Why I don’t think cloning is going to work (or, Welcome to Cloney Island)

I forget where, but I heard somebody or read something about clones the other day. It was some crazy imaginary scenario where a guy goes into a medical facