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Author Topic: Cloning  (Read 2722 times)

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Offline LyrusTopic starter

Cloning
« on: July 30, 2010, 08:43:38 AM »
I've had this thing in my head bugging me for awhile, so I thought I'd discuss it with you people. Whats this thing bugging me? Well, you know it as the process of cloning. But lets start with what cloning is classed under first. Cloning is part of genetics, which in turn is a ‘discipline’ of biology.

Genetics is essentially being the science of heredity and variation in living organisms. It was a known fact since ancient times that living things inherit traits from their parents, and this knowledge has been used by farmers and ranchers to improve both crops and livestock through selective breeding. The modern science of genetics seeks to understand this process of inheritance, beginning with the work of Gregor Mendel in the mid-nineteenth century. Genes correspond to regions within DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid), molecules which are compromised of a chain of four different types of nucleotides, namely Adenine, Thymine, Guanine, and Cytosine. Billions of each type make up a single strand of DNA. Adenine is always paired with Thymine, and Guanine is always paired with Cytosine. The sequence of these nucleotides is the genetic information organisms inherit.

Now anyone with a bit of creativity and perhaps some lunacy knows that genetics has infinite potential. One of the most controversial and yet potentially significant forms of research classed under genetics? That would be cloning. Cloning is essentially the process of producing populations of genetically identical individuals. It occurs naturally with organisms such as bacteria and insects, and also with plants. Put in layman's terms, cloning replicates a perfect copy of another living organism.

One variant of cloning is organism cloning, which refers to the procedure of creating new multicellular organisms genetically identical to its gene donors. This form of cloning is essentially a kind of asexual reproduction. Scientists have made several major breakthroughs with this form of cloning, the first of which began in 1952, when a tadpole was supposedly cloned, making it the first ever animal to have ever been successfully cloned. In 1963, Chinese embryologist Tong Di Zhou produced the world’s first cloned fish by inserting the DNA of a male carp into an egg by a female carp, leading to the creation of a successfully cloned carp. By 1986, Soviet scientists managed to clone a mouse named “Masha”. In 1996, scientists started to try and clone sheep using early embryonic cells; by 1997, Dolly the Sheep was the first mammal ever cloned. In the year 2000 a macaque named Tetra was created through embryo splitting. By 2001, technology had become advanced enough for scientists to actually clone a Gaur: an endangered species. Cattle were cloned in the same year. In late 2001, “CC” – meaning Copy Cat – became the first cloned pet. She appeared to be free of the health problems that plagued previous clones and even gave birth to three kittens. This was a significant breakthrough. Unlike Dolly, who died of various health failures despite being a successful experiment, CC could be labeled the perfect copy of a cat!

Following this success, in 2003 a rat, mule, and horse managed to be cloned. In 2005 the first cloned dog was created with a ear cell from an adult Afghan hound; 123 surrogate mothers were used, of which only three of them managed to produce puppies, and only one of the puppies survived – a dog that was named Snuppy. After these successes a wide variety of cloned animals were created successfully, which got people thinking. It started to, inevitably, lead to the possibility of cloned human beings. Cue major philosophical, religious, and political uproar.

Your very own clone wouldn't just be a childish fantasy anymore. It became reality. The potential was tremendous. People would never die of things like liver failure, lung failure, or even heart failure, ever again! With a clone of themselves on standby, they could simply extract organs and transplant those organs into themselves, thus saving their lives! Yet this causes a serious ethical dilemma. Such an act is considered inhumane by many. To create a living being, a human being, raise it, and then simply cull it ... people see that as outright abuse of human dignity. But how is this different from what humans do on a daily basis? Its a replica of raising farm livestock for the slaughter. Only this time, its not farm livestock being raised... its human clones.

The fact is, since animals have now been successfully cloned, human cloning can be seriously contemplated instead of brushed aside like some myth. It is obvious, after all these successes, that the next direction these scientists are going to look into would be human cloning. You've cloned insignificant tadpoles, then you've cloned animals, and then endangered animals ... Soon you'll be resurrecting extinct animal species with biological samples thats been acquired! With advanced technology you could pull a Jurassic Park stunt and get the bloody dinosaurs up and about again!

