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Science And Ethics: Will They Clash Violently Again?

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By Robert Preto

“Watching a living likeness of yourself instantly materialize in front of your own eyes is an emotional mind-altering experience. At first it feels like an eerie dream or a drug induced hallucination as you view this replicate of yourself.” (Hulagu’s Web, p. 101)

What we can visualize soon becomes reality. Jules Verne is a favorite example of a writer that was able to describe events and things in his fiction, which materialized decades later as events and objects of reality. We can observe the same phenomenon today over and over again in many fields. Something is written about in some fictional piece and a few years later the process or thing becomes a reality, that can help or change mankind. Shelly wrote about the creation of man, and now about a century later, we are on the threshold of doing just that. The emerging science of cloning is now a force that is already capable of creating life. Some scientists even claim that humans have already been cloned. These clones are not the fictional adversarial type that are found in tales such as, “Star Wars, Episode II- Attack of the Clones“ by George Lucas, but humans that could discreetly live among us without any outward sign of having been created by the technology and perseverance of a scientist.

Cloning of humans is a terribly controversial subject. On Feb. 18, 2005 the 191 countries of the United Nations call on its member nations to ban all forms of human cloning, which were incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life. Only 106 of the member nations voted on the issue, 71 for the ban and 35 voted against it. Currently all bills that are being passed on the subject address biological cloning, but another type of cloning, called quantum cloning, is slowly being developed. This type of cloning will most likely be even more controversial, because not only will life be created, but memories of the cloned human will be transferred flawlessly. In the book “ Hulagu’s Web” by David Hearne, this phenomenon is explored when a character in the novel discovers that she is in fact a clone. “Realizing that even her memories were not hers but those of Senator Laforge made her feel acutely lonely because she felt her mind had nothing in it that was hers.” ( Hulagu’s Web chapter 6)

Some far-sighted scientists have been investigating the problems of quantum cloning for many decades. The work of P. Benioff, R. Feynman, D. Deutsch and C. Bennett in the 80’s was the origin of this research. This area of quantum physics has become one of the most exciting and intriguing of our time. Almost perfect copies of isolated photons have been fabricated for the first time in history. Science has just begun to explore the potential of this technical innovation, and it will surely find further applications in more complex quantum procedures.

The physicist Heisenberg theorized that sub-atomic particles could never be created totally identical. If this rule of physics (the uncertainty principle) can never be surmounted, our macro world will never be able to produce clones of absolute perfection. But for the cloning of humans, this particular law of physics does not greatly interfere with the similarities of the specimen to be cloned. At this level, discrepancies are acceptable and in fact in the book “ Hulagu’s Web” the author takes us to a world where science uses this phenomenon to control the longevity of the clone. In his story, a clandestine CIA laboratory in Lumberton, TX, just 90 miles from NASA’s Houston headquarters, a group of physicists work diligently to create the first human clone. They succeed in creating an identical clone of a popular senator who is running for president. The clone, however, only has a lifespan of 72 hours.

Are we prepared to share our identity with another entity that constitutes our memorexed version of ourselves? How we function and perceive ourselves is based on our memories and experiences. In the case of a quantum clone, memories that are provided from the host define its identity. “Memory in a very real sense is reality. What the brain’s limbic system decides to “see” and store away, becomes the life we have lived. It is the smells, the music, the pain, the loves, the places you have been and all the experiences that were recorded by the brain.” (Hulagu’s Web, 105). The clone has never really experienced these pleasures or grieves. It was always a memory for their use, since their very first second of creation. These vivid memories seem real to the clone, as real as they seem to the person who lived and experienced the original memories. This knowledge becomes the clones education and experiences that they use to function with, from the time of their creation till the time they die.

From a social perspective, we should also consider that many of the institutions of modern society are based, in one way or another, on the expectation that we all eventually die. If we could be recreated as an exact copy, what would be the meaning of terms like ‘married for life’, ‘30 year imprisonment’ or ‘death-penalty’? Would we apply the ‘death-penalty’ several times to cloned individuals? Would be afraid of this ‘death’? “It is ironic that in Islam it is destined that non-believers will not die. They will not be allowed to die or live, but like Hulagu will be locked in a revolving existence of life and death over and over. “ (Hulagu’s Web, 104).

Religion teaches us to adore the creator, respect our parents, and treat other human-beings, as we desire to be treated. How would these clones, and mankind in general, apply these beliefs in the assimilation of clones into our society? Would the scientists who create a clone be like a god or parent to the clone? Would the clone perceive the scientist as a god? And would the person who was cloned, be like a sister, brother or a parent to the new entity? How will cloning of humans effect the beliefs and views we possess on our own creation and in religion in general? Would a clone have a soul? All of these questions are too complex to be answered in advance, but we must consider them and surmise their implications. Until clones are a real part of our society, none of these questions will find definitive answers. We won’t know the true ramification of quantum cloning until the first one of them walks among us.

Robert Preto is a graduate of Science for Education from the University of Edinburgh. In the 4 years after graduation, Robert has being working training mature students to finish school and go to college. Concurrent with teaching, Robert develops games and writes tutorials.
Robert lives in London with his wife and two daughters.

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Author: Earthpages.org

Earthpages.org is about dialogue, understanding and positive change. We post articles on different topics, with a view toward making things better!

One thought on “Science And Ethics: Will They Clash Violently Again?

  1. Reblogged this on Drig14's Blog and commented:
    This article is a great explanation of the aspects of cloning and sharp edges that might need to be avoided. Once you read their post I recommend reading my post called “Cloning” which is also linked at the bottom of their post along with other informative posts.

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