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Researchers Moot "Teleportation" Via Destructive 3D Printing 163

ErnieKey writes Researchers from German-based Hasso Plattner Institute have come up with a process that may make teleportation a reality — at least in some respects. Their 'Scotty' device utilizes destructive scanning, encryption, and 3D printing to destroy the original object so that only the received, new object exists in that form, pretty much 'teleporting' the object from point A to point B. Scotty is based on an off-the-shelf 3D printer modified with a 3-axis milling machine, camera, and microcontroller for encryption, using Raspberry Pi and Arduino technologies." This sounds like an interesting idea, but mostly as an art project illustrating the dangers of DRM. Can you think of an instance where you would actually want the capabilities this machine claims to offer?
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Researchers Moot "Teleportation" Via Destructive 3D Printing

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  • by lbenes ( 2737085 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @05:45PM (#48880191)

    Why was this posted? It's not good art and has no real life applications.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Threni ( 635302 )

      The rites of spring by stravinsky has no "real life applications" other than the usual art stuff. You know, making life bearable in a pointless, hateful world where the best thing you can say about it is that you're going to die eventually, and beyond that everything in the universe is going to ultimately run out of energy and go dark and cold for ever and ever and ever. I mean, you're right; it would have been better had it improved the speed of an internet search or something practical like that, but sa

      • Yes, pointless art-- that's the problem with it. Had it been good art it would have met one of the qualifiers GP mentioned. Nobody attacked art, they only attacked this one idea that was poorly executed.

        Now I'm sure we can have long discussion arguing about what qualifies as good art, but wherever the line is, clearly this is below it and Stravinsky is above it. Anyone who wants to argue against that is just being difficult or trying to prove to others (or themselves) that they are an idealist.

    • "Beam up a full-size PLA sculpture of me, Scotty!"

      • Currently, it can only beam your PLA self a few inches to the left. By the looks of it, that vacuum system will likely prove inadequate-- leaving your PLA self standing in a pool of your original self that was slowing milled to death. Also, be sure that no matter how much it hurts, to stay perfectly still through the milling process.
    • This idea has been used in several scifi and fantasy stories/books for how to transport people. In a few they expand a bit on the possible moral conundrums this can cause. This is just an applied science version of the same thing. Would you blast a post about a scifi story that this kind of discussion? Scifi is near and dear to most slashdot readers.
    • Why was this posted? It's not good art and has no real life applications.

      If it pissed you off enough to post about it, it probably was good art.

  • by The Rizz ( 1319 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @05:46PM (#48880201)

    The only situations I can see this having any use in is some sort of security model where you make an object that for some security reason isn't supposed to exist in more than one place. I can see this for the whole "only this key can open the briefcase with the documents/money/etc." situation, for example.

    • Only problem with that is: if you can replicate an object with this contraption, you can replicate the object using a similar contraption that doesn't contain the destructive/encryption element. So if the item ever leaves a secured area, anyone can replicate it.

      So yeah; it could be used to send a key to a remote location... but you could just keep the plan for the key in an encrypted file and send that to whoever you want -- as you still can in this situation (anyone with the file and the key can replicate

    • by mjm1231 ( 751545 )

      SInce the key is presumably only useful when it is in the same location as the lock, how does this improve security?

      • If someone is a courier taking a locked object from point A to point B then having the key with courier isn't a good idea. Transporting the key independent of the goods help prevent people from getting access. This would just be a another method of transporting a key from point A to point B.

    • How about an object with internal features that cannot be determined without opening it up?

  • i can.
    • I bet there's not enough space in that margin to put the whole idea...

      But seriously, most advances in mathematics (and other fields) happend and people couldn't immediately find any use. Like boolean algebra or lasers.
  • by c0d3g33k ( 102699 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @05:51PM (#48880247)

    Can you think of an instance where you would actually want the capabilities this machine claims to offer?

    In situations where moving the original object physically to its destination is difficult or cost prohibitive, and there is no further need of the original at the source (maybe it only has utility at the destination). The most obvious case would be from Earth to space, either to a location in orbit, or eventually another planet.

