Survival 35.2% Death 40.1% Accept an alternative view 1.8% The question is too unclear to answer 4.8% There is no fact of the matter 7.5% Agnostic/undecided 10.1% Other 0.6%
Unpacking the terse formulation: In the standard teletransporter scenario (made prominent in philosophy by Derek Parfit), a person walks into a machine that scans their body molecule-for-molecule, destroying it in the process. The machine beams all that information to a distant planet. On the distant planet, a molecule-for-molecule identical copy of the original person's body is constructed from local materials. The created entity walks out of the machine, acting just like the original person, having apparent memories of that person's childhood on Earth, continuing that person's plans, saying "oh, the transportation didn't hurt at all", and so on.
The question is: Is that person on the distant planet just a replica of the original person, who died when their original Earthly body was destroyed, or is this -- as advertised -- really just a form of (non-lethal) transportation?
To get a sense of why a philosopher might say "no, it's death", consider the case in which information is sent to two planets and two new bodies are made. Since those two are different people, in different locations, they can't both be identical to the original person on Earth; so therefore -- the thinking goes -- neither is identical. But if neither is identical to the original in the doubling case, neither is identical to the original in the standard case, since whether someone is you shouldn't depend on whether a distant duplicate has been created. (Would the person on Mars have to wait for news from Venus to know if they survived?) Alternatively, consider a non-destructive scanning process. The undestroyed person on Earth would presumably still fear death from local causes even if a duplicate exists on Mars.
Right, so "teleportation is death" is not an outrageous answer -- I can see how someone might feel forced to accept that view. But still. Haven't these people seen Star Trek?! (Okay, Star Trek transporters might transmit atoms and not just information, but even the writers don't seem to have been entirely clear about that, and there are duplication problems anyway.)
Star Trek: The Next Generation]
In further defense of the view that teletransportation need not be death, let me offer the Envy Argument.
Imagine a world in which teleporters are commonplace and extremely well-functioning. No one is ever lost or doubled. The entities who walk out on the far side are healthy and qualitatively identical to those who walked in, to as high a degree of precision as anyone could possibly care about. There are no half-killed, dying people staggering out of the input side of the transporter. And so on.
Now imagine that you are an old-fashioned philosopher who refuses to enter one of these devices: "It's death!" you say. "The person who walks out on the other side is only a duplicate! I'll never step into one of those so-called 'transporter' death machines. It's all a grievous metaphysical error!"
Your friends pooh-pooh you. One pops into a transporter, her duplicate has a nice little vacation on Mars, the duplicate on Mars then steps into a transporter, and another duplicate emerges on Earth. "It's me, Gabrielle!" she says, striding up to you. "I had such a splendid time on Mars. You really should go someday!"
"Oh, you're not Gabrielle," you reply. "Gabrielle died when she stepped into the 'transporter'. I'm in mourning her now. You are just a duplicate of a duplicate of her."
Gabrielle-duplicate-2 notices your mourner's attire. "No, no," she says, "I really am Gabrielle! See me. Take my hand. I remember that time we [insert your secretest of secrets]".
"Of course that's what a Gabrielle duplicate would say," you reply, sadly. "The duplication process is so perfect! Understand that I have nothing against you. I'm sure you're every bit as wonderful as my deceased friend."
You part ways. Maybe you befriend Gabrielle-duplicate-2 (so very similar to your deceased friend) or maybe the memory of Gabrielle is too painful.
Suppose that teleportation, so-called, becomes even more common -- a fast, economical alternative to jet travel. Maybe it costs $100. (Organic materials are cheap and there are economies of scale; maybe it's also subsidized by the government because it is energy efficient.) Your friends and colleagues teleport to Europe and back, to New York and back, bopping around. You follow slowly and painfully behind, sometimes, in planes. Increasingly, though, plane travel becomes a rare and expensive novelty. You can no longer afford it. People pity you for your old-fashioned ways. For $100, you could see China, Naples, Venus, Mars, the rings of Saturn!
You'll envy them, of course. You'll try to pity them. "Of course, they're all dead, or will be soon, as soon as they take the next 'teleporter trip'. Such pitifully short lives they have. It's sad!" Your heart will not be in this as you say it, though. Their perspective, the experiences they relate, their obvious joy and unconcern, will be too powerfully vivid for you to sustain your metaphysically manufactured pity for any length of time.
Eventually, you'll hop in a teleporter yourself. Maybe part of you will even think it is suicide to do so; but if so, maybe not such a bad suicide? Once you emerge on the other end, you'll think thoughts like "Yesterday, I..." and "When I was a child, I...". Part of you will correct yourself: "That's not correct. I was manufactured just recently!" But it will be hard not to have such self-refential thoughts about the past, and everyone else speaks that way. It will be far more practical to just go along with that way of thinking.
If a few stubborn old metaphysicians are never converted, eventually they'll die off -- like people who used to refuse to be photographed on the grounds that photographs steal away one's soul. Could the anti-photographers have been correct? Does everyone's first baby picture steal away their soul, though no one notices? It makes approximately as much sense to stubbornly insist on to the teleportation-is-death view in the society I've imagined.
If this view makes the metaphysics of survival and personal identity partly about what people think constitutes personal identity and survival -- yes, yes, precisely so!