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What Will Human Cloning Mean For Humanity?

Cliff posted more than 13 years ago | from the stuff-to-think-about dept.

Science 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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We are surrounded by clones already. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#421916)

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.

Cloning in the large is likely never to happen (1)

schani (8889) | more than 13 years ago | (#421919)

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.


Its pretty good thing, except (1)

Ryn (9728) | more than 13 years ago | (#421920)

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.

Definition of "clone" (1)

Lupus Rufus (11262) | more than 13 years ago | (#421923)

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. "Cloning" just happened to be the word used to describe the process of producing an intentional genetic twin to an adult mammal. The popular version has very little to do with emulating genes, and everything to do with emulating personality, which is something from which we are thankfully quite far away.

Politicians have been adamant about banning human cloning because it throws a bone to the anti-abortion crowd, who object not to the prospect of a perfect twin but to the production and killing of embryos in the process of creating a successful twin. I think this should be seen for what it is: political jerrymandering, basically idiotic. The issue of whether an embryo should be regarded as a human being is, of course, a different discussion.

In actuality I think cloning by itself will be little more than a proverbial footnote in scientific history. It was a great step, and indicates that we are developing the techniques to manipulate stem cells, which will afford us such things as manufactured organs, a step which I would argue is much more important than any sort of human cloning. Probably the only real effect of human cloning itself will be the marginalization of infertility (perhaps a problem in and of itself, but that's yet another discussion :P).

I feel this is one more way in which the popular media exaggerates a meaningless detail while ignoring the big picture.

It would mean twins, but `slightly' off-age (1)

MeriaDuck (14908) | more than 13 years ago | (#421926)

Just commenting on the topic, not the story.

Cloning would not copy the mind, the education and the environmental aspects
of raising. Children grow up differently, whether or not their genes are
different. You cannot fork() and exec() a human body.

I think one can compare it with identical twins. Their genes are the same,
so usually the look the same. But in their minds they can me rather
different, although they are raised together, within the same family.

When I would clone myself or my girlfriend/wife would do so, the child that
comes from it, is just in many ways like me. Except that is will be born
differently (i hope, i am a premature), and will grow up in the 21st
century, instead of 1975 till now. He would miss the cold-war period and its
ending, so when he is 25 years old, he could be rather different from me.

Cloning isn't fork() and exec(), it is a complete new individual, with maybe
the same look, the same genetic illnesses and maybe, just maybe, the same
temper, more or less.


Re:There are already human clones and such... (1)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#421929)

you just described what I see as the worst thing about cloning.

Re:Human Cloning will benefit us all. (1)

freq (15128) | more than 13 years ago | (#421931)

"the only way that human cloning could become a big problem in this regard is if everybody decides to do it."

ANYONE can clone anything with our fabulous new CLONE YOUR OWN @ HOME kit!

* build an army of geeks to do your bidding!
* replicate your liver in your bathtub and throw your own homeade entrails at passers-by!
* create fabulous monsters in your basement and force them to do battle with other fabulous monsters! (clone battle arena available in 2004)
* YOU are the master of their fates!
* Clone yourself! kill yourself! what fun! nobody will ever know if its the REAL you!
* Join in the worldwide devaluation and devolution of human life!

except for people that believe in god (1)

LennyDotCom (26658) | more than 13 years ago | (#421937)

I can't see any problem with clones
lets look at clones for what they are
they are a real person createdfrom scratch nothing more nothing less
you couln't tell if you met a clone on the street
just like anyone else they might be physicaly identical to the gene donner
but their environment would mold thier personality
I think people won't even give it a second thought once clones become common
just like artificial insemination

Re:Natalie Portmans for all? (1)

LennyDotCom (26658) | more than 13 years ago | (#421938)

Besides - what's so wrong with the old-fashioned way of making humans

It's so messy!

Re:except for people that believe in god (1)

LennyDotCom (26658) | more than 13 years ago | (#421939)

I'm talkin about cloneing not maniplating genes
even though correcting problems wouldn't be a bad thing in my opinion

call me a whore... (1)

J.J. (27067) | more than 13 years ago | (#421940)

...but I'll still point out for the masses that human cloning made the cover of Time [] this week. linkage []

What will it mean? (1)

sporty (27564) | more than 13 years ago | (#421941)

It will mean a growing popularity of the bad pun, "Send in the clones!" And of course, more groans :)


Re:Ask an identical twin? (1)

zmooc (33175) | more than 13 years ago | (#421942)

Except - in the case knows it's father or mother - a clone will know exactly what it will look like in 20 years, maybe even which terrible deceases it will get. And for the father/mother, it's like the clone is you; the way one will threat a clone, will almost certainly differ from the way a normal clone is threated; it will most probably be pushed in a certain direction because there's a rather large chance of knowing where the clones' talents are. That is: if talents are genitically.

