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What Will Human Cloning Mean For Humanity? 293

Purdyman asks: "Paul Tatara (who also happens to be a kick-ass movie reviewer) has an interesting piece on human cloning at goodauthority. He thinks we need start asking ourselves right now just what human cloning would actually mean, both to humanity ("The dangers of pushing this particular button simply aren't as obvious as they are with the destructive energy of a nuclear bomb.") and for the clones ("Will clones themselves ache from the sense that they may not be 'complete,' that they're inexorably removed from their so-called peers?"). This is certainly the time to figure out what we're in for, because once that particular genie, so to speak, is out of the bottle, it may never go back in. So, leaving aside the technological questions, what does human cloning really mean? Will this be mankind's greatest boon or a horrible bane?"
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What Will Human Cloning Mean For Humanity?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    A soul is yet another attempt by humanity to explain things they don't understand. Creating the concept of a soul allows people to link to their concepts of spirituality. If there is no soul, then there is no spirituality and most people are not comfortable with that. A soul is also an attempt by humans to be immortal. You can read in many religions about the "immortal soul". Most humans are not comfortable with the idea that when they die, they cease to exist. Therefore, they create the idea that even though your body dies, your being, or soul, continues to exist so that in one form or another you are immortal. Whether a person believes in reincarnation, heaven or hell, wandering the earth forever as a ghost, or whatever, they are trying to be immortal. I don't think that human cloning is the real test of everyone's faith. I think it's Artificial Intelligence. By AI, I mean the creation of a non-biological being that is both sentient and has emotions. Not everyone believes this is possible, but that is irrelevant to my argument. IF humanity did in fact create something that had AI, would someone try to argue that god gave it a soul? Imagine having a conversation with a computer about having a soul. Would you be shocked if the computer said it did have a soul? Is it so hard to believe that a non-human, sentient being with emotions would also want to connect itself to a spirit or be immortal? I'm not saying that this being WOULD have a soul or would even want one. I'm just saying that if we created a being that was mentally the same as you or I, how can you argue that you have a soul and it does not, or vice versa? That would be like saying that you have a soul, but your buddy down the street does not. Note the key words, "mentally the same as you or I". A soul is just our perception of ourselves seperate from a physical body, so really, instead of a mind encased in flesh, you have a mind encased in electronics. I would like to say that the creation of AI would make people question the way they percieve reality, but then again, you should never underestimate the ability of people to believe what they really want to believe, no matter how contrary to logic.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In my family alone there are a couple of sets of clones. The normal phrase that we use for it is identical twins.

    Twins don't have any longings that they are somehow incomplete. Each of them are a seperate person, molded by their unique experiences.

    Clones aren't telepathic, they aren't monsters or any of the other horrors that you see on B movies about them over the years.

    If you had a clone of yourself made, you would simply have a twin brother, albeit a much younger twin. All of societies normal rules would apply to this sibling.

    Of the love of Pete, stop sensationalize something that already happens all the time.
  • From the article:

    I fall into the latter category. We don't know for certain if there's a God... and maybe that's how it should be. But what will happen to these clones if we discover that science can't regenerate a soul?

    This is a very far-fetched assumption, not based on anything at all but a blind faith in a certain religion, and possibly on a misunderstanding of the whole process of cloning (if someone still doesn't know, a clone is merely conceived in an artificially modified process to have an exact copy of some set of genes, and then develops as an embryo, born and develops after that like any other living being, clone does not appears in a flash as a fully developed adult).

    It's the same old argument as "why don't you believe in my god, imagine what would happen to you if he does exist?" The answer is, obviously, "what if you are wrong, and some god exists that considers this your behavior just as immoral and deserving punishment as your god supposedly considers non-believing?". In this case the answer is of the same kind -- even if god exists, there is no way to know his "opinion" on this, and "sacred" books of some particular religion aren't in any way reliable source for anyone who doesn't believe in them. I can certainly accept if Christians will decide not to participate in anything related to cloning, but if they want to tell everyone else what they should or should not do, they MUST use arguments from commonly accepted system such as scientific knowledge.

  • Seems like a sensible plan to me.

    But... just mark me down as one of the guys that leaves Earth, and comes back in a few hundred years (thanks to cryogenics) to the Planet of the Women ;)

    ("Get your hands off me, you damn, dirty woman!")
  • The implications in articles like this is that cloning will happen on the large scale in the future. I want to argue that this is likely not to happen.

    What would be the reasons to clone people? The following are arguments I have heard from people taking a similar position as the author of the article:

    * To build an army of super-humans. This sounds reasonable. Imagine if Hitler had access to cloning technology! Well, do imagine it. First, cloning is not really cheap, so it'd cost him a lot of money. Second, clones to not grow up any faster than old-fashioned human beings, so he'd have to wait at least 16 years until he could use his first clones. Third, these clones must be brought up somehow, which again costs a lot of money. Fourth, by cloning a small population (the most war-suited people), he is building a large army with a very small gene-pool, which makes it very susceptible to diseases and biological weapons. Fifth, why not let a few good men make a few hundred thousand women pregnant in the old-fashioned way?

    * Rich people could clone themselves so that they have a reservoir of organs for transplantation. I guess this would be illegal, just like using one's own child's organs, would it not? Apart from that, why not genetically engineer the brain away? I can hardly see anything wrong with that.

    * People would clone themselves instead of making children the natural way. First, is it really realistic that a lot of people would want to do that? Second, cloning is expensive, remember? It would be much easier for a woman to go to a sperm bank and probably easier for a man to find a woman to carry his child. Third, such a thing could be outlawed on the same grounds as incest, namely that it decimates the gene pool.

    I'd be happy to hear about other uses for human clones.

  • The only problem I see with cloning is population growth. Nature has its own way to weed out 'unneeded' specimens. I caught a piece on TV a few days ago, where a guy was saying how he'd like to clone his mother, cause she gave him inspiration. we really want more old ladies driving around in their big caddilacs doing 30 mph, no matter how inspiring they might be to their sublings? When your time comes....well, better accept it. I agree that some people do need to be cloned. Steve Hawking, for one (although from the point of genetics, we are all average people, and those remarkable individuals like him in our society have to pay with their physical abilities for their mental abilities. And vise versa.) Of course, this produces a big question of "Am I worth saving?". And I am not touching that one with a sixty-feet pole.
  • About using clones to save the original person. I highly doubt a parent is going to give birth to a new child, to save the old one, and then just consider the new child worthless. Otherwise the parent is simply a Bad Parent, and a Bad Parent is likely to be that way in other situations too. And if the parent isn't going to make the child feel this way, than the child wont feel this way itself.

    About using clones to replace a dead person, and using clones to make your child. Again, these are all just situations where the problem is Bad Parents, who expect too much from their kids.
  • A clone is not child abuse. A parent abusing a child is child abuse. A clone is just a twin, and if a stupid ignorant and/or cruel parent makes a child's life a nightmare, the parent is to blame.
  • in the case of twins God bestows 2 souls, so cloning is far removed multiple birth circumstances. it is entirely probable that we cannot clone a soul so what kind of life are we really giving when we 'grow' a human clone.

    THAT is what sparks the question "Can we properly bestow life??"

    I wonder what's going to happen when we DO clone a human being, and they grow up normally. (At least, as normal as someone that famous could hope to be.) That would poke some serious holes in the theory of the divine's soul-distribution monopoly, wouldn't it?

    I think I see now why the fundamentalists are so scared of cloning. It's not because of some heartfelt moral or ethical argument, it's because the whole idea of cloning breaks all kinds of their fragile laws of the universe.

    Or are they going to be advocating the slaughter of these horrible soulless babies?

  • The most common reason I have seen for advocating cloning is to create a genetic duplicate of someone who has a dehabilitating injury to provide tissue for transplantation.

    The "most common" reason, huh? Please cite even ONE reference of a person seriously advocating cloning for that reason. The only people that ever suggest such a thing are the paranoid fundamentalists that want to inspire fear of the technology.

  • Of course, this means God is directly responsible for all the evil and horror extant in the world. Which means God must either be evil, or be capable of evil, which negates God's omnibenevolence.

    "Why did that little raccoon have to die? He didn't do anything wrong. He was just little! What's the point of putting him here and taking him back so soon? It's either mean or it's arbitrary, and either way, I've got the heebie-jeebies."

    - Calvin / Bill Waterson

  • Now according to logic, all I have to do to prove God exists is to take ONE of those proofs and prove it factual.

    This is true. But you can't. So it's sort of a moot point.

    As to your silly "logical" argument, consider the following rephrasing of the same paragraph:

    "Imagine a circle that contains ALL the possible proofs of God's nonexistence. Now according to logic, all I have to do to prove God does not exist is to take ONE of those proofs and prove it factual. Now conversely, any who want to prove God does exist, has to prove ***EVERY*** one of those proofs is FALSE, thus making themselves God in their own eyes, which is pretty much par for the course since they're already convinced they know how everything works."

