives are still a thing).

    This is merely a description of the problematic humans would find to discover that "self-awareness" isn't "real"; and has nothing to do with my personal opinion on the subject. Blind people are unable to conceptualize color for the sole reason they have nothing to contrast it with.

    *The same way we have no way to theorize how penta-dimensional beings would experience themselves, since we only have four-dimensional awareness. We can only theorize about them on a mathematical level, which is a mere approximation.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    It's the insistence that consciousness must be unmeasurable but yet must still be considered to exist. That's a fundamentally supernatural viewpoint - that consciousness is somehow 'above' the world in a way that renders it special and untouchable, but at the same time is important and is not to be ignored.
    Then how does people who think that consciousness can never be measured work? I mean, since I am clearly not one of them...

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    What you're referring to here is the phenomenon of degeneracy. If I have some test, and theory A works on the test, that does not mean that there isn't a theory B that would also work on the test.

    However, if theories C, D, and E don't work on the test, then checking whether things work or not is still providing evidence. I go from a situation where I must consider theories [A,B,C,D,E] to one in which I need only consider theories [A,B]. That theory A works is still evidence - it reduces my uncertainty - but it doesn't definitively prove a single point of view.
    Which exactly describes the problem of consciousness. All the methods to test or verify it, haven't yet proved a single point of view. Have we reduced the uncertainty? Of course. Have we reduced it enough to actually make meaningful assumptions on its true nature? Probably not.
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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    To phrase it differently: It's possible for a blind man to ponder on the issues and nature of light, in case he has the proper tools and means to detect photons. What is impossible for a blind man is to reach any significant conclusion about the nature of seeing light, or what it ultimately means (or rather, how the reality is for a person able to see). That was what I was referring to: If you weren't conscious then you have no way to realize whether you are conscious or not, for there is not "you" to work with in the first place (it's impossible to theorize about concepts you are unable to think). And if you were to "believe" that you are conscious despite, then you would have no way to question your belief, since it's impossible for you to determine how being "truly" conscious is*.
    [SPOILER]Which ultimately means that, if humans are not in fact, "self-aware entities", we will never be able to truly find this "truth" anywhere, for no answer can be conclusive. The only conclusive answer is if we are in fact, aware of ourselves, and not victims of delusion (then again, false positives are still a thing).
    That's because the experience of light is not strictly speaking a quality of the light itself but of the person seeing it. The problem arises due to the fact that to understand the experience of light without undergoing it directly the brain would need to contain a detailed simulation of a sizable portion of itself, a simulation that is simply beyond the capacity of the brain to handle. It is, on the other hand, just within the realm of possibility that someone who devoted a significant portion of their life to this one mental discipline might be able to understand all or at least a large portion of the inner universe of the flatworm C.elegans

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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Again, trying to gather the various interleaved bits of conversation to major headings:

    Science vs Philosophy, the nature of evidence, standards of proof, belief, etc

    Joeltion raised in a few points that this discussion of the teleporter thought experiment is more philosophy than science, and as it stands I do actually agree with that. I think, in terms of the scientific utility of a thought experiment, the role that it serves is to check the interpretation of experimental results for self-consistency, which is primarily something that involves deductive reasoning and logic rather than new evidentiary aspects. This presumes that you then go and follow it up with doing a realizable, probably messy and inconclusive, actual experiment with the advantage that you've clarified your thinking about what would actually imply what.

    For example, we can do the thought experiment of dropping a bowling ball and feather and seeing if they fall at the same or different rates in a vacuum. We would then ask 'What would it imply/prove/disprove/etc if the bowling ball fell faster? What would it imply/prove/disprove if the feather fell faster? What would it imply/prove/disprove if they fell at the same rate?'. One could object to this 'well of course they would fall at the same rate!' or (historically more likely) 'well of course the bowling ball would fall faster!', but that kind of objection misses the point of the thought experiment as a device which isolates the deductive parts of the investigation from the evidentiary parts (which are to follow). That's been a big reason why I've objected to statements like 'its self-evident that...' in this context, since in the end the point is to obtain a method which would let us then follow up with experiments to test our assumptions, rather than just stating them. That would be what would make it a scientific rather than philosophical conversation.

    With the teleporter thought experiment, we don't really have an evidence-based part which is to follow. Realistically, we could attempt to clone bits of a person's personality by e.g. training predictive models on their exhibited behavior and sensory input (run char-rnn on this forum discussion for example), but there would be better thought experiments than the teleporter one to cover that kind of investigation.

    So in that sense, I think what we've mostly ended up circling around at this point is actually the philosophy of the procedural aspects of doing science. That is to say, stuff like whether its okay to introduce a concept as requiring explanation on the basis of it being 'self-evident', or things like that.