    • by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @06:02PM (#48880365)

      In situations where moving the original object physically to its destination is difficult or cost prohibitive, and there is no further need of the original at the source (maybe it only has utility at the destination). The most obvious case would be from Earth to space, either to a location in orbit, or eventually another planet.

      I would think that a trash can next to the scanner would probably do this particular job just as well.

      • Ah, I get it now .. the destruction of the original is apparently more of a side effect than a feature of this device.

        • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

          it's an _extra_ _step_ the machine makes.

          as such, you could just as well just trust the operator to hit it with a hammer.

          the only reason they did it was to get some publicity. but even then, nobody should give a fuck. it's not teleportation. it's just a scanner, a 3d printer and a device that destroys the original for no good reason at all.

          • It's a destructive scanner which isn't entirely a bad thing if it permits a far more accurate scan.

    • As a 1-to-1 transporter, I can't say I see any use. But as a 1-to-many copying machine it could be useful. Destructive scanning will generally be far more detailed than non-destructive, improving the accuracy of the copies. And if the scanning and printing could be done in sufficient detail (atomic level?) the complete dataset might be far too large to be stored for reasonable cost, but you could still do multiple reconstructions in parallel fed by the same scanning buffer.

      I can't think of any reason, ot

    • Looks to me like it would be simpler to just build the thing in orbit or wherever, and skip the make-and-destroy-one-on-Earth step.

  • Simpson's did it!!! (Score:4, Informative)

    by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @05:51PM (#48880251)

    That was an Outer Limits episode...

    "BALANCE THE EQUATION!!!!"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Once you release your false sense of personal identity, using a device like this (once the technology is advanced enough to work for people) to quickly travel long distances makes perfect sense.

      It is surprising how many atheists would reject this, despite the fact that most of them would swear up and down that there is no such thing as a soul, and that consciousness (if it is anything at all) is just a general phenomenon (like gravity) that is not particular to an individual. So, if a person teleports in t

      • Well, if we had faith that it wouldn't screw up, sure. After all, we're all for uploading our consciousness come the singularity.
      • by dala1 ( 1842368 )

        What exactly is it that you think atheists believe? Atheism is when you lack a belief in God, nothing to do with souls or consciousness or personal identity. And none of these things have anything to do with this crude take on 'teleportation'.

        Regardless of what happens on the other end of the machine, if you physically destroy the body of a living thing then it will die. It will experience exactly the same things that it would if you killed it and then did not make a copy.

      • my break in consciousness would be scary, but no more scary than going to sleep. I don't like the idea of killing myself every time i teleport. but in the broadest sense. Honestly, i wouldn't notice. Like i don't notice that I could be being cloned and killed every time i go to sleep.

        I used to be adamant against dying through teleportation, but once i got argued to the point about sleep i was like... ok, that makes sense and is a perfect analogy.

      • So, if a person teleports in this way, an atheist should be the first to assert that nobody died and that nothing was lost.

        If you don't believe in a soul to transfer and you watch a person get destroyed by an energy beam you may condclude that someone died.
        • It depends on how commonplace the event is.

          A few hundred years ago, if you saw someone jump from a great height you would assume they died on impact (even if you don't see the impact).

          Now you see people jumping off cliffs all the time, and you just assume the backpack they are wearing is a parachute, and they will land safely.

          Once teleportation becomes somewhat common (or atleast common knowledge) people will just assume that the person they saw getting vaporized is still alive in some distant location.

  • Yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jaime2 ( 824950 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @05:53PM (#48880269)
    Their method of destructive scanning allows for internal detail to be accurately reproduced. They aren't destroying it for the fun of it, they're destroying it to see it's internal structure. The DRM-like behavior is just a side-effect.
    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lab Rat Jason ( 2495638 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @05:56PM (#48880303)

      It depresses me that it took this long for someone to come up with a sensible answer... I read the article and immediately thought of pump impellers, but everyone above here is still stuck on derezzing.

    • I don't see any DRM-like behavior at all, it's just destructive scanning. Who says it's only limited to a single reproduction? Like you pointed out, sometimes destruction is the only way to really find out what something is, but once you've done that what's really stopping someone from then creating 100 copies of it?

