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Why Not Clone
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WHY NOT CLONE?

(THE FOLLOWING IS A BRILLIANT DISCUSSION ABOUT CLONING IN A QUESTION AND ANSWER FORMAT.)

----- Original Message ----- Reprinted with permission of Naveen Garg Feb 3, 2003

 

Why not Clone?

 

Naveen Garg

  1. Intuitive sense:  It just feels wrong

Not to me.

  1. People might recreate Hitler or some other evil

How will you provide the right nurturing environment in (nature vs. nurture theory of development) Instrumental conditioning and brainwashing are weak and unreliable instruments and it should be equally difficult to use whatever brainwashing technique on true clones of humans. 

  1. People might harvest organs from clone babies.

People might harvest a heart from a twin, but the twin is protected by civil and birthrights punishable by law, just as a clone should be.  Law protects against infanticide, and so is the kind of cannibalism involved in harvesting organs from babies.

  1. It’s an unfair burden to impose on a clone that its a copy of another human.  (Unfair to burden Einstein’s clone with relativistic ;) expectations)

Its unfair to burden a baby girl with expectations of being a ice skater, its unfair to burden a child with expectations of being a basketball star, or a doctor, but that hasn’t stopped people from having aspirations for their children.  Recognizing that children are independent beings with rights to choose their destiny should be extended to clones. 

  1. It can be used for malicious purposes (see # 1,2,3)

So can guns be used, so can sexually produced children.

  1. Individuality might be sacrificed if we have clones.

This is a difficult issue.  I don’t dismiss it, however, here are some thoughts to consider:  Are twins redundant people?  If a twin is lost, has the world not lost some diversity?  I think it has, twins are not redundant.  If a mother loses a 25-year-old twin A, vs. losing twin B, does she know the difference?  Yes.  Twins are still individuals, as are clones.  Clones can still have different birth dates, different birthplaces, and at the very least different social security numbers.  Can we account for clone and make sure they have a separate ss# and make sure their rights are not violated.  Yes, to the same extent that we can assure that women don’t secretly sexually reproduce a child and kill it.  Especially since a woman can’t secretly with the aid of just one male produce a clone… she needs a whole technology setup, which can be licensed, just as doctors are licensed to deliver babies and proper authorities are licensed to create birth records for sexually reproduced children.  If you were one of a thousand clones, and the society you were born in valued diversity as ours does, and you all grew up valuing diversity.  Would it not be feasible for the thousand clones to observe each other, negotiate with each other, and pursue diverse interests?  If your primary goal was to be diverse then you could easily sacrifice being a doctor and become an artist… And if diversity was a secondary goal, and being a doctor was primary goal, that would be your choice also, and you would have nothing to complain about.  Living vicariously would also have a new meaning. 

6a.       Diversity could be lost. 

            Again a difficult issue.  I don’t dismiss it, but here are some thoughts:  Diversity would have been lost if eugenics had succeeded.  However eugenics was decided to be unethical by our society because diversity was considered secondary to fertility and life.  Well, Cloning represents fertility and life, if it limits diversity, that is a price we have been willing to pay in the past.  Also, cloning is only the beginning.  With modifiable clones, diversity unparalleled in human history could be achieved.  There may be resistance to the sort of research that might be required to achieve such technology, however that does not mean that such technology is by itself unethical.  Only the present means to attain it are.  New less vulgar methods of creating the technology may be feasible.  

  1. We're interfering with nature.

Yes, that’s nothing new.  Its difficult to avoid interfering.  Capitalism that we so lovingly embrace needs to go otherwise. 

  1. We're playing God.  (God is vain, you don't want to make him jealous); (We might accidentally destroy the world , see #1,2)

Yeah. I don’t expect to win the argument with people who believe in a vain god any time soon. That will require a different sort of crusade than this little essay.

  1. There are no good reasons for cloning or they are outweighed by #1-8, and 10 and beyond

All rights not given to the state are reserved to the people, so should the right to clone.  My first example of a good enough reason to clone is “no reason at all”.    If a clone be considered legally equivalent to a sexually produced baby, just as an Asian American baby is considered legally equivalent to a Anglo American baby… people sometimes are allowed to produce sexual babies without much thought, why not clones. 

  1. Risk of Identity theft or being secretly replaced by your clone.

Yes this one worries me a lot too.  Probably the following argument is very weak, But lets do some mental masturbating anyways:  Identity theft by a clone would be much more problematic than Identity theft by a sexual baby because even parents and spouses might be fooled.  Very heinous indeed.  Actually I am very terrified of garden-variety identity theft by a sexual baby.  This is going to be a problem in the information age regardless of availability of cloning technology.  In fact cloning of web sites, and cyber agents, artificially intelligent agents that do your banking, or perform some other service may be cloned and then tempered with invading your privacy and jeopardizing your control of your own life and identity.  Cloning of drivers’ licenses, birth records, and even electronic ID, does not require biological cloning technology yet it will threaten with Identity theft.  I believe that clones will serve as their own identity card.  You must understand infinite automata and complexity theory to understand this concept. But basically the limit of how complex and difficult we can make identifying knowledge approaches the complexity of the agent being identified.  In that case, identity theft will become no more heinous than murder, which already exists, and can be dealt with similar criminal law.  Or if you are replaced by the exact carbon copy of yourself, than its not really identity theft any more than the passage of time robs your of your identity with your previous self, no more than breathing and eating robs you of your identity with what you ate previously (you are what you eat) So it won’t even be heinous…

  1. It would turn children into manufactured objects designed to possess specific characteristics.

Yes that’s true.  But sexual children are also manufactured objects designed to possess specific characteristics.  The difference is only in degree of control.  Sexual parents have some control over choosing a mate with the appropriate genetics that have identified heritable characteristics.  Genetically engineered clones will also be limited by the knowledge of usage of the human genome information.  And such limits are not fundamentally good… people are always trying to expand the limits of choice of mate by becoming richer, exercising, becoming more desirable… etc. 

  1. It would open the door to further techniques of human genetic manipulation and control.

Yes, the door was opened by the revolution in bioscience technology… Cloning is only the symbolic step forward.  Besides, why is human genetic manipulation intrinsically bad?  Presumably for the same reason that human cloning is bad.  If we disprove the later, perhaps, it will be clear why the former criticism is no more valid. 

13. It could not be developed without putting the physical safety of the clones and the women who bear them at grave risk.

            Never say never.  What if we find a way, than is it ethical?  The point of this essay is to argue the ethics, not feasibility, which can only be done if we are allowed to attempt.

14.     14.    "Replacing" the deceased child by cloning degrades and dehumanizes the child, its replacement, and all of us.

As does naming the next sexual baby after her older sibling died, the same name.  If a parent had twins, one died, the other lived in a different city, but then moved to the city of the parent, does that replacement degrade and dehumanize either twin, or the rest of us?  It’s a choice that the remaining twin and parent have, that they should be free to exercise.  Is the other twin really “replacing”? No, because human life can never truly be replaced.  This is a cheap shot that anti –cloners take.  Pro cloners don’t think this is a great good to try to replace deceased people… They know the loss is not replaceable by a clone.  Cloning is to be done as a creative right, not as a replacement effort… Even if it is done as an effort to replace, they are only fooling themselves, for they are simply creating a new person.  As for having a backup copy of the clone, that copy would not have had the same life experiences, so again would be a different person… also see # 6.

15.     15.    Slippery slope to designer babies

Designer babies are not clones and don’t create the difficult problems of limited diversity, identity / theft… And they circumvent the main problem with past attempts at eugenics, which involved limiting fertility. 

16.  Human cloning would foster an understanding of children, and of people in general, as objects that can be designed and manufactured at will.

Yes, that would an accurate way to understand available technology.  See #8.

17.  17.   A devaluation of clones in comparison with non-clones

This problem has been addressed once with slavery in the United States.  A similar amendment to the constitution, giving clones equal rights easily solves that problem. I don’t think even anti-cloners would vote against such an amendment. 

18.  18.  Slippery slope to dangerous applications of genetic engineering technology could be proscribed.

Genetic engineering technology limited to bacteria and viruses is potentially dangerous enough to wipe out the human race via creation of an undefeatable and perfect pathogen.   Can cloning be more dangerous?  No. 

19.  19.  Rights are socially negotiated, and no "right" to clone oneself has ever been established.

The establishment of which we can now debate.    

20.  20.  Attack of the clones:  what if an evil dictator or an imperialist United States J or a money hungry corporation like in Star Wars secretly creates an army of clones, kind of like chemical and biological weapons, or nuclear weapons.Presumable t

Pro Cloning 1.  Imagine a automatic cloning machine with a library of human genomes representing a colony of humans that can travel to the stars.  Then nobody would have to be live and die or utter boredom in space traveling to a distant planet.

Pro Cloning 2.  The game of life and the drama of marriage will be simplified.  Men and Women won’t have spend their youth agonizing over finding the best spouse they can with their limited resources of good looks, money, personality etc…  They can pursue relationships for their own sake, without evolutionary bondage. 

Pro Cloning 3.     Think about the future… Let your imagination run wild.  Possibilities are limitless.

COMMENTARY ON FOREGOING

By Randolfe H. Wicker

 

I must say Naveen Garg's series of questions and answers are extraordinarily perceptive.

 

However, I must take issue with a few of her comments.  She worries about vanishing diversity "if you had a thousand clones."  First off, I personally avoid using the term "clone" because it is dehumanizing.  A child is a child is a child, however conceived.  A so-called "clone" is simply a child conceived through cloning.  We shouldn't call a child or a human being a "clone" just as we shouldn't label members of today's society as "illegitimates" or "bastards" or "artificials" or ICSI babies" or "IVFers" due to their manner of conception.

 

It is most unlikely that there would be a thousand later-born twins of anyone.  Most people want to have children genetically related to them.  Perhaps, we might end up with a few dozen later-born twins of Elvis, Jimmy Carter, Einstein, Thomas Edison, etc.

 

If you read my essay entitled: "Human Cloning: A Promising Cornucopia" down several stories on the opening page of www.clonerights.com and www.reproductivecloning.net  you will see that I envision many new types of familial relationships.

 

Not only will there be same sex families consisting of multiple generations of single women who choose to reproduce later-born twins through cloning, but there will also evolve something I label "a clan relationship" between later-born identical twins born at different times and raised in different environments by different families.

 

Studies of identical twins separated at birth show that identical twins have a deep psychological connection.  They share many of the same tastes in food, color, music, etc. They almost always have a special ability to understand one another, to finish each other's sentences, etc.

 

That would create bonds between these later-born twins even though they had never met one another.  In fact, I suspect such multiple twinning would result in annual get-together of this new "family clan".  It would be like having a widespread special family that would be open to binding with you in the event of a needed donated kidney, adoption, etc.

 

Even among such a group of identical twins there would be diversity in those personality aspects that seem to vary between today's identical twins.  They would share similar athletic talents but could vary greatly in how extroverted or introverted they were.  They could vary much more in artistic abilities such as verbal talents or musical ability since that is the case with today's twins.  The key to many questions involves the study of identical twins.  Yet, no one seems to ever take the trouble to go there.  After we have some later-born twins among us, we will see this topic explode as a matter of interest among the general public.

 

Interfering with nature?  I disagree with Naveen Garg.  Cloning is basic to nature.  the first life commenced reproducing by dividing into two (cloning itself).  Many plants and some reptiles reproduce through cloning today.  When you put a cutting into the ground, you are cloning a plant.

 

By enabling human beings to reproduce through cloning, we are enabling humankind to reclaim a lost reproductive ability.  Admittedly, sexual reproduction is a superior method of reproduction and one that is unlikely to ever be replaced to any significant degree.  Sexual reproduction allows for evolution to continue and for superior genotypes to gradually evolve for the masses.

 

However, cloning would allow us to hold on to those rarely occurring genotypes like Albert Einstein and give them additional lifetimes to use their unique talents and abilities.  Cloning will enable humanity to retain its very best.  I suspect that there will be debates in the future in which the public demands the cloning of a widely admired or loved or brilliant human being while the family seeks to forbid it.  I would personally feel that the individual's wishes, if known, should be the controlling factor.  However, I am not sure that society's interests might not take precedent if a genius genotype (Einstein) was at stake and the person's wishes were not known.

 

Playing God?  What nonsense.  This charge is based on the ignorant belief that through cloning you create life.  However, for cloning you need a living cell.  You don't "create" life, you simply pass on the spark of life.  It is like using the ember of a dying fire to create a new one. 

 

 Only God, so far as anyone knows, has succeeded in creating life.  However, Craig Venter is now working with a multi-million dollar U.S. Government grant trying to create life by using a minimum of something like 240 genes.  I would say that those people opposed to human beings trying to "play God" have picked the wrong targets in attacking those seeking to preserve life and pass it on through cloning.  Craig Venter, with the backing of George Bush, are the ones truly trying to "play God".

 

The reality is that there is nothing wrong with "playing God" if one can succeed.  Every time a surgeon does a heart transplant, he is playing God.  Every time a parent vaccinates a child to prevent a disease, he/she is playing God.  "Playing God" is meaningless term because its definition lies in the eye of the beholder.

 

Replacing a lost child by cloning a later-born twin dehumanizes no one.  Today, being named “Jr.” dehumanizes many people.  George Forman, the champion prizefighter was a prime offender.  He had five sons and named each one of them "Jr."  Now, we can't give children royal titles in America.  I don't think naming someone "Jr." should be permitted either.  No one is the second someone else.

 

My given name was "Jr." and I choose to legally rename myself Randolfe Wicker.  Details of this can be found in a long life profile at the bottom of "personalizing the issues" at www.clonerights.com   Been there and done that.  My father must have actually wanted a clone and all he got was the world's first cloning activist.

 

The right to clone oneself? It was established the day one was born.  As I testified to Congress in both 1998 and 2001, no one has the right to tell me I have to die completely.  "The right to clone is part of my right to life."

 

The above is all I would have to add to this really fantastic series of questions and answers.  In fact, I would like to know if Naveen Garg would permit me to publish it on the www.clonerights.com website.

 Cloningly yours,

Randolfe H. Wicker

Founder, Clone Rights United Front www.clonerights.com