    Procedurally, I still feel like some of joeltion's comments indicate a perceived cutoff between a set of things which somehow offer 'direct' or 'conclusive' proof, and everything else - e.g.:

    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    (dark matter) doesn't share the status that Gravity once had; which was the only accepted theory, despite never being directly detected (before 2015).
    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    why measuring consciousness isn't something we have conclusively done without possible objection
    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    Which exactly describes the problem of consciousness. All the methods to test or verify it, haven't yet proved a single point of view. Have we reduced the uncertainty? Of course. Have we reduced it enough to actually make meaningful assumptions on its true nature? Probably not.
    In general, we never have anything that is 'conclusively done without possible objection'. But at the same time, we do very much have things where what could still constitute a reasonable objection are incredibly constrained, far more than the colloquial usage of terms would indicate.

    Taking gravity for example, without knowing about the inverse square law or gravitons, you'd be hard pressed to object to the observation that stuff falls down. In that sense, gravity has been directly observed (by humans) over the entirety of human history - we just didn't have an explanation for it. Then, following Newton, the Cavendish experiment could be said to directly observe the inverse square law and that gravitational attraction is generated by mass, long before we have any hope of seeing a gravitational wave.

    The choice of 'when you see the particle, we can call it done' is ultimately arbitrary, since there are many levels of predictive, useful observation, understanding, theory, and evidentiary demonstration between that level of observation and just having nothing. When asking 'is it enough?' you have to also say 'what for?'. We didn't need to see gravitational waves to correctly plot the trajectories of spacecraft through the solar system. But we would need to understand gravitational waves if we wanted to muck around with e.g. using black hole mergers as a standard candle of some sort for astronomy purposes. And similarly, it would be premature to call it 'done' now, in the sense that there are still questions about e.g. quantum gravity and unifying gravity with the other three fundamental forces. But at the same time those questions are well-compartmentalized - the fact that we don't have a good answer for quantum gravity doesn't mean we have to throw up our hands and be paralyzed. We can still send spacecraft around without realistically worrying too much about maybe the holes in our understanding of gravity causing problems.

    It's that cycle of 'when I don't know, rather than giving up I try to figure out a successive series of investigations that will get me closer to an answer' that underlies science as a technique. Going back to the teleporter for a moment, the fact that people reacted strongly (according to their implicit, internal models of what consciousness is) with the thought that it would affect their consciousness to be teleported, that's what would make it a measurement device to test those particular assumptions - if it were possible to build, of course.

    So a lot of the problematic points, from my point of view at least, were due to a simultaneously insistence that being teleported would matter to consciousness, combined with an insistence that at the same time it could not act as a tool for objectively testing hypotheses about consciousness. Rather than being anything specific to the teleporter or to consciousness, that seemed like an overall denial or misunderstanding of how the idea of evidence-based investigation works. Which is, in the end, probably a philosophy of science discussion (rather than e.g. a philosophy of consciousness or science of consciousness discussion). Consciousness as a topic just tends to bring this out of the woodwork.

    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion
    Then how does people who think that consciousness can never be measured work? I mean, since I am clearly not one of them...
    I'm not a fan of it so I can't do it proper justice in presenting the argument, but the current place where you hear a lot of this stuff is when people bring up Chalmers' Hard Problem. It essentially comes down to 'if consciousness is a physical phenomenon, you can't tell the difference between interacting with a person who is conscious and a non-conscious thing that perfectly fakes being conscious'. This is then taken to be a proof that any sort of physical explanation or empirical study of consciousness would necessarily be incomplete because it can't answer that. The thing I generally object to (although you can kind of take your pick) is that the argument itself introduces an assumption about the phenomenon of consciousness: that it is not possible for the phenomenon of consciousness to be a thing such that perfectly faking it would actually be equivalent to having it.

    A lot of the constructions surrounding the teleporter thought experiment were very reminiscent of this to me. I run into a lot of hard-problemers when talking about machine learning and AI.

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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by Lethologica View Post
    I don't buy that. People who are frozen are not 'equally themselves' and do not experience consciousness very slowly just because their constituent atoms are moving very slowly--that's a grouping fallacy. Rather, they do not experience consciousness at all. Nor, for that matter, do they experience unconsciousness. They experience a death, and then there's nothing, and then if there's science-fictional technology to revive the body, some consciousness experiences being revived. How do you resolve the discontinuity? Can you resolve it without creating an argument that equally applies if I disassemble and reassemble the frozen body prior to reviving it?


    Right now, it certainly is the same. The state of the dead body is irrelevant--dead is dead. Whatever amount of magic you propose to use to change that and preserve identity across freezing, I can use to preserve identity across teleportation.
    The experience of sleep is quite the same as the experience of wakefulness, so we have very little issue with discerning death from life.

    The same will no doubt be true of cryogenic storage, if and when we are able to utilize it. It's pretty hard to routinely do something without understanding it.

    You do not actually experience "death" as a discrete thing. You experience pain of injury, hypoxia symptoms, or, if rapid enough, nothing at all. The experience of hypothermia is not really the same thing as death...if you get warmed in time, you don't die, and if not, welp, that's curtains. But neither changes your experiences up to that point.

