The first experiments with what was once called “teleportation” involved enormous machinery into which a person’s body was inserted. This occurred long after the whimsical “teleportation” of characters in Star Trek brought the idea into the popular consciousness. Unlike the Star Trek characterization, the real process was much more involved and, in the early days, extremely dangerous. Estimates of the number of unsuccessful teleportations have ranged as high as two hundred thousand. To this day, no one is quite clear on what happened to the physical bodies of those who disappeared, never to appear in their intended relocations.
The term “relocation” is not, and never was, accurate. The proper term, reincarnation, was avoided because of its religious overtones, but that’s precisely what it was. Yet someone, no one knows just who, started using the term “transplant” to describe the process. It caught on, despite summoning chilling visions of organ removal and replacement. Regardless of its history of lost souls and erroneous linguistic identification, the process we now call “reconstructive transplantation” is as common as marriage and automobiles were in times past.
Today, reconstructive transplantation has reached an almost one hundred percent success rate. It is rare, indeed, to learn of a person disappearing during the initiation of the process and failing to reappear at the conclusion. It happens, but in the old days, people died in automobile accidents or wedding violence with greater frequency; the risks are deemed to be within acceptable limits.
Reconstructive transplantation (RT), in its simplest form, involves replicating every aspect of a person, including every single physical, mental, emotional, and experiential attribute. That includes memories (which, as we know, are bio-electrical). The data that record these attributes are transferred, instantaneously, from the reconstructive transplantation initiation equipment (RTIE) to the reconstructive transplantation receptor equipment (RTRE). Simultaneously, the RTIE’s laser essentially erases the individual who has been replicated at the same movement the RTRE replicates (like the old-style 3-D printers, but far faster and more elegant) the subject in his or her new location. As I describe this process, I hope you can see that it’s not a physical movement of the individual from one place to the next, but the actual elimination of the individual in one place and the recreation of the person in another.
One especially pernicious aspect of RT involves the occasional hiccup, in which the RTRE creates more than one copy of the subject. Because they are absolutely identical and their creation occurs simultaneously, there is no way to know which is the “original” and which is the “copy.” The legal system is still sorting out how to handle claims between the “dupes,” as we call them, for the rights to live the lives they both assert are theirs. At present, the admittedly unpleasant method is to allow each dupe a fifty percent share; one dupe lives the normal life for a week while the other is kept in a dupe suppression facility (kept in what amounts to a medically induced coma), and then the two switch places. The obvious problem with that is that the two accumulate vastly different experiences from week to week, making them different from one another. Eventually, the legal system will determine how to handle this. RT specialists have long called for immediate euthanasia in such situations, in which one of the two dupes would be selected at random and put to sleep, thereby eliminating the problem of experiential divergence. The ethicists are still working on that one.
The converse problem occurs when the RTIE eliminates data and the subject but the RTRE fails, for one reason or another, to capture the data. That may well be what happened to the missing two hundred thousand.