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Human Cloning Possible Within 50 Years, Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist Claims

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the me-and-more-me dept.

Medicine 233

An anonymous reader writes in with a story about the possibility of having another you in the future. "Human cloning could happen within the next half century, claims a Nobel Prize-winning scientist. Sir John Gurdon, the British developmental biologist whose research cloning frogs in the 1950s and 60s led to the later creation of Dolly the sheep in 1996, believes that human cloning could happen within the next 50 years. He said that parents who lose their children to tragic accidents might be able to clone replacements in the next few decades. Gurdon, who won this year's Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, said that while any attempts to clone a human would likely raise complex ethical issues, he believes that in the near future people would overcome their concerns if cloning became medically useful."

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Instead of cloning, have sex (4, Informative)

Harald Paulsen (621759) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357237)

Unless you're a single parent, just have sex. Good way to create a new offsprint, no? :-)

Re:Instead of cloning, have sex (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357271)

We don't need more people. The resource problem is not going to solve itself, and we are not capable of solving our current issues. Adding more people is stupid, stupid, stupid. Mandatory sterilization for every woman who has birthed one live offspring.

Re:Instead of cloning, have sex (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357387)

You believe we cannot solve our problems, yet you object to having more human brains around. Then you suggest sterilizing successful breeders.

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Instead of cloning, have sex (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357483)

Having less brains around to suck up the dwindling and inadequate energy supplies IS the solution. Putting more energy-demanding people on the planet without adequate energy resources which make survival, let alone thriving, possible is like playing black on roulette table 20 times in a row and winning each time, then letting it ride and it ends up red. It is not a smart bet that having more brains leads to a faster solution if there even is one aside from living within the capacity threshold of this planet. We already exceed that capacity so far that it is unsustainable even for a moderate amount of time, at least for life as we know it. The objection to forced sterilization on moral grounds is met in kind by my moral objection to what we are now doing which is committing ourselves to a delayed mass extinction or near-mass extinction event. When the population boom goes bust you will see way more suffering than from a woman who is told she cannot have more than one child. I know which one is more moral in the long-term. Why don't you?

Re:Instead of cloning, have sex (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357693)

More brains around? Have you forgotten that a majority of the population consists of imbeciles? They'll just get goods grades (and pretend as if that means they're intelligent), be useless, and ultimately soak up resources.

Re:Instead of cloning, have sex (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357837)

Most brains are wasted completely and utterly on religion and territorial battles. Increasing the number of brains will not matter since the brains who are in charge are NOT the best brains we have... only the most selfish and sociopathic.

Re:Instead of cloning, have sex (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357955)

You believe that brains can magically make energy appear. If that were so, why did it take the discovery of oil to propel our technology forward? Is it because you have blinders on?

Re:Instead of cloning, have sex (1)

somersault (912633) | about a year and a half ago | (#42358033)

Then you suggest sterilizing successful breeders

Sounds like someone could do with watching Idiocracy.

Re:Instead of cloning, have sex (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357757)

So you support cutting the populating by 50% in one generation? We are already having problems with too many elderly and not enough people to take care of them, and you want to change the ratio by 100%?

To hell with the Boomers anyway. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357879)

Actually, I would. Right now, we're causing global warming with just a fraction of the Earth's population living at the standards of the First World. China and India are rapidly increasing that percentage, and other developing nations are rushing to catch up. We're simply not going to have the usable farmland to feed all these people, and letting the population reduce by simply electing not to have children is so much better than war, famine, and authoritarian controls.

And frankly, when it comes to the population bulge of the elderly, either build robots or finally get that baby boomer generation to learn a lesson in not being such a bunch of self-entitled "the world revolves around us" fuckers. It's disproportionately their fault we're in this mess, so let them reap what they've sown in fiscal and immigration policy.

Re:Instead of cloning, have sex (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42358111)

How about we just sterilize people like you.

Re:Instead of cloning, have sex (5, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357825)

No, it's a terrible way... for men anyway. Fact is, women very often use men so they can have children and simply "change" after they got what they want. Often the current legal system is used as a means of collecting child support so that the woman doesn't have to work for a living. Stuff like this [tiredblackman.com] goes on more than I would like to think. And I was almost a victim of ridiculous rules about child support where my ex-wife was collecting welfare in California and she included our two sons in with the claim. I don't know how long the process takes, but eventually, the state of California tracked me down to my employer and informed them of the requirement to take my pay. This was very confusing for me and for my employer. The problem? *I* had the children with me and had been with me for quite some time. Had them enrolled in school. The records of my having them were abundantly available. The child support office in Texas said "it is not our responsibility to validate the claims made by other states" and apparently the rules for proof are equally bad in California. I actually had to take my sons out of school, drag them down to the child support office with all sorts of paperwork to prove I am their father and that my sons are with me. What the hell!? So easy for women to make claims and so hard for men to fight it.

We used to appreciate the need for a strong nuclear family. I don't know when that changed... probably before I realized it... I grew up rather old fashioned and still think like that most of the time.

There is a population decline in the first world. The third world is multiplying like rabbits, however. "Save the children"? Really? Stop having children you can't support. I know. I know... that's a first-world person's mind. I'm sure there are good reasons for bringing in a baby which cannot be supported into the world. To be fair, a lot of it is instinct but we can't talk about that because instinct is something only animals have instead of minds to think with and we can't go anywhere near that subject.

It might seem somewhat orwellian or apocalyptic or something, but I seriously think there should be some population controls in place as it is. But once again, no one wants to go there... to decide who should reproduce and who shouldn't. "Do you have a license for that baby?" The world is facing some serious problems with population and resources. It is presently not sustainable and something has got to give. And with global warming changing the way rain falls all over the planet, there will soon be some massive dyings in different parts of the world... and violence... there's always violence... all of which could be avoided if we would simply take charge of our human existance and bring things under control.

It would be immoral... but is it less immoral to let thousands of not millions die of starvation? Only the 1% are expected to survive all of this well you know.

Re:Instead of cloning, have sex (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42358219)

My parents were in their fifties when we lost my brother. And cloning won't replace him.

Human cloning is a gimmick. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357247)

You may be able to recreate a human with the exact same genetic material as its source, but that doesn't mean creating another you. The butterfly effect applies in the womb (or whatever replacement they will be using for it) - the brain will develop slightly differently in individuals, even if genetic material is 100% identical. Thus, identical twins may well have slightly different characters (one good, one evil). Also, this clone of yours will never have had the exact set of experiences that you did, and therefore will develop differently.

Also, I may be biased but I think the old fashioned way of creating humans is more fun.

Re:Human cloning is a gimmick. (5, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357703)

I wouldn't say 'slight differences'. Even raised in the same environment, and sharing many of the same experiences, identical twins are not identical. Nobody would argue that they are two different people.
Obviously a clone may share appearances with their DNA donor, but would have a totally different environment and experiences. They would probably be nothing alike outside of their overall appearance.

Saying that parents could replace a dead offspring is a horrible and deceitful thing to say. The clone would be a new person that only looked like the dead one. The parents would be torturing themselves by having a constant reminder of the dead child in the image of a new one that definitely isn't the prior one. As to the poor clone, it would be always having to live up to the expectations others have based on a dead child. You thought you had a problem living in the shadow of your older siblings, just imagine the horror of living in the shadow of a dead child you were cloned from.;

I'm not against cloning, but it needs to be done for the correct reason, and people need to understand that the clones are new individuals that have nothing to do with their donor other than sharing a genetic heritage, just like you. You see, you are essentially a hybrid clone derived from 2 donors. It's not an exact analogy, but it's close enough. Kind of funny how that works out.

Re:Human cloning is a gimmick. (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about a year and a half ago | (#42358051)

Ask Aphex Twin about that experience, his parents named him exactly the same as his older dead brother, and when he was young they took him to see a gravestone with his name on it..

People wonder why he makes the music he does.

Re:Human cloning is a gimmick. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42358109)

I think a long term study of human clones over time would give some interesting data as to what we consider unique about ourselves.
Saying that parents can replace a dead offspring is a technically correct (from a socially inept scientific standpoint), yet terribly insensitive thing to say.
I'm fairly sure that in society, as the hybrid clone of two donors, one is held to the standards of those donors. I refer you to "The apple does/doesn't fall far from the tree", "living up to expectations", and other such idioms. Incidentally, I do find it a little horrifying.

Re:Human cloning is a gimmick. (2)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#42358011)

Until we can exactly copy a human brain into a blank one, the fact that you can make an identical looking body is totally irrelevant. You could probably get that by cosmetic surgery now anyway, but no one would think for a minute that it was a replica of the original you had lost.

Re:Human cloning is a gimmick. (2)

Sigg3.net (886486) | about a year and a half ago | (#42358215)

For those of us in IT; It's not a backup, it's an early fork.

Nature vs. nuture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357253)

I can see developmental and genetic psychologists lining up to see this.

"He said that parents who lose their children to tragic accidents might be able to clone replacements in the next few decades." on the other hand, is misleading, absolutely outrageous, and unintentionally hilarious.

Re:Nature vs. nuture (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357277)

Grieving parents are not the most rational decision makers. It's quite possible that there will be a scientist of dubious morality somewhere in one of the less regulated countries willing to produce a clone, and grieving parents who will hand over their life savings for even the slimmest chance of recapturing just a hint of the child they lost.

Re:Nature vs. nuture (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357973)

There is a pretty fair chance that human clones already exist. It only becomes an ethical issue if you make the arbitrary decision to examine it as an ethical issue. These days it seems we have unofficial morality and ethic goons who wish to reach out and apply their usually warped beliefs to actions of people and places that have nothing to do with them at all. They seem to have some internal bill of rights that causes them to want to be some sort of judge over everything, everywhere, at all times.

Replace a dead child? (2)

michael021689 (791941) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357275)

I support human cloning. Why not? Maybe some of us are too valuable to waste by mixing our genetics with an inferior being. I'm sure there are people who think like that. But to replace a child? Not only would the kid always worry about whether or not he was "wanted" or "playing his role" correctly, but the parents would quite likely overcompensate in one way or another. Would you really want to be a "replacement" whose parents either spoiled you stupid for being someone that isn't "you" or neglect you because you don't "match" the way you should?

Re:Replace a dead child? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357311)

its because of incredibly stupid assertions like this "replace your dead child" that cloning has taken this umbeliveably negative characteristics - if you clone somebody you obtain an identical twin, identical twin _ARE_ clones, nothing more and nothing less.

Re:Replace a dead child? (2)

guttentag (313541) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357553)

I support human cloning. Why not? Maybe some of us are too valuable to waste by mixing our genetics with an inferior being. I'm sure there are people who think like that.

If you should run into such a person, ask them if they think inbreeding with their cousins is wrong. Then ask them if inbreeding with their siblings is wrong. Then ask them to imagine the kind of genetic disaster that would result if they inbred with themselves.

But to replace a child? Not only would the kid always worry about whether or not he was "wanted" or "playing his role" correctly, but the parents would quite likely overcompensate in one way or another. Would you really want to be a "replacement" whose parents either spoiled you stupid for being someone that isn't "you" or neglect you because you don't "match" the way you should?

Any parent who is so selfish that they value the genetic attributes of their dead kid more than the relationship they shared with that unique individual should have their cloned kid taken away. And then the cloned kids should be permitted to clone their parents so they can raise them properly. And some day when their parent clones are grown up they can introduce them to their original parents and let Jerry Springer decide which one turned out better.

Re:Replace a dead child? (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357801)

But what exactly makes a person 'too valuable to waste'? With a different set of experiences a clone is likely to turn out quite differently from the original. Let's say you clone a sports legend - with different experiences the clone likely won't choose to dedicate his/her life to training to repeat the achievements of the original.

Re:Replace a dead child? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357855)

Now that's just creepy. Nothing like giving a child; a clone child at that; giving a child a serious identity complex. "We loved your source so much and when we lost him, we wanted to bring him back. Now we have you." Huh?! What? You love me or my ghost brother?! WTF?!

Re:Replace a dead child? (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357867)

It makes more sense than replacing an adult unless a way is found around a clone of say a 48 year old having a very short life span while a clone of a one year old having a normal life span. Look at some of the things written about Dolly the sheep for details (New Scientist had some good stuff).
Oddly enough childrens anime explores these themes well - in Nanoha there is a character obsessed with her dead daughter who creates a clone, but then hates the clone intensely because the clone is not really her daughter.

I'm afraid I don't have the imagination for a useful application for human cloning apart from morally dubious stuff like growing a liver donor. If somebody rich enough to get a clone grown wants an heir there's plenty of babies out there to adopt.

Re:Replace a dead child? (5, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year and a half ago | (#42358041)

Kid: "Mom, I want a skateboard!"

Mom: "No, you'll fall off a handrail doing a trick with it, crack your head open, and die."

Kid: "No I won't!"

Mom: "Trust me, this is the third time that I've been through this . . . "

Arnold Schwarzenegger movie ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357291)

I thought I have already watched this movie : Video [youtube.com]

Re:Arnold Schwarzenegger movie ? (1)

blackiner (2787381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357451)

The fuck? I was expecting something like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVIZx3Cl78k [youtube.com] but it was just a bunch of old people dancing?

Would anyone really want to replace a dead child? (4, Interesting)

Radak (126696) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357303)

I can understand the desire to clone lost pets. The pet relationship is one of companionship, and creating a pet predisposed to similar behaviors as one who made a good companion before makes some sense, but a child? I cannot imagine most parents would want to do that, no matter the circumstances of the loss of the original child. You think it's tough on a kid finding out he's adopted? Imagine finding out you were a replacement.

Re:Would anyone really want to replace a dead chil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357327)

Right, cloning pets is completely different because... pets aren't humans! Humans are special snowflakes, so you shouldn't clone them!

Re:Would anyone really want to replace a dead chil (3, Insightful)

Radak (126696) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357361)

Right, cloning pets is completely different because... pets aren't humans!

Not trying to come across as some kind of blubbering sentimentalist, but yeah, that's exactly it. I wouldn't call humans "special snowflakes", but yes, humans are different when it comes to things like this, and the ethical questions that must be answered are a superset of those we must answer for other animals.

Re:Would anyone really want to replace a dead chil (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357737)

They're actually not different to me when it comes to things like this. As a human, you're biased to believe that humans are better (special snowflakes), and so you believe it's objective, but in reality it is not. I have no problems with human cloning.

Re:Would anyone really want to replace a dead chil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357809)

They're actually not different to me when it comes to things like this. As a human, you're biased to believe that humans are better (special snowflakes), and so you believe it's objective, but in reality it is not. I have no problems with human cloning.

Why, that's insightful!!! Let's give the animals the right to vote, why should only the special snowflakes have this right to influence the environ they spend most life in?

Re:Would anyone really want to replace a dead chil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357951)

They're actually not different to me when it comes to things like this. As a human, you're biased to believe that humans are better (special snowflakes), and so you believe it's objective, but in reality it is not. I have no problems with human cloning.

I'm guessing you don't really think much in terms of other people's feelings do you? The problem here is how people will treat the clone of a dead child (vs. how they will treat the clone of a random person vs. how they will treat a child created a conventional way).. Maybe you consider yourself some sort of enlightened individual who will treat a clone just the same as any other child, but you need to realize that the very people who would be motivated to clone their dead child would most certainly not. (Otherwise, they'd just make one the conventional way, barring exceptional cases involving low fertility.)

Those differing expectations are very important for the mental health and development of the child. Animals are less likely to be harmed by the difference than humans are due to differences in mental capacity and development. There is a whole different set of expectations placed up on a clone of your dog vs. a clone of your human child. Inflicting such a set of burdens on a child is exceptionally cruel and harmful to their development as an individual.

Re:Would anyone really want to replace a dead chil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357983)

A dog is an animal. A human is an animal. See there! Another ethical issue vanished into vapor. But, but, but, but, it hurts me to think of myself as an animal. I mean i don't want to be like a dead dog rotting at the side of the road.
                            Fear driving reasoning doesn't work very well.

Re:Would anyone really want to replace a dead chil (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42358115)

yes, humans are different when it comes to things like this, and the ethical questions that must be answered are a superset of those we must answer for other animals.

It's true, but not in the way I infer from your comment. It's not that cloning humans is different from their perspective, it's that it's different to the living. It's how we feel about it that defines morality. Well, how we decide we feel about it in the aggregate, anyway, and the majority.

Cloning the dead seems like a special mistake that can only lead to stagnation and the repetition of mistakes (and possibly redundancy.) We need human cloning for making body parts! It would be nice to just clone the parts, though.

Re:Would anyone really want to replace a dead chil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357405)

Even if you told a dog to his face that he was a stupid, worthless clone, nothing like the original, he'd sit there and happily wag his tail.

So maybe pets are different than humans and maybe, just maybe, cloning a human has different consequences than cloning a dog.

Re:Would anyone really want to replace a dead chil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357839)

..."Imagine finding out you were a replacement." ...nooo here comes hollywood!!!

Re:Would anyone really want to replace a dead chil (1)

dohzer (867770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42358025)

What would be the big deal about being a replacement?
It's not like you'd be a robot without free-will.

Re:Would anyone really want to replace a dead chil (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42358107)

You think it's tough on a kid finding out he's adopted? Imagine finding out you were a replacement.

I already know someone raising a kid like that. He neglected his original son because the mother's family drove him away, and he let them. His first son committed suicide and left a note fingering him. Now he's got another son and has actually said he feels like the spirit of the dead son is in this one. You don't even need a clone for this. This is not to suggest that we should use cloning to attempt to revive the dead, however; indeed, I left this comment to support your position. There's kids getting it bad enough out there now over this very issue, it would be dramatically worse if they were made from the very same DNA and looked identical.

50 years?? (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357307)

why so long? Biology ain't my thing, but I fail to see what's so different about humans than sheep or dogs. Is human DNA that much more complex than other mammals?

I thought the problem was more of an ethical one rather than technical. My understanding is that to clone an animal, you must create lots of fetuses and most of them die until you get a successful one. Acceptable for sheep, not acceptable for humans. Is that right?

Re:50 years?? (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357381)

I would imagine that animals can't communicate any other conditions that they might have as a result of the process, but our technology to detect these problems either hasn't matured or doesn't exist. Take for example, having pain or numbness somewhere. Or maybe in things that most animals don't have, for example finer motor skills or higher order thought processes.

I suspect that cloning an octopus or a dolphin respectively could determine the practicability of those, but there are any number of other things that could be missed.

Re:50 years?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357527)

Also a lot of the cloned animals haven't lived all that long for one reason or another

Re:50 years?? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357719)

Cloneing is very unreliable. Dolly was famous, but less famous were the hundreds of failed attempts which either failed to implant or miscarried before birth. Such an approach works fine in sheep, where your lab can keep a breeding stock of ewes, but it isn't very practical for humans.

Re:50 years?? (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357725)

cloning tech isn't perfect. before dolly there were a lot of sheep born inside out and similar.

with sheep a lot of failures isn't a big deal but if we rushed ahead with cloning humans it would likely lead to a lot of deformed and damaged children which would almost certainly lead to the tech being banned.

Which would be a pity because there's incredible possible medical applications.
lets say they figured out how to clone individual organs. bad heart? lets grow you a new one.

Re:50 years?? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357885)

The problem would be doing it right and perfect each and every time and to be able to intervene if things start to go bad along the way. A six-legged calf isn't so much of a moral issue... but deformed human clones?! Uh boy.... do we have to go there?

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357317)

We could clone kdawson so he could go fuck himself!

Cloning for organ farming (4, Insightful)

Radak (126696) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357319)

The only kind of human cloning I think I'd really like to see is cloning for organ farming, either cloning an entire (brainless, presumably) copy of myself so I have an entire inventory of replacement organs, or cloning individual organs as the need arises. Ultimately, I'd like to be able to grow a whole new me whose body is, say, 20 years old, and then transfer my brain into the new body. Still have to solve the problem of the brain itself decaying, but once we figure that out, the world can enjoy my rapier wit forever!

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

etash (1907284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357449)

I think the technologically hardest problem of all is the brain transferring process: correctly read and transfer.

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

Radak (126696) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357469)

I was thinking surgical transfer rather than copy. Copying is probably a lot further off technologically (if it's possible at all) and is rife with "where is the soul" and "who am I" and "what is sentience" questions. Surgically, once the technology exists, it should just be a massive cable patching task.

This raises an interesting question for the hardware types: If physical brain transfer becomes commonplace, we're going to need a standardized connector so that we're not soldering a million nerves every time. What would the connector look like? Please, not a massive version of RJ45. I feel bad enough breaking the tab off my ethernet cable connectors. Imagine how I would feel when I did that to my husband.

Re:Cloning for organ farming (2)

etash (1907284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357503)

surgical transfer is a temporary choice in my book. and a bad one that is. like you said the brain decays too. For me the correct and elegant solution is mind-transfer. The "where is the soul" problem is non-existent for non religious people ( and i think most people who have "ethical" problems with cloning do so, mainly due to a total collapse of the "this unique thing called soul exists" notion -- though i'm sure they will find a philosophical workaround once a human clone happens, but that's a totally different topic ). The "who am i" question will not arise, because the "new" you will feel exactly that the old new, provided that the mind-information transfer was precise and total. It's like you waking up from an appendectomy surgery. Do you ask yourself that question in that occasion ?

it won't be an rj45, it will be an intel socket 2011!

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

Radak (126696) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357581)

The "where is the soul" problem is non-existent for non religious people

I don't know about that. I'm completely non-religious, but I still ask myself what's special about the collection of cells in my head that make me me. I don't think you have to have imaginary sky friends to ponder whether there's something about that mass of cells that can't simply be copied, taking the consciousness with it.

The "who am i" question will not arise, because the "new" you will feel exactly that the old you

And herein lies a problem I've always pondered about transporters (as in "beam me up"). If you can make a perfect copy of a thinking brain, I think you're right that the new copy will feel exactly like the old copy, which means it will think it's the old copy, which means it'll happily tell you that the copying process worked just fine and consciousness really did transfer to the new copy. How do we prove it? How can we be certain that whatever my consciousness is, whatever makes my experience mine, wasn't destroyed in the copying process, merely producing a perfect copy that thinks it's me? We could be "dying" every time we copy/transport and never know it.

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

etash (1907284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357677)

about your first paragraph:

it's not (entirely) about the cells, but mostly about what's stored in them. in other words, it's about the software and data, not the hardware. Though actually both hardware and software ( + data ) make us for what we are. Nevertheless, the question shouldn't arise, because I don't see why either can't be copied theoretically. Hardware ( the brain ) can be copied - theoretically - in a 1-1 process, through cloning, and the same goes for software and data, once we have a technique through which we can read what the cells store. I mean, I don't see any theoretical problem with it, it's merely practical for the time being. The brain is just a complex electrochemical machine with a hard disk. Unless one believes in invisible pink unicorns ( soul ) , I don't see why it cannot theoretically be exactly copied.

about your second paragraph:

how do we prove it. I think it goes like this: when we will be at a technological stage where mind reading and transferring will start to be possible, we most probably won't suddenly have a 100% copy technique, it may start as a 90% copy and through refinements it will reach 99% or 99,999% even up to 100%. Even a 95% or 99% copy is not bad. I don't think people who have brain surgeries and have had parts of their brains removed or disabled due to a stroke, feel like they are not their real selves. How do we prove the copy was exact ? I think it will be possible through a md5 or sha1 check of both minds after the copying transfer. I don't see why does it matter if the old copy is destroyed in the process of copying ( if it works that way ), IF the new copy is exactly the same. It doesn't matter at all. The "death" will only be a second or so and you won't be aware of it. Just like going to sleep and then waking up.

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42358123)

There is another problem - like you said, we would be copying a person. What do we do with the original?

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42358129)

herein lies a problem I've always pondered about transporters (as in "beam me up"). If you can make a perfect copy of a thinking brain, I think you're right that the new copy will feel exactly like the old copy, which means it will think it's the old copy, which means it'll happily tell you that the copying process worked just fine and consciousness really did transfer to the new copy. How do we prove it?

They address this in Trek, I forget in which movie but I'm pretty sure it was on a movie. Someone complains that they're making copies of people and killing the originals and they say well, that was the old technology, so we only used it for cargo, but now we actually convert you and send you... which is how you can lose someone in a transporter accident. And it's also how you can get the same someone out of the buffer many years later in extreme circumstances.

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year and a half ago | (#42358233)

"They address this in Trek, I forget in which movie but I'm pretty sure it was on a movie. Someone complains that they're making copies of people and killing the original""

Read "Way Station" by Clifford Simak.

Much better than Star Trek and covers this exact subject.

--
BMO

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357773)

Brain transplant is a surgical nightmare. All those cranial nerves and fiddly bits, on an organ fragile as jelly. Don't transplant the brain: Transplant the whole head. It's easier.

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357845)

But let's say we learn to copy the brain (while not copying the decay). What do we do with the original brain? Kill it? Sure the new you would feel it was the same person as the old you, but so would the old you.

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357849)

What would the connector look like? Please, not a massive version of RJ45.

Ah, you're a Linux user, I see

.

.

.

.

.

.

(spoiler alert [xkcd.com] )

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357501)

two words: CRC check

Re:Cloning for organ farming (4, Funny)

xstonedogx (814876) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357455)

You took the wrong lesson away from The Island. The correct lesson: clone Scarlett.

Re:Cloning for organ farming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357551)

Read Spares by Michael Marshall Smith.

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

terec (2797475) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357559)

You don't need cloning for that. If you wanted a replacement body, you could start with any fetus and modify its immune system not to reject your brain. And for transplanting individual organs, there will likely be cheaper and simpler ways of (1) preventing rejection of foreign organs or (2) growing them from your own stem cells within a decade or so without having to go through the expense of cloning.

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357817)

And your brainless copy can spend it's time doing healthy exercise and waiting to go to the Island.

Re:Cloning for organ farming (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357905)

That would be good at some levels, but I think we'd be better off in the long run if we were to ignore commercial interests and start proving which things cause health problems in humans and eliminate them. The problem is we want money more than life and heath and are perfectly happy sacrificing the rest of humanity so we can have better preservatives, pain relievers, sweeteners and other such things.

The money would be better spent on prevention.

Re:Cloning for organ farming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42358057)

And the best thing is: In 50 years, there's still a chance that I am still alive if life expectancy continues to rise.

Cloning is already useful! (3, Insightful)

bugnuts (94678) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357357)

I need to farm a new heart with no chance of rejection.

See? The ethical issues aren't complex at all!

Re:Cloning is already useful! (3, Funny)

etash (1907284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357457)

you're such a _heartless_ person!

In other words, it might not be impossible (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357407)

http://xkcd.com/678/ [xkcd.com] (Researcher Translation)

One valid use for Cloning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357431)

Until the human memory can be uploaded to digital storage media like Bart Kosko [wikipedia.org] promoted in his Y2k book Heaven in a Chip, a cloned replacement child wouldn't have any of the memories of the deceased child, which would certainly trigger an uncanny valley [wikipedia.org] type of reaction from everyone who knew the deceased to any degree,

But I can think of another very good reason for a clone.

Say you're riding your motorcycle and some idiot in a car left turns you and you're horribly injured and basically just a brain, then I'd love to have a clone to transfer into so I could get back to riding motorcycles.

Re:One valid use for Cloning... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357909)

Say you're riding your motorcycle and some idiot in a car left turns you and you're horribly injured and basically just a brain, then I'd love to have a clone to transfer into so I could get back to riding motorcycles.

So, it was me that rode that motorcycle and it was me to become just a brain (BTW, it is called locked-in syndrome), but... it is somehow you to get a clone and get back to riding motorcycles.

It make as much sense of doing the same thing and expecting different results.

but it ain't the same (2)

SuperDre (982372) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357453)

cloning a child doesn't bring the child back, it only brings back a DNA copy, but not the same person (unless they invent something like the 'syncorder' as used in the movie 'the 6th day').
Well, if it's ethical is another matter, as something deemed ethical is always in the eye of the beholder.. personally being able to just buy a new body and keep living on doesn't seem like a bad idea to me.. And what's the difference in cloning an animal or a person, to me there isn't as we too are just animals..

Re:but it ain't the same (1)

etash (1907284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357463)

since the person will be totally different, there is no ethical problem imho. the only problem is purely practical, "evolutional": why create an exact copy of an existing biological entity, when you can leave the gene mix matching to the nature for the possible benefit of a better random combination of genes ?

Yeah, because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357461)

Yeah, because we don't have overpopulation already :(

They made a shitty movie about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357481)

"Sixth Day", with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It's a crappy movie, but slightly amusing nonetheless. It dealt with this exact thing, complete with cloned pets too.

50 years? more like next week. (1)

zaax (637433) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357507)

As soon as they over come the Hayflick limit cloning will be possiable. Dolly the sheep was cloned may years ago but the lambs had problem with (amost other things) the Hayflick limit.

Re:50 years? more like next week. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42358153)

Dolly the sheep was cloned may years ago but the lambs had problem with (amost other things) the Hayflick limit.

That's OK, people don't eat hay.

outlaw identical twins? (1)

terec (2797475) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357529)

I don't see where the "ethical dilemmas" are supposed to be with cloning. A clone is pretty much like an identical twin, nothing more. The only ethical dilemma I see is that cloning may predispose the clone to some additional risk and genetic disorders, but that's something we can presumably get under control (in other primates) and it's something we routinely accept for other reproductive technologies.

Re:outlaw identical twins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357687)

X-men...

What is the aparent issue about cloning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357565)

Just what is it?

Normal sexual reproduction creates an individual with a randomised mix of DNA. Cloning would create a 'twin'. But twins are quite common. Is it that twins are 'a little creepy'?

Or is it that, once you start developing the ability to specify the DNA sequence precisely, you start thinking about altering it and 'improving' it? Which might produce all kinds of future problems...

Or is it just that 'Brave New World' featured factory-produced clones who were already allocated a position in society? And all the loss of freedom that entails? Well, sure, that's bad - but we've already implemented almost ALL of '1984' - why shouldn't we go the whole hog and do BNW as well?

(My take on 1984 - pretty continuous war for no obvious reason, population kept subdued with games and draconian laws, politicians and law-enforcement staff above the law, use made of torture and psychological techniques to control people, an ongoing story about a vague external enemy (They had 'Goldstein', we had 'terrorists'), extensive networks of cameras and other monitoring devices to provide intelligence on the state's citizens... - you get the picture...)

Re:What is the aparent issue about cloning? (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357899)

Were the people in Brave New World clones or just grown in vitro? I seem to recall that genetic material of the 'current generation' was harvested (before they were sterilized). Sure there were genetic castes (and the lowest classes were given alcohol as fetuses to stunt their brains), but they were still new combinations of old material.

This won't work! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357599)

Suppose you lose a child. Cloning won't bring back the same kid. It will be only the same body. And you'll live the rest of your life trying to make his behavior the same as the other child raised on a different epoch.

I'd be surprised if this isn't already happening! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357645)

Humans can't be all that different than sheep and mice, and there's plenty of persons with motives and means. If I needed an organ donor, had enough time and money, I'm sure I could find a lab to help out and keep their mouths shut. I'm more surprised that billionaires still keep passing on, as far a we know.

It wouldn't take that long (1)

DrXym (126579) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357649)

Scientists can clone high order animals right now including mammals. What exactly is the issue from a scientific standpoint of cloning a human? I'm sure there are issues but mostly they relate to ethics than the actual science. I wouldn't be surprised if some labs could clone a human right now and would if they thought they could withstand the onslaught of controversy and legal issues that it would bring with it.

Ethical problems? (1)

famebait (450028) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357695)

In simple standard case, it's just a matter of an identical twin with a different age. Can't see what's ethically questionable or complex about that.

But there's a hidden snag: normally, there would be no reason to do that. Once there is a more specific motive, the questions start popping up. Most cases have parallels already, but safe, efficient cloning would make them more accessible and likely:

Clueless idiots raising a clone to be a replacement for a lost child isn't in principle any different from clueless people today raising a normal sibling to be a replacement. But it might be more *likeley*.

Conceiving with the specific aim of transplanting is already an ethical conundrum we have to handle today, but with cloning it would be a lot more promising in fulfilling its aim, and the request much more common. Hopefully w'ed be able to grow organs without a clone by then, but you never know.

John Gurdon's an interesting fellow... (2)

pev (2186) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357717)

He was interviewed this week on Radio 4's "The Life Scientific" and you can download the interview as .mp3 [bbc.co.uk] . And yes, I think you peeps outside the UK are treated to this as well even though it's the BBC.

I can also *highly* recommend Slashdotters have a dig through the TLS archive for other interviews ; it's full of incredible scientists talking about their life and work. Proper fascinating. For my money I can reccommend the first three as starting points Paul Nurse [bbc.co.uk] , Stephen Pinker [bbc.co.uk] , Jocelyn Bell-Burnell [bbc.co.uk] .

An extra special mention goes to the interview with Molly Stephens [bbc.co.uk] . She is doing the most incredible things that blew my mind when I heard the interview. Not only that but she's assembled a really unusual collection of people with skills across so many different fields to look at the one goal in a the pragmatic way that so many organisations fail to. Oh, and she comes across as a genuinely lovely and interesting lady. Wow. I just realised that I have the most immense geek crush on her. I hope she doesn't read Slashdot... Actually, if you do, fancy a drink? :-D

What about clones as spare body parts (1)

detain (687995) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357755)

If we can build clones then we should be able to start using them to grow spare organs and limbs for people that need transplants or are injured. Does a clone have a soul?

Re:What about clones as spare body parts (1)

pev (2186) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357935)

Interestingly, see my previous post about the TLS podcast. Listen to the interview with Molly Stephens and then reconsider whether that's such an economical approach...!

More interested in organs cloning (1)

Pecisk (688001) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357767)

I'm more interested (and what seems also much closer target, some research promise it in next 5 years) that you can clone tissue, kidney, etc. in laboratory. That would make much bigger impact on society.

For creating an offspring better try sex. Much funier expierence.

Immorality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357841)

This is great. Doctors better start practicing brain transplants. I want to make sure they have perfected this so nothing will go wrong in my new body.

If you could clone yourself (1)

prasadsurve (665770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42357893)

wouldn't you re-engineer your genetic makeup to be better (stronger, smarter, more handsome)?

Wouldn't you want to be the best you can be (with your own genes) a la Gattaca [imdb.com] ?

Yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357925)

Forget cloning. Where's my FLYING CAR?

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42357947)

So I finally can get a younger twin, I always wanted one.

In related news, water is wet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42358003)

I'm pretty sure anyone who took a biology class knew that cloning humans would be possible within 50 years when Dolly was cloned...humans are mammals too. Anyway thanks for the update Captain Obvious!

Perhaps within 50 years it will be possible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42358069)

... to make reliable predictions 50 years in the future.

subject (1)

Legion303 (97901) | about a year and a half ago | (#42358167)

"He said that parents who lose their children to tragic accidents might be able to clone replacements in the next few decades."

But this wouldn't be the same child. The original will have still died in the accident. It's like replacing your daughter's dead puppy and naming it "Fido 2." Even she knows it's not a real substitute.

Claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42358181)

"I'll be dead in 50 year" claims the 73 year old Sir John Gurdon

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