    In any case, treating a frozen and revived person as the same individual introduces no contradictions or philosophical conundrums. We put people out for surgery now, and have no problem calling them the same person afterward.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lethologica View Post
    Right now, it certainly is the same. The state of the dead body is irrelevant--dead is dead. Whatever amount of magic you propose to use to change that and preserve identity across freezing, I can use to preserve identity across teleportation.

    Ridiculous. We do not even know what technologies are required for each, we cannot possibly say what their limitations will be.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    That's because the experience of light is not strictly speaking a quality of the light itself but of the person seeing it. The problem arises due to the fact that to understand the experience of light without undergoing it directly the brain would need to contain a detailed simulation of a sizable portion of itself, a simulation that is simply beyond the capacity of the brain to handle. It is, on the other hand, just within the realm of possibility that someone who devoted a significant portion of their life to this one mental discipline might be able to understand all or at least a large portion of the inner universe of the flatworm C.elegans
    That is correct for vision. But the problem of consciousness is, the very concept of "self-awareness" (at least the one we often deal with) includes both a phenomenon (the fact than one is conscious) and an experience (the fact that one is aware of that consciousness). It is thus, very hard to parse and make an understandable division between the two. And there's also the possibility that they are the same and no real distinction exists. Then again maybe not. It's not just that our technology is limited; our definition for the "thing" is also very limited.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    For example, we can do the thought experiment of dropping a bowling ball and feather and seeing if they fall at the same or different rates in a vacuum. We would then ask 'What would it imply/prove/disprove/etc if the bowling ball fell faster? What would it imply/prove/disprove if the feather fell faster? What would it imply/prove/disprove if they fell at the same rate?'. One could object to this 'well of course they would fall at the same rate!' or (historically more likely) 'well of course the bowling ball would fall faster!', but that kind of objection misses the point of the thought experiment as a device which isolates the deductive parts of the investigation from the evidentiary parts (which are to follow). That's been a big reason why I've objected to statements like 'its self-evident that...' in this context, since in the end the point is to obtain a method which would let us then follow up with experiments to test our assumptions, rather than just stating them. That would be what would make it a scientific rather than philosophical conversation.
    Your way of testing the assumption of self-awareness falls short because it also relies on another assumption: that the machine produces identical copies. We know how disintegration works. We know how machines can produce copies. But saying a copy is "identical" in nature becomes kind of a tautology, according to the perspective you study the case. That's why I insisted on the point that "a copy can't be me". Not because ultimately I believe a person can't be potentially teleported without invoking magic (it may be possible, as far-fetched as it may be) but because that's the last step where I can speculate on science without derailing into mere fantasy. "Identical copies" is more a philosophic definition than a scientific description. It informs too little and at the same time, it is too descriptive (the very fact that they are "identical" makes them essentially the same, thus proving they can't never be different by definition).

    That's the only reason I consider the thought experiment lacking an essential aspect that allows for a proper answer to the question you were trying to solve. Once you state the copies are identical in nature, you are solving the equation. Yet you haven't explained the methods of how or why you know they are in fact, identical. The problem says nothing about how to solve this particular issue, because premises of the problem include the answer already. In other words, a "perfect" teleporter would show literally nothing on the nature of consciousness; because it is a "perfect" teleporter. It cannot produce unidentical copies, or it wouldn't be perfect.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    So in that sense, I think what we've mostly ended up circling around at this point is actually the philosophy of the procedural aspects of doing science. That is to say, stuff like whether its okay to introduce a concept as requiring explanation on the basis of it being 'self-evident', or things like that.
    We probably were running in circles. Oh well...

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Procedurally, I still feel like some of joeltion's comments indicate a perceived cutoff between a set of things which somehow offer 'direct' or 'conclusive' proof, and everything else - e.g.:
    (snip)
    In general, we never have anything that is 'conclusively done without possible objection'. But at the same time, we do very much have things where what could still constitute a reasonable objection are incredibly constrained, far more than the colloquial usage of terms would indicate.
    I admit it was kind of hyperbole, and it should have been "conclusive without plausible objection".

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    The choice of 'when you see the particle, we can call it done' is ultimately arbitrary, since there are many levels of predictive, useful observation, understanding, theory, and evidentiary demonstration between that level of observation and just having nothing.
    This is silly. Of course the direct observation of what was hypothesized from math alone counts. It may change the whole paradigma. Direct observation is the ultimate challenge. Not because it's the definitive and last test. It's because that's where assumptions are truly contested.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    It's that cycle of 'when I don't know, rather than giving up I try to figure out a successive series of investigations that will get me closer to an answer' that underlies science as a technique. Going back to the teleporter for a moment, the fact that people reacted strongly (according to their implicit, internal models of what consciousness is) with the thought that it would affect their consciousness to be teleported, that's what would make it a measurement device to test those particular assumptions - if it were possible to build, of course.
    The fact that people reacted strongly, if anything, it's the indication they have sense of self-preservation. Even the hardest materialist wouldn't try a teleporter without being thoroughly informed of its mechanics if he wasn't a little too reckless.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    I'm not a fan of it so I can't do it proper justice in presenting the argument, but the current place where you hear a lot of this stuff is when people bring up Chalmers' Hard Problem. It essentially comes down to 'if consciousness is a physical phenomenon, you can't tell the difference between interacting with a person who is conscious and a non-conscious thing that perfectly fakes being conscious'. This is then taken to be a proof that any sort of physical explanation or empirical study of consciousness would necessarily be incomplete because it can't answer that. The thing I generally object to (although you can kind of take your pick) is that the argument itself introduces an assumption about the phenomenon of consciousness: that it is not possible for the phenomenon of consciousness to be a thing such that perfectly faking it would actually be equivalent to having it.