  • And one day we'll treat human cloning as casually as organ transplanting.
  • Really. Genetic engineering is where all the fun is. Clones are just genetically identical to whomever they were clones from, they will still differ because of environment, but there is no chance of improvements because of genetic variations.

    A few rich "eccetric" people will make clone of themselves, some will use it as a cure for childlessness, maybe it will become popular among some single women and lesbians, but even here most will prefer the variation and reletive "naturalness" offered by artificial insemnination.

    It is just up in the press because it is a new technology, and people fear anything new. In practice, it will probably have even less effect on society as a whole than e.g. heart transplants, which also was feared when the possibility was first introduced.

    [1] We already clone fertilized eggs from humans.

  • we have no idea what the ramifications will be for cloning. We still don't know what will be possible, and what wont be (though we know what things are likely, and what desirable spin-offs we'll be shooting for).

    Likewise, we also cannot forsee what the political regimes will do with it. You can't go around saying "everything's permissible, because it's science". That's not just a simple lesson from a big-budged dinosaur movie. Early man though fire was cool, until they decided to see how cool it would be to burn-out the savannah to clear out the cover for predators. . .
  • athiest?

    Oh yeah, just another smart gorilla. who gives a crap? - there's too many of them anyway. Inefficient, the way they just breed and breed with no regard to consequences. . . oughta kill bunch of em. Maybe license some hunters to curb the population periodically. Maybe allow natural predators to come back - yeah, that's it.
  • I'm not actually thinking like that - I'm trying to raise a spectre.

    The fact is - there ARE some people out there with no humanity. In fact, a lot of those people have lots of money too, and will be the ones funding and implementing things like this. Which is why, repugnant as the idea is, we need to get the politicians on line, and educated, (and not lobbied) - so proper ethical guidelines can be applied.
  • one other question - if a clone is made to offer parents a child that they otherwise could not have had due to infertility - etc. That child, depending on it's genetic makeup, is likely (but not guaranteed - depending on the problem) to also be sterile. So what's the point? Okay, then THEY can have clone children too - and so on.

    That may not be Darwin spinning in his grave, but it's somewhere in that neighborhood. . .
  • Well, here's one that'll raise the dander of the conservatives. And likely the moderates.

    For your scenario - growing a clone for the purpose of organ transplant. Assuming the application is for an organ that can be transplanted from an infant body - the clone could be treated surgically or hormonally during gestation to prevent the development of a brain. Hydroencephalic. Then at birth, you just harvest the needed organs, and dump the rest in a compost heap. Or maybe grind the remains up and mix it in with cattle feed. :)

    See? Isn't that easy? You lose all those sticky issues of the clone being human, with feelings, thoughts, and rights. . .
  • I read a web site somewhere years ago, a religious wacko who claimed that cloning was a secret plot by extremist pagan lesbian witches to eliminate men from the world, all people would be cloned women, and the Y chromosome would be eradicated from the gene pool like a disease.
  • "But those are violations of human rights, and could happen just as easily without clones"

    er- they already ARE happening - it's just that clones would be oh so much more desireable because you lose that little rejection problem with a genetically identical donor (and hey, who are YOU to tell me what I can and can't do with my own genes?)

    Hm - the whole identical twin issue raises that bar higher: whose genes are those?
    Anyway, I think identical twins are a bit different, they happen mostly by chance. Cloning is something forged in man's furnace.
  • This is the most well stated, level headed opinion I've read so far.

    However, it's not as simple as misanthropes vs. humanists. I think there are plenty of misanthropes out there who are all for human cloning, as in; "who are you to tell me I can't do whatever I want with my own genetic material?". The neoliberals.

    Those are the ones we really need to worry about. Because those are the ones who are likely to abuse this new toy we've stumbled across.
  • I never said that atheists were psychopaths.

    I just questioned; without the notion of a "soul", what is the difference between a human and an animal? Really. Intelligence? Define intelligence? Define human.

    And if you go that far, how would one justify the differential treatment of animals versus humans. I'm not talking about not killing your friends and coworkers because you like them or rely on them. I'm talking about how do you justify a code of ethics? We eat animals, we wear their hides. Why is any one individual human any different? Any more or less deserving of a life, or humane treatment, or "human rights"? As it relates to this discussion; how about a cloned human? Or what about a cloned human that was modified to not develop a brain, so as to make it a less guilt-inducing organ donor?

    Some people believe that animals *should* be treated with the same respect and rights afforded humans - to which I respond, what about plants? Same old familliar slippery slope.

    I believe that humans are different from animals *because* of my faith in the existence of a soul. That is why I believe it's wrong to screw over your fellow man, or kill or bribe politicians into passing overly restrictive copyright law. I'm not saying that athiests have no moral sense or base. I'm not pointing fingers at any individual atheists, in fact, I too have atheist friends, (heh, there's that i-before-e rule again!), and they're just as nice a people if not more so than some of the Christians I know (I know some real pieces of work in that department, let me tell you!).

    I'm just saying that using atheism (the one *true* religion, yuk yuk) as a moral justification for cloning is a bit suspect.
    And I wasn't intentionally trying to troll either - I'm sorry, I'm in counselling for my problem. I'm a compulsive troll, half the time, I don't even realize I'm doing it. ;) The other half the time, I just say to myself, what the hell, it's only karma.
  • The second half was pretty much what I was going to say.

    We have natural clones and for the most part they seem to be adapting to life well enough.

    Right now, even non-clones, non-twins have general tendencies to feel incomplete, so that would likely be the same case with artificial clones.

    My question is, of what value is it to humanity to make clones? Vanity? Infertility? Parents want their dead child recreated? A false sense of immortality? I believe Earth has enough people and problems of its own to consider making _more_ of both. Then there's the question of thinking 50+ years down the road, whether this is a valid concern or not, will it ever get to the point that natural reproduction is considered obsolete? Will artificial gestation be possible? Should it ever be used? Will it reduce the maternal bonding, and how much of our mental and emotional development requires being in a living womb?

    All in my opinion of course, and the questions I raise are hardy original and I can't say I can answer any of them. That is the point of the debates.
  • My sisters are identical twins, and certainly they're no less human for that, nor does either feel that she is.

    However, there's a big difference between twins and clones, namely that with twins there is no sense of "original" and "copy." That's where the potential problem lies. Twins don't work for that.
  • How come I never herd of that pill ?

    Who made it ? I need refrences.

    The Carb on the other hand seams likely.

  • 2) clones are denied certain rights through legislative action due to religious and other group's pressuring (try and argue with a straight face that Congress won't pass stupid, knee-jerk legislation affecting important issues)

    I'm sure someone will try to pass stupid, knee-jerk legislation. A ban on human cloning, for example, would be likely. But to remove civil rights of cloned humans? Like hell. Even if something got by Congress, there's those pesky equal protection amendments to consider, and I'm pretty sure the Supreme Court wouldn't need to consider them very long.

    But really... isn't this step, rather than 1) a human is cloned, the step where things go bad? Why not stop the sequence here, rather than at the cloning stage? Or for that matter, why not just ban all genetic research, and push things two steps back instead of one?

    3) society becomes stratified along the clone/non-clone boundary due to the differences in rights

    Exactly how many clones are you picturing here? What percentage of the population is going to want exact duplicates of themselves? Even if there are enough clones to count as a sizable minority, it's hard for even a grossly bigoted society to express prejudice towards targets it can't identify. It's not like clones would be a visually distinguishable racial group; they would just happen to exactly resemble a DNA source human much older than them, as the source appeared decades earlier. How do you express prejudice toward such a person? How do you avoid the "decoys" like identical twins and sons who "have their father's eyes"?

    4) clones become increasingly violent in an attempt to regain the rights perceived as being lost

    There are a lot of people in the USA today who perceive their rights as being lost. Most of them are resorting to politics and non-violent protest to change that.

    5) clones militarize

    And so, if all the wackiness in steps 2-4 comes to pass, what is the final step before ultimate doom...? A military battle. Like the sort of thing that could be touched off by China/Taiwan, USA/Iraq, Palestine/Israel (just to list situations with the potential for atomic/biological/chemcial weapons to be used), etc. at any time. If a military battle is the last stage before our ultimate doom, we have bigger things to worry about than artificial twins.
  • Then we'd be having more "Galileo trial"s now, rather than having to reach centuries into the past for anti-science witchhunt examples that bad.

    Granted, "clones are people too" is a little more complicated than Galilean astronomy, but the message is more immediately worthwhile, too.
  • "I think the reason that the popular media has been so obsessive about cloning while respectable journals avoid the issue is that the popular notion of "cloning" and the scientific notion are so very different."

    I agree. From here on out we should use the term "deep copy" instead of "clone".
  • ...and advanced biotech solves the world's food problems real quick like (tm).

    The world's food problems are a matter of politics and distribution. We already have plenty of food.

    Just FYI...

    The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion.

  • ...we, as a human society, can't even raise our own children to be good people...

    According to that reasoning we shouldn't be having children the natural way either. If we were to wait for conditions to be perfect we'd never get anything done.

    Speaking of misanthropy, I'm the total opposite; the human race will infest this galaxy like roaches someday... I just wish I could be around to see it. :)

    The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion.

  • we are given the choice to lead our lives as God intended, or to try to create new life on our own

    So, what did (does) God intend?

    Do we really know what will happen generations down the line if there's a genetic defect that we've created?

    If it's beneficial, it will probably spread alot. If it's harmful, it will find it's way out of the Genome (or at least be reduced to a small minority). Genetic defects are a very common occurance.

    In my opinion this is something best left in God's hands.

    I'm unclear on what is meant by leaving something in God's hands. What steps would one take towards that end? How would one know he was truely leaving the situation in God's hands?

    Here in Denver, the spotlight swung over to the Christian Scientists recently because a kid died whose parents did not seek medical attention. Were they leaving it in God's hands? Or were God's hands waiting in the form of readily available medical treatment but were pushed away?
  • You forget that clones will not fall into the laws of our Genome, because they are beyond the laws of nature.

    I submit that they are in no way beyond the laws of nature.
  • Someday soon, somebody is going to do it somewhere, legal or not. And it's not going to mean anything. We know exactly what we'll get (if done right) - the equivalent of an identical twin, but younger. Identically twins are fairly common, and of course they often turn out quite differently (nature/nurture and all that).

    The only meaning in the event, when it happens, will be symbolic.
  • I'm a religious person, and I happen to believe that only God can reproduce the spirit.

    Are you implying that if we have a 'spirit' (soul, whatever it might be called), a clone would not?
  • Ok, fair enough. But just for pure curiosity's sake, I've got another question:

    What is a soul? Is it like the concept of a zombie in philosophy? A zombie is not conscious and feels no emotions, but is indistinguishable from a human by any test you could devise. So as far as I know, everyone on the planet except me could be a zombie and as far as you know, I could be.

    Is that kinda on the right track?
  • Will people view a cloned man or woman as lacking in the common thread of humanity that binds us together? Some will, almost certainly. They do it now, simply because someone has a different color skin, or has a different sexual preference. Will clones themselves ache from the sense that they may not be "complete," that they're inexorably removed from their so-called peers? Will people dare to fall in love with, and mate with, a clone?

    Sounds like he's saying people should avoiding cloning because bigots will think of the clones as being "incomplete" and will even go as far as to try to put that idea into the clones' heads.

    IMHO, bigots' problems are just that -- their problems, not anyone else's, and not the problems of the ones who they discriminate against. By arguing that cloning should be avoided due to that discrimination, he's trying to make it everyone's problem, thereby legitimizing the bigots. I think the optimum strategy is to ignore that type of argument, and let the bigots sort out their feelings among themselves.

  • I'm astonished you mentioned the problem, without realizing it: Only the most successfull will be able to clone. But what definition of successfull serves mankind best? Do we really want more buisseness execs? Do we really want more shareholders? Is that what would benefit mankind?

    I would rather get more hackers, street artists, theater actrices, scientists and whatever, just not marketing execs, please!

    And, who if humans are to decide what genes to duplicate - we defenitely are back at 1945.
  • I hear lots of people getting all upset over the idea of human cloning. And nearly all of them are completely misdirected.

    We've all seen B-budget sci-fi movies in which the mad scientist uses his cloning machine to make a duplicate of Fred of Sally and the evil clone then replaces the "real" human. But REAL cloning doesn't make a "duplicate" of a human, just another person with the same genes. That's all.

    There are terrible things that we could do with cloning... growing clones and treating them as non-humans for instance (used for organ transplants, etc). But those are violations of human rights, and could happen just as easily without clones (suppose we started using 3rd-worlders for spare parts for Americans... it'd be just as bad). Cloning itself is not the source of the problem.

    And as proof, I submit that human clones already exist among us! Really. On rare occasions, a fertilized egg will be split in half, and both halfs will implant in the uterus and grow. The result is two humans who are perfect clones of each other -- they're called "identical twins".

    Identical twins don't think share the same mind or memories. They don't try to secretly replace each other. They don't provide a sort of immortality. And they certainly don't lack a soul. Artificial twins would be EVEN MORE DIFFERENT, because they wouldn't be the exact same age, and (often) raised in the exact same family.

    So please, avoid the fearmongering. Cloning itself -- even human cloning -- is not a terribly force in the world. It could still be misused, but if anything, spreading un-true fears and rumors INCREASES the chance that it will be abused.

    -- Michael Chermside <>

  • Movie reviewer? Over-the-top "the sky is falling" rhetoric? Do we know that this guy isn't just JonKatz in disguise?
  • Will clones themselves ache from the sense that they may not be 'complete,' that they're inexorably removed from their so-called peers?

    Instead of just pondering this in such dramatic fashion, just find some twins and ask them. Sheesh!

  • I bought this new CD burner. But now I realize that the CDs I've copied are inadequate. They "ache from the sense that they may not be 'complete,' that they're inexorably removed from their so-called peers". This sucks.
  • You're right, of course.

    Most world problems are societal and political more than anything else; resource allocation, food distribution, disease control, etc.

  • It's not the clones that will be a problem. That should offer no more or less problem than identical twins or sons or cousins or nieces across generations that happen to appear, act, and be eeriely close to the parent.

    Rather, because of cloning tech, we will see huge advances in evolutionary biology, developmental biology, and gene expression technology. Imagine a hundred otherwise identical embryos but with one gene changed, removed, deactivated, or enabled? As we start to catalogue and decipher genes, introns, junk DNA, and chromosomes, then we'll truly have not just a map, but a travel guide to our DNA.

    At which point all the Sci-Fi coolness can occur. People tailored with cancer-like abilities to survive in space, or to prolong life. People who are radiation hardened, or disease resistent. People who can see enhanced spectral ranges, or tougher bones and muscles, hard skins, etc.

    Especially if this is spread to the animal kingdom. If viral vector research is successful, can you imagine ordering a leapord skin pattern and over the course of three weeks getting spots and a slight orange fuzz? Or a beautiful pair of wings growing out of your back? Or an extra long tongue, like a gecko's?

    This is sci fi now, but what with the confluence of the mapping of the human genome, it's sequencing, viral gene therapies, and clone technologies, any of those things could happen.

    It's not even about good, bad, ethical, or moral. It's about fashionable, useful, cool, or risk taking. People today pierce, tattoo, dye, mutilate, and deform in the name of tradition, fashion, rebellion, and style. Why would this change 100 years from now?

  • Are twins then born with half a spirit? Or one of them without (Evil Twin (tm))? There is no difference between a clone or a twin, and regarding them any differently or debating them as being anything other than a twin with different birthdate is erraneous and fraught with the perils of having bad science fiction influence feelings.
  • What about mitochondrial DNA? There was a recent documentary on DNA where they proved the ancient Egyptian dynasty family tree by DNA analysis from samples obtained from mummies (pretty damn cool!). Part of it was proving the maternal line via mitochrondrial DNA.
  • Incidentally, 'sorting out' the 'telomere problem' would largely solve the problem of aging, wouldn't it?
  • Humans are like us. Animals are quite unlike us, plants more so. This is why we have a bigger problem eating humans than animals than plants -- the feeling that we could be next on the plate. We anthropomorphize cats and dogs -- and we can't bring ourselves to eat them.

    -Grendel Drago
  • I for one am certain that I have no "soul" in the sense that it is something that is bestowed upon my at conception by some mythical god almighty. As a souless atheist I wouldn't disriminate against clones, not if they were walking, talking, thinking and feeling human beings, like me. The only people that would discriminate against cloned human beings would be bigoted religous zealots, the same type of, and I use the term loosely here, person that has always discriminated against people based on the circumstances of their birth. Of course there is no way you could tell a person is cloned without seeing their birth records, so it'll be interesting to see how you'll manage to discriminate.

    However if by "soul" what you really mean is sentience, and for some bizzare reason a cloned baby never developes consciousness then I'd say that means the experiments a failure, and clones aren't much good for anything but organ transplants, in which case it would probably be cheaper to just grow the organs on an as needed basis from the patients own DNA. Anyway the way cloning works today makes "mass production" of cloned humans impracticle as you would need an army of host mothers, and have to wait about 15 years for each cloned human to be useful.

    You need to abandon your irrational fears and childish myths.

