Virtual preservation

A number of very smart people have been putting in valiant efforts to preserve ancient heritage. In many cases this involves high quality digital scans of priceless artifacts.

There is a complex relationship between the physical object itself and our record of it. No matter how high quality the copy, a copy is still not the real thing.

For example, we all understand that the original painting of the Mona Lisa is valuable in a way that no scan of it, no matter how accurate down to the last detail, could ever equal. And yet, were the original to be destroyed, we would be incredibly grateful to have that copy.

So the transaction here is interesting. We must never mistake our attempts to preserve the record of things with the things themselves, but we must never stop trying to preserve those records.

One thought on “Virtual preservation”

  1. Kinda related to the tele-transportation paradox. If I make an exact copy of myself, is the other person still me?
    This preoccupation with authenticity is so interesting. We seem to be so dismissive of exact copies of our brains in silicone but are comfortable with the fact that an adult is a completely different entity than when they were a child.
    Similarly, in historic preservation many are so troubled by replicas and reconstructions as fakes, but consider the green patina of the Statue of Liberty as “authentic”, despite being an external layer of corrosion from the original orange-red copper.

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