    A lot of the constructions surrounding the teleporter thought experiment were very reminiscent of this to me. I run into a lot of hard-problemers when talking about machine learning and AI.
    Mmmhhh, I think I read the hard problem somewhere, probably with more simple wording. Well, if you ask me, if I were to judge whether a machine is self-conscious or not, I would simply ask it. Of course I wouldn't get a useful answer, but for me, the very fact that a robot may think he is conscious about itself; makes it self-aware. Of course, that only applies to Sci-fi, not actual research or people
    Last edited by joeltion; 2017-10-02 at 04:27 PM.
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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    Your way of testing the assumption of self-awareness falls short because it also relies on another assumption: that the machine produces identical copies. We know how disintegration works. We know how machines can produce copies. But saying a copy is "identical" in nature becomes kind of a tautology, according to the perspective you study the case. That's why I insisted on the point that "a copy can't be me". Not because ultimately I believe a person can't be potentially teleported without invoking magic (it may be possible, as far-fetched as it may be) but because that's the last step where I can speculate on science without derailing into mere fantasy. "Identical copies" is more a philosophic definition than a scientific description. It informs too little and at the same time, it is too descriptive (the very fact that they are "identical" makes them essentially the same, thus proving they can't never be different by definition).
    Given the positive statements I made earlier about what consciousness realistically could be, you can take the sense of identical to be:

    - Take sets S1 and S2 comprised of all (n) particles in regions of the same shape R1 and R2 (but offset in space and time by vector dr and scalar dt), such that for each set the ith particle is of the same type. As necessary add extra quantum numbers for these particles (e.g. electrons have a vector spin but photons don't).
    - The wavefunctions of these sets are psi_1(r_1, r_2, ..., r_n, t) and psi_2(r_1, r_2, ..., r_n, t), where the r's are vector positions of each particle, and t is time.
    - S2 is the identical teleport of S1 if |psi_1(r_1, r_2, ..., r_n, t)|^2 = |psi_2(r_1+dr, r_2+dr, ..., r_n + dr, t + dt)|^2, and |grad(psi_1(r_1, r_2, ..., r_n, t))|^2 = |grad(psi_2(r_1+dr, r_2+dr, ..., r_n + dr, t + dt))|^2 for values of r_i bounded to region R1, with |dr|>>radius(R1).

    So basically: copy only probability densities not exact coordinates/momenta (so no Heisenberg violation, no observation of absolute phase, and no quantum teleportation), within a finite volume (the 'body'). But make sure to copy the distribution of both position and momentum. So if I was careful enough with the math, this doesn't violate any QM constraints (though again, you aren't realistically going to be building a machine that does this due to logistics...).

    That's a precise, unambiguous, 'scientific', definition. It's a sufficient definition that I can calculate (using the Schroedinger equation) what happens next, or to simulate it. It's enough to for example show that the time evolution of psi_2 and psi_1 will continue to be identical teleports of each-other up to a phase factor so long as the boundary conditions of R1 and R2 remain identical in the same sense. Also, there is no extra physics or extra interaction that I need to add in order to get this - a situation where you have two subsets of particles with wavefunctions related in this way may be extremely unlikely to happen by chance, but it's perfectly consistent.

    Now, independent of the whole teleporter question, if I happen to have two sets of particles that obey this particular relationship, there's no physical way for the state or progression of whatever consciousness they might or might not have to differ.

    This is silly. Of course the direct observation of what was hypothesized from math alone counts. It may change the whole paradigma. Direct observation is the ultimate challenge. Not because it's the definitive and last test. It's because that's where assumptions are truly contested.
    But your 'direct observation' is not observing the underlying constituents of particles - e.g. whatever kind of objects your quantum gravity/string theory/M theory/grand unified theory of the week calls for. At the same time, the fact that we haven't observed branes or strings or quantum foams or whatnot directly doesn't really impact our ability to do, and understand, basically pretty much every single piece of technology or understanding possessed by modern society. Questions of branes/strings/etc are well-separable from questions of electrons/protons/photons/gravitons, which are in turn well-separable from questions of stress tensors and shear tensors and fabric tensors and other mesoscale materials science stuff (or for that matter questions of proteins or other macromolecules) which are in turn well separated from questions of the orbital motions of planets and stars and spacecraft.