Think about it seriously. Cloning first began in the 1950s, with little tadpoles and fish. Fifty years later, in the modern 21st century, we've got cloned animals. Endangered animals to boot. So give it another fifty more years, and by 2060 human cloning should have achieved some semblance of clarity and perfection. Less faults, more goodness. Perfect renditions of existing human beings. Clone celebrities such as actors and singers. Clone geniuses of musical, scholarly, and philosophical fields. Clone specialists like soldiers and artists. The possibilities are endless.

An entire army of clones who respect your views with 100% loyalty and will never question you because they're all you? Check.

A cloned legion of the greatest minds of the world such as Einstein, Gauss, Rulloff, Lenin, whose brains were all preserved, all of whom could help further the boundaries of science and technology dramatically? Check.

But really, by the end of the day, despite all the possibilities and all the dreams, the questions I'm asking are:

Is cloning, to you, morally/ethnically right? Would you consider it? What would you do with it?

Offline Songless Siren

Re: Cloning
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2010, 10:02:24 AM »
Messing about with DNA is always a good time (I'm a "cut-and-paste" kind of gal, myself, inserting fun traits like bioluminescence into bacteria), but have you considered "Nature vs. Nurture?"  You can't necessarily clone celebrities, artists, specialists, geniuses, or whatever and expect them to be the same people.  Genetics have a lot to do with it, but the experiences of the clone(s) would be different from the original.  There have been studies on identical twins adopted by separate families, and then observed to have similar preferences and behaviors later, but the personalities aren't the same.  Before I'm concerned with morality, I'd like to examine the functionality.

I am definitely in love with the idea of using cloning to stabilize the populations of endangered species and bring back the extinct, but people make it a bit more complicated.  I don't like the idea of "farming" human clones, and I'm lacking the imagination for what else to do with them.  I mean, given the "nurture" factor, we can make physically exact copies, but not psychological copies, so the "doubles" would be different people.  And if you're just making people who are going to be fairly different anyway, why not just do it the natural way? (I tend to think it's more fun ~_^).

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Re: Cloning
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2010, 10:44:44 AM »
Quote
An entire army of clones who respect your views with 100% loyalty and will never question you because they're all you? Check.

Actually, not so much.  People's views are shaped by what life-events they go through, not mere genetics.  Identical twins (who are the nature-made version of human cloning) are not 'each other', and will still disagree from time to time.  I have even seen coverage of a case where one identical twin tried to kill her twin sister with the aim of assuming her identity.

Likewise, knowledge/talent is not encoded into one's genes.  Let's take the example of 'Snuppy'.  If the original dog had been trained to execute a reasonably complex trick, such as running an agility course, and knowledge and talent were transferred in the cloning process, then one would expect the puppy - without any training at all - to be able to run that course.  Transferring this up to humans, you could clone Einstein, put the clone in some Ohio farm raising dairy cows, and he would still be able to recite and explain the General Theory of Relativity at the age of 9.  Clearly, these are both absurd.  Einstein's clone, without the life experience of the man himself, could very well grow up to be an idiot.

Offline Florence

Re: Cloning
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2010, 11:41:28 AM »
There is nothing wrong with cloning in and of itself. The ethical dilemmas arise with how we TREAT the clones. Now, theoretically, there seems to be no reason we couldn't someday grow a clone that could... perhaps not feel any pain, perhaps not even have sentient thought. Then of course the argument would be, is it still human. Is it okay to harvest organs from this creature, because it was based on a human. Can we use it to survive like we use other and, I think... yes. I think, if we can assure that this being is NOT sentient, can not feel pain... there's no reason not to. It's ugly, yes, but so is a LOT of what we have to do to survive.

Obviously, harvesting organs from a sentient clone is ethically wrong in the same way that harvesting organs from any human is. The fact is, though, if a creature with no sentience, no concept of pain, has to die so that another creature can live, it's a fair trade. It would be more humane than what we do to animals who CAN feel pain on a regular basis.