Good or bad? (1)

Nichen (34123) | more than 13 years ago | (#421943)

Depends. I feel that cloning organs and the like would be a massive boon to humanity, where we'd never have to worry about a lack of organs for transplants. Plus this will likely allow more research to be done on these organs to find better cures and treatments.

Cloning humans with a brain and self awareness, I don't think is such a great idea. Maybe for dumb automotons to do hazardous work and are put back into a box after work and don't care a bit, much like a living robot. You can almost compare to clones to AI, both of them could either just be smart about certain things and dumb in everything else (lack of self awareness) or self aware and living like "real" humans with the implications that come about (Blade Runner comes to mind).

Cloning like all technology will have it's alignment based on what we do with it. Making clones of organ, or advanced robots to work on assembly lines is one thing, making a real person is different, and is something that I don't think we as a whole can handle yet, as it WILL be misused.

If only there were a literature... (1)

Zoop (59907) | more than 13 years ago | (#421953)

If only there were a literature of speculative fiction to consider this in a thoughtful, entertaining, and imaginative fashion. That would be great. Maybe stories set not now, when cloning's future is uncertain, but hypothetically projecting it into the future to see what, given certain assumptions, things might be like. It would be even better if there were a history of such fiction to guide us.

Unfortunately, no one has ever asked these questions. Thank god people are doing so now. If only they had a history of serious speculation to guide them.

Re:First understand the subject, then write about (1)

Voltage_Gate (69001) | more than 13 years ago | (#421957)

This webpage is my only sanctuary in a world of idiots, jerks, biggots, prudish hippocrites, religous nuts, and outright criminals. Thanks for speaking up, drinkypoo but dude, change your name :)

Re:Ask an identical twin? (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 13 years ago | (#421958)

I'm not positive that twins are treated the same. Don't parents often do things like dress them in identical outfits and such? And isn't their probably some less subtle pressure on them in that direction?


Cue Wierd Al... (1)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 13 years ago | (#421966)

"I think I'm a clone now...."

- JoeShmoe

Lets ask gene rodeberry (1)

OmegaDan (101255) | more than 13 years ago | (#421980)

In Earth Final Conflict and Star Trek there were both wars involving clones, so, I'm gonna go with war on this one!

OD (no flames/trolls please, it was a joke)

it'll make it impossible to kill trolls (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 13 years ago | (#421988)

they'll just clone themselves over and over and over. of course, there might be a ten-fifteen year wait between the troll we kill and the time he returns to harrass us on the forums, but i like to think that slashdot will have improved it's anti-troll just a wee bit by then.
Lord Omlette
ICQ# 77863057

Re: Eugenics of the rich, a**hole? (1)

No Such Agency (136681) | more than 13 years ago | (#421999)

What a good idea. After all, most people who are wealthy and successful in our society got there by their own merits and by performing useful tasks, not by inheriting it from their family or by being stock/currency speculators, corporate lawyers, and so on.

Oh wait, that's not true! However, since you're most likely just a troll, I won't bother with an extensive rebuttal. Idiot.

Does cloning disturb you? (1)

SunlightMoon (142186) | more than 13 years ago | (#422002)

My 2 cents:

The amount of horror you feel at the idea of cloning is directly related to the importance you place on nature's influence (as opposed to environmental).

If your genetic makeup were all that made you as you are today, then the ethical problems of cloning would make it taboo. However, you cannot dismiss the fact that no two people experience life in exactly the same way. Even identical twins (God's own foray into cloning!) are not identical people.

Personally, I am much more disturbed by the multiple births caused by the use of fertility drugs.

My wish list (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 13 years ago | (#422003)

Jimi Hendrix
Jim Morrison
Mike Hedges
Richard Feynman

Re:First understand the subject, then write about (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 13 years ago | (#422009)

Let me count the ways. The cruel physical perils,

Cruel physical perils? What, pray tell, outside of a contamination on your pyrex test tube, are the cruel physical perils?

the despotic burden of expectation,

You are truly quoting a crackpot. I can quote Wesly Willis, but that don't make his lyrics brilliant. This doesn't even make any sense!

