Warning: the possible side-effects of reading this post include, but are not limited to, ethical dilemmas, wistful thinking and yearning for the future.
Next to warp speed teleportation is one of the few science fiction promises we still haven't got. Mostly because, as it turns out, they are still theoretically impossible.
Something about accelerating mass to light speed and infinities.
It seems the only way to teleport a person, who is probably too big to play around with quantum teleportation, is by cloning them. The process would work in three steps:
- Make digital copy of person - body, thoughts and all
- Synthesise person on the destination with thoughts etc. intact
- Dispose of original
Star Trek used a similar trick with their teleports. Kirk would step on the plate, some buzzing, a flash, a bit of sparkles, whooosh and he was on the planet surface, ready to take on the world and making sure whomever was wearing the red shirt wouldn't come back.
Nothing wrong with this right?
Let's take a minute to reflect. To travel at the speed of light, you get cloned and the original you is killed. Destroyed even! If that doesn't bother you, let's make the technology slightly more realistic.
First of all, cloning is a process that takes a bit of time. My microbiologist friends clone things all the time. Even a freshman can do it! But considering how much time they spend in the lab, the process obviously takes some time. A few hours?
I don't know really, but let's say our technology has progressed to the point where it takes two days to copy a person.
Still, errors happen. You'd want to keep the original around while forming the copy, just to make sure you don't lose the whole thing. While I'm sure some people would enjoy living as nothing but data, I think many would prefer a guarantee of survival.
Okay, it takes two days to teleport. And both copies of you need to stick around while this happens.
Not very practical for earth-bound travel, but imagine being able to go to Mars in just two days. Even the fastest human trip to the moon took 3 days.
Even better, it feels instantaneous to you! Score.
When teleportation starts a direct copy of your mind is recorded. When you wake up fully formed on the other end it will feel like no time has passed. You stepped in. You woke up.
But what about the other you? The one that stepped in and is going to die in two days.
Two days is a lot of time to reflect on the certainty of death. They're a human, even though they know their life is going to continue on the other end ... what about those two days? Can they escape certain death?
What if they decide they're not quite ready to die. Run amok. Get into a lot of trouble they personally will never have to deal with. What if they fall in love with the best person ever, but in two days "they" won't remember a thing?
Naturally, we might want to protect against this.
So let's lock them up in a cage of some sort. A waiting area if you will. Since this copy's only got two days to live and that other copy will have no recollection of what went on, we might as well save some resources and not feed this copy. They wouldn't even need light or any human companionship. Lock them up in solitary confinement for two days and then shoot them in the face.
It doesn't matter does it?
Who cares if a fully normal person suddenly gets locked up of, basically, their own accord. Is then treated poorly for two days to deal with any continuity issues in their brain and then coldly executed. Teleportation, baby! Right?
A simple question: Would you use teleportation technology?
- Quantum Teleportation Sends Information 143 Kilometers
- Researchers use teleportation to beam a single photon 97km
- Waterloo researchers key to teleportation breakthrough
I write articles with real insight into the career and skills of a modern software engineer. "Raw and honest from the heart!" as one reader described them. Fueled by lessons learned over 20 years of building production code for side-projects, small businesses, and hyper growth startups. Both successful and not.
Subscribe below 👇
Join Swizec's Newsletter and get insightful emails 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.
"Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"
Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.
Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.
Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.
Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev
Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization
Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog
By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️