      • Yeah, the only part about it that resembles DRM to me is the fact that the data stream is encrypted. Presumably, the purposes of that are privacy and/or preventing MiTM attacks. In practice, DRM has usually done the opposite of that.
    • And when money for non-destructive probing makes this concern irrelevant?

      Or the corollary, when the internal structure cannot be replicated by the scanner? And perhaps it's not a corollary, because then you damaged the original.

      The printer would need to be capable of printing whatever the scanner finds, and non-destructive methods incapable of the same discovery. I find this perhaps implausible for now.

  • I would like to interview the first volunteer and find out just how they felt about this destructive teleportation process... Oh, my.

  • it was made into an episode of The Outer Limits. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org] The idea was that a human could be teleported to another planet. After the "copy" arrived the original would be destroyed.
  • I like the destructive scanning part and then the rebuild. If the idea is to steal something and then rebuild a replica that looks like the original, but you get the entire 3D model from the destructive scanning it makes sense.
    • I wonder if anyone's tried combining some sort of sintering process with an electron microscope... it would be neat to be able to build up a complete molecular model of an object and then be able to reproduce it, layer by layer. It'd take forever, but you could replicate some pretty useful things really accurately. And once you've destructively scanned the item once, you can replicate it as much as the materials you have on hand allow. Great for making backups of mechanical parts, just in case someone st

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 22, 2015 @05:59PM (#48880325)

    First moot retires, and now they want to destructively teleport him?

  • Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @06:01PM (#48880351)

    Any situation where you don't have the details of what is inside the object but you want them.

    Take a step away from the "teleportation" aspect and put the sender and receiver right next to each other. One disassembles the item while the other recreates it. At the end of the process you have the replacement item to stick back into where ever you took it from AND a scan of all the layers inside allowing you to produce more should you so desire.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @06:04PM (#48880379)

    Isn't that exactly how the transporter works? Surely they don't actually disassemble the body atom-by-atom, convert it to energy, then stream it to the remote site.

    I figured they used a high-resolution scanner to scan the body, then send an energy beam to the remote site to reconstruct an exact replica of the person being transported. After the copy is complete, the original body is no longer needed and is disintegrated.

    • If that were the case, wouldn't the cloning of a certain star ship captain be more prominently featured as a plot device?

    • Actually no the ST transporter converts the object into an energy pattern, beams the energy to a remote location and erases the pattern after the object is re-integrated into solid matter at the remote location. ... the object only ever exists as matter in one place at a time. which is why people are lost in transporter accidents.
      • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

        the object only ever exists as matter in one place at a time

        Except for that episode that created two Rikers...

      • by Cramer ( 69040 )

        The "pattern" (transporter trace) is, for the lack of a better term, the assembly instructions for reversing the matter/energy conversion. In theory, with enough energy (or equiv block of matter), a person could be replicated. It's the same way they make parts, food, etc. It's also the way Riker ended up cloned (in a very hand-wavey manner in the story) via an "energy reflection" during a beam out through a storm.

        • The "pattern" (transporter trace) is, for the lack of a better term, the assembly instructions for reversing the matter/energy conversion.

          No, not for lack of a better term, for lack of a good term — apparently. The transporter pattern actually is most of the person. That's why it's not murder.

        • So if it's just the instructions explain Reg Barkley's experience in Realm of Fear ? http://en.memory-alpha.org/wik... [memory-alpha.org]
    • by Megahard ( 1053072 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @06:42PM (#48880695)

      No, the transporter works by first filming with the actor, then without the actor, and combining the shots post-production with added glitter.

  • Leonard McCoy is rolling over in his grave.
    • I guess you have to be really geeky to remember the philosophical discussion between Spock and McCoy over this very question in the novel somewhat stupidly named "Spock must die!"

      • I guess you have to be really geeky to remember the philosophical discussion between Spock and McCoy over this very question in the novel somewhat stupidly named "Spock must die!"

        I remember it! McCoy pondered that he might have been a ghost (or whatever -- someone other than himself) since the first time he was teleported. Spock's final comment was that he'd have no way to test the argument one way or the other, so any answer was irrelevant.

