Say NO to teleportation!

I just can’t let this go. This will be a very short post on why teleportation, as presented in a great deal of sci-fi, amounts to ignorant and self-destructive suicide. Even Sheldon Cooper agrees.

The reason for a post devoted to this one, lone topic? If I don’t rant and rave about it here, my open-mouthed astonishment at Captain Kirk’s Lemming-esque leap into the Automatic Death Machine will infect all my other posts with its rage. So.

Most teleportation systems, most notably Star Trek, involve the following steps:

1: Target is scanned, composition is recorded

2: Target is broken down into component atoms and sent flying across the universe

3: Target is reconstructed at the destination.

Let’s put number 2 in a different context:

1: Target defies the Great Cthulu

2: Target is broken down into component atoms and sent flying across the universe

3: Cthulu feasts on the soul of the puny mortal.

See the problem? Step 2 is unavoidably lethal. The illusion that Kirk is ‘appearing’ elsewhere stems from the fact that what appears at the other end is a perfect copy of the original – right down to the patterns of atoms which make up his thoughts/feelings/ability to speak like a Shakespearean comedy and tragedy at the same time. But it isn’t the same Kirk!

Even worse, step 2 is simply unnecessary. If you have the technology to assemble a living human copy at the destination, then all you need to do is rig it up to some vats of carbon, hydrogen etc. and it can make you a million Kirks – without the need to blast the original apart. Of course, these perfect copies present some interesting ethical problems and I recommend Richard Morgan’s “Altered Carbon” for anyone who wants a look at the ‘double sleeving’ issue (and everyone else).

I almost feel guilty pointing this out. Next time you watch the good old OST its no longer a silly space romp, its a heartbreaking tragedy about the Admiralty’s least favourite bumbling captain, and their cruel prank which leads him to die a thousand deaths. Things are improving these days as sci-fi increasingly uses faster-than-light travel to zip around or bending space to accomplish the travel. Even so, I advise you keep this little ditty close to your heart during the next millennium:

“FTL drives can keep you alive,

Bends space and time? Teleport’s fine!

Blast me to Atoms? Fuck Off!”