  • I don't think that you need or want to have people mate with as many different people as possible. This would cause the population to increase too quickly, and would result in one type of genetics possibly being overspread. While a female is somewhat limited in how many children she can have, men can father hundreds of children indiscriminately. This type of activity also can lead to the spread of STDs. See what is happening in parts of Africa were men regular have multiple sexual partners in short spans of time, sometimes fathering children through several different women.
    I do believe that people should not be limited to sexual partners within their own race, national origin, or religion. This type of self-impossed genetic isolation can only do harm. It tends to lead to genetic diseases within the group in question. It also leads to discrimination.
    I worry that cloning could be misused in various fasions. For example, one rich person could have herself cloned thousands of times just because they felt like it. Not only is this bad from a population stand point, it reduces the diversity of the gene pool. This increases the chance that recessive genetic disorders could arrise. It also prevents natural selection and evolution from being as effective. While unhealthy genetic mutations would be avoided, healthy ones would also be avoided. This would lead to a more static species. Static species tend to have less of an ability to adapt to changes in their environment.
    About the only possibly good area for cloning is for couples who could not otherwise have children. Then again, this could reduce the already problematic adoption rate. Why adopt when you can clone?
  • Isn't sexual reproduction a big part of how humans changed for the better and adapted to their environment? Other forms of life use asexual reproduction and do not gain the genetic variety that humans and other sexual reproducers gain. As another example, look at what happens in sexually reproducing species when interbreeding occurs. Various deficiencies spring up including inherited diseases. Extremely isolated cultures and also have similar problems. Couldn't cloning on a large scale effect the gene pool? Even ignoring all the ethical questions, this genetic one still concerns me.
  • How? I don't know yet. What's my logic? Well, the kidney *originally* grew inside the person. What's stoppying the human body from doing it again? We, for the most part, have all the capabilities and resources to grow new organs from scratch. We did it in the womb, and I think it is lack of understanding and technology that allows us to do so now.

    They're called Stem Cells, and you're right, newborn (aborted) fetuses are the only handy source of them that we have. Lots of people have issues with that.. I don't, but then again, I don't shoot doctors, either. The ability to produce more stem cells from other animals is being researched now. If you look at life on the cellular/genetic level, it's amazing how much in common we have with everything else - there really isn't all that much seperating you from the bug on the wall, except for those genes the encode for a big ass lump of neural tissue :).

    There are other techniques that I find interesting too, like using templates made from lithographic processes (like in chips) to make tissues grow in layers, so you could manufacture a new kidney or whatever as needed.

    Sex is more fun anyway. Anyway, the clone child will have no more or less difficulty than the second child, in your example? The process of cloning is not the problem, it is the nature of the parents!

    Sex is a lot of fun, but my girlfriend might beg to differ about the rest of the mechanism for spawning more child processes :). You're right though - a fully cloned human is just like an identical twin. The part that'll be interesting is when you can clone a human with no head, and use growth hormones and vats to produce in quantity. You might not like it, but I'll happen. Those that are against that sort of thing have likely never watched anyone die because they couldn't get a organ transplant.

    Like anything else, the technology of life is coming this way, and we're going to be using it, like it or not.. and once the rest of the tools catch up (e.g. being able to simulate protein folding, and simulating the creation of protiens from DNA) it'll be really interesting.

    Personally, I'm waiting for my genetically engineered orange juice grown in vats. Hell of a lot more efficient than trees, and advanced biotech solves the world's food problems real quick like (tm).

  • On the news the other day they were describing a compony which would perform cloning for a fee. Potential clients included people who wanted dead loved ones "recreated". I think that is the type of stuff we need to analyze. Imagine, growing up, and living your whole life, knowing that you are not anybody's "child", but merely supposed to be a duplication of someone else's loved one, for their own amusement. I think that would really screw a person up and lead to all sorts of identity problems. Also how would it feel to be the reincarnation of a historical figure?
  • There are actual scientific/evolutionary ramafications of cloning (at least "perfect" cloning). I repeat what I just posted (#137 or something like that) but there some good books on the subject of human evolution, which give some good arguements about why cloning without modification, or "perfect" cloning, is bad for humanity.

    Try reading the following:
    Children of Prometheus by Christopher Wills.
    The Red Queen by Matt Ridley.

    Unfortunatly my roommate, an evolutionary psychologist, is not here to give me some more names of good books on the subject but those two, especially The Red Queen, are very good sources of information.

    There are psychological issues about cloning that identical twins don't have to deal with but I don't have time to go into right now.
  • (#137 or something like that)

    It is #135
  • All very good questions, my thoughts on them are as follows. I know that cloning won't happen in the US first, or if it does it won't be published in anyway shape or form because it is illegal. There are US biologists working with Italians in Italy where it isn't illegal. In Japan it is legal so long as the clone is terminated after a certain period of time (I have forgotten that length of time but it is a matter of weeks or days).

    Within the US, Europe and most other 1st world nations there is an ethics board that regulates scientific experiments performed on/with humans. They generally have control over who gets funded, published, and repromanded. Chances are very good that they are working on international rules on the ethics of cloning humans right now. We will see what happens when the first human is actually cloned.

    Although the ethics board generally controls who can do what type of experiment on humans, the location of the experiement will be the deciding factor. So long as the US has, what I consider a rather backwards, law banning human cloning we know that the forefront of this technology will be outside the US. Although I believe that Japan's law is also somewhat backwards, I feel that they have a better understanding of how the people perceive human cloning and how to ease it into society. The baby step approach that Japan takes may be what the US needs.

    I also believe that China will start to see an influx of scientists. China has the technology and resources of 1st world countries while not subscribing to the laws placed by the ethics board. If the forefront of this technology is in an area of few restrictions like China then all the US has done is shot itself in the foot because the technology will be developed but they have been excluded, and will thereby have no say in how it proceeds.

    Who do we want deciding who cloning is done? A country that relies on an international ethics board, or one that is internationally renoune for its human rights abuses?

    It is all fun and games until someone loses and eye. Then it is a new game, find the eye.
  • Like many have already pointed out, clones are (well, will be) just regular people, and once they're among us they'll be able to tell us that themselves. And twins are already a common case of people with identical genes.

    Still, some thing will be different and unprecedented.

    As a clone you will have the identical genes of somebody older than you. Possibly much older. You'll be able to see how that persons life has deveoped. What is that like? What if the "original" was a really accomplished athlete/scientist/haxxor? People will expect you to be as talented. That's some pressure for a kid!

    And what if your "original" gets some creepy gene related disease at 45? What's it like to know that you'll probably get the same thing?

    Parents are important for kids. Who will you regard as your parents? Will your "original" be both your mother and father? In some sense you are your own parent. What's that like?? Nobody knows. Yet.

    Is there a good word for the relation I call "original". If I get cloned, the baby is my clone. But what am I to him? His clonefather?? We're gonna need a word if there isn't one already.
  • I wonder if Choas Theory would apply.

    It seems to me that my adult psyche is a stack of cards where everything that has happened to me has a greater or lesser effect on who I am now. I think you would have to reproduce this house of cards pretty much exactly to end up with me. If my 'clone' didn't get teased in school, would he have turned inward to the world of computers as much as I did?

    I would know my clone would have an LD, so I would probably compensate for that much earlier then it was when I went to school (heck, learning disability are much better understood, so likely even if I ignored it, to try and produce 'myself' it would be more effectively handled by the school system.) Bullying is much more severely delt with in our current world then it was when I was a kid (at least locally, can't speak for other schools) and that would definately change.

    I doubt even if I tried that I could produce a clone with my same aptitudes now. We are a product of our environments, good and bad. And our society is part of that environment.

    Short of a Cyteen-like universe, where you can control every aspect of a childs upbringing, I don't see ending up with a clone that by the age of 27 resembles me physically or intellectually any more then I resemble my parents. For better or for worse, Chaos wins :).
    Remove the rocks to send email
  • *grins* well looking at your original posting, I think you can see why I might have mistaken you for a troll, my appologies for the implied insult :)

    OK, if you're willing to stipulate a code of morals for atheists, (I hate the i before e thing too :)) which I think is a reasonable premise for any discussion down this line, then canabalism is generally ruled out by most codes of ethics/morals, (as well as being evolutionally selected against, to look at it from the atheist pov, let's not turn it into a creationist vs evolutionist argument tho, please.) If canabalism is morally repugnent ("Don't eat people, eating people is wrong" []), it would follow logicly that killing people for a reason less then food would be also morally wrong. So Athiests are precluded from killing people by their own codes of morality.

    Speaking personally (as opposed to Atheticly :)), if there was a way to survive without killing animals or for that matter plants, I'd be happy to go along with it. As soon as we come up with a protien substitute created without killing anything I'd be first in line to change. I'm not 100% sure they don't have souls, and killing or being part of the death of any living thing is something I would prefer to avoid. Unfortunatly in our current state of scientific development that is unrealistic.


    Remove the rocks to send email
  • Ok, it's bad to reply to flames, but I couldn't resist.

    If someone is genetically identical to yourself then (to the extetn that behaviour is gentically determined), you'll know EXACTLY what their strengths and weaknessess are - it's YOU!

    Unless someone actually clones a human, and we find out otherwise, only a certain percentage of the traits of the ancestors (note the plural) are garunteed. The manner in which they are raised plays an essential role. Other posts in this chain have already addressed this.

    Hey, does anybody know what the statistics are on say, idential propensities towards math / music in twins? A clone is almost identical to a twin except that they're brought up in a different time with different people (and with more worn DNA).

