Daily Departures

Departing daily from the ordinary objects of my thoughts.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


In a post below I asked a question and requested answers to the question in the comments thread. There has been some confusion about what the scenario is; let me try to clarify.

The scenario in question involves a transporter accident. You step into the transporter, expecting to be de-materialized and then re-materialized in a new location. There is an accident. Instead of the transporter beam re-materializing one of you, it re-materializes two copies. So, there are now two people who are atom-for-atom duplicates of one another. Furthermore, there is no fact of the matter which one of these two people is the same person as the one that entered the transporter. (You might even think that they are both the person that entered the transporter.)

Each of these people has the same beliefs, desires, memories, physical traits, and so on. They are IDENTICAL in every respect! If I know one of them, then I know the other equally well; they can act individually; and they would each go on to live full lives.

Now, the question:

What would you do with this person?

[A sample answer: I would fight this person to the death because we'd be so similar; we'd be critical of each other in exactly the ways that drive each of us insane.]

Now: Answer in the comments.


  • At 2/23/2006 10:46:00 AM, Anonymous Oliver said…

    I've sometimes considered a similar question: If I were to walk into a transporter, be de-materialised, and then be re-materialised somewhere else, would it still be me anyway? Would I have actually died, but have a clone of me walking around with all my memories, thinking that he is the same me that stepped into the transporter?

    But this is getting away from the actual question posed.

    Obviously I wouldn't be able to live with another me; having the same desires, the same possessions, we wouldn't be able to co-exist.

    Perhaps we could go seperate ways, live different lives in different places, and try not to meet. But then, what of our possession, especially those with sentimental value? It would seem unfair for one of me to loose everything in his life through no fault of his own.

    Also, if we go our seperate ways, the differences in our lives would bug us. Any success one of us has that the other doesn't, is clearly the result of our surroundings; we would grow to resent each others success.

    Then, there is time with friends. Similar problems.

    In the end, I don't think there is a workable solution where we both live, and are aware of each others existance. One of us would have to die.

    One at random.

  • At 2/23/2006 11:15:00 AM, Blogger Mark said…

    Nice Oli.

    Although I'm not sure that you'd be willing to consent to the random killing suggestion. Although, you are English... maybe you would.

  • At 2/23/2006 11:21:00 AM, Anonymous Oliver said…


    But as Matt said in his reply first time you posted this question; the other me would be equally valid. In fact, how would I know that I was not the duplicate?

    I think the solution would be to have someone else lie to us; tell us they were going to use the transporter to 'recombine' us or something, and then just not re-materialise one of us.

  • At 2/23/2006 11:23:00 AM, Blogger Mark said…

    Yeah, there are lots of ways that you could do it without letting either of you know which was going to die.

    But think about it. If you were in that situation would you rather continue to live, even though there might be some resentment, or would you rather play a 50/50 game of Russian Roulette?

    I'll take the first option.

  • At 2/23/2006 11:35:00 AM, Anonymous Oliver said…

    What I meant was; they could do it without letting us know that either of us would die. If I can be split into two valid people, why can't those same two valid people be re-combined into one? I'd consent to not having a duplicate, if I didn't think I'd die.

    I'm not sure the going seperate ways thing is at all valid. What if you had kids? Who would get custody? What would you base it on? If you both got access, would it be fair that you were losing time with your kids?

  • At 2/23/2006 01:52:00 PM, Blogger miershpedankl said…

    Hmmm... I was going to think about this some more, but this came out:

    How can I even talk about another "me" as if it is not me? If I think about "me" as a problem of sorts, then I am the problem any way you look at it. "I" would be thinking the exact same thing that I am thinking. I guess the closest thing we have to this is a mirror, except, the image looking back at you isn't a separate you. The image you see cannot think or say something in reponse, only simultanesouly. So, if I were to suggest how one of me would act towards the other, which one of me is doing the suggesting??
    Or, maybe I am wrong, and the image in a mirror is just like having an identical me ... I mean, I can predict EXACTLY what the image will do, but only b/c I choose what I am going to do. Maybe - whichever me, if I am not both, cannot predict anything about the other me b/c then that "me" would have forknowledge about me. Would it be propetual forknowledge about me? Isn't that time travel or something? I can't really know what I am going to think before I think it, you think?
    OK - in the end - I think this would just like deja vu. When I have deja vu I am frozen in a state of wonder. So, maybe I'd just be like that forever...frozen in wonder... like this comment... then end.

  • At 2/23/2006 03:54:00 PM, Blogger Mark said…

    Oli: Ok, maybe I agree with you that it would be best for one of the identical duo to be killed (but I'm very skeptical); however, notice that the question was: What would you do? So, not what would be best?

    Miershpedankl: Don't get bogged down in my use of words like 'me'--or 'I' or 'you' and so on. Let's call the person before the transporter accident 'Miershpedankl'. After Miershpedankl goes into the transporter and two people come out, let's call one of those people 'Miersh' and the other 'Pedankl'. (Which one you call which is arbitrary as long as you are consistent.) Now, pick either Miersh or Pedankl and ask them what they would like to do with the other. That's what the question is asking.

    Another question would be: Would Miersh get along with Pedankl?

  • At 2/23/2006 09:05:00 PM, Blogger miershpedankl said…

    You see, that is precisely the problem... Miersh IS Pedankl. If I were one and not the other, which I don't see as possible, then however I felt would be exactly how the other me feels. SO - I would hope that I would be ok with it, so the other one would be ok as well. Otherwise - If I didn't like it, then I could assume, and so could the other, that the other feels the same way. If I hated myself, then I would expect me to hate me and the onslaught of paranoia would probably cause me to kill myself... in which case both of us would die b/c the other would feel the same way. I would have to do some careful consideration abot how I feel about myelf before I stepped into a transporter.

  • At 2/23/2006 10:06:00 PM, Blogger miershpedankl said…

    OK OK OK -- you bugged me enough. I think that I would start a business endevour of sorts -- an outdoor recreation type business where we get to do whatever the *ell we wanted. I could focus on one set of details and the other me could focus on the rest... those things I can never seem to get around to. I just feel that we'd argue about it ALL THE TIME! The other problem is that my wife is HOT, and I would never trust him... I guess that means that I don't trust myself... revealing, EH?! ;)

  • At 2/25/2006 08:17:00 AM, Blogger retank said…

    What's wrong with sharing your life, always feeling secure that you would have a perfect match for any body parts you might need in the future.
    Destroying your duplicate image would be counter productive, and I'm sure would have negative influences on you for the rest of your life.

  • At 2/27/2006 12:48:00 PM, Anonymous Oliver said…

    retank: By the same argument, you would be there to provide 'parts' to your duplicate. How would it make you feel secure? Having another you, with access to your bank account, and all of your possessions? Trying to go to your job, and earn the money that's meant for you, hanging out with your friends, seeing your parents and siblings?

    mark b.: True, my suggestion relies on some third party acting autonamously. If I had to act, then I probably would try to do the 'going seperate ways' route. We'd have to try and make sure that we kept any contact, or knowledge of each other down to an absolute minimum.

    Either way, I don't think there's a solution that would provide a satisfactory existance for both parties (if either). One, or both are going to lose out.

  • At 2/27/2006 11:49:00 PM, Blogger SoulPastor said…

    KILL IT!


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