Napsterisation of Matter or “I downloaded this great phone yesterday”

It is an interesting, (though I’m sure no surprise to you) that the Teleporter as featured in Star Trek works by scanning, then disassembling a person down to basic particles and re-assembling them at the destination.


The implication is that Captain James T. Kirk has been legally murdered and then almost simultaneously reincarnated, many times over - essentially copied, destroyed, rendered - not actually transported. 


So Captain James T Kirk is not actually Captain James T Kirk once transported, it his facsimile.  So what would happen in the event of an ‘accident’, say where the original was not destroyed?  Which Captain of the two would have the legitimate authority over the Enterprise?  The not-destroyed copy because he is the ‘most original’, or the latterly-rendered copy because he was the ‘most intended’?  Who would his mother love most?


Luckily this ‘what is self’ teleportation problem is not really an issue today…teleportation, generally speaking, is only restricted to the teleportation of information.  I say ‘generally speaking’ – researchers have been sending and rendering Digital Michaelangelos for a while and manufacturing designers use these techniques to share (send) work with teams on the other side of the world (who 3D render a copy at their end), and now physicists in the United States and Austria for the first time have teleported "quantum states" between separate atoms.


Yet once nanolevel 3D printers (an expensive item to start of with, but potentially free as anyone could make a copy of one...) become a reality then we would have a ‘napsterisation of matter effect’ (or napsterization):


“Hey, I downloaded this great phone yesterday” doubt the manufacturing industry would have to call in the PRM (Physical Rights Management) experts to save the day...


Anyway, enough, I've got a flat tyre to replace.

Comments (9)
  1. jason says:

    There is a difference in Trek folklore.

    Teleporter <> Replicator

    I’m not well versed but I think the difference is that the teleporter actually transmits/redirects the quantum signatures of the sentient beings it teleports.

    Also worthy to note, that replicators helped remove the currency system from humanity. Once anyone could replicate their daily staples (ie food and more replicators) the value of the dollar fell. Instead people would work and educate themselves for self worth. I hope when replicator technology does come down to our reality DRM and copyright won’t stand in it’s way. As they certainly won’t save the day.

  2. Jason says:

    Does that new phone have a global telephone book?

  3. Dan says:

    Sorry … here’s the URL without all the extra stuff …

  4. Alex Barnett says:


    It has several.


  5. Bob Riemersma says:

    There is no question that transporter technology functioned by making a copy of an item or individual and recycling the original into energy to be used to feed the machine. Of course the ineveitable losses had to be made up somehow, probably by simply having another unit in the belly of the beast where someone shoveled in dead bodies and other inert matter.

    Watch closely. They quite often have "troubles" and the original is long destroyed and gone while they fiddle with the knobs and furrow their brows trying to create the remote copy.

    I was frankly amazed that they then relied on crude matter/antimatter annihilation to power their ships’ main drives, when they already had near 100% matter/energy conversion in the transporter techology. Maybe it was a much more lossy process than we were led to believe?

    Letting the transporter euthenize the original always did give me the creeps though. I always thought MyCoy’s grousing about "having his atoms scattered" seemed misplaced by comparison. Clearly even doctors in the Star Trek future aren’t very darned intelligent or informed – must be the machines do all of the real healing and a "Doc" just has an MCMMO (Microsoft Certified Medical Machine Operator) cert?

    Actually there is a book "A Is For Anything" (Damon Knight) that deals with the economic chaos engendered by replication technology. Without digging up my old paperback copy I can only find a reference online to an Ace Double containing this story – but even the Ace edition was dated 1965. I assume this story predated Star Trek by some years.

    I have always been very suspicious of the Federation as a culture and a society. Somehow I imagine there are largely unseen masses of people throughout the Federation who are deprived of such technologies, slaving away to mine and otherwise acquire mineral and energy resources to support an elite society living on their backs. We get an inkling of this in the "Horta" episode of the original series, along with other vague references to mining colony uprisings and such.

    Kirk and McCoy got sent to such a mining colony (Klingon run) in one of the movies. Think of the underground dwellers in the movie "Demolition Man" ("All food is Taco Bell"). Or maybe they are in walled cities and fed Soylent Green?

    We are experiencing much of this today in the U.S. as manufacturing and other industries are being devastated by cheap imports from countries where near-slave labor is readily exploitable. Eventually the elite-run multinationals will have pushed domestic workers into such a slave class as well. They can’t compete economically with low-wage, long-hours, no-benefits, no safety standards, pollute-as-you-will countries using modern automated plants. This combo is very close to a "replicator" technology in itself from an economic standpoint.

  6. KC Lemson says:

    There was an episode of the other side that talked about transporter as this deconstruct, copy, reconstruct method. These aliens gave the humans the technology to do it, with the requirement that the operator of the teleporter machine always "balance the equation" – i.e. kill the original. The episode was about a mistake where this woman was supposed to transport, it looked like it failed, so she was waiting around while they worked on the problem… only to find out that it *had* worked, there was another copy of her at the destination, and the operator had to "balance the equation". Really interesting episode.

  7. It might some ununsual but Kirk a.o. just do a thing that mother nature does at every second. Replicate and let the 2 originals die after some time. The only difference is the time span. And at a certain point of the exhausting Star Trek phenomenon one is sort of lucky to hear that Kirk dies and will NOT be transformed into my cell phone.

  8. Thanks for getting me searching on this subject, just found this piece of news now.


  9. Mark Baartse says:

    Need version control software for people.

    Not sure I’d trust my life to source safe though….

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