    Another issue that I seem to recall is that the birthing development period plays an important role in the child's ultimate character. Obviously things like gender can't be manipulated, but something as simple as brain development might be. The DNA just sets up the protein structures, not necessarily their arrangement.
  • So, say you did something rather stupid that was inevitable due to your personality, but it changed you for the better, taught you some valuable lesson. Well, when you saw your little copy coming close to this, you stopped it to keep it from getting hurt. It never learns from it's mistake and keeps stumbling on in blind ignorance.

    You started off with a good argument, then you fell off.. This is exactly what all parents do with their non-cloned offspring. They try and prevent their children from repeating their mistakes, which often times (especially in the case with my father towards my brother) prevent them from developing common wisdom.

  • by nuggz ( 69912 )
    Assuming widespread cloning.
    DNA evidence and Identification will become much weaker evidence, possibly to the point of being useless.
  • You raise an interesting point.

    But if medical science advances to the point that most of the human population has some horribly debilitating natural (ie: genetic) disease, to the point where they can't even reproduce without serious medical help, don't you think medical science would have advanced enough to cure that debilitatin genetic condition :)

    I know it's already been said ... just wanted to add my voice to the chorous.

    Of course, in this hypothetical future, if there was a huge medical monopoly, they might decide to make the entire human race dependant on their procedures, rather than curing the problem. Ah well, I'm tired and cranky :)


    Barclay family motto:
    Aut agere aut mori.
    (Either action or death.)
  • The moral aesthetic of "genes don't matter" has invaded the sciences to such an extent that rational consideration of the implications of cloning has been rendered virtually impossible, for the same reasons that rational consideration of race, gender, sexual identity, etc. has been rendered virtually impossible within the sciences.

    The consequence will be a lot of irrational thrashing about by everyone except the folks who decide to make money on this whole business -- using international seams via which to conduct their business.

  • it will mean that hannibal will be able to replicate his favorite dish...
  • I didn't mean to start a whole nature vs. nurture argument but I guess that's what it is turning out to be.

    What I mean is, I'm pretty damn happy with myself. I'm intelligent, successful and reasonable attractive (if I could change that we would be having a discussion about genetic engineering not cloning). I don't have a substance abuse problem, I'm in pretty good shape and definitely not a homosexual ("Not that there's anything wrong with that!"). I'm the pride and joy of my parents. Nothing in my genetic code seems to have predisposed me to anything remotely problematic.

    At the same time, I really wish I had gotten started with computers at a much earlier age. I got into the game rather late, and now my career is a great deal of catch-up. I flopped from interest to interest until I found something I was good at. Imagine if I could have known earlier and taken C/ASM instead of music?

    Consider Tiger Woods...his parents started teaching him golf when he was what, four? How did they know he wouldn't become fat and uncoordinated after adolescence? They didn't, it was pretty much a crap shoot. There are probably a hundred other kids that could have been even better at golf than Tiger Woods, the only problem being they didn't identify their talents until they were adults.

    Obviously, raising a kid knowing his strengths and weakness would alter the result. But as someone else pointed out, parents are always trying to manipulate their child's outcome. But I think parents would also like to know what their child is naturally good at so they can focus on nuturing those talents.

    It would also be helpful for health reasons. If I develop diabetes or heart disease, my cloned child would have enough warning to alter his/her lifestyle to avoid aggrevating that condition. This is all just speculation.

    Of course, there is one downside that I just realized. This wouldn't really work for couples. Imagine a father trying to raise a daughter that was the clone of the woman he was sexually involved with. Or a mother trying to raise a son that was the clone of the man she was sexually involved with. Talk about your mixed messages. Then again, maybe if the guy is shallow enough, when his wife turns 40 he can dump her for the younger 20-something version of herself! It wouldn't be incest technically cause the genetics are the same as his wifes, would it?

    Now THERE'S a moral issue that needs addressing!

    - JoeShmoe
  • Um, except for the age difference?

    I think a better comparison would be a son/daughter that is literally the spittin' image of his/her father/mother.

    Personally, I'd love to raise a clone of myself as a child. I'd already know what talents the child would have, what health issues, what physical characteristics, sexual predisposition, etc. No surprises.

    It'd be like all those movies where you get to go back in time and right all the wrongs you did that made you life turn out a little less than perfect.

    Then again, it seems a little narcissistic...

    - JoeShmoe
  • A clone is just an identical twin that was late for the party. Why is that such a big deal?

  • We could call it a Woody Allen complex
  • Visit GenoChoice []. Not just simple clones; DNA corrections and upgrades are available.
  • Have we really finally reached the point where we're capable of asking about a technology "should we do that"? I don't think so. Cloning is making it pretty clear that there's always _someone_ willing to take the chance. So if we can't rule out a technology, once it becomes possible, what do we do with it? Wait for government to figure out how to regulate it? Take to the streets with placards and gasmasks? What?
    I'll bet / with my Net / I can get / those things yet.
  • <troll name="religious" value="false">

    There's a very strong possibility that the sum of the substance of each person's existance is only their physical implemenation. Soul, Spirit and similar concepts may be just romantic notions or wishful thinking. There's little reason to believe that there are extra-worldly beings (invisible friend who always loves you no matter what a fuck-up you are, named Jesus). The concept of life after death, much like the typical spam emails I receive, sounds much too good to be true. Equally unlikely is that it comes in only two extreem flavors.

  • The first cloning of a human is about to begin. It is for a couple who want to recreate their son; the son died in an accident when he was ten months old.

    The work is being undertaken by the Raelian []-backed Bahamas-based Clonaid [] company, which is charging a few hundred thousand dollars. Clonaid says that if it's successful, they intend to make it a business. Some independent scientists who have examined the Clonaid methodology say that it will "probably" work.

    Cloning a dead adult is not the same as bringing the adult back to life, because the clone would not have the dead person's memories. But cloning an infant seems different. Clonaid actually refers to their work as "bringing back to life a 10-month old child". (Even a new-born infant has some memories from its mother's womb, though--as well as some affects from the womb environment.)

    The London Sunday Times [] has the story []. Brave New World, here we come!

    Don't blame Windows--if you were a Microsoft operating system, you'd have problems too.

  • Wired [] (yes, I know it doesn't have a sterling reputation at slashdot at the moment) had a pretty interesting article on cloning last month. You can find the text here. [] It points out that not only has cloning become so accessible that a moderately skilled scientist could do it by themselves, but it's quite possible it has been done already because of this.

  • And a lot of the people saying "only god can reproduce the spirit" will use that as an excuse for treating clones as subhuman... Just like various "christian" factions (acting in a not-very-christian manner) have in the past for the status of "test-tube" babies.

    I'm sorry, but that appears to be absolute crap. Would you mind sharing with us your factual basis for the above claim? "Test-tube" babies being treated as subhuman? By various "Christian" factions? Hmm, I musta missed that sermon... Oh no, wait - I didn't, because that hasn't happened. Perhaps you've been watching too many Seaquest re-runs?
  • I hate to be arguing for religion here but whatever. Its quite simply why (assuming there is a reason) evil exists. If everything was Green, you would have no concept of Green. You need a little Red for comparison....however this brings up the question of why so much Red.
  • I don't think cloning of humans was the point at all of the original post; just that cloning technology would be an enabler of future technology and advances independent of whether clones are made and whether clones are a problem.

    If clone technology is developed but not used for reproductiver purposes, because sex is just plain easier and more fun, already your points 1, 4, and 6 are negated. If we had a population problem, it would be because of cloning. Clones still need wombs, be it artificial or borrowed, to gestate in, so it is really the threat of artificial wombs that might pose a population threat.

    So to address your point 2, what's the use of a clone:


    Take an adult mouse. Extract several cells from it. Use clone technology to make that several hundred identical embryoes. Now you can fiddle with the genes such that every single one has *one* difference. Activate a gene, or silence it. Change a gene. Transpose a gene. Replace a gene. Remove a gene entirely. Change the gender!

    Then allow them all to come to term.

    Lather, rinse, repeat, until we can better understand how genes work, what they do, etc.

    This research is independant of 3; it will allow for genetic improvement of a person who has genetic defects, genetic targeting of diseases at each specific phase without affecting the entire organism, specific targeting within an organism due to genetic expression, say only bone marrow or liver cells or subdermal epithelials.

    As per number 5: Tinkering of any sort leads to problems. Look at the pollution and environmental destruction we're responsible for. Look at the misery and suffering we've created through misunderstanding of our role in the enivronment and the ecosystem. Does this balance out the gains and benefits of industry, production, civilization, and growth?

    I guess the nihlist or some oter ism may say human race be damned, we're just a blight on the face of the earth anyway. But all this tinkering, exploring, building, is supposed to make us happier, better, and stronger. Grow, adapt the environment to suit us, etc.

    And I disagree to some extent with your last paragraph. You argue that genetic engineering is useful if used responsibly: How about correcting near or farsightedness? Osteoperosis? PMS? Hair loss? Suntanning? I would almost think that *anything* we do today with chemicals or physical treatments to our bodies are fair game when we have better genetic understanding. Even plastic surgery, for the reason that Genetic Engineering will just be another tool, like the scalpel, the drug, the laser, etc.