AS for using cloned scientists... that's a far greater travesty in my opinion. To do that you would need to clone these geniuses, then raise them exactly as you will, and have them do exactly as you want. Genius isn't genetic. Sure, the capacity for intelectual greatness may (MAY, I am no expert, so don't quote me) be genetic, but they wouldn't come out with all that knowledge, you'd still have to teach it to them. Which means you would have to make a being capable of thinking for itself (otherwise how would it learn, or more importantly, think up new ideas), then essentially force it into a life of slavery.

As pointed out by Oniya, a clone army in and of itself may not be that effective, though theoretically, you could simply produce a vast number of clones, then train and condition them to your will, and use them as an army. However, I shouldn't even have to say how much of a violation of every conceivable foundation of ethics that is.

Offline Jude

Re: Cloning
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2010, 11:44:19 AM »
There's evidence that humanity is still evolving; there's no better way to put an end to that abruptly than cloning.

Offline LyrusTopic starter

Re: Cloning
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2010, 12:09:28 PM »
Cloning can be perceived as a form of human evolution, though, speaking theoretically again.

For the clone army, perhaps not you, but cloning an entire army of a select individual who shows outstanding command ability and then training these clones in a harsh and rigorous fashion while instilling in them the knowledge of how fantastically great and unendingly correct you are in everything you do ... the perfect army, isn't it?

Scientists! People speculate the different layout of Albert Einstein's brain is part of what made up his genius. Cloning him, and thus cloning that brain, and then putting these clones under a rigorous study regime ... it should produce geniuses, shouldn't it? Or not?

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Cloning
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2010, 01:07:45 PM »
I saw The Island we know where this is leading the rich cloning themselves for spare parts and other abominations of science I say put controls and ban cloning anything that could be sentient. I know they are cloning organs and the like fine but stop there.


Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Cloning
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2010, 02:44:20 PM »
A quick clarification: Cloning does not produce perfect genetic copies. Such is an impossibility. If mitosis produced only identical genetic copies life never would have gotten anywhere. There is an unavoidable chance of random mutation (between 10^-6 to 10^-9 per cell division depending on the  type of organism). This is how parthenogenetic organisms and bacteria (and with cellular assistance, viruses) evolve. Cloning merely removes the variation that comes with meiosis, recombination, and assortment. Even using a method of pluripotent induction and growing a clone from the induced pluripotent cell, you would still have the baseline, unavoidable genetic instability.

I saw The Island we know where this is leading the rich cloning themselves for spare parts and other abominations of science I say put controls and ban cloning anything that could be sentient. I know they are cloning organs and the like fine but stop there.

Please don't confuse bad sci-fi with anything that has scientific relevance ^_^

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Re: Cloning
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2010, 04:05:27 PM »
Cloning can be perceived as a form of human evolution, though, speaking theoretically again.

Using the theoretical 'perfect cloning', how can endless replication of a single genotype be considered evolution?

Offline Wolfy

Re: Cloning
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2010, 06:49:58 PM »
What with "Free Will" and all..I don't think a clone of you is going to be loyal to you....maybe friendly, but not loyal..o3o...Especially if he wants to be the original...

Offline Serephino

Re: Cloning
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2010, 08:53:25 PM »
As others have said, there is nothing in DNA that accounts for personality.  We studied this in my Psychology class a little.  Twins were separated; one went to a German family, the other a Jewish family.  This is significant because it was right around the time of WWII.  They were brought together and studied as adults.  While there were many similarities, there were also differences.

Identical twins are the closest natural example of cloning.  They have identical DNA, and yet are never identical people.  Sometimes they don't even like each other.  One of my friends has twin brothers.  They aren't all that much more similar to each other than they are with the rest of their siblings.  So even if you clone a great scientist, or artist, or athlete, chances are you won't get the same person. 

Even if Einstein was such a genius because of the layout of his brain, you still can't know that it will have the same result in a separate being.  Our experiences are what shape us, so an Einstein clone could actually end up not even liking Science. 

