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The issues being discussed here are those of personal identity, freewill, and authenticity. Nothing else is at stake here, and as it is inevitable that someone will clone a human being at some time or other in the future, I do NOT wish to go on record to deny this person their rights as a human being.

Lets not create a slave race here people.

What I do wish to argue is that by cloning a human being one is left with a "copy" of that human being with awareness but no spontaneous entry into the universe. In essence they are a blank slate upon which the cloner can draw any ideas that they wish. That is presuming that this clone hasn't been created simply for the purposes of harvesting tissue for transplant. In being able to recreate another person totally with all the associated physical attributes, the cloner is then able to map out at least the formative years of that persons life to such a large degree that it is doubtful that any sort of autonomy is left to the person. To those who say that this is the same with ordinary parents, I would point out that the specific physical capabilities and weaknesses of a newborn child are unknown, and can only vaguely be hinted at by examining the parents. There is as much a process of exploration as there is of training of the child, and a healthy respect that one doesn't know the boundaries or limits that define the child as it is unique and hasn't lived before. This also applies to twins. It doesn't apply to clones however, and thus this node.

I mean what IS an individual? Are we our genetics? These are given to us by our parents. Our values? These are given to us by society, and experiences. How do we define ourselves even when we aren't cloned? And what about if we find out that we are a clone of someone who has gone before? This person, willingly or not sets the parameters of our life, be they a scientist or king, we are judged against them, and our improvements hailed as triumphs, and our failures to match them cursed as weakness. I am no longer Joe Bloggs, I am Joe Bloggs 3, created to replace one and two, and expected to be as nice, and good, and useful as 1 and 2. To a certain extent we see this in WASP families with people who are given the same name as their father, and sent to the same school, and who are in the same profession. It can be argued that this person's individuality is robbed by the framework in which they are sent to live their lives, and I would say that this is only compounded when one isn't simply the son of the father, but is an actual clone.

Immortality anyone?

Just raise yourself, as yourself, and pass everything on.

But are you you?

Or are you him?

Who knows.

I certainly don't.


The responses to this wu seem a bit simplistic, at best, however there have been some excellent points raised and a few rather large misunderstandings so I will take this opportunity to take care of them.

First off, just to clear up the majority of the mess right now, READ THE F*KKIN NODE. Especially the first line. We are talking about identity, freewill, and authenticity here. Not once did I imply that Joe Bloggs 2 won't have a soul, or anything of the sort. Sheesh. Still I understand that this is an issue for a lot of people (read Religious people) and so I will deal with it in due course.

But for now, lets take apart a few of the attacks one by one.

xuncer:
The Nature of Clones: What were you thinking man? The Nature of clones is irrelevant! Everyone knows that there are minor differences between each person as they grow, scratches here and there, personal experiences. But we aren't dealing with those later variations, we are talking about formative years, and personal identity is formed in those years, and arguable only slightly changed at later dates.

Let's tackle this one step at a time, shall we? Standard disclaimers apply, YMMV, IANAG (I am not a Geneticist).

The Nature of Clones - Even though you are a clone, you are technically not identical. Differences arise from a number of issues which impact the way the embryo/fetus/child grows. First we have just plain chance -- Over a lifetime, you genes mutate on their own, and the chances of two peoples' genes mutating in exactly the same way are astronomical. Second would be environmental modifiers. Even if you are a clone of a a previous entity, if you were spawned X decades after they were, you were are subject to different environmental factors at impact your development. This can be as simple as elevation or pollution, or as 'out there' as cosmic radiation and planetary alignment.

Nature versus Nurture - Here, the crux is on whether you believe that personality and mentality are governed by the biological or the sociological. If you feel that biology control it, then the previous argument comes into play. If you believe it's the way they are raised, then the problem in solved.

We already have clones - On average in the United States, 10 clones are Born every day -- they are called twins. They are as genetically similar as you can get, and yet they are always considered individuals. They tends to develop their own personalities as time goes on.

Now, I haven't even delved into the argument of 'Do clones have souls?' because that really deserves it's own node.. written by someone else, preferably.



Someone questioned me on the issue of genes mutating. Let me clarify: By mutate, I mean single-combanant changes. not growing wings. It's documented well that this happens, but usually doesn't have any great effect, except in the case of things like cancer; plus, the number of genetic mutations that are retined in the body are quite low, probably in the low hundreds (which is a very small number considering the total number of pairs in a genetic strand), and usually occur in so-called 'attribute' pairs which govern things like colour instead of those that govern vital fuction. It's simply splitting hairs.

There has been an argument about this for some time amongst my circle of friends too. I personally feel (although I'm deadly sure someone will refute me pretty soon) that your personality is always unique: souls (such an overused, meaningless phrase) die with their bodies, period. Each new person, each new body, has it's own *awareness*.

A very devout Christian I happen to know talked with me about this once, and he believed that a cloned human would not be self-concious. He insisted this was because the soul is imparted to the new person by God at the moment of conception when the two zygotes fuse their respective chromosome networks. I found this to be an interesting, but bogus, way to think about it, because humans can (or will very soon be able to) perfectly simulate the fusion of zygotes inside sophisticated computer simulations, where there is no such a thing as God to tamper with the genes, because every factor has to be known to simulate the fusion.

Getting back to my point, I strongly feel that if a clone were to be created, it would be a normal, functioning person, quite similiar to it's gene-donor, but not the same, and with it's own distinct personality, too. Science has shown that more often than not, your genes are only responsible for a small portion of your personality. Obviously if you have genes that make you an aggressive person, your clone will be aggressive too, and so forth. However, the unique id, the awareness, is always different and exclusive for every person, be they clone or mundane.

This is because personality is largely a function of the quantum state of the human brain, and since the human brain is a very random thing, constructed as it is by the very genes that were cloned, there can be no transfer of personality between bodies, not ever. Unless we figure out a way to harness quantum potential in human neurons, which is unlikely in anywhere but the far future.

Remember that all babies are blank slates, and their personalities form during childhood. There is no way to skip the fetal development process. Every clone yet born has had to be born. This is another reason why clones are unique individuals with their own souls.

Clones are nothing more than identical twins, possibly born at different times. (A better way to say this would be to say that identical twins are clones that are born together.)

Who you are depends on your upbringing as well as your genes. Geneticists know that the genotype influences, but doesn't set, the phenotype. Presumably, if you wanted to bring up clones to be as similar to each other as possible, you'd want to raise them together and at the same time, to give them as close an environment as possible.

Suppose that I become some kind of billionaire with an ego a mile high (it is left to the reader to determine which portions of the scenario are realistic and which are not). In the best tradition of poor SciFi, when I turn 60 I decide to raise ariels2 which will be my exact copy. Won't those flying cars zooming by (not to mention the ads in the magazines for luxury cruises to Jupiter and Saturn) have any effect? Won't ariels2 turn out to be a very different person?

How can I possibly recreate the environment in which I was raised? Where am I going to get another copy of my parents, my friends, my guinea pigs?

Jaez' concerns would be better placed with the commodification of human beings. Presumably parents should not use their offspring as vehicles for achieving preset goals and "fixing" their own failings. But isn't that always true? How is a clone any different?

I have 2 possible endings for this writeup. Pick whichever you prefer:

  1. Parents don't need licenses.
  2. If you want to copy yourself, stick your head in the photocopier machine and press the green button.

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