    AIDs has no connection with that. AIDs is not a reaction to Earth being 'overcrowded'. AIDs is an opportunistic disease taking advantage of an unfortunate environment created by poor human behavior and choice.

    Earth is overcrowded as it is.

    That's subjective. Large portions of the Earth are sparsely populated, and large portions of the earth are densely populated. It is knowable that with proper infrastructure that being densely populated is not a problem, and that with excellent infrastructure we can redistribute our population density for better survival. mentions that the average density of Africa is ~ 25/square km. North America is 15/square km. Europ had density 30/square km. Asia had density ~ 152/square km! l ic a.html l

    Look at AIDS... where is AIDS most prevalent?

    AIDS is not prevalent in the most crowded places on earth, Europe or Asia.

    It's a whole different argument concerning AIDS in Africa, revolving around lifestyles, reproductive practices, quality of life, and levels of education and knowledge.

    But you're seriously misinformed.

    Geek dating! []
  • I claim that if you can believe normal children get a new soul at some point, then you can believe the same for clones.

    You seem to think that clones will not have a soul because transferring DNA is not enough to transfer/copy a soul? OK, that sounds reasonable. But what about normal children? Normal pregnancy involves a transfer and mixing of the parents' DNA. But, transfering and mixing DNA shouldn't be enough to make a new soul either, should it? So, I think there is something "more" in both cases.

  • People like to get all worked up about human cloning. I don't see the problem. We allow just about anybody to create human life in whatever random and nonsensical combinations they like, we let just about anybody twist the minds of young kids in whatever way they feel like it (Helms had children, didn't he?), and people have kids for all sorts of reasons already, from status symbol to cheap labor to spare parts. Distasteful as many of the possibilities may seem, it's probably good that we do: the alternatives have been tried and they have always turned out to be worse. In real life, most kids usually turn out OK anyway, and we have laws and mechanisms for dealing with the more egregious abuses.

    Of course, we might be particularly suspicious about the motivations for people wanting to have a "clone" and what kind of psychological implications it has. But there is nothing particularly new about it. Most of the genetic manipulations people are worried about with cloning don't require cloning. You can already create and select children specifically for tissue compatibility. And parents already project all sorts of ideas on their children, including "the kid looks just like me", even when the idea seems completely ridiculous to an innocent bystander.

    Just about the only thing that to me looks like a possible concern is a loss of genetic diversity in the human population, similar to what we have seen in our crops and livestock. But that is merely theoretical as far as I'm concerned. Any program of cloning that would put us at risk would be enormous, and other attempts at manipulation have failed miserably (China can't even get people to have only one child). Furthermore, cloning is so expensive, time consuming, and unpleasant (compared to the traditional way) that it wouldn't become a threat to diversity until a large part of the world population could afford it; we can worry about that when we have conquered world hunger and poverty.

  • It seems every time this subject is brought up, it ends up being an argument about exact clones and whether or not they will upset the balance of society. Personally, I think this is very shortsighted. If cloning technology never progresses past making exact copies of people I doubt it would have a big impact on society. However, it won't stop at copies, genetic engineering is the next logical step and already available. Consider the parents that want to clone a child they lost in a horrible accident (this is a case many scientists are pointing to as an ethical use of cloning). They figure they can give their child a second chance. Then they realize it might be easier this time if he didn't have asthma, or that slight heart problem. It starts with tweaks like these and soon we will have the ability to engineer nearly everything. Perhaps there will be laws against it, but all that will do is stop everyone but the rich from using it. Suddenly every wealthy family in the world doesn't just have the biggest house or the nicest car, they have the superior children. The rich get richer. I think this technology has a good chance of reshaping the world in the next 100 years, and I'm worried about it. People need to see past the surface. Ben Reierson
  • "Of course, this means God is directly responsible for all the evil and horror extant in the world. Which means God must either be evil, or be capable of evil, which negates God's omnibenevolence."

    I've always disliked this argument, as I've never really seen the point. If there is a God, then our recognition of "evil" or "good" is completely pointless. If God exists, then we have no point of comparison, because our sight is infinitely shorter.

    I don't mean to turn this into a religious debate, or philosophical even, but the presence of God negats our understanding of ANYTHING, therefore "evil" is no longer a definition, just a perception.

  • ...Gnosticism:

    Technically nothing can happen without God (who is all powerful) permitting it to happen.

    Of course, this means God is directly responsible for all the evil and horror extant in the world. Which means God must either be evil, or be capable of evil, which negates God's omnibenevolence.

    Of course, this is regarded as a terrible heresy by the Catholic Church, precisely because it makes so much sense.

    Despite persecution which at times crossed the line into genocide (the Cathars, anyone?) Gnosticism was a recurring heresy until the time of the Renaissance, when the even more compelling heresy of rationalism took its place.

  • The answer for clones is: if a clone is born, they're a human being with the same rights and potential as anyone else. He or she has the same claims to protection by the law as anyone else. And you bring up a good point. While, like a twin, a clone would wear the body of another, and perhaps have similar personality quirks as that other person, they are a distinct person with a separate soul. So, basicly, if we don't fear and discrimate against twins, why treat clones any differently?
  • I also consider myself to be a fairly religious person. I've thought about this over and over, and I came to my own conclusion regarding this issue. Naturally you are free to your own opinion.

    My opinion is this: that God gave man the choice and ability to do a great many things. We have the ability to help people, or to wage war on them. We have the ability to learn and better ourselves, or to live off the backs of others. In this particular instance, we are given the choice to lead our lives as God intended, or to try to create new life on our own. God obviously gave us the ability to make this choice. However, it is up to us to consider the consequences of our actions. How many lives can be created and then ruined if something goes wrong in the process, for example? There are many other examples of things that could go wrong.

    The fact is, no matter how convinced we are that we have the process down, something could go wrong. We simply don't have all the variables. Hell - we can't even accurately predict the weather yet, or earthquakes. Do we really know what will happen generations down the line if there's a genetic defect that we've created?

    In the end, I hope that we decide that we really aren't prepared to meet the consequences of these actions, and that we don't go ahead with human cloning. In my opinion this is something best left in God's hands.
  • by Uruk ( 4907 ) on Sunday February 18, 2001 @09:00AM (#422192)
    Will clones themselves ache from the sense that they may not be 'complete,' that they're inexorably removed from their so-called peers?

    They'll do exactly what they're socially programmed to do, just like all of us non-clones.

  • by Anonymous Shepherd ( 17338 ) on Monday February 19, 2001 @12:03AM (#422193) Homepage
    There are other viewpoints too.

    We can sorta do an extrapolation. Imagine cloning technology exists. What does that mean?

    It means you can take a cell out of a living creature and grow a new creature out of it. Independent of this process, there's the mother to be taken into account, and until we can develop artificial wombs, we'll have to do it the old fashioned way and implant these embyoes in females.

    In this respect, cloning is no more or less hard or difficult than having a child. Ethical issues aside about individuality and morals, sex just seems to be more fun and more exciting, so I don't think this is a terribly big issue.

    On the other hand, cloning as a process gives us another tool in our genetic toolbox. I've said this in another post, but I think it's important enough to bear repeating.

    If we can clone a mouse 500 times, but in each case change, remove, replace, or add to the gene sequence, we can do much more precise genetic research. We can figure out evolutionary biology, developmental biology, structural biology, and a whole host of other things.

    Just being able to produce clones at this level means we can create drugs and viruses that attack specific cells, like cancers, because we know enough about genetics that we can actually have tailor made viruses that target cancer cells, reproduce in cancer cells, and destroy cancer cells.

    We can fix near sightedness or far sightedness. We can deal with male pattern baldness. We can fix glaucoma. We can wear tiger skin patterns or stripes in our hair. We can grow extra teeth, fangs, or tusks. We can grow wings, or gills, or extra tough skin, extra tough bones, extra strong muscles. We can create humans that can survive the radiation of space, the atrophying debilitation of zero g, or the stresses of a recycled and constrained environment.

    Cloning a person is a separate issue than the process of cloning as a technology.

  • by DGolden ( 17848 ) on Sunday February 18, 2001 @09:34AM (#422194) Homepage Journal
    And a lot of the people saying "only god can reproduce the spirit" will use that as an excuse for treating clones as subhuman... Just like various "christian" factions (acting in a not-very-christian manner) have in the past for the status of "test-tube" babies.

    Personally, as an atheist [], and not subscribing to odd notions about "souls" or "spirits" or anything else that's not a falsifiable explanation of our perceived reality, I'll regard clones as human - except of course, that clones may have shorter lifespans if the telomere problem isn't sorted out...

  • by abelsson ( 21706 ) on Sunday February 18, 2001 @09:28AM (#422195) Homepage
    warning: a bunch of incoherent philosophical ramblings ahead. Proceed with caution.