That being said, creating a human being with a job to do is wrong on so many levels.  Psychology books say never to have a baby the old fashioned way for something like the sole purpose of replacing a child you lost because you're going to have expectations.  Constantly being measured up to the lost child is detrimental to the new child's sense of well being.  They will feel like they aren't valued, and doesn't everyone need to be loved?  A clone would be no exception.  You would have an individual sentiment being whom the whole world expects to be a great musician or a genius.  Does anyone like it when others have high expectations of them?  I know I didn't care for it much when my mom expected straight A's out of me in school.  Getting a C was still passing, and yet unacceptable and I was punished for it.     

Offline Brandon

Re: Cloning
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2010, 10:02:42 PM »
I didnt read anything except the original post but I will later. For now I just wanted to get my first thoughts out there.

Cloning is a difficult subject for me, just like abortion, as I am not sure where I stand on the subject. I see the potential for great good to be done but I also see the potential for great evil. Ultimately I think humans are not ready for such a morally and ethically skewed topic but at the same time, I think the fear of what could happen is creating more of the negative aspects then the reality.

Cloning is one of the many aspects seen in science fiction that is becoming science fact but unlike the old 50s and 60s movies that made it a point to say "We must not tamper in gods domain!" I set the subject sqaurly on the scientists and society's shoulders. At the same time, I think if we outlaw it and then force people to "go rogue" to carry out such intellectual pursuits were also creating a bit of a problem as these experiments wont be controlled as much as they probably should be.

Make no mistake, no matter what we do people will pursue cloning. Some will do it because of intellectual curiousity and others because they want to prepare a group of clones for when theyre old, grey, and needing organs or blood to extend their lifespan.

As I said, Im torn because I see great possibility for both good and evil

Offline Wolfy

Re: Cloning
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2010, 10:51:07 PM »
Hmm...I wonder what would happen if you made an opposite sex clone of yourself, and got it pregnant/it got you pregnant..O_o..What would the resulting child be like? O_o

Offline Brandon

Re: Cloning
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2010, 10:55:18 PM »
As I understand it, its theorized that exact genetics would not be enough to create a successful offspring. Im not sure if that means the egg and sperm cells cant create a child, or if it means a pregnancy would resort in still births

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Re: Cloning
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2010, 11:47:34 PM »
It would be about the same as if you had sex with your identical twin (with the obvious addition/subtraction of an X chrom on one of them.)  There would be some shuffling of genes (since just about everyone has some recessive genes), so the kids would not necessarily look like you.

The chance of unfavorable genes matching up would be at least as high as in brother-sister incest, if not higher.  If you are a carrier for color-blindness, as an example, the child would be highly likely to have it (whether you are copying an extra X-chrom to make your female counterpart or ditching one to make your male counterpart would factor in with that one).  If you are a carrier for sickle-cell (which is actually an advantage in malaria-ridden areas), the child would be very likely to have sickle-cell (which is acutely painful and sometimes fatal when an attack strikes.)

There would be a greater than average chance of still-births, miscarriages, and non-implantation, but among the living children, there would be a greater than average chance of genetically caused birth defects.

Offline LyrusTopic starter

Re: Cloning
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2010, 12:19:30 AM »
Using the theoretical 'perfect cloning', how can endless replication of a single genotype be considered evolution?

Well instead of genetic evolution, it becomes more of technological evolution. Think of it this way - Cloning has so much potential that it adds traits to humanity which it would never have managed to gain through through regular genetic evolution. Immortality wouldn't be too far-fetched, if, say, for all your ailing organs you replaced with harvested ones. Theoretical immortality, yes? Would that not be considered, or perceived to be, evolution?

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Re: Cloning
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2010, 12:42:37 AM »
Well, no - you still wouldn't be making the organism more fit to survive.  You'd just be replacing bits as they failed.  It's like having a Model T Ford that you keep lovingly restored.  It doesn't get any better, it just stays 'new'.