    It's not that they're entirely disconnected, but rather it's that there are subsets of questions which can be answered purely within the higher level abstract understanding without any need to reference the lower level features. I don't need to talk about quarks to understand the orbit of Mars.

    The fact that people reacted strongly, if anything, it's the indication they have sense of self-preservation. Even the hardest materialist wouldn't try a teleporter without being thoroughly informed of its mechanics if he wasn't a little too reckless.
    People don't react so strongly at the idea of, say, going under general anaesthesia, even though that also turns off your consciousness (and in some ways its worse than the teleporter, because it makes no effort of its own to reconstruct your consciousness after it goes away - you're relying on your brain to be able to recover itself). That the teleporter makes a difference means there's some implicit belief in what consciousness is, to make them say 'I have reason to actually consider this out of all other things a credible threat'

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    Tyndmyr, I guess my disagreement with you boils down to this. I agree with you here:

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    Ridiculous. We do not even know what technologies are required for each, we cannot possibly say what their limitations will be.
    But given this, I am baffled by your strident declarations about the limitations of teleportation and duplication, and especially that you accompany these strident declarations with equally strident, but opposite, declarations about the limitations of cryogenics.
    Last edited by Lethologica; 2017-10-02 at 07:56 PM.

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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by Lethologica View Post
    Tyndmyr, I guess my disagreement with you boils down to this. I agree with you here:


    But given this, I am baffled by your strident declarations about the limitations of teleportation and duplication, and especially that you accompany these strident declarations with equally strident, but opposite, declarations about the limitations of cryogenics.
    I'm pretty sure I and everyone else has already agreed that the teleportation thought experiment is unlikely to work in real life, right? If they did, they'd have to somehow get around certain fundamental laws that we really don't have the faintest idea how to circumvent now. Thus, we can make pretty much no useful predictions about them.

    So, there's no conflict.

    We can absolutely talk about identity using it as a thought experiment, sure. If it turns out to be possible in this way, then what are the implications of that? It's like a trolley problem, you have to pretty much ignore that there's some really odd dude setting up twisted scenarios.

    But you can't really assume that the same technologies will somehow enable multiple thought experiments when we don't know what those technologies are. I'm willing to engage in the thought experiment, but arguments based on the technologies themselves don't really hold any more water than discussing the track strength in the trolley situation.
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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Given the positive statements I made earlier about what consciousness realistically could be, you can take the sense of identical to be:

    - Take sets S1 and S2 comprised of all (n) particles in regions of the same shape R1 and R2 (but offset in space and time by vector dr and scalar dt), such that for each set the ith particle is of the same type. As necessary add extra quantum numbers for these particles (e.g. electrons have a vector spin but photons don't).
    - The wavefunctions of these sets are psi_1(r_1, r_2, ..., r_n, t) and psi_2(r_1, r_2, ..., r_n, t), where the r's are vector positions of each particle, and t is time.
    - S2 is the identical teleport of S1 if |psi_1(r_1, r_2, ..., r_n, t)|^2 = |psi_2(r_1+dr, r_2+dr, ..., r_n + dr, t + dt)|^2, and |grad(psi_1(r_1, r_2, ..., r_n, t))|^2 = |grad(psi_2(r_1+dr, r_2+dr, ..., r_n + dr, t + dt))|^2 for values of r_i bounded to region R1, with |dr|>>radius(R1).

    So basically: copy only probability densities not exact coordinates/momenta (so no Heisenberg violation, no observation of absolute phase, and no quantum teleportation), within a finite volume (the 'body'). But make sure to copy the distribution of both position and momentum. So if I was careful enough with the math, this doesn't violate any QM constraints (though again, you aren't realistically going to be building a machine that does this due to logistics...).
    First, I'd like to comment that I don't appreciate when mumbo-jumble Math and argot is thrown at me, or when people use math pulled out their asses. At least not on conversations I'm taking part.

    Paradoxically (for me), this one made your argument all the clearer. At least I know for sure you know what you're talking about and that you really took the time to consider all the implications that may be involved. I guess now I have more insight about the problem you presented.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    That's a precise, unambiguous, 'scientific', definition.
    Yep. Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    It's a sufficient definition that I can calculate (using the Schroedinger equation) what happens next, or to simulate it. It's enough to for example show that the time evolution of psi_2 and psi_1 will continue to be identical teleports of each-other up to a phase factor so long as the boundary conditions of R1 and R2 remain identical in the same sense. Also, there is no extra physics or extra interaction that I need to add in order to get this - a situation where you have two subsets of particles with wavefunctions related in this way may be extremely unlikely to happen by chance, but it's perfectly consistent.
    Yeah, I agree it would work for the hypothesis you work (and by that, I mean your perspective). Prima facie, I don't see anything that would make such an experiment inconsistent. Altho, of course, that assessment could potentially change once we had the first results (I think). I'm not sure if it still would cover other divergent hypothesis on the nature of consciousness, but at least covers a great deal of them (this is probably a wild guess, since I can't claim I know all of them).

