The Ethics of Human Teleportation

Sure, Star Trek-style teleportation seems like the next big thing. Sure we could go on vacation in July just by stepping on to a transporter pad and be instantly moved from A to B; B probably being Acapulco or somewhere really nice. Off the bat we would love it, but have you ever pondered the moral and ethical implications of teleportation?

The basic form of teleportation involves you being disintegrated, your particle pattern stored in a buffer, transmitted and then reassembled elsewhere. Does that come with your soul? As the godforsaken semi-determinist I happen to be, sure, I can believe that the—for lack of a better word—the soul is simply a momentary configuration of molecules. What you are, right now, your hopes, your hurting shoulder, your innermost secrets and your latest monument to human achievement; all of that is simply a pattern of particles. So when you teleport, Trek-style, all that veltschmerz is teleported right along with your flesh.

Except, for the briefest of moments, you reside in a pattern buffer; a computer so powerful that it can not only hold your entire chemical configuration, but it can even run Photoshop CS3. Given that, what's there to stop you (or the prop-like teleporter chief) from making a copy of you?

Therein lies the ethical considerations. The duplication that happens in teleportation is way beyond that of human cloning. Dolly can hop and dance happily unknowing that she is a a clone of what her mom was when she was born. At least she's not a replica so exact that even memory, history and everything is carbon copied.

Could it be done any differently? Could your actual particles be transferred instead of duplicated? Probably, but it would still mean moving matter across distances. Duplication style teleportation, on the other hand, would only transmit matter-less information, and as we all know: Einsteinian law dictates that as the speed approaches that of light, weight approaches infinity. So in order to travel at the speed of love, that which travels must have no weight. It's a conundrum. Either we teleport comfortably, implicitly trusting our transporter chief, or we don't teleport at all. Maybe now Acapulco doesn't sound so interesting after all.

On a closing note, there is a subtext to the above. It says: I'm going on vacation and I'll see you again in July. Or August. Whichever comes first.

Blade Runner The Final Cut Mini-Review

Replicants, more human than human robots do humanitys dirty work. Given time, they will develop their own emotional responses. To prevent revolts, they are given only a four year lifespan. When they're a hazard, Blade Runners are sent to "retire" them.

Blade Runner has been through its share of troubles. The first one with the voice over was marred by producers wanting to control the young art director, Ridley Scott, whose experience hadn't yet been proven (not even by Alien). The second version, "The Directors Cut", felt rushed and the DVD release was grainy and VHS like. The Final Cut has finally been given the proper treatment. Tweaks and fixes have been made and a near-perfect, cleaned-up transfer make this the ultimate version of Blade Runner.

Blade Runner works on many levels. There's the gorgeous dystopian design. There's atmosphere oozing from every sound of Vangelis' soundtrack. There's the vision and the philosophical aspects: life, death, the time we're given. They don't make movies like this anymore and Blade Runner is the peak of a period. It's an absolute delight to marvel in the polished and crisp picture and to notice details like the eyes of replicants reflecting light differently. Who's replicant and who's not? And does it matter? And what's that about a unicorn? Find out.

Farewell, Arthur C. Clarke. 1917-2008

Just a few weeks ago, my favourite science fiction author, Arthur C. Clarke, passed away. As a tribute to the hours and hours of reading enjoyment and plethora of wonders he's projected into my mind, I was compelled to commemorate the event.

Clarke, by most known for his book: 2001: A Space Odyssey, was a visionary and a pragmatic. At the core of his books were always genuinely unique ideas, but wrapped around these ideas were stories that were neither longer nor shorter than the idea warranted. Always deeply personal and with a protagonist filled with the same sense of wonder that you or I had been, had we been there.

While not necessarily hard reads, his books were filled with complex themes. What seeped from his books into my younger self were themes of life and death and universal purpose and meaning. Clarkes' books gave me an understanding of our universe: that in all it's complexity and sheer scale, it's so full of wonder that one can derive meaning and purpose from simply that. I remember this, whenever I'm overwhelmed by harsh facts of life: peace of mind is no farther away than outside. A gander at the stars and I know: this is all bigger than me or you. We're all but tiny flecks of dust and vermin on the cosmic scale.

For letting me in the know about this powerful strength from the stars I owe Clarke and his books my sincerest respect, because unlike all other institutions that claim the ability to heal souls, spirits, thetans and what-have-you, Clarkes' way is universally free and available to anyone who needs it.

Clarke was not a religious man, so when he said:

I sometimes think that the universe is a machine designed for the perpetual astonishment of astronomers.

… I dare interpret it to mean simply that: lift your gaze from the ground to the dark of space above the clouds, you'll see that there's plenty of purpose in that vast ocean of nothingness. Rest in peace, Arthur, and thanks.

Cloverfield Mini-Review

Cloverfield is the codename for a Manhattan event, documented using handheld camera by 5 young New Yorkers throwing a going-away party the night a monster attacks the city.

Essentially that sums up the entire movie. That’s both good and bad, mostly good. The handheld feel and the fact that we don’t see the monster in anything but short flashes, works really well, almost as well as it did with Alien. Despite the premise of the film, the plot is actually somewhat believable, which is impressive considering it’s a monster-flick.

Cloverfield works on many levels, and it’s definately worth 5 stars. To have earned the sixth star, however, I would personally have wanted a more fleshed-out and detailed ending, possibly one that wasn’t so predictable.

Serenity Mini-Review

I saw Joss Whedon’s Serenity yesterday. I didn’t intend to see the movie, quite simply because the TV Series never caught my attention and the title sounds like a chick flick.

And those are the only two problems this movie has.

Serenity is everything Star Wars never was, and never could be. It’s a hugely impressive space opera that manages to cram in love stories, epic space battles, strange markets and hover-cars, while at the same time paying tribute to Mad Max, Blade Runner and even Star Wars. All in some two hours.

Here’s my six stars, and sometime next year: my bucks for buying the Firefly DVD set.