FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Life as a Clone

What would life as a clone be like? How deeply would they empathize with their other clones? Would they be true individuals?

Scientists are beginning to ask such questions, despite the fact that no true human clones exist, and despite strong scientific and ethical opposition to human cloning. To better understand the mindsets of genetically identical individuals, UK and Austrian researchers have been studying identical twins.

The studies show that, while identical twins value their relationship with one another, they do see themselves as individuals. Factors such as environment and proximity have formed their personalities much more so than genetics, the studies have found.

Even though, like clones, identical twins share identical sets of genes, identical twins are the exact same age and typically grow up together, whereas clones could be born years or even decades apart. A clone that's very elderly or deceased could have a co-clone who's an infant; based on the UK and Austrian studies, these clones would have very different life experiences that would shape their personalities much more so than their shared genes.

This kind of study, the researchers say, is critical to understanding the functioning of clones and how they could impact society, even though human cloning is years away, if it happens at all. It also shows that clones would be, indeed, true humans, and not mere automatons.

Source: BBC