Re: The role of consciousness (Re: The GLUT and functionalism)

From: Stuart Armstrong (
Date: Wed Apr 09 2008 - 03:48:38 MDT

> But my point was, at least teleportation where the original is
> instantaneously destroyed should be uncontroversial, being more or
> less equivalent to walking. Strange things happen when we grapple with
> weird duplication scenarios using brains that have evolved to believe
> absolutely that there can only ever be one copy of us travelling
> forward through time.

Expecting anything to be "uncontroversial" is very optimistic :-)

A whole raft of things are banned not because they are morally wrong,
but because they are very similar to things that are wrong, or could
lead to such things (cloning, Euthenasia, pyramid schemes, etc...)

The teleportation debate could play out both ways; if the governments
and enough private entities start using destructive teleportation (DT)
before any law comes out against them, then DT will be entrenched,
economically necessary, and will be regulated but never banned.
Especially once enough people have used it themselves.

If the initial technology is difficult and expensive to use, if some
mistakes are made (eg: the original not immediately killed), if scare
stories come out to the press before DT comes into common use - then
it will be banned.

A crucial aspect of public acceptance will be, I believe, whether the
copying process must inevitably destroy the original. If that's the
case, acceptance will be easier.

Curiously, after reading all these posts, I'm moving more towards the
"ban destructive teleportation" side :-) The reason is simple:
murdering someone who knows they are about to be murdered and doesn't
want to be is very high on my list of ethically monsterous actions.
Destructive teleportation, in principle, is equivalent to walking up
from a chair. In practice, it is very close to the above murder - just
one error away.

Since legal decisions are not little bottles on isolated shelves, I
feel very uncomfortable with an action that is legal and fine
"provided the subject does not wake up" but is illegal if he does.
Seeing what actions the brain does even when asleep, talk about legal
gray area!

(nb: torture is not a legal problem for teleportation or even memory
erasure, I believe. Rather simple legal procedures can be installed to
deal with that).


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