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    Now, independent of the whole teleporter question, if I happen to have two sets of particles that obey this particular relationship, there's no physical way for the state or progression of whatever consciousness they might or might not have to differ.
    I guess so. I mean, barring any possible paradigm shift from our (current) science to the point where the experiment could be possible (that is probably never, but still).

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    But your 'direct observation' is not observing the underlying constituents of particles - e.g. whatever kind of objects your quantum gravity/string theory/M theory/grand unified theory of the week calls for. At the same time, the fact that we haven't observed branes or strings or quantum foams or whatnot directly doesn't really impact our ability to do, and understand, basically pretty much every single piece of technology or understanding possessed by modern society. Questions of branes/strings/etc are well-separable from questions of electrons/protons/photons/gravitons, which are in turn well-separable from questions of stress tensors and shear tensors and fabric tensors and other mesoscale materials science stuff (or for that matter questions of proteins or other macromolecules) which are in turn well separated from questions of the orbital motions of planets and stars and spacecraft.
    With those paradigms shift I wasn't referring to a different way to observe reality (since we still observe reality just the same in most cases), but rather, than in expanding our understanding of how a particle (or string, or whatever) behaves in nature, we had to rewrite a lot of assumptions that "matched the Math models" and as such, we thought were just as true.

    Of course we, on the gross scale, think in Newtonian models and other models we know are kind of obsolete (yet still useful). That is not to say that because we knew Physics wasn't only what Newton said and that some things he said were true, aren't; observation doesn't change our model of Reality as a whole. Our view of the cosmos wildly changed throughout the last decades, not because we had so many great thinkers; but because proper observation compelled us to question and remodel the theory. The reason is obvious: The cosmos comprises so many things, that the most minimal change in one of its pieces makes its aspect as a whole, drastically change.

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    It's not that they're entirely disconnected, but rather it's that there are subsets of questions which can be answered purely within the higher level abstract understanding without any need to reference the lower level features. I don't need to talk about quarks to understand the orbit of Mars.
    Well, yeah. But you never know when the tiniest change of perspective can make your whole paradigm change. After all, isn't that what String vs. Quantum once was for some people?

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    People don't react so strongly at the idea of, say, going under general anaesthesia, even though that also turns off your consciousness (and in some ways its worse than the teleporter, because it makes no effort of its own to reconstruct your consciousness after it goes away - you're relying on your brain to be able to recover itself). That the teleporter makes a difference means there's some implicit belief in what consciousness is, to make them say 'I have reason to actually consider this out of all other things a credible threat'
    But that is different. For starters, we actually know what organs are affected during that kind of procedure. We more or less accurately know that the brain is slept, but it still works, so that you might as well as call it "sleeping mode" for humans, not straight out shut down of the system. And also, people tend to trust doctors and a procedure that's been going on for quite a while.

    That still doesn't mean we have any certainty that we, in fact, "die" or not whenever we go to sleep (altho I find that argument kind of silly). But at least people are acostumed to the idea of sleeping. I don't know if they will ever get used to vaporization
    Last edited by joeltion; 2017-10-03 at 02:56 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    what the machine does only has two possible outcomes: First, it disintegrates me ("killing" me, in the case the process is stopped between the transition). Then it spontaneously creates something somewhere else (that is the act of what we call teleportation, both in SF and science). Now that thing could either be Me, or be Not Me. There is no approximation, it's really a case of black or white. Either the thing is something or it is something else entirely.
    Whoa, there, buddy. That's like saying "If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around, it either makes or does not make a sound. The phenomenon either happens or it doesn't. It's entirely black and white!"

    There's a hidden assumption there that "sound" somehow has exactly one fixed and precise meaning. But the whole question boils down to the question of what "sound" means: Does the word refer to a type of perception, to a type of physical phenomenon that produces that perception, to the type of perception in response to the type of phenomenon, or what? So to maintain that this question has exactly one objectively correct answer is to maintain that the word "sound" has exactly one objectively correct meaning.

    And it's not just a semantic question, either. Let's be honest: Do we go around reminding ourselves all the time that our perceptions of reality are distinct from reality itself? That's not something of which I'm consciously aware most of the time, and I dare say that most people acquire the concept of sound far before they come to comprehend the conceptual distinction between perception and reality. So not only the word "sound" but the concept of sound is a conflation of different phenomena that occur together most of the time.

    So the fully honest assessment is "If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around to hear it, then it makes a sound in one sense but also doesn't make a sound in another sense. Most of the time those two senses overlap, but in this case, they don't. Also, each of those senses of 'sound' is also a conflation that breaks down into more specific sub-senses if you look at it closely enough. That's just how high-level abstractions work. In the vast majority of cases, there just is no one hundred percent clear and unambiguous one-to-one correspondence between abstract concept and real physical phenomenon."