        Go on, ask me a hard one...

        • Ok, here's a hard one. From the same novel, finish this quote: "A difference that makes no difference,"

          It was actually not a bad novel, from a decent author (James Blish). Too bad about the title.

  • it's duplication

    which is great!

    but why destroy the original? just to call it teleportation? seems ridiculous

    • but why destroy the original? just to call it teleportation? seems ridiculous

      Calling it teleportation is a side effect. They destroy the original so they can see its internal structure and replicate a full object, not just the outer layer.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @06:15PM (#48880461) Journal

    I think I've heard this story before [youtube.com].

  • by JThundley ( 631154 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @06:28PM (#48880597) Homepage

    The only situation I can think of is doing this with people. Obviously the technology isn't there yet. I know for a fact that the world doesn't need any more of me running around in it. You're welcome world!

  • What actually defines a teleporter?

    Does an object need to be smashed down to molecular/particle level and those remnants sent to another place to be reassembled?
    Is it sufficient, as in this research, to simply clone the object and destroy the original?

    What about live matter? Does the destructive process kill the live matter? If it's a person, does one need to record the death?

    Is the Star Trek universe full of clones whose previous iterations back to the original are long dead?

    • by captjc ( 453680 )

      Is the Star Trek universe full of clones whose previous iterations back to the original are long dead?

      No. This was actually addressed in a hand-waving sort of way in an episode of Enterprise where the inventor of the transporter said that that particular metaphysical argument was poppycock.

  • Luckily I hacked the data stream and printed cheap knockoffs from my secret lab in Antarctica ...

  • While this is a nifty "copyright" idea that I'm sure producers will jump all over, it doesn't actually enforce 1:1 copies or prevent 1:n copies. At the most basic level, I can setup 2x 3D printers side by side and link them to the same servo controller, giving me a 1:2 copy every time and bypassing any encryption or other form of DRM. I could also probably put a recorder on the servo controller output and play it back later, again bypassing encryption or DRM.

    In theory I could then take the 2nd copy and pu

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Indeed. DRM is an attempt to change a very fundamental physical fact in this universe, namely that data can be copied. It will never be perfect and always a problem for those subjected to this travesty.

  • You could teleport the key of his jail cell to an inmate, destroying the evidence that you stole it in the process.

  • Spock: Captain, I'm receiving an odd error message from the 3D printer transporter ...
    Kirk: What's the error message say?
    Spoke: It says, 'PC load letter.'
    Kirk: PC load letter! What the fuck does that mean???
  • by kuzb ( 724081 )

    This is not teleporting, any more than getting a hard copy of your word document out of the laser printer is teleporting. Teleportation of physical objects implies that something is deconstructed on one end, and then reconstructed in the same state as when it left using the same matter.

  • Where there's no way to get important data on how the object is put together without destroying it. Which is somewhat believable if you're talking about living material, which would actually have to be reproduced at the molecule-level, including velocity of all molecules, electric forces, etc.to create a living copy. It's becoming more believable about electronics. It's hard to see how you could copy something with a 14 nanometre resolution that with a non-destructive external scan.

    But even this process wou

  • Physical reality is that data can be copied without changing the original. This project attempts to change that by only giving people access to a certain aspect of reality through an access layer. This is hence DRM ported to the physical world and just as despicable.

  • shredder fax (Score:4, Insightful)

    by millette ( 56354 ) <robin&millette,info> on Thursday January 22, 2015 @08:10PM (#48881305) Homepage Journal

    Is attaching a FAX to a paper shredder considered prior art?

  • will it work on a suitcase of drugs?

  • It's called wiring money.

  • by clovis ( 4684 ) on Friday January 23, 2015 @12:38AM (#48882269)

    This thing only duplicates items that were originally made by a 3D printer that uses that same material.
    That is to say, I don't want a teleported camshaft that is printed with a 3D printer that uses chocolate for the printing material.
    Well actually I do want that, but I would not put it in an engine.

    Nor do I see how something made of materials that aren't available as 3D printer matrix materials could be teleported.

  • Watch the 2001 episode of The Outer Limits, "Think Like a Dinosaur," if you want to know where this path leads. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

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