Offline LyrusTopic starter

Re: Cloning
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2010, 12:55:27 AM »
Yet the race itself would become immortal over time, so this whole 'staying new' concept could be perceived as an improvement and thus evolution, can it not?

Offline Will

Re: Cloning
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2010, 01:03:56 AM »
Evolution implies change.  Cloning is an absence of such change, at least on a hypothetical level.

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Re: Cloning
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2010, 01:23:07 AM »
^--- That.

And no, staying the same is not an improvement.  It's staying the same.  Going back to the example with the Model T, the 'organism' might be immortal, but it would still have the same inefficient carburetor, the same lack of safety features, the same narrow tires, and the same crank-start on the front.

Offline LyrusTopic starter

Re: Cloning
« Reply #20 on: July 31, 2010, 01:49:47 AM »
Hn. Alright, so look at it with a different perspective. Its not like we're repopulating the world with Clones. We're merely extending the lifespan of existing human beings with organs harvested from clones. Its not like these human beings won't have children. Humanity will still evolve, its not like it comes to a complete standstill.

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Re: Cloning
« Reply #21 on: July 31, 2010, 02:07:11 AM »
I'm going to assume that the organs are somehow cloned in vitro, because in vivo organs for harvesting gets into that whole clones' rights issue, and I'm still hashing out the evolutionary impact.  Assuming that we're making people immortal, what is the incentive to reproduce 'the old fashioned way'?  (Aside from the fact that it's fun! ;)

Offline Florence

Re: Cloning
« Reply #22 on: July 31, 2010, 04:15:39 AM »
There's evidence that humanity is still evolving; there's no better way to put an end to that abruptly than cloning.

Evolution just means adapting. We'll always be adapting because the world will always be changing. Theoretically, if we advance cloning and genetics enough we can completely eliminate the need for evolution, as we could simply genetically engineer the perfectly adapted clones (as times change, of course, we could do again as needed to keep up with the world). Essentially, we could evolve the species ourselves, leaving no need for nature to do it in its imperfect manner.

That said, it WOULD be counter-productive to completely forgo traditional reproduction in favor of simply cloning ourselves, though cloning would be a great technology if we, for whatever reason, began to have a large population drop, supplementing traditional reproduction, of course.

Cloning can be perceived as a form of human evolution, though, speaking theoretically again.

For the clone army, perhaps not you, but cloning an entire army of a select individual who shows outstanding command ability and then training these clones in a harsh and rigorous fashion while instilling in them the knowledge of how fantastically great and unendingly correct you are in everything you do ... the perfect army, isn't it?

Scientists! People speculate the different layout of Albert Einstein's brain is part of what made up his genius. Cloning him, and thus cloning that brain, and then putting these clones under a rigorous study regime ... it should produce geniuses, shouldn't it? Or not?

As I said before, theoretically, it could, but wouldn't forcing these clones to be scientists be a horrible violation of fundamental human rights?

Offline LyrusTopic starter

Re: Cloning
« Reply #23 on: July 31, 2010, 08:06:05 AM »
Lets not make full clones then. Lets just make it the cloning of organs. Using a pig's body, genetically engineered, to clone organs. Thats humane enough, isn't it?

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Cloning
« Reply #24 on: July 31, 2010, 02:41:17 PM »
Using the theoretical 'perfect cloning', how can endless replication of a single genotype be considered evolution?

Once again, 'perfect cloning' is a complete impossibility. It isn't even a theory. It would require a fundamental change in the physics of the universe in addition to a replacement of all the mechanisms of cellular reproduction to operate under these new, static physics. There is a certain baseline chance of error that is an inescapable consequence of the physical nature of the mechanisms of cell growth and division and the very physical nature of DNA.

'Perfect cloning' can no more occur than achieving absolute 0, defying the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, or accelerative a massive body in excess of the speed of light. It is not merely a biological impossibility, but a physical one. No organism that duplicates its genome does so perfectly, thus evolution persists.

Whether this is here nor there on the ethics discussion, I am not going to give an opinion, but even if we stopped sexual reproduction in favor of cloning tomorrow we would slow human evolution, we would not stop it.