Cloning Goes Commercial

Via Kimberly Prewitt of FlashLounge.
First Cloned-to-Order Pet Hits the Market

Old news, and even older considering how long the company has been in business, but to me it’s a wake up call that cloning is not science fiction, but a reality when one can purchase a clone.

The only reason I have ethical problems with cloning is mirrored in this statement from the article:

“These people are really having trouble accepting that death is a natural part of life and want an animal just like the one that died – but animals, just like humans, are more than just their genes.”

I find it fascinating that people put so much emphasis on the physical, on the DNA, on the technical blue prints of our very being to represent who we are.

I find just the opposite. Despite my love of helping people, I am a very intrinsic person, and constantly am in a state of reflection and analyzing of myself. I look at all the experiences that I have had in my life, all the people I have interacted with, the places I have gone, and briefly theorize if one had not happened, but another merely to add value and weight to some. All of them have, in effect, made me who I am today and who I’ll be tomorrow.

I used to get extremely frustrated in my first ventures into college during Psychology class. There were many schools of psychology presented, and each was “contested” amongst its practitioners. I found I liked Behavioral Psychology the best, but was still outraged that many of the things presented to me in the classroom were treated as “fact”. It was insulting to be fed such rubbish; a lot of the precepts were based on scientific methods, to be sure, but they never exposed us to the facts and research behind the “knowns” the teacher was presenting. It must of been the teacher, because the whole introduction was very “pompous” feeling. I had a better experience in high school when an ex-cop taught it; she was pretty cool and read us that Chicken Soup book.

At any rate, I can see the youth of the field of Psychology certainly illustrated here. I believe that if we understood ourselves better than we understand how we are made, we would not put so much stake in creating physical copies, but rather copying the emotional essence of a being and figuring out how to continue it’s growth. If it’s one thing a person does not stop doing is growing mentally through experience. Physical growth stops early, and even retards continued growth of the mind at times. We need to stop putting value in these husks that house our personality, our soul, and instead put value in what really makes us, us, and find a way allow continued growth of that.

The 6th Day with Arnold Schwarzenegger had a decent melding of this, but still a blatant disregard for the true benefit of knowing how to copy one’s personality. They successfully could not only copy a human’s physical body (although they used an premature, un-grown host body which was housed in an induced coma like state; extremely unethical) but also could copy the person’s current emotional capacity as well. Although it was difficult, one could see differencing personalities between the cloned and original copy. Don’t event start me on Multiplicity.

That’s not just immortality, that’s ascension. The ability to transport ones mind from one host to another would be the next step in evolution. Even though we use technology to do so, transportation of the mind from one body to the next, not necessarily an exact physical copy, and not necessarily human beings’ minds either is definitely a more amiable goal compared to the duplication of past person; the undying reincarnation vs. the re-creation of a lost loved one. Perhaps the latter is merely because we are only at the stage of being capable of reaching that goal given our current understanding and level of technology. I feel it is better to focus on how our personalities are shaped rather than how we can recreate someone else’s personality; that, however, is blatant proof of my intrinsic nature making me subjective on the whole issue.

At any rate, I hope we make bigger strides in the emotional understanding department so it can catch up to the physical. This unbalance of the 2 main forces, beyond spirituality, that make up a living thing is negatively affecting, in my belief, what people consider worthwhile in another living being. Do you like chocolate because of the way it tastes? Or do you like the taste of chocolate, and therefore desire to have some? Appreciating chocolate for what it is rather than what it can do for you is much like cloning a dead pet in the hope that it will bring you the same joy because of who that pet was. Given the circumstances behind that pets’ new growth, the Hawthorne Effect of the person “wanting” that pet to be and act like the owner’s vision of what the old pet was and acted like; I see no reason why most people couldn’t tell the difference. I think people should have every right to be able to purchase these pets, but I am deeply saddened for the reasons behind the purchases.

It’s a blatant disregard for the pain in life; the hardcore, emotionally shattering experiences that teach us an appreciation for the time we have and the people we have in our hearts. If death is trivial, and merely avoided via a few thousand dollars, than what value does life really have? Would we appreciate others as much if we knew we could buy them back from the grave? Would I have gone out of my way to spend so much time with my now deceased grandmother over the past holidays, knowing that she wasn’t going to be around much longer? “Sorry Grandma, can’t get time off from work, I’ll just wait till next year till they clone you, at which time I will have accumulated more time off.”

My hypothetical questions, naturally are flawed in that we currently cannot duplicate the minds as of yet, but I don’t think it’s very difficult to take the next step beyond the duplication of a pet to the duplication of a relative. It’s almost like slavery in that a pet’s life is shaped by it’s owners. My dog sits passed out on the floor next to me, leaning against the wall. I know that every moment of every day will shape who he is. That’s how things are. But where are they going?

Same dog, same floor, only, he doesn’t know it, but I do, that he is an exact physical duplicate of the past dog I had. I have no intentions of allowing him to become a different dog, to have different experiences than my last dog in fear it’ll change his personality to not be like the dog I remember. He is destined, by my hand, to be the same pet, or as closely as possible. Is that fair? Does he have a right to be who life dictates who he is? Although genetics do play a significant role, and many of the experiences will inevitably lead to a slightly different demeanor, do I have the right to claim that this dog’s life will be just like the last’s? Yes, I’m his owner, end of story.

Take that to a dead relative, though. They are a human being. A physical copy of the last, yes, but are they different? Again, it comes back to what you deem makes a human being. Physically, they are the same, but they are not one and the same. Emotionally, they are hoped to be the same, but their knowledge of self, and potentially the other self from which they are duplicated is not one and the same; and how does that affect their spirituality? Does this assume they are given a choice? If a mother loses her son, and has him cloned so she can start again, is that a different son? Does she have the right to put that son in the mold of the previous son; to raise him as he were a different person? Is that former question flawed because I assume that the son is different? I claim he is; he’s an exact physical copy, potentially an exact copy of the mind… but he’s not the exact same as the last. He’s alive, the others dead, he knows the other existed; they both can’t exist at the same time, because if they did, they’d be one and the same, but their not; their two, separate individuals. Does that new boy, for all intents and purposes “meant” to replace the former, have the right to not fulfill that purpose? His destiny, if you will, is to fulfill his mother’s need for a son, to fill the hole that was left in her heart when her son died. If he does not, is that wrong of him? Does she get her money back? Does the boy get to live his own life? Can he break the shackles of intentions that both mother and father feel for him? Obviously they don’t view him as a separate individual or they wouldn’t have him cloned. They have every intention of him replacing their last son.

I wasn’t born to replace anyone. I was born because my mother and father wanted a child. How would I feel, however, if I were born to replace a lost me. I’m really wishing I had seen that movie that came out a few months ago; about parents cloning their child. If I learned that I was born to replace the former “me”, would I feel a duty to serve that need? If I didn’t, would I feel guilty? Would my parents be mad at me? Would I have a fair chance to live an unbiased life?

I think everyone has the right to live a fair, unbiased life. Thankfully, because of emotion, the other side of our genes, the reaction and growth because of experience, I think we inherently do. As instinct provides us with the basic ability to function within a host, hunting for dogs, using our hands for humans, self and species-preservation for all, from there we are a bunch of lives that are quintessential rays. If you know basic Geometry (which I hated), you have a ray. A ray is a line that starts a point, and continues outward forever. If two rays start at the same point, but are slightly askew (meaning they don’t head the same direction), the distance between them will continue to expand. I believe the same holds true for a clone because of experience. Because of the way we are made, because of the way our mind processes experience, learns from it, and grows from it, no 2 bodies will have the same experiences and process them the same way. Therefore, the whole cloning system is inherently flawed. You are only a clone the nano-second you are created; hence forth, even your synapses fire at different times.

From a business perspective, however, I think it works. Those who do not have knowledge of self, such as pets (dogs, cats), then I can see how people would not mind having such pets cloned because the cloning ray factor doesn’t come into play as much. Since pets do not know they are clones, they go about life in the same guided way their former self did.

I wonder how cloning will circumvent Descartes; “I think, therefore I am.”, or at least solve it with a business answer. I don’t think it can. Let us hope humanity evolves beyond identifying individuality, not just by knowledge of self, by but experience.

2 Replies to “Cloning Goes Commercial”

  1. Going slightly off topic, but your comment about the transfer of the ‘mind’ reminds me of the idea of the ‘construct’ from William Gibson’s Neuromancer… A human mind inside a box, encoded into computer hardware, available for purchase to the highest bidder. Not a complete copy, but the summation of all the knowledge gained over a lifetime.

    In that case, does the construct constitute a consciousness? Which opens the door further – can a machine of human making have a consciousness? What is consciousness?

    I think all these issues tie in together into the realm of human cognition. Is it the ‘ghost in the machine’ that comprises self-awareness? Is it something more than just how neurons connect together? All fascinating topics that cognitive scientists have been working on for a while, without any gigantic breakthroughs. Honestly, finding the secret to cognition could be the biggest mistake humanity can make. Perhaps I am a Luddite, but it seems on the scale of the atomic bomb… Just because you can, should you? Or are such ‘innovations’ inevitable? If the latter is the case, perhaps we can solve some of mankind’s other issues before creating sentience.

  2. I am convinced that clones are actually identical twins. I do not think you can duplicate the soul, and I dont know of any ways in current science to download memories…

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