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And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. - Genesis 6:5
Cloning is the process of taking the genetic material of one being and creating another with exactly the same genetic make-up. Proponents of this process claim this could not only provide infertile individuals with the opportunity to reproduce, but even “replace” people who have suffered untimely deaths. Most people; however, think that cloning should be illegal.
Clones are often thought of as being identical to each other not only in appearance, but also in the way they think and behave.
Although clones would look the same, they would each be their own person, their own individual. Not only would they be numerically distinct, but their behavior and even personalities would be completely different. Why? Because the different environments to which they are exposed would shape them all differently.
Even if they grew up in the same household, they would not be carbon copies of each other any more than two genetic twins are. In fact, that is all clones really are—artificially produced twins. Well, this kind of thinking must have been exactly what those folks carrying the half-angel half-human hybrid babies thought back in the Days of Noah. Yet, we know how that story ended. Those babies grew to be giants who practiced evil continually.
Our genes do not determine everything about us. And this shows the folly of trying to replace an individual with their clone after they have suffered an untimely death.
Another common mistake in sci-fi is thinking that clones would be “non-persons”—disposable entities without souls. This idea opens a whole new can of worms.
These transhumans would most likely be given the same status as a human being. Do these transhumans have souls? Even if they did have souls, why would being born as a clone be a necessary condition for having one? Wouldn’t having a functioning brain be the more likely candidate?
Now, we might argue that, even if clones have minds, you could create a clone of yourself for backup organs because you’re allowed to use your own body, including your DNA, as you see fit. But if you voluntarily create clones of yourself, they would have their own mind and rights. You could not own your clones any more than one twin could own another. And you would have no more right to your clone’s bodily resources than the clone would have to yours. Are you starting to see the tangled web?
Here, the issue of “zygote personhood” becomes relevant. If zygotes are considered persons, that means such research would cost millions of human lives since trial and error is required to create them, and that would mean the creation and destruction of millions of zygotes. But there are major problems with this argument. First, it is impossible to establish that zygotes actually are persons.
The argument essentially rests on a religious assumption—and religious assumptions are not held to a standard basis in modern law. Second, in vitro fertilization can also be viewed as immoral, because it usually involves discarding zygotes. And third, if zygotes are persons, research into cloning could be considered no more detrimental to human life than natural biological reproduction. This entire project removes the importance of a human being altogether.
In January 2001, a small consortium of scientists led by Panayiotis Zavos, a former University of Kentucky professor, and Italian researcher Severino Anti-nori said that they planned to clone a human in two years. That was over twenty years ago. At about the same time, news surfaced about an American couple who planned to pay $500,000 to Las Vegas-based company Clonaid for a clone of their deceased infant daughter.
The primary method scientists most likely use is somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which is the same procedure that was used to create Dolly the sheep. Somatic cell nuclear transfer begins when doctors take the egg from a female donor and remove its nucleus, creating an enucleated egg.
A cell, which contains DNA, is taken from the person who is being cloned. Then the enucleated egg is fused together with the cloning subject's cell using electricity. This creates an embryo, which is implanted into a surrogate mother through in vitro fertilization.
If the procedure is successful, then the surrogate mother will give birth to a baby that's a clone of the cloning subject at the end of a normal gestation period. The success rate for this type of procedure is small, working in only one or two out of every 100 embryos.
After all, Dolly was the result of 277 previously failed attempts. Re-engineering the human reproductive process has made many people nervous that cloning crosses the ethical boundaries of science.
Clonaid is an American-based human cloning organization, registered as a company in the Bahamas. Founded in 1997, it has philosophical ties with the UFO religion Raëlism, which sees cloning as the first step in achieving immortality. On December 27, 2002, Clonaid's chief executive, Brigitte Boisselier, claimed that a baby clone, named Eve, was born.
Media coverage of the claim sparked serious criticism and ethical debate. Florida attorney Bernard Siegel tried to appoint a special guardian for Eve and threatened to sue Clonaid, because he was afraid that the child might be treated like a lab rat.
Bioethicist Clara Alto condemned Clonaid for premature human experimentation and noted the high incidence of malformations and thousands of fetal deaths in animal cloning. On May 31, 1997, an issue of the popular science magazine New Scientist said that the International Raëlian Movement was starting a company to fund the research and development of human cloning. This alarmed bioethicists who were opposed to such plans. They warned lawmakers against failing to regulate human cloning.
New research published in PLOS One provides evidence that duplicated human faces tend to elicit negative emotions in viewers. The findings serve as a warning that future robotic or cloning technology could provoke unpleasant psychological reactions.
The rapid development of humanoid technology is very exciting for some certain types of people. However, when imagining the future mass production of androids, and being surrounded by human-like entities with the same face (like Agent Smith in the Matrix),”it gets pretty creepy.
It is horrifying to think that this is what the imagined future world could+ actually look like. Previous cognitive psychological research has repeatedly shown that unfamiliar and unknown objects evoke an uncanny feeling, and the scene with all the same faces is exactly the kind of ‘unfamiliar and unknown situation’ that violates our expectations of what a real scene should be like.
In six experiments, which included over 2,100 Japanese adults, the researchers consistently found evidence that clone human faces induced a sense of eeriness and improbability. The main finding in that research was that humans have an eerie impression of people that have faces with the exact same appearance, which is named the clone devaluation effect.
“This suggests an ironic future. Even if technology is highly advanced enough to overcome the uncanny valley, if we implement a large number of mass-produced humanoid robots all over the world, as we do with today’s consumer electronics, there will be new uncanny phenomena.”
The researchers found that as the number of the clone faces in a scene increased, so did subjective ratings of eeriness. Seeing four clone faces was viewed as stranger than viewing two clone faces. But the results appear to be limited to humanoid faces. Clone dog faces were not associated with heighted eeriness ratings, possibly because humans have “difficulties in distinguishing the individual faces of other species.” In addition, clone human faces drawn in anime and cartoons images were viewed as less eerie and improbable than clone faces in photographic images.
When examining faces of famous twins. They found that the subjective eeriness of twins’ faces tended to be lower than that of clone non-twins’ faces. This could indicate that the duplication of identity, rather than just the duplication of facial features, is what induces eeriness.
Genome sequencing has been on a scientific as well as economic journey for the last three decades. The Human Genome Project began in 1990 with the aim of mapping the whole structure of the human genome and sequencing it. The bold and daring project took 13 years and an insanely huge amount of money, approximately $2.7 billion for the US government, to complete. Since then, the amount of genetic information multiplied.
New Genomics companies combined with Artificial Intelligence use deep learning to mine vast amounts of genetic information and combine the potential in AI and genetics for research. Verily Life Sciences, formerly known as Google Life Sciences was founded in 2015 under the auspices of the umbrella corporation, Alphabet. It is working on its genetic data-collecting initiative, the Baseline Study. It aims to use some of the same algorithms that power Google’s famous search button in order to analyze humans.
In January 2017, the company received $800 million investment from a Singapore-based investment company, Temasek to continue its research. Verily also works on projects like the DeepVariant to run the DeepVariant germline variant calling algorithm on human whole genome sequencing data powered by the Google Cloud Platform. But the latest craze in scientific strides for genome studies is in the CRISPR Gene Therapy Application.