Mieville on Teleporting

At the event on Tuesday night, I remarked that China Mieville and Cory Doctorow share an irritating trait, which is to lathe my own ideas into science fiction books, many years before I even have the thought for the first time!

One example of this is on the important science-fiction problem of teleporting, and the possibility of transferring of one’s mind between matter.  I scribbled some concerns about this earlier this year, but now I find that Mieville got there first, in Kraken (p.221):

This is why I wouldn’t travel that way,” Dane said.  “This is my point.  For a piece of rock or clothes or something dead, who cares?  But take something living and do that?  Beam it up?  What you done is ripped a man apart then stuck his bits back together and made them walk around.  He died.  Get me?  The man’s dead.  And the manat the other end only thinks he is the same man. He ain’t. He only just got born.  He’s got the other’s memories, yeah, but he’s newborn.  That Enterprise, they keep killing themselves and replacing themselves with clones of dead people.  That is some macabre shit.  That ship’s full of Xerox copies for people who died.”

I love this kind of esoteric debate.  Teleportation might never become a reality, but the questions raised by science fiction are essential when we consider the nature of the mind and artificial intelligence.

Teleport road sign. Photo by mercurialn on Flickr. Creative Commons Licence.

Teleport road sign. Photo by mercurialn on Flickr. Creative Commons.

3 thoughts on “Mieville on Teleporting

  1. This really struck me in Kraken. It also explains why the final Star Trek movies were so awful. That’s not actually Picard! It’s a 10,000th generation photocopy thereof!

  2. Oh, and also, I think you might partially have the cart before the horse. When we consider the nature of mind and AI, we get science fiction (among other things). Not so much the other way round. I don’t think we’d have such good science fiction if it weren’t for philosophy of mind, and people like Hofstadter and Dennet, for eg.

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