    The problem with god is that she's not needed and very arbitary (you can adequatly explain most everything without introducing a god. See Occams razor) Introducing the existance of god and an afterlife just because we're afraid of death makes a lot of things a lot more complex. Cloning is one of them. I belive that humanity is completly alone and doomed to freedom (ah, thank you Sartre). Life is a lot harder without a benevolent father taking responsibility and protecting you. But as long as we're doomed to complete freedom, we should do everything we can to advance ourselves (which is mostly done with technology).

    Cloning and genetic modification is something we *should* do - to improve the lives of humans. Denouncing afterlife comes with a few consequences.. one is that (human) life is absolutly the most valuble thing there is. There can never be a justification to kill someone else in cold blood. Another one is the realization that we need to have genetic engineering to (in the very long run) make humans immortal. If dying is the end of existance, every effort should be made to abolish death from the world. (i'm obvoiusly not talking about something that'll happen in the next few hundred years. my regret is that i was born too early (but then again, it wouldnt be me.. anyway, that's another discussion :))


  • by Znork ( 31774 ) on Sunday February 18, 2001 @11:41AM (#422196)
    Of course, you make the mistake of thinking that genetic makeup form very much of the personality. If I remember correctly, genetically identical twins that are separated at birth (adoption, etc) are less similar in personality than genetically different twins who are raised in the same family.

    That means, loads of surprises. Different health issues, probably similar physical characteristics to an extent, but food and environment affects that a lot too, as well as new diseases, etc. Sexual predisposition might be entirely different, since what forms that is largely unknown, and probably to a large extent formed by environment.

    Many parents seem to dream about being a perfect parent. Give it up. Start up a therapy fund that the kids can use when they turn 18, because if the parents themselves dont screw the kids over (and you will _never_ know how a kid will react to the most innocent correction, unfairness, too much fairness, pampering until its far far too late) then the rest of the world will.
  • by Wog ( 58146 ) on Sunday February 18, 2001 @12:42PM (#422197)
    If you look back at Genisis, you'll see that God completed the creation at a specific point. Wouldn't his "handing out" souls be contradictory to this?

    He doesn't create new souls. It was quite a breakthrough for me personally (on the issue of cloning) when I realized that the creation of a new soul is built into humanity, and happens at conception. So when a sperm fertilizes an egg - boom - new soul.

    Ergo, I believe that clones will be distinct individuals. A soul is created at the moment of conception, and so, until we can 'manufacture' sperm or egg, we won't have a problem.

    Granted, it will be disconcerting to have people walking around with the same looks, personality type, and mannerisms, but he/she will still be born of a mother and a father, and therefore human, with all the "rights and responsibilities" that go with that.
  • Oh please. athiest != psychopath.

    On the off chance that you're not a troll, and for anyone else who might be tempted to buy into your argument:

    Just because you don't believe that if you step out of line you'll burn forever does not imply that you have no morals. People confuse athiests (and agnostics) with psychopaths (having no ethical/moral qualms). It's simply not true. Athiests simply do not believe in God. (For that matter they don't believe in the devil ethier. So maybe you can just cancel them both out and call it a wash if you perfer).

    For the record, I'm not an athiest, but some of my friends are, and none of them have killed me off yet :). I think we could all use with more tolerence in the world. Simply because people don't believe the same as we do does not make them evil or sub-human. This goes for clones (although I cannot see how they would be treated any differently then an identical twin would be, as that is exactly what they are), operating systems, slashdot editors, linux distributions, and even John Katz :).

    Minupla, "OK, now go to your corners and come out tolerent!"
    Remove the rocks to send email
  • by fluxrad ( 125130 ) on Sunday February 18, 2001 @02:17PM (#422199) Homepage
    could anyone give me a nice plausible step by step theory where step 1 is "a human is cloned" and step n is "our ultimate doom"?

    I think it's a very cute notion that most people have when arguing about preventing the cloning of humans. Why do you assume that anyone who is in favor of holding off on this for a bit longer believes that clones will, in fact, spell out the demise of all life on earth?

    I, for one, am an opponent of cloning humans (at least right now) for several very simple reasons. A) I believe that we (as humans) cannot take very good care of ourselves or our home (read:earth) right now. 30 years ago we came exceedingly close to ridding this planet of all life, except possibly that of insects. That does not bode well for any other life we bring into the picture. I trust this society to not fuck this up about as much as i trust a recovering crack addict locked in a police evidence room.

    B)This is a pandora's box. The arguments i've seen on this matter come down to the same thing. Two groups arguing over which is right, caution, or innovation. This argument starts out in a relatively intelligent tone, and soon disintegrates into a "Yes you are," "No i'm not" debate about who's a prude and who's a moron. So i will say this once, and all i ask is that people seriously reflect on this: Cloning is a one way function. we now have the power to clone a human. And, i agree that this, in and of itself, is a signifigant achievement. But, what we ALL need to ask ourselves is what are all of the consequences of this action. Good and bad. If you think that no good can come from this, then you are naieve. If you think that no bad will come from this, then you are as equally naieve. But, in all honesty, i haven't seen a perfectly intelligent argument as to where this will put us in 50 years from either side. And that, to me, is not a reason to give the go ahead to something that has the serious potential to alter all of our societal views as this does.

    Fundamentally this argument is between the misanthrops and those who have faith in humanity. Me? I take the misanthropic view: we, as a human society, can't even raise our own children to be good people, why bring clones in to the picture now? we're just going to fuck that up too.

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • by Faizdog ( 243703 ) on Sunday February 18, 2001 @08:56AM (#422200)
    You know, the article brings up some good points. I'm a religious person, and I happen to believe that only God can reproduce the spirit. I don't know what will happen here though. Technically nothing can happen without God (who is all powerful) permitting it to happen. If God didn't want it, then...? But, also God has given humanity the freedom of choice, and where does that lead?
    I agree that this is an issue not being given enough focus in the mainstream media/philosophical circles. This is an issue that will be at the centerpiece of human society in the next 10 yrs. Will clones be treated as humans? Or will they be treated as some kind of subhuman slaves? This kind of reminds me of the X-Men and the country of Genoshia. There are certain elements in humanity that will never permit clones to be regarded as humans, and in this case we have to wonder, should we regard them as humans?
  • Too many people get the order of that reversed. Case in point, from Tatara's article:

    However, before we give a sentient being life, we had better recognize that we may be incapable of properly bestowing life...

    I suppose it's arguable that many of the lives on this planet already were "improperly bestowed", but I doubt that the recipient of an expensive cloned birth will be subject to the same substandard education and lousy family situation that our less fortunate sentient beings are stuck with today. Of course, he/she will have been bestowed with the genes of an existing, happy human being, and will have to suffer the consequences. Darn.

    But what will happen to these clones if we discover that science can't regenerate a soul?

    Someone's been watching too many movies. Repeat after me: "A clone is an organism whose genetic code is copied from another organism". A clone is not a vat-baby, or a teleported copy of yourself from the Evil Star Trek Universe Where Everybody Has Moustaches. In fact, in the special case where that copying occurs at conception, we call the clone an "identical twin", and most of them claim to have souls.

    Will people dare to fall in love with, and mate with, a clone?

    Stupid people won't. That's okay; more potential partners for the rest of us.

    Again, I feel myself wanting to apologize for what seems like crackpot issues.

    You know how if you're unsure on multiple choice tests, they advise you to go with your first instinct?

    The dangers of pushing this particular button simply aren't as obvious as they are with the destructive energy of a nuclear bomb.

    The dangers of polka music are equally subtle, and for much the same reason.

    If it gets out of hand?and I think cloning a human being will undoubtedly be the go-ahead for taking things too far?our ultimate doom could slowly arise over a matter of time.

    Aside from "it's neeewwww, and scaaarrryyy!" could anyone give me a nice plausible step by step theory where step 1 is "a human is cloned" and step n is "our ultimate doom"? Perhaps I just lack imagination, but I'm having trouble filling in steps 2 through n-1, myself.

    I'd insert the requisite "I can't believe this made it to Slashdot" bitching here, but it's been such a slow weekend that I'm almost happy to waste my time ranting at the clue-deprived.
  • The idea of cloning is in itself, not a bad idea, nor an immoral one IMHO. The major problem that I see with cloning is the evolutionary implications of it. There is something known as the Red Queen scenerio in evolutionary theory, which is covered in the book The Red Queen by Matt Ridley and briefly in Children of Prometheus by Christopher Wills, which is as such: One needs to move faster just to stay in the same place. This got its name after Alice in Wonderland where Alice is running with the Red Queen so as to stay in the same place, at one point Alice asks a question, the Red Queen yells at her and then she needs to run faster to stay in the same place. This type of scenerio occurs in evolution all the time. The some of the best examples of Red Queen scenerios are viruses vs. humans. Humans, and other organisms, need to constantly evolve so as to try and stop viruses from infecting and killing us before we have the chance to reproduce. Viruses are constantly evolving so as to counter-act our modifications so that they can infect and reproduce. In areas of Africa where the sickle-cell is common, Maleria has increased its reproduction rate so as to be able to infect those with sickle-cell. There are many examples of this, the books mentioned above have some great discussions on this.