Let's see, what can we say about a despotic burden of expectation? How about the expectations society puts on all of us; That we'll follow every rule without deviation? Wank wank.

the eradication of identity,

My identity is mine alone whether I'm a clone or not. I'm me; I'm pink, therefore I'm spam. I know who I am. Even knowing that you're made from someone else's genetic material (which is true anyway; You're MADE from the genetic material of your mother and father. You were built in a specially-designed nanoassembly factory called a womb) is a kind of identity. Everyone has parents. Some people only know one of them, so who cares if you only have one?

the undermining of mystery,

Mystery? We know pretty much why just about everything in the fornication -> impregnation -> gestation -> deliveration cycle works. Once you have a working brain things get more complicated, because your parents (and everyone else) now get a chance to damage your psyche, and not just your body.

self-revelation and autonomy,

Twins are not the same person; While they carry a genetic predisposition to do the same things (anywhere genetics takes effect, like taste buds and your vision being affected by identical eye color) and will probably be treated the same by many people (how much of your personality is defined by your responses to how you're treated?) they are still seperate entities. Clones are not necessarily even as similar to the host as a twin, unless it's an "exact" clone, with no genetic modifications.

the impoverishment of lineage,

Another statement that makes no sense. A clone is a child of the donor. Makes sense to me.

the implicit assumption that the body matters more than the soul.

You (by proxy) are assuming that there IS a soul. But what there is, IMO, is humanity. Either you act like a human being, or you don't. Whether or not there is a soul cannot be proven, and so it is irrelevant in this discussion. I may not have a soul, but I am (arguably, I guess) human. If you shoot me, do I not bleed all over the place and probably die?

Hiding behind tired slogans and religious beliefs will not see us through this issue. The church is against cloning because it's still trying to control the world with its belief that any child not born inside of a marriage by parents who love each other (and belong to the church) is the spawn of satan, unless you drizzle some water over their head and tell them you love them in latin. Everyone else is against it because they don't understand it, which has been helped along by movies like Multiplicity. Copies, indeed.

Sir, you have not examined the science involved. Go read.


Re:There are already human clones and such... (1)

Idhan (153931) | more than 13 years ago | (#422010)

First of all, your clone/child would never experience life on it's own due to your sheltering. Second, the moment you change a person's environment, especially in the early stages of their life, you change their personality. You'd not get a copy of you unless it had the same conditions of you in life, which you would likely change for the "better". 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.

In my opinon Cloning of Non-Livestock = <i>A Bad Thing(TM)</i>

Re:There are already human clones and such... (1)

Idhan (153931) | more than 13 years ago | (#422011)

*flicks the evil tags away*

Re:Congratulations, you are about to rediscover... (1)

Idhan (153931) | more than 13 years ago | (#422012)

Unless, of course <insert divine being(s) here ie: God, Goddess, collective, CmdrTaco> simply set things into motion and either sat back and watched or died.

Re:There are already human clones and such... (1)

Idhan (153931) | more than 13 years ago | (#422013)

Yes, parents do do this, but thankfully, not perfectly. You're forgetting that non-cloned offspring get mental and physical traits from both sides, providing more uncertainty. With a clone you've only got traits coming from one person.

Re:There are already human clones and such... (1)

Idhan (153931) | more than 13 years ago | (#422014)

Yet another of my cloning fears, and I was about to post about it too. Damn you. It was one of the newer episodes of The Outer Limits, wasn't it? Except they didn't labotomize this guy... Just kinda kept him in a room with no human contact. Wonderful, neh?

Re:You just brought up another problem... (1)

Idhan (153931) | more than 13 years ago | (#422015)

Do these people actually read articles, or just post randomly? hmm..

Re:I'm a religious person (1)

nycdewd (160297) | more than 13 years ago | (#422016)

atheist to the core here... and I say 'bane'... the fringe are proceeded with 'whole human' cloning, the more respectable scientists won't touch it. (implications, implications, implications: discuss amongst yourselves) Death? I'm all for it... I am well old enough to have a sense of the end, and do not fear it

Re:We already have a gene pool problem (1)

Suidae (162977) | more than 13 years ago | (#422018)

Within another hundred years humans probably won't be able to reproduce without massive technological intervention

Na, we'll develop treatments to repair defective genes. Those that used to be unfit will become fit.

Why play the game with limitations when you can hack the source code?

Re:There are already human clones and such... (1)

MrProgrammer (165021) | more than 13 years ago | (#422019)

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.

I'm not sure this would always be the case. Though the genetic makeup of both people would be the same, it seems to me that the varying circumstances in which they live life would have a drastic affect on their appearance, interests, and even talents. For example, I am rather overweight. However, if I cloned myself, and brought my clone up to always eat right and excersize, perhaps they would end up only looking somewhat similar to me, rather than an exact copy. The same is true for abilities. I was taught piano at a young age, and am now a composer. My clone would not necessarally turn out the same.

Just my $0.02

Re:There are already human clones and such... (1)

Dyolf Knip (165446) | more than 13 years ago | (#422022)

With a clone you've only got traits coming from one person

Err, no. The clone is a genetic duplicate of someone who did indeed get physical traits from two people.

It's like a biological transitive principle: C is made from A and B; D is identical to C, therefore D is also made from A and B.


Re:Lets ask gene rodeberry (1)

Dyolf Knip (165446) | more than 13 years ago | (#422023)

Star Trek never had Clone Wars; that was Star Wars.


Re:Natalie Portmans for all? (1)

Dyolf Knip (165446) | more than 13 years ago | (#422024)

Maybe, but it's still a hell of a lot of fun.


Gm People (1)

themadhatter (172041) | more than 13 years ago | (#422028)

What's wrong with self advancement?. People are inperfect, they can be injured, killed, diseased. Why not geneticly modify people, making mankind a more flexible and superior race. For example, gene's from certian lizards will allow the regrowth of limbs if lost, or quicker clotting of the blood, better eye sight etc. . Down with religious rule. I wan't cat's eyes, for cool looks and night vision.

A disaster (1)

zigozago (174452) | more than 13 years ago | (#422029)

Human beings have a relatively long life, longer at least, and on the average, than the one of sheep and cows ... still.

Any DNA becomes irreparably and inexorably damaged with time: through ionizing radiations, e.g., through chemical reactions, and so on; this can't be escaped, the damages accumulate. Good luck to the clones.

cloning vs. environment (1)

tdbraun (184806) | more than 13 years ago | (#422032)

clones, schmones, who cares?
All the stories on the subject I've seen suggest the clone still has to be grown in the womb. That means it comes out as a baby.

That means if I wanted to clone myself right now, the clone comes out 0 years old, and I'm 28 years old. The world is very different now than 28 years ago. I would be a different parent than my parents were, the clone would have different friends, etc. etc. The clone would be in a different environment, and hence turn out different. (Except he'd still love Night Ranger [] , of course.) ;-)

So except for some Hitler-esque plot of cloning 1000 "super soldiers" for an army all at once, I see no problem with this technology. Plus, I think few, if any countries, have the infrastructure for such a plot.

Re:I think we miss the point of cloning tech. (1)

maddman75 (193326) | more than 13 years ago | (#422034)

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?
Oh, I'm gonna start saving for that one now! Imagine sitting at the bar, licking your eyebrows. You sure wouldn't have and trouble finding some female company :)

Cloning will never be mainstream (1)

maddman75 (193326) | more than 13 years ago | (#422035)

Why? Because making babies the old fashioned way is just too much damn fun.

Think identical twins... (1) (196820) | more than 13 years ago | (#422036)

What's the difference? Why should cloned individuals feel any different to anyone else?

Re:I'm a religious person (1)

SmellMyTeenSpirit (207288) | more than 13 years ago | (#422045)

I like your argument. Unless someone decides clones are property of the person they are a copy of, which i DOUBT, how are they diffrent than a test tube baby. Now if they can make full grown bodies...

Something like that, yeah. (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 13 years ago | (#422050)

What was that movie? Earth Girls are Easy?

I imagine girls with tongues like that would be real popular too.

Geek dating! []

bush Bush bUsh BUsh buSh BuSh bUSh BUSh busH (1)

RedLaggedTeut (216304) | more than 13 years ago | (#422051)

Where will this lead ?
Well, obviously to a series of presidents named "Bush".

suggested naming scheme:
g. bush 5.1 thru 5.20

Re:I'm a religious person (1)

MCZapf (218870) | more than 13 years ago | (#422055)

I understand there were similar concerns when organ transplants were first attempted. Who are we to mess with what God created? If He wanted someone else's heart in your chest, He would've put it there himself!

But is anyone worried about that anymore?

You can already buy clones in the UK (1)

humantraffic (220145) | more than 13 years ago | (#422058)

In Old Compton Street, there's a shop called the 'Clone Zone'. When ever I go past it on the way to the Admiral Duncan pub, I see lots of identical looking guys who all have short bleached hair, moustaches and leather caps coming out of it.

It makes be proud to be British to for once the UK having beaten the vaunted scientific elite of the USA .

Re:If only there were a literature... (1)

madro (221107) | more than 13 years ago | (#422060)

On the very slim chance this isn't a troll, I offer the following:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley []
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick [] (replace robots with artificially-created humans)

Personally, I worry that the ones who would most want to clone themselves are probably the ones we'd least want cloned. Also, I think in small quantities it probably wouldn't doom the world (twins, triplets, quads)

... but imagine the process becomes incredibly inexpensive, almost trivial. Throw in artificial wombs. I think when you get to dozens or hundreds of clones, that might get screwy. Some people resent being one of several middle kids in a large family, what if you were one of a hundred identical twins? How would you name them? (if you're not George Foreman)

I wonder how many clones of himself Bill Gates could afford to create ...

Why? ! Should? (1)

Niban (227391) | more than 13 years ago | (#422065)

The author seems to take the stance of 'I find the implications personally frightening, so let us keep this tech under wraps.'

I find this attitude rather distressing. No real logical reasoning, just a affirmation that there are potential consequences. To this I say. "Well duh!"

At some point, a human clone will be born, will they be human? Yes. Will they be treated like a freak by a good portion of society? Quite likely. People are xenophobes by nature, only the scale of the affliction varies.

What I'm attempting to get across is, people are asking the wrong question. A simple variation on "should we allow the cloning of humans?" makes it into "why should we...?"

That is the important question after all.

Personally, I think it's a total waste of time, and counterproductive to humanity in general. Watch how fast the superbugs rampage throught the population when you have entire crops of individuals with identical MHC's. I also consider it an inherent ego trip. But it is not inherently wrong. It is little different than parents attempting to mold their natural children into the image they have set out for them, which most people find distasteful, but which is still legal in every country under the sun.

who am i? (1)

xcyber (228841) | more than 13 years ago | (#422067)

what if i have 3 clones,how can others distinguish which one is the original?
what if i clone myself and send him to jail,if i break the law/?

What's New, Anyway? (1)

CrystalFalcon (233559) | more than 13 years ago | (#422068)

So, this is about how people that are not naturally born may feel like outsiders? Oops, forgot in vitro fertilization here. This is not new by any means. anyway, we were talking about people with identical DNA where they would feel incomplete... uhm, like... just like... twins...

No, I don't think the "copy" is going to hear more "you look just like your daddy" than every single one of us do anyway, despite not being clones. Sure, there were huge headlines when the first in vitro fertilized girl was born. I don't remember when that was, her name, nor where it was, and I don't think most of the people she's around these days know or care either.

Crystal Falcon -- At 200mph no one can hear you scream.

The TeodicÚ Problem (1)

CrystalFalcon (233559) | more than 13 years ago | (#422069)

This is not heresy by any means, rather, it's an age-old problem so old it even has a Latin name; the teodicé problem, translating to "God says".

"If God is all-powerful, and all-good, why is there evil in the world?".

Various priests have tried various explanations, with varying success. Most of these explanations involve not interfering with humankind's free will.

Technology put to use (1)

CrystalFalcon (233559) | more than 13 years ago | (#422070)

Is there a single technology invented that has never been put to use? Not that I know of.

and the solution is more chlorine? (1)

CrystalFalcon (233559) | more than 13 years ago | (#422071)

I basically agree with your points, just wanted to get that subject line there :-)

Since we have taken from nature the power to regulate us, we must take responsibility for that ourselves. That, on the other hand, is a nasty can of worms.

Prejudice will shift (1)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 13 years ago | (#422072)

Cloning humans will bring humanity together like never before, because then 'genuine' humans will be able (and, I'm sure, more than happy) to treat clones as their inferiors.

I'm sure a lot of people will no longer have a problem with the black family across the street, when that soulless bastard that just moved in next door was grown in a test tube in some friggin' lab!

Of course, a lot of those same guys will see nothing wrong with owning their own copy of Jenna Jameson, but that's good old-fashioned American hypocrisy for you. :-)


Nature Nurture (1)

TroyFoley (238708) | more than 13 years ago | (#422075)

One of the many things human cloning is gonna destroy is determinism.

Re:I'm a religious person (1)

Faizdog (243703) | more than 13 years ago | (#422078)

Yes, because that is something intangible, and I don't think physically hardcoded into DNA or anything. That's just me though, please feel free do disagree.

Classic Dating Question (1)

SanLouBlues (245548) | more than 13 years ago | (#422081)

Will go from "Does she have a sister?" to "Does she have an exact genetic duplicate?"

Ghola? (1)

Lede Singer (253091) | more than 13 years ago | (#422084)

Let activate "other memories"!

I think that the reason cloning is so often faught against, is because of the undoubtable outcome; complete change in society as we know it. There are so many possibilites within the technologies of cloning that everything else pales in comparison. I personally, in the short term, am against it, I just don't see enough benefit to outweigh the risk. If the technology could exist without being used, however, I would not be against it. There may be a benefit, someday, to mass clone a particular human or immunity. Since that will never happen, and people, scientists, governments, and crazy terrorists are always going to be "running the wrong way", I must profess my dislike with the technology.

Someones seen waaaay to many Grade B Scifi movies (1)

TheLeperKing (254825) | more than 13 years ago | (#422086)

Cloning themselves out of vanity? Superhuman armies? What element of vanity is quenched by having someone exist who is a genetic copy. In case no one has figured this one out, clones are people to, they are not robots who are going to grow up and be paraded around on leashes. Do you honestly think that is what cloning will do? Clones are people to, just like twins are people. OK, superhuman armies? I think this is another example of a few to many sci-fi movies. Keep in mind that a clone doesnt not mature in a week with the instincts of a killer marine and the tactical knowledge to boot even if they were cloned form said marine. And where does superhuman come in? Thats genetic engineering not cloning. And if you just want to engineer than cloning doesnt really have an advantage over "natural" births. In addition, lets assume that we can create superhuman armies in a week, why would it be Iraq and Syria? Why not us? We have a lot more money and a lot bigger base to produce from. So think before you watch your next sci-fi movie, re: Gattaca.

Cloning is one step too far. (1)

Flabdabb Hubbard (264583) | more than 13 years ago | (#422093)

American Scientists seem obsessed with 'playing god'. Cloning would be OK if it were used to farm organs for those in need of transplants, but I fear that as usual it will become the plaything of the rich, who will clone themselves out of vanity.

Either that or America's sworn enemies like Iraq and Syria will use our technology against us to create a superhuman army to defeat us on the battlefield.

I'm sorry, but I think the genetic genie is out of the bottle, it may be too late for the USA to stuff it back.

Natalie Portmans for all? (1)

JediTrainer (314273) | more than 13 years ago | (#422103)

Pardon the subject... (I was trying to be funny) in any case I think we might have a gene pool problem if too many people get cloned. The danger in cloning, I think, is that we might innovate ourselves out of existence. Cloning an organ for transplant is one thing (that could save lives and I'm divided on the ethics of it). Cloning an entire life can have serious consequences, and I really don't think that we should be so naive that we've thought of everything to the point where it's a safe thing to do.

Besides - what's so wrong with the old-fashioned way of making humans?

The answer seems obvious (1)

Kara B. (315771) | more than 13 years ago | (#422105)

Look, why are we bothering with ethical discussions on cloning. That's just plain stupid.
All we need to do is scrape the shroud of turin for Jesus' dna, clone him and then ask him what he thinks about it.
Since he is our lord and saviour, he'll be able to give a definitive answer. Admittedly we're screwed if he tells us that cloning is wrong - seeing as how we'd have already done it. But the risk of sending a handful of scientists screaming into hell is worth it. Espescially since most scientists are atheists and will burn in hell anyway.
The potential benefits would be huge. Imagine if the cloned Jesus sid that it wasn't adultery to keep a Mel Gibson clone in the closet for those occasions when you want something from "down under." And we're not talking about the current, old enough to be my grandpa, Mel here either - we're talking the "Mad Max" era, greatest film stud since Brando Mel.


Human Cloning will benefit us all. (1)

Heidi Wall (317302) | more than 13 years ago | (#422107)

It is a truly remarkable technology. There is no need to clone a whole human being - we are already developing the technology to clone particular organs on their own. This will be enormously useful in heart and lung transplants, and indeed in transplants of all sorts - even skin transplants.

As to the moral side of cloning, I must say that there is no real problem as far as I can see. We already have human clones in the form of twins - the only way that human cloning could become a big problem in this regard is if everybody decides to do it. As it is, it is only the most successful who will be able to afford cloning, and I think their genes are to be encouraged.

Human cloning should be a great boon to Mankind.
Clarity does not require the absence of impurities,

Cloning adult[1] humans won't mean much... (2)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 13 years ago | (#422121)

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.

Re:There are already human clones and such... (2)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 13 years ago | (#422131)

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.

Definition... (2)

jimhill (7277) | more than 13 years ago | (#422136)

"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".

It won't mean anything (2)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#422141)

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.

Re:I'm a religious person (2)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#422142)

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?

Re:I'm a religious person (2)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#422143)

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?

Bigotry (2)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 13 years ago | (#422144)

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.


_This_ is the problem (2)

redhog (15207) | more than 13 years ago | (#422145)

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.

Human Clones Exist Among Us!! (2)

jekk (15278) | more than 13 years ago | (#422146)

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 <>

I think we miss the point of cloning tech. (2)

Anonymous Shepherd (17338) | more than 13 years ago | (#422151)

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?


Re:DNA ID (2)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 13 years ago | (#422153)

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.

doesn't cloning go against what makes us adaptable (2)

soldack (48581) | more than 13 years ago | (#422158)

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.

Re:Ask an identical twin? (2)

styopa (58097) | more than 13 years ago | (#422161)

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.

Re:There are already human clones and such... (2)

maraist (68387) | more than 13 years ago | (#422168)

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.


DNA ID (2)

nuggz (69912) | more than 13 years ago | (#422169)

Assuming widespread cloning.
DNA evidence and Identification will become much weaker evidence, possibly to the point of being useless.

yummy (2)

passion (84900) | more than 13 years ago | (#422172)

it will mean that hannibal will be able to replicate his favorite dish...

Re:There are already human clones and such... (2)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 13 years ago | (#422174)

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

questions we're not ready for (2)

Platonic1 (126290) | more than 13 years ago | (#422178)

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.

Re:The TeodicÚ Problem (2)

SmellMyTeenSpirit (207288) | more than 13 years ago | (#422183)

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.

Re:I'm a religious person (2)

MCZapf (218870) | more than 13 years ago | (#422185)

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.

It's what it can LEAD to (2)

Seraph321 (237289) | more than 13 years ago | (#422187)

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

Re:Congratulations, you are about to rediscover... (2)

Lede Singer (253091) | more than 13 years ago | (#422188)

"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.

Congratulations, you are about to rediscover... (2)

localroger (258128) | more than 13 years ago | (#422189)


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.

Re:I'm a religious person (2)

SteveNightman (304966) | more than 13 years ago | (#422190)

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?

Re:I'm a religious person (2)

JediTrainer (314273) | more than 13 years ago | (#422191)

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.

What will clones do? (3)

Uruk (4907) | more than 13 years ago | (#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.

Re:I'm a religious person (3)

DGolden (17848) | more than 13 years ago | (#422194)

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...

Re:I'm a religious person (3)

abelsson (21706) | more than 13 years ago | (#422195)

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 :))


I'm a religious person (3)

Faizdog (243703) | more than 13 years ago | (#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?

First understand the subject, then write about it (4)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 13 years ago | (#422201)

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.

"Perfect" Clones == Bad idea! (4)

styopa (58097) | more than 13 years ago | (#422202)

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.

There are already human clones and such... (4)

jamienk (62492) | more than 13 years ago | (#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...

Identical Twins not the Problem, (4)

Aguila (235963) | more than 13 years ago | (#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.

Re:I'm NOT a religious person (5)

Dyolf Knip (165446) | more than 13 years ago | (#422205)

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.


Ask an identical twin? (5)

localroger (258128) | more than 13 years ago | (#422206)

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).

We already have a gene pool problem (5)

localroger (258128) | more than 13 years ago | (#422207)

...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.

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