By James W. Astrada The idea of cloning human beings has had much debate over the last decades for many reasons. The debate spanned from religious interjection to tampering with the natural process. Although the debate on whether human cloning is moral or not will eventually reach a decision, how the human race reaches that decision is crucial. Lately scientists have been pushing for the idea of having the cloning process done within 50 years, and some scientists may want these possible military soldiers “mutant powered” for the next step in human evolution.
John Gurdon is a British scientist responsible for cloning frogs in the 1950s and the technological advancements for the cloning of the first mammal >Dolly in 1996. Gurdon exclaimed on a BBC radio program that human cloning may be possible in the next 50 years with the rapid advancement of technology. Gurdon also explained that any advancement for the benefit of the human race (especially cloning) could be accepted especially health related:
Take the view that anything you can do to relieve suffering or improve human health will usually be widely accepted by the public – that is to say if cloning actually turned out to be solving some problems and was useful to people, I think it would be accepted… I think they might not at the moment, because, you see, in-vitro fertilization has a very bad press at first, and now it’s hardly anyone would say they object to it in principle. It’s obviously beneficial. So I think the history is that when something is really useful – does good for humans – people usually support it, almost everybody as far as I know. I can’t think of an example where there is a really useful procedure which is objected to by people on purely ethical grounds even though it benefits human health.” With a solid 60% in favor of human cloning, scientists are inching closer to a reality where people with multiple physical deformities, impotence, etc… can in fact resolve them with science and technology; concepts shunned by religious fanatics and those believing in a culture-run society.
Although advancements like these encounter other obstacles beyond moral or religious, could the human race come to terms with them? Would a human clone society replace the original engineered product? What would be the benefits in doing so? The negative or downside in doing so (not based on religious thought)? Would these clones be able to operate under the program given to them, or would they merely be created as empty drones only utilized for replacing limbs for the rich who crave immortality? Would these clones have the capacity to ascend with an artificial spiritual engine as shown in the Island (2005), or would they be ignorant of an emotional/spiritual milieu? It seems that the purpose of helping ourselves as humans requires another life form to sacrifice itself for the betterment of our failing nature; from an outside perspective, this doesn’t seem moral or fair.
For a different agenda, clones would greatly benefit the military industrial complex. If a disposable race of clones could be created to police society rather than synthetics, citizens might be more susceptible in accepting human-like entities rather than fearing artificially intelligent machines. The goal of creating super soldiers has been on the top of list for scientists, and according to the National Intelligence Council, this may be part of their “2030 program.” Labeled as, the goal of the Council is to have “neuro-enhancements that could provide superior memory recall or speed of thought. Brain-machine interfaces could provide superhuman abilities, enhancing strength and speed, as well as providing functions not previously available.” What better candidate than clones who can be programmed from inception to follow orders and respond to such requests. With rapid advancements in pharmacology, neurology and genetics, this goal would be considered doable.
Human biological modification or “biomods” soldiers by the U.S. military are still reluctant in buying into this program. Many experts believe that due to their reluctance, the U.S. may suffer in the future arms race. One 29 year old scientist named Andrew Herr has a different outlook on the situation. With degrees in microbiology, national security, and health physics, joins a few specialists in the country pushing for the acceptance of “biomods” for the U.S. military. Working as a consultant with the Scitor Corporation (a Virginia-based firm whose clients include top military and intelligence agencies), and then as the head of his own research organization, Herr plans on furthering studies into giving soldiers “mutant” powers that would give them the proper tools to deal with tomorrow’s technological society.
This scratch on the surface of human cloning and ‘super-soldiers’ shows how much human beings have evolved due to technology and science. Although it has been said over and over, there reaches a certain limit or growth capacity where the solution becomes the problem. As conscious human beings, it is our responsibility on where we draw that line or cease to solve problems. The only downside is creating a clone race of beings that will be used solely for spare parts or labor. Although many will question that clones are an imitation of life, they are a life form none the less. Within their consciousness may lay their emotional being that could grow under extreme pain or suffering like us. What if we push them into madness and they retaliate due to suffering by their human masters? What if a clone revolution happens like most Hollywood sci-fi films have shown? In the Island, Lincoln Six Echo questioned everything about his environment; he asked questions, and even memories of the original human. Although they started with adolescent minds, they quickly evolved when detached from their controlled environment. There was even the message by Buschemi’s character stating “trust no one” (referencing humans). Clearly if clones had the ability to evolve within expanding their brain capacity, humans may encounter major issues. What if their evolution causes our extinction? Many questions must be addressed before accepting unknown consequences due to our rapid growth. I only hope that we take great care in our choices, something we have yet to display.
David Axe. “This Scientist Wants Tomorrow’s Troops to Be Mutant-Powered.” Wired (December 2012).Lucy Osborne. “Human cloning could start within 50 years insists a leading scientist whose work led to the creation of Dolly the Sheep.” Daily Mail U.K. (December 2012).
Joe Kovacs. “Are you prepared to handle human clones?”wnd.com (December 2012).
A.O. Scott. “No Soul, Perhaps, but This Clone Has a Skeptic’s Heart.” New York Times (July 2005).
© Copyright 2012. James Astrada.