Re: Transporter Paradox

From: George Levy <>
Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2001 10:44:23 -0800

This is a continuation of the "Indescribable merde" thread, title which I had enough

In my previous post I explained how a purely deterministic universe ( a state machine)
could not have any branching. Transitions represented in phase space would appear to
be lines that never cross. If two lines join, then they stay joined for ever, since
there is no mechanism for splitting them. Indeed if such a splitting mechanism did
exist, then it would have to be indeterminate or "outside" this universe. Once this
universe gets into a loop, then it stays in that loop for ever.

Bruno Marchal has explored the concept of first person indeterminacy by means of what
we may call the "Star Trek" transporter. If the transporter operates such that a
person (Bruno) is transported from Brussels to both Moscow and Washington, in effect
creating two copies, then, from the first person point of view, he argues, there is
indeterminacy in so far as the final destination is concerned.

How can that indeterminacy be reconciled with the idea of keeping the universe purely
deterministic which preclude the possibility of indeterminacy?

I believe that the solution to this paradox lies in the fact that the transporter is
not perfect. In fact, it is the transporter that generates the indetermincy. Here is

If the transporter was perfect, then, obviously, the copies would have to be
perfect. This means they would have to include all their extensions which includes
clothing, close environments and far environments. To be rigorous, let's say that all
the environment withing a light cone of the observer is reproduced by the transporter
such that no information can possibly be lost.

Such a transporter feat would have to transform at the speed of light, both
Washington and Moscow, and make them in the image of Brussels. I am not sure if this
enormous feat of civil engineering would be welcome, but this is besides the point.
Now, with this extended transporter operation, the copies being transported to the
new Washington and the new Moscow would have no way of knowing that they are still not
in Brussels! In fact, one could argue that from their point of view, the transporter
has not worked and they are still in Brussels. Therefore, from the first person point
of view, there is no indeterminacy!

Therefore, it appears that the only way to generate indeterminacy, even first person
indeterminacy, in a deterministic universe, is to allow the definition of a person's
consciousness to be fuzzy. Bruno's assumption that indeterminacy can be deduced from
COMP is faulty. It may be that indeterminacy is a fundamental, rather than derived
property of consciousness. It may be that it is an anthropically imposed property and
necessary condition for consciousness.

Received on Fri Mar 16 2001 - 11:58:10 PST

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