The Metaphysics of Teleportation
Michio Kaku is a futurist, popularizer of science, and theoretical physicist, as well as a bestselling author and the host of two radio programs. He is the co-founder of string field theory (a branch of string theory), and continues Einstein’s search to unite the four fundamental forces of nature into one unified theory. He holds the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics and a joint appointment at City College of New York and the Graduate Center of C.U.N.Y. He is also a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Kaku launched his Big Think blog, "Dr. Kaku's Universe," in March 2010.
Question: If quantum teleportation could teleport a whole human, would that transported human really be the same person or just an exact copy? (Submitted by Matthew Miossec)
Michio Kaku: Matthew, you ask one of the most embarrassing and deepest theological questions at the merger, at the area where physics and philosophy collide. At the present time we can only teleport photons, particles of light and atoms like cesium and rubidium. That is it for the present time. However, in the coming years we do expect to be able to teleport molecules, maybe water, carbon dioxide. After that who knows? Maybe even DNA, maybe organic molecules.
Now to teleport a human raises all the ethical questions that you mentioned, because the original first of all has to be destroyed in the process of quantum teleportation. So if get Captain Kirk, zap him across the room, you have now seen Captain Kirk die. You’ve seen his atoms fall apart, but here is this other Captain Kirk on the other side of the room who has the same bad jokes, who has the same character, all the personality quirks as the original Captain Kirk. So the imposter says, "No, I’m real. I have the memories, the personality, the quirks. I am Captain Kirk." Well you just saw the original die and if you believe in a soul that soul went to heaven or maybe the other place, but that person is dead, so who is this imposter over there? Does the imposter have a soul?
So it raises the question are we nothing but information? Is the soul, the essence of who we are, nothing but information? Well I’m a physicist. We don’t know the answer to that. All we’re saying is: it is physically possible to teleport an entire human being across the room or maybe onto Mars. It is physically possible to do that and it raises a valid question. What happened to the soul if your original copy died and somebody out there has all your memories? What does that mean? And the answer is we don’t know.
Recorded September 29, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman
Even if science is able to teleport humans across large distances, would the teleported human really be the same person or just an exact replica? What would happen to the soul?
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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