Recently, I had a conversation with some kids about Star Trek teleportation. How long would it be before it would really be possible? I argued that this is an evolving technology and in fact we’ve been doing it for years. It’s just incremental.
Ok, maybe I’m not talking about their Star Trek version yet. But if you see it as baby steps, you may be surprised – we’ve come pretty far. This doesn’t even touch on recent work in Quantum teleportation.
We do teleportation all the time and don’t even think about it.
We deconstruct a physical analogue into digital information (or media), then send it via cell phone or email to some location and the data is recompiled back into the analogue representation. Here are some examples:
Let’s just start with the fax. It’s actually an interesting history. In 1842 Alexander Bain, a Scottish philosopher and psychologist invented the first fax machine. Yup crude, but technology improved and by 1924 publishers began using faxes to transmit documents and photos. Then digital fax, and by the ’70s & ’80s they are everywhere and cheap.
Digital photography It began with low resolution, then the digital information starts to approach the physical grain of the original. Now, nearly all the pros use digital cameras and simply send copies to recompile their pristine images.
Next CAD / CAM A wounded soldier’s limb is scanned in 3d and its surface or tessellation coordinates are sent to a remote location and a prosthetic is created to a perfect fit (plaster casts are a thing of the past). In a similar way, computer milling devices create identical parts from CAD data that can be sent from remote locations (sometimes referred to as "rapid prototyping").
Genetic code Richard Dawkins points out that it’s no longer necessary to have a physical relic preserved to reconstruct a genetic copy. All we will need is the genetic code – data on a digital file to reconstruct (clone) a copy. You can get a full copy of your genetic code, put it on a portable drive, email it or send a copy into space. Science meets fiction.
Of course now we get into the realm of of memory, consciousness and awareness – and the ethical issues.
I’ll leave you with something a friend told me about a funeral he just attended."My father was there in the room with us, just a less dense version of himself".