    How does this effect cloning. If we make "perfect" clones then there is no modification. If there is no modification then we aren't running fast enough and we will lose the Red Queen races. The survival of any species over time requires mutation and genetic variance. So if people decide to just clone themselves and transfer their brains to new bodies they are contributing to the downfall of humanity by not allowing for genetic variance. Ergo, "perfect" clones are a bad idea in general from a scientific/evolutionary stand point.

    This leaves us with "imperfect" clones. So we can let the process be somewhat sloppy so as to allow for genetic drift and mutation or we purposefully modify the clones genes to add variance. Scientifically speaking, the sloppy process is foolish, whereas the purposeful modification is not. Why, might you ask. Well, a purposeful modification, even if done to a large portion of the populous that can afford it, would not be wide spread enough to cause significant to the overall genetic variance within the human species while at the same time it would not damage it like a "perfect" clone would, if you want a good arguement and numbers read the book mentioned above called Children of Prometheus.

    There are a couple problems with purposeful modification though:
    • Moral ramafications. When people say Eugenics we think Hitler. Eugenics was actually started within the US and the idea was used to the nth degree by Hitler. I think what Hitler did was evil in the purest sense of the word, but I do not believe that the idea of Eugenics is a bad. The problem is that the general populous is unable at this point to handle the concept maturely.
    • Religion. I am an athiest, I don't believe that people have souls, but 95% of humanity does believe that humans have souls. So long as it is looked upon as playing god or potentially tainting souls then the world will be squeemish about it. As history has shown, religion has a way of slowing progress through killing for god.

    I agree that we need to start thinking about the cloning of humans. Within the next two years a human will be cloned. Science will not stop just because a large majority of people are unable to handle to concequences, or fundamentally disagree with the process. People will be modified within the next 50. Cosmetic genetics will arrive even through heavy protest. The best thing that we can do now is understand it, and human evolution. I mentioned two good books up above on the topic, there are many more on the subject and believe that our society should start reading them NOW so we do not make blind decessions for or against it.
  • by jamienk ( 62492 ) on Sunday February 18, 2001 @08:56AM (#422203)
    Identical twins are geneitically MORE simmilar than current cloning methods will allow (because, in the case of twins, they share their mother's Midocondrial DNA).

    Which is the "real" child and which is the "twin?" Which the "original" and which the "clone?"

    "Clones" will be regular people, like twins, like bastards, like test-tube babies, like adopted children, like suragate-mothered children...
  • by Aguila ( 235963 ) on Sunday February 18, 2001 @10:42AM (#422204)
    the societal reasons that someone would be cloned are the concern.

    The major issue that concerns me regarding cloning is not whether it is possible, or whether clones would be soulless robots, or whether we would create an army of clones that think and act exactly alike. localroger's post is a typical counterexample that effectively dispels these concerns, at least for me. The major concern that I have is why would we want to create a clone?

    I have followed the issue of cloning for a while, and I have seen several major reasons advocated for cloning, all of which deeply concern me.

    The most common reason I have seen for advocating cloning is to create a genetic duplicate of someone who has a dehabilitating injury to provide tissue for transplantation. Let us say for example that an illness (not a genetic condition) has resulted in the failure of a patient's kidneys. Biologically, there is no problem with causing a genetic duplicate of the individual to be made, and transplanting one of their kidneys. Psychologically, however, there are some serious implications. The clone to be created will be an individual, a person, and his future feelings need to be considered in the equation. This individual will grow up knowing that he was born with one single purpose in the world, to save his duplicate's life. He will have the feeling that he was not actually wanted by his parents. Even if his parents actually did want another child at the time, he will know that they chose to have him with an ulterior purpose. Look at the emotional trauma suffered by many individuals who were placed up for adoption, thinking that their biological parents did not want them. I imagine that clones created for the purpose of saving another's life will suffer from similar agony.

    Another reason that I forsee clones being created would be in cases where a child died tragically early, say in a car accident. The distraught parents decide that they want to have another child, a copy of their dead child. Currently, this already goes on, with parents who have lost children sometimes trying to replace them. They have another child, and they ignore that this child is a distinct individual, that this child is not their dead child. These children grow up continuously having to struggle under the burden of their parents expectations of them, expecting them to like the same things that their deceased sibling did, trying to force them in directions that they would not have chosen for themselves. How much worse would the burden be if they were physically identical to their sibling, especially if their parents were unaware enough to believe that clones are also mentally identical?

    Likely, some people would also create clones of themselves. The reasons behind this could be many, including a desire to live vicariously through a child. How many times do children today have trouble with conflicts between themselves and their parents about the path their life should take? How many children are told by their parents that they have to be a doctor or a lawyer? How many times are children told by their parents that their parents know what is in their best interests, or that their parents understand exactly what they are going through and what they are thinking. How much harder would it be for a child to argue with the lawyer parent he was cloned from and convince his parent that being a lawyer is not the path for him? How much harder would it be for a child to convince his parent that the parent does not automatically understand the thoughts and feelings going on in the child's head because he is older, and has gone through more, if they are genetically identical and the parent has a basis for arguing that they should have similar thought processes? (Note, I said a basis. I am not saying it is valid, only that the argument would be used to the child's detriment.) What about the difficulties of convincing a parent who had a 4.0 in school that even though you have the same genetic coding, the "same brain", you were trying your hardest when you got only a 3.7?

    My concerns about cloning have nothing to do with the concerns that we often see put forward and the concerns most commonly debunked, the concerns of superstition and misunderstanding of what cloning means. I recognize that a clone would be a distinct individual. I have enough understanding of biology and medicine to recognize that cloning could have many beneficial applications. However, my concern is that because the clone is a distinct individual, the needs and rights of that individual cannot be ignored. I am greatly concerned that those rights will be ignored because the decisions that would infringe upon those needs and rights would be made in the act of cloning, long before that individual is recognized as an entity by the law, and even longer before that individual has the ability to defend his rights. As shown in my examples above, several of the most common reasons given for why someone should be cloned could result in serious psychological harm to the clone. Before I could ever advocate cloning, I would have to have some explanation of how these problems could be prevented.

  • by Dyolf Knip ( 165446 ) on Sunday February 18, 2001 @10:03AM (#422205) Homepage
    What, praytell, is God's policy towards meting out souls? Only people who are conceived in a womb and born naturally? Tough luck for all those C-section babies. Or do only people who are conceived from an egg and sperm get one? Does the soul get split for identical twins, or does only one of the two get a soul? What if the fetus grows in a woman other than the genetic mother? Are they out of luck? What, exactly, is his policy?

    A better question would be, what makes you think humans are fit to guess as to what that policy is? I mean, I doubt the bible says anything about cloning. God is supposed to be unknowable, so quit trying to guess his intentions.

    Furthermore, you don't even know what a soul is. Maybe it is encoded in the DNA. Maybe the clone and the original can make nice and share. Point is, you don't know, but you're perfectly willing to make judgements about it. I checked the dictionary, and there were a number of interesting definitions. Obviously this is not the end-all list, but it's a good start.

    the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life: So, since those cloned animals don't get a soul (or the animal equivalent), they are really just undead zombies?
    the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe: So it's this intangible, invisible, immaterial thing that does ... what? That certainly clears things up for me.
    a person's total self: So, the whole flesh and blood part doesn't count?
    the moral and emotional nature of human beings; the quality that arouses emotion and sentiment: So any human clones will be mindless, immoral, unemotional borg drones incapable of feeling anything at all? Somehow, I just don't think so.

    That last is a good question. What does a person without a soul act like? Nobody I know of can answer that for one simple reason: nobody can identify anyone with or without a soul since no one can show any concrete proof whatsoever that there is such a thing. For all we know, only one person in a million gets a soul and the rest of us bumble through life without one.

    If you are religious and don't like cloning, fine; don't make one, in whole or in part. But you do not get to tell me that I cannot, ok? Your faith is your own thing, and I do not have to subscribe to it's tenets.


  • by localroger ( 258128 ) on Sunday February 18, 2001 @08:57AM (#422206) Homepage
    Really, the implications of cloning are being waaaaaay overblown. Is an identical twin somehow "less" of an individual because he is a twin? Of course not. We would have a better perspective on this if we weren't so quick to attribute every little personality quirk to genetic causes (so convenient for those who believe in eugenics).
  • by localroger ( 258128 ) on Sunday February 18, 2001 @09:08AM (#422207) Homepage
    ...and it didn't take cloning to create it, only advanced medical intervention.

    We have gotten so good at correcting problems which would once have been crippling or deadly that these traits are propagating rather than being culled. Probably the most interesting of these is infertility.

    In the past if you were blind, prone to disease, or infertile, you tended not to reproduce. Now you can get Lasik, take antibiotics, and launch the entire might of modern medical science against your low sperm count and leave plenty of offspring with your exact same problems.

    I'm not saying this is bad, just that cloning adds nothing new to the mix. Within another hundred years humans probably won't be able to reproduce without massive technological intervention. Cloning will be just one set of pliers in the toolset that makes it possible.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming