As a writer, I take a step back and observe the world to try to see how all the parts fit together and work. I then take this knowledge and use it to make my stories more realistic. Part of the reason is that I enjoy realistic stories, so that’s what I write. The rest of the reason is I feel humanity needs to start preparing for what the future will bring. Since I write mostly science fiction, I think about aliens, and clones, and AI systems, and while I feel I could deal with these things, I don’t think most people could. But given that several elements of science fiction will most likely become science fact within the next century, the time when we will have to deal with them is fast approaching.
While I’m lying awake or taking a walk, I’ll let my mind wonder over such things as cyborgs and asteroid impacts to try to work up an idea for a story. So I have come up with numerous observations that – I feel – are interesting in themselves, but don’t necessarily lead to a story idea. I’ve often thought I should write these up for my blog. Well, I’m finally getting around to it.
Someday – almost certainly sooner than anyone suspects – a human will be cloned. There will be protests, boycotts, marches, condemnations, congressional hearings, etc., all for this one minor event. I say minor event, and here is why.
The short term issues
The biggest problem clones will face comes from people watching too many bad scifi movies. 99.9% of cloning in the movies is utter crap. In reality, clones will not be mindless automatons who will blindly follow the orders of some megalomaniac out for galactic domination. You will not walk into an alley where someone will jump you, and ten minutes later a clone duplicate will walk out to steal your identity. And clones will not “remember” their donor and do … whatever. A clone will just be another human. If they can escape the mental scaring caused by “parents” or guardians bent on making them into their donors, they will be no more screwed up then the rest of us.
Cloning will – especially at first – be very expensive. That combined with the fact that we already have over six billion humans made the old fashion way, what need is there to create clones? Seriously, what will be the point? Yes, grieving families will want to replace loved ones, and companies will take their money to give them a clone who will have the same DNA as the person they lost, but who will not be them. And yes, some historical figures will be cloned as well as the best and brightest of various fields, but when the Einstein clone takes up, say poetry instead of physics, what will be the point of continuing?
There will be clones, but they will make up a tiny fraction of the population. But a ton of legal and ethical questions will surround them. Will the donor have all the rights and responsibilities of a parent? What rights will they have if they are cloned against their wishes? How far into the cloning process will they be able to abort it? If the donor is Canadian but the cloning is done in the US, will the clone be Canadian or American?
The long term issues
I said that the fictional insta clones that are ready in a few minutes or hours you often see in movies is utter crap. The technology to rapidly grow clones may be possible, but probably not in the first few decades of cloning technology. But the day may come where you could walk into an alley and ten minutes later a clone walks out to steal your identity. That may happen, but since cloning won’t be the only technology that advances, I’d say that it will be far easier for the bad guys to just hack your cybernetic implants and turn you into a puppet.
About the only realistic reason I can see for large scale clone production, will be to download yourself into a younger body. There are two ways I can see this happening. The first is a brain transplant. Now, if the clone has to grow up so the brain will fit, that will probably only work if the clone can be grown without a brain. But if you could make brainless, insta clones, then that may be a viable option. The second way is some sort of electronic transfer. You upload yourself to some electronic format, then download yourself into an undeveloped brain. Of course, if you can transfer your consciousness into an electronic format, why not keep it there in either a virtual world or put it into a mechanical body? As I said, cloning won’t be the only technology that advances.
Basically, humans will be cloned. A great deal of time will be spent demonizing that, but it may just be a fad.