Science Fiction popularized the notion that we could be transformed into an energy beam, sent at light speed somewhere, and then transformed back into ourselves. The word “transformed” really means destroyed in one form before being reconstructed. It looks cool on TV, but really means that you would have to die first. OK, an exact copy of you appears elsewhere. Is that actually “you” that appears there? Hey, you could repeat the reconstruction process and get two copies! Why not?
Now, if it were possible to truly duplicate you, where would “you” be? If I used a supercomputer to record and copy your body down to the last detail, which of you is “you”? Where would your conscious mind be? Would you be somehow in the copy too? Or if you die first by the teleport, and a copy appears elsewhere, would the “you” follow along? Or would that existence be foreign to you, even though it was you?
God put eternity in our hearts. We examine ourselves and realize instinctively that there is something special about our consciousness. We recoil at the idea that it will just vanish one day when our life ends. And so we should. Something precious would be lost. If, however, we are just advanced creatures on the evolutionary chain, why do we even care? We eat, drink, and try to be happy, and die another day. No big deal, right?
Look at thought. Look at consciousness. Why, after all the evolution of computers (OK, if you can use the term “evolution” to describe beings coming about by random occurrences, I can use evolution to refer to the random assembly of supercomputers, which are a whole lot simpler than we are — but I digress: I covered this topic in another blog) we have not seen any remote signs of artificial intelligence consciousness, should we expect that to somehow develop as computers evolve further? Will they ever develop an ability to care about anything, no matter how complex they become? Yet, we care deeply about all sorts of things, and we can enjoy life and want it to continue. Where did that come from?
Some would say “yes” — given enough complexity, computers would eventually develop a consciousness and start to care about things. They might also say that because life obviously came about without a designer (just like computers, eh?) that the random set of forces must surely happen again somewhere, and we can expect life elsewhere in the universe. These are beliefs — world-views that they have which they project without evidence — that have become very popular through stories and movies.
Please think this through. The fact that you can think is miraculous. I think it incredible that chaos brought about an ability to think orderly, and that we can apply that thought to examine the forces that are supposed to have been our creator. Think about thinking: what do you think about it?
And, would you ever be satisfied that a technological copy of you would ever be you?