Are we more than just particles?

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Steve3007
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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by Steve3007 » February 9th, 2015, 12:30 pm

Bohm2:
Yes, but note that in quantum teleportation the only thing that is teleported is information, not matter or energy. So it's more accurate to say that there is quantum information teleportation.
But when you get down to the level of subatomic particles that are regarded as precisely identical and interchangeable with each other, the distinction between transporting information about a particle and transporting the particle itself perhaps becomes non-physical; just mathematical semantics; two sets of terminology describing the same physical phenomenon.

I think the interesting point raised by Greta's quote from Brian Greene is when he proposes that any act which is capable of measuring the characteristics of a system (like a human being) precisely enough to copy it must, by necessity, destroy it. This sounds a little like the observation about the infamous twin-slit experiment as applied to electrons: any measurement capable of discovering which slit the electron passes through necessarily disturbs its motion to such an extent that the interference pattern is destroyed (or something roughly like that.)

I think this makes the imaginary ethical question about the rights of the person who is copied and then destroyed even more intractable and interesting. Suppose (as is possible, although staggeringly improbable) every particle in your body simultaneously found itself, through the natural mechanism of quantum tunnelling, suddenly transported to a different location in space, would we regard it as physically the same as the kinds of teleporting mechanism we've been discussing here? The quantum mechanical concepts involved are essentially the same. If so, then are we justified in regarding an original "you" as having been destroyed at the old location and a new "you" as having been created at the new location? If so, is quantum mechanics a mass murderer?

I'm being a bit facetious of course, but I think this does once again play into this strange sense of continuous personal identity that we humans seem to possess. If I were to instantly kill you and utterly destroy your physical presence in such a way that you were completely unaware of it, I assume most people would still regard this as a terrible crime. And yet, there are many senses in which this is happening all the time quite naturally.

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by A Poster He or I » February 9th, 2015, 4:28 pm

Suppose... every particle in your body simultaneously found itself, through the natural mechanism of quantum tunnelling, suddenly transported to a different location in space, would we regard it as physically the same as the kinds of teleporting mechanism we've been discussing here? The quantum mechanical concepts involved are essentially the same. If so, then are we justified in regarding an original "you" as having been destroyed at the old location and a new "you" as having been created at the new location? If so, is quantum mechanics a mass murderer?

I'm being a bit facetious of course, but I think this does once again play into this strange sense of continuous personal identity that we humans seem to possess.
The situation Steve3007 describes is facetious ONLY because we so utterly take for granted the persistence of personal identity, even though our best scientific evidence suggests we are being completely "re-created" in every Planck-time moment. Indeed we don't even have to get so abstract: Biologists tell us no individual cell anywhere in the human body lives more than 7 years, meaning no physical part of us remains from what we physically were seven years earlier.

From there, one can readily argue that the subjective persistence of personal identity is the ONLY criterion for avoiding the charge of mass murder, WHATEVER be the nature of that subjective sense of persistence. To my mind this comes very close to begging a Platonic explanation for identity, but fortunately (for me who holds his nose around Platonism) subjective identity is more likely an emergent effect of the sheer complexity of all that quantum-level interactive soup.

But in that case, the legal implications of duplication go well beyond quantum-mechanical phenomena. For example, future scenarios of transmuting personalities into digital facsimiles (e.g., computerized brains) potentially become an open target for the same issue.

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by HZY » February 9th, 2015, 8:13 pm

DaveyMc wrote:I was watching the film 'The Fly', the other day and it got me thinking... Suppose we were able to invent a machine that could copy and assimilate every particle in the human body, in other words create a duplicate human being. Let us say you are scanned and then every electron, proton and neutron in your body was recreated in exactly the same position in a chamber. My question is this, would the recreation (obviously physically identical), firstly even be alive? and secondly if it is alive would it also have your personality, knowledge and even your memories?
Haven't you seen the movie "The Prestige"? Your first act would most likely be trying to kill "yourself".

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by DaveyMc » February 10th, 2015, 2:21 pm

My opinion on this as that our copy would be identical in every detail to the host, including all of the information required to create our personality, memories and knowledge. If this was not so then the implication is that there is a component of a human being in addition to the particles that make us up. It is remarkable that seemingly inanimate matter is able to store information. We see examples of how matter can store information, look no further than our pc's. Also we see information stored genetically which also includes instinctive knowledge which can be passed from parent to offspring. So it appears that every facet or our intellect, personality, memories and so on, is some form of coded information. If we were clever enough we could determine the code which provides certain knowledge, personality, behaviour and memories. So in principle we could create a customised human being with Einstein's IQ and all the knowledge mankind has discovered.

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by LuckyR » February 12th, 2015, 9:42 pm

DaveyMc wrote:I was watching the film 'The Fly', the other day and it got me thinking... Suppose we were able to invent a machine that could copy and assimilate every particle in the human body, in other words create a duplicate human being. Let us say you are scanned and then every electron, proton and neutron in your body was recreated in exactly the same position in a chamber. My question is this, would the recreation (obviously physically identical), firstly even be alive? and secondly if it is alive would it also have your personality, knowledge and even your memories?

Well, memories are both chemical and electrical, so the particles would have to have the same charge for it to really be you.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by Harbal » February 13th, 2015, 7:10 pm

DaveyMc wrote:I was watching the film 'The Fly', the other day and it got me thinking... Suppose we were able to invent a machine that could copy and assimilate every particle in the human body, in other words create a duplicate human being. Let us say you are scanned and then every electron, proton and neutron in your body was recreated in exactly the same position in a chamber. My question is this, would the recreation (obviously physically identical), firstly even be alive? and secondly if it is alive would it also have your personality, knowledge and even your memories?
It's your phantasy, it's completely up to you.

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by Atreyu » February 14th, 2015, 8:37 pm

DaveyMc wrote:My opinion on this as that our copy would be identical in every detail to the host, including all of the information required to create our personality, memories and knowledge. If this was not so then the implication is that there is a component of a human being in addition to the particles that make us up. It is remarkable that seemingly inanimate matter is able to store information. We see examples of how matter can store information, look no further than our pc's. Also we see information stored genetically which also includes instinctive knowledge which can be passed from parent to offspring. So it appears that every facet or our intellect, personality, memories and so on, is some form of coded information. If we were clever enough we could determine the code which provides certain knowledge, personality, behaviour and memories. So in principle we could create a customised human being with Einstein's IQ and all the knowledge mankind has discovered.
I agree with you, but I have a slight problem with this part of your post: "If this was not so then the implication is that there is a component of a human being in addition to the particles that make us up." I would substitute the more broad and encompassing terms "matter" or "material" in place of the more detailed and descriptive term "particles". "Particle" is merely the peculiar way that we cognize and perceive certain matter. Other kinds of matter we cannot perceive or even cognize as any kind of "particle" at all, or even as "material" or "matter" at all.

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by Theophane » February 15th, 2015, 12:03 pm

DaveyMc wrote:I was watching the film 'The Fly', the other day and it got me thinking... Suppose we were able to invent a machine that could copy and assimilate every particle in the human body, in other words create a duplicate human being. Let us say you are scanned and then every electron, proton and neutron in your body was recreated in exactly the same position in a chamber. My question is this, would the recreation (obviously physically identical), firstly even be alive? and secondly if it is alive would it also have your personality, knowledge and even your memories?
Hmmmm ...

Seth Brundle: You have to leave now, and never come back here. Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects... don't have politics. They're very... brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first... insect politician. Y'see, I'd like to, but... I'm afraid, uh...
Ronnie: I don't know what you're trying to say.
Seth Brundle: I'm saying... I'm saying I - I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over... and the insect is awake.
Ronnie: No. no, Seth...
Seth Brundle: I'm saying... I'll hurt you if you stay.
Yep, the movie definitely poses questions that would make a scientist uncomfortable. Questions they would just as soon ignore.

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by Harbal » February 15th, 2015, 1:08 pm

Theophane wrote: Yep, the movie definitely poses questions that would make a scientist uncomfortable. Questions they would just as soon ignore.
I don't think a real scientist would give it a second thought. Some questions deserve to be ignored.

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by Steve3007 » February 15th, 2015, 2:09 pm

Brundle-Fly:
Insects... don't have politics. They're very... brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first... insect politician.
I disagree with Brundle-Fly when he concludes here that we can't trust insects. I would have thought their lack of political ability makes them predictable, and therefore trustworthy. You may not like what the insect is going to do, but at least you can trust him to do it.

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by HZY » February 15th, 2015, 2:50 pm

DaveyMc wrote:I was watching the film 'The Fly', the other day and it got me thinking... Suppose we were able to invent a machine that could copy and assimilate every particle in the human body, in other words create a duplicate human being. Let us say you are scanned and then every electron, proton and neutron in your body was recreated in exactly the same position in a chamber. My question is this, would the recreation (obviously physically identical), firstly even be alive? and secondly if it is alive would it also have your personality, knowledge and even your memories?
If you create one robotic puppy, and another one, and another one, and so on ad infinitum, eventually one will develop a personality, and you wouldn't why.

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by Theophane » February 15th, 2015, 3:42 pm

Steve3007 wrote:Brundle-Fly:
Insects... don't have politics. They're very... brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first... insect politician.
I disagree with Brundle-Fly when he concludes here that we can't trust insects. I would have thought their lack of political ability makes them predictable, and therefore trustworthy. You may not like what the insect is going to do, but at least you can trust him to do it.
But there can be no reasoning with the insect, no appeals to decency or fairness. I think that's Brundle-Fly was trying to impart to Veronica while he was still Brundle enough to do so.

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by Steve3007 » February 15th, 2015, 5:09 pm

Theopane:

Yes, that is true and I admit I was being slightly mischievous by commenting on the letter of what Seth said rather than the spirit of it.

We can trust an insect to behave in a certain way because we know that it is following a set of instructions and can be relied on not to be swayed from them. Its code of conduct is non-negotiable. It is, as it were, written in stone. It cannot be reasoned with. Clearly this is not the meaning of the word "trust" that he meant. Perhaps, rather than saying they can't be trusted he should have said they can't be negotiated with. But he was in a stressful situation. Perhaps not in a frame of mind for proper philosophical reflection!

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by Harbal » February 15th, 2015, 6:16 pm

So, you can't negotiate with an insect. Is there no limit to what we can discover through serious philosophy?

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Re: Are we more than just particles?

Post by Theophane » February 15th, 2015, 7:37 pm

All work and no play make philosophy a dull boy. :P

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