Delta Influences – Cloning
Hello, I’m Dom Carter. Welcome to another instalment of my Delta Influences article series. In this piece, I’ll be looking at human cloning.
I find the prospect of human cloning and genetic engineering to be very exciting, though if such things became ubiquitous, if they came to be standard, established activities within human society, then a number of tricky existential, legal and social ramifications would need to be addressed.
Firstly, clone rights. If a clone were created exclusively from your DNA, would you, as the genetic ‘parent’, take custody of the completed clone as one would a child, or, given an accelerated growth cycle, would the clone be an autonomous individual with the same personal freedoms as anyone else?
Cloning could be a hugely destructive force, if the technology becomes widely available then I envisage slave labourers and sex workers being produced on an industrial scale, sports teams made to order, and planets colonised by mass-produced eco-engineers. If we take it as a given that all clones would be refined and idealised, unnaturally evolved, then there’s the very real probability of a new elite being formed, those physically and mentally more adept than the norms.
If it were possible to bypass the dangers of natural childbirth, would parents choose to enhance their test-tube-tots, their athletic prowess, their intellect, memories or emotional traits? Research into eradicating mental and physical abnormalities through genetic engineering and manipulation will pave the way for ‘designer babies’. I ask the question, is there something inherently wrong with wanting your offspring to be smarter and fitter? I don’t think so; the problem lies in the distribution of wealth and accessibility of the technology.
If every baby born from this moment on could be guaranteed a certain IQ before conception, or a specific body mass index, or whatever set of attributes and characteristics deemed to comply with some global ideal, why shouldn’t we make our sons and daughters happier and healthier?
But the greed and inequality synonymous with the human condition preclude the possibility of our global-village collaborating in altruism. If cloning and genetic engineering become pervasive in human reproduction, then a new and dangerous societal division would be created, a division along genetic lines, those above and those below.
How about the sanctity of your own thoughts and feelings? If an exact duplicate were made of you, including your personality and memories, would you still be you? If the clone thinks and feels as you do, and shares your every memory and character trait, then is that person not also you? If yourself and your clone took separate paths and were then reunited, decades down the line, could you predict the choices your clone would make? Propose accurate hypothesises as to the appearance of their partner, their line of work or the interests they may have developed? Would you be concerned for their mental and physical welfare as you are your own?
For the religiously inclined, consider the soul. In Delta Function, the citizens of a city are asked to donate their DNA. The biological samples are used to create an army of physically enhanced clones to locate and destroy Ares, the robot overlord of Earth. The people of Enképhalos are afraid to fight and so allow clones to be manufactured to fight in their stead. Have they doomed their own souls by sending their clones to war? Could the clones’ actions on the battlefield prevent the Enképhalonians from passing through the pearly gates?
I am not religious myself, but there is something unique, mystical and unknowable about the phenomenon of consciousness. If our minds and bodies could be replicated and upgraded, would our great cult of personality be diluted to a list of options on the screen of a cloning booth?
I hope you’ve enjoyed my brief discourse on cloning and genetic engineering, next time I’ll be ruminating on a future dominated by infallible, untiring work-droids, and the ramifications for the global job-market. As ever, thanks for reading, Dom Carter.
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