    In this case, the relevant meaningful question to ask, it seems to me, is: In which senses is a copy of you "not you", and is any of those senses worth caring about? What's worth caring about ultimately come down to what your fundamental values are. And different people don't necessarily hold the same fundamental values!

    Suppose someone says to me "Eating tangerines could destroy your consciousness and replace it with an indistinguishable consciousness! You could be obliterating your soul; you don't know, so the only safe option is not to eat them". I respond as follows:

    "If there's no distinguishable difference, then nothing I care about has changed. Terms like 'consciousness', 'soul', 'self', and so on serve in this context to connote a type of importance, so when you use those words in reference to things that lack that sort of importance to me, you're obviously using them in different ways than I do to talk about different things. That doesn't mean that the meanings you attach to those terms are inherently invalid; if you really seriously want to avoid ever eating a tangerine as an end in itself, then obviously that's very important to you. But it's not 'irrational' for someone else not to care about that. Saying that someone's fundamental values are 'rational' or 'irrational' is a category error; rationality is about acting towards those goals, whatever they might be. If it turns out that what you mean by 'self' has nothing to do with tangerines, but you mistakenly believe that it does, then perhaps you're accidentally acting against your own values, but even that isn't necessarily irrational if your generally reliable reasoning has been confounded by unlikely circumstances."
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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by Devils_Advocate View Post
    Whoa, there, buddy. That's like saying "If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around, it either makes or does not make a sound. The phenomenon either happens or it doesn't. It's entirely black and white!"

    There's a hidden assumption there that "sound" somehow has exactly one fixed and precise meaning. But the whole question boils down to the question of what "sound" means: Does the word refer to a type of perception, to a type of physical phenomenon that produces that perception, to the type of perception in response to the type of phenomenon, or what? So to maintain that this question has exactly one objectively correct answer is to maintain that the word "sound" has exactly one objectively correct meaning.

    And it's not just a semantic question, either.
    That's definitely a semantic question.

    We generally agree that physics appear to be the same regardless of if we're observing or not(macro level here, uncertainty principle is a different thing), so everyone pretty much agrees that
    A. Sound happened as a result of the tree falling.
    B. Nobody heard it.

    How, exactly, you choose to express that in words is a question of semantics.
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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    ...
    For what it's worth, I think we're more or less converged now.

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    Default Re: My problem with time travel and teleportation

    Strictly speaking, Thing A is only the same thing as Thing B if Thing A has all of the properties of Thing B and vice versa. Otherwise Thing A and Thing B are not the same but instead different. So the whole idea of something having different properties from itself is inherently contradictory. Anything that changes ceases to exist, because it changes into something other than itself.

    So because we're constantly changing, any sort of persistent identity can't be identity in the strict sense. The question is just what sort of non-strict identity we should be concerned about and why. So trying to achieve actual self-preservation by preventing yourself from actually being destroyed is approaching things from the wrong angle. You are destroyed regardless; only things about you can persist.

    Oh, and also? According to the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics, you are constantly splitting into different duplicates. In which case, even if there is some sort of irreproducible originality (Although, what would it even mean to have that?), your odds of having existed a day ago are basically nil. So you don't deserve anything based on the actions of your perceived past self any more than any other copy, now do you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    I mean, the whole point of being cold is that things move very, very slowly. That's what cold is. You're not more yourself because you happen to be a warmer temperature and your atoms are bouncin' about more.

    Being cold, even very cold, for quite a while, is not really the same as complete disassembly to constituent atoms.
    Tyndmyr, are you interpreting "cryosleep" as meaning somehow cooling a body in a way that merely drastically slows its life processes, or as outright freezing someone? Because the latter really is not the same as the former. In the latter case, a bunch of stuff stops happening because of, y'know, the whole phase transition from liquid to solid. Like, a solid is not just a really slow-flowing liquid, at least in the case of water. I haven't checked, mind you, but I'm conservatively 95%+ sure that I'm right about that. Biological and thus mental functions cease to occur; brain no work no more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    In any case, treating a frozen and revived person as the same individual introduces no contradictions or philosophical conundrums.
    Nor does treating a disassembled and reassembled person as the same individual by itself introduce any contradictions or philosophical conundrums. In both cases, the contradictions and conundrums arise from considering competing perspectives as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    only you are crazy enough to accept that a chair can be destroyed and rebuilt from different materials* and still be the original. It's not, it's a perfect copy.
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    I remembered once, in Japan, having been to see the Gold Pavilion Temple in Kyoto and being mildly surprised at quite how well it had weathered the passage of time since it was first built in the fourteenth century. I was told it hadn't weathered well at all, and had in fact been burnt to the ground twice in this century.

    "So it isn't the original building?" I had asked my Japanese guide.

    "But yes, of course it is," he insisted, rather surprised at my question.

    "But it's been burnt down?"

    "Yes."

    "Twice?"

    "Many times."

    "And rebuilt."

    "Of course. It is an important and historic building."

    "With completely new materials."

    "But of course. It was burnt down."

    "So how can it be the same building?"

    "It is always the same building."

    I had to admit to myself that this was in fact a perfectly rational point of view, it merely started from an unexpected premise. The idea of the building, the intention of it, its design, are all immutable and are the essence of the building. The intention of the original builders is what survived. The wood of which the design is constructed decays and is replaced when necessary. To be overly concerned with the original materials, which are merely sentimental souvenirs of the past, is to fail to see the living building itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    As a side note; I don't understand how anyone would compare "consciousness" with something supernatural. I simply don't get it.
    Well... in the straightforward sense of the word, consciousness is just the state that I have most of the time, when I'm not asleep i.e. unconscious. On the other hand, "consciousness" in the philosobabble sense can, as a rule, be exchanged with "(a) soul(s)" without losing any of the meaning: "Do chimps possess consciousness?", "Would someone physically identical to you have the same consciousness?", "Could someone physically identical to you lack consciousness?", etc.

    Now, you can take the position that philosobabble consciousness is a fundamentally physical process, but the thing that you're making claims about is still kind of a mystical, mysterious thing in the sense that you literally don't know what you're talking about, but that somehow doesn't prevent you from feeling confident that you're somehow nevertheless talking about some real and specific thing. At least that's the impression I get. I could be way off here. But that generally seems to me to be the case for "consciousnesses" as well as many "supernatural" things, even with people who regard "consciousness" as "non-supernatural".

    So, there's one comparison.

    The weird thing is, you seem to talk about consciousness in the vague philosophical sense, so it makes no sense to me when you then say you don't want to debate philosophy. So far as I can tell, you're staking out an inherently philosophical position on an inherently philosophical topic. To be making scientific claims, you have to classify some possible observations as evidence against your theory, which I don't think you've done. You could try to spin some claims about consciousness as tautologous, but (a) that would seem to require a fairly rigorous definition of consciousness, in which case you're no longer using it in the mystical "I don't claim to know what consciousness is" sense, and (b) at that point you're arguing semantics, not science. Speaking of which...

    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    Anyway, "consciousness" isn't exactly a "belief" either. The very definition of "belief" is that it goes against reason or perception.
    No, it isn't. "Faith", maybe, but not "belief". It's entirely possible to have rational, evidence-based beliefs, like a belief that the sky is blue.

    I do realize that "belief" sometimes connotes faith, and that some people may mistakenly believe the terms to be synonymous, but insisting that someone else is using it in that sense when they aren't mischaracterizes that person's position. So... you might want to double-check your interpretation of someone else's statement before presenting it as fact. You look silly at best complaining about someone strawmanning you if you do the same thing yourself. People who throw stones shouldn't live in glass houses. ;)

    Quote Originally Posted by joeltion View Post
    That still doesn't mean we have any certainty that we, in fact, "die" or not whenever we go to sleep (altho I find that argument kind of silly).
    Could you explain what you think makes your argument against teleportation less silly than the corresponding argument against sleep? Because to me, they seem to be of the same basic form.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    That's definitely a semantic question.
    Yes, but it's not just a semantic question, because words for things stand in for concepts of those things. Words having referents at all necessarily involves more than just the words and their referents.

    All of this business about "the original" can equally well be approached from a semantic perspective: What does "original" mean? That's a potentially fruitful line of inquiry! But one rather hopes to eventually lead back to conclusions about things other than the meanings of words, no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyndmyr View Post
    We generally agree that physics appear to be the same regardless of if we're observing or not(macro level here, uncertainty principle is a different thing), so everyone pretty much agrees that
    A. Sound happened as a result of the tree falling.
    B. Nobody heard it.

    How, exactly, you choose to express that in words is a question of semantics.
    For one sense of "sound", yes, but for another sense of "sound", no. You could also describe the situation by saying "Everyone pretty much agrees that sound waves were produced, but sound didn't happen as a result of the tree falling. How exactly you choose to express that in words is a question of semantics." We can glean the intended meaning of each phrasing from context and agree that that intended meaning is correct, even if we disagree about phrasing, sure. So it comes down to how much wiggle room "pretty much" gives you, which is itself a question of interpretation.
    Last edited by Devils_Advocate; 2017-11-18 at 10:34 PM.
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  23. - Top - End - #233
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Supposedly because they gain new insights via absorption. Really it's because the borg got more idiotic with each episode featuring them, starting out as a cosmological horror and ending as a group of robotic bug people with a queen and everything.
    I'd characterize it more as a transition from being horror movie-style zombies with a slick sci-fi paint job to instead being fantasy-style zombies with a slick sci-fi paint job. Now instead of being an undirected rampaging zombie horde they're instead the army of an evil necromancer

    EDIT:
    Ultimately I think the borg queen makes the borg more believable. The actions of the borg make little sense if we take them at face value as a vastly intelligent conglomeration of the minds of their component creatures. Taken as the actions of a single mortal mind which happens to control many bodies on the other hand their actions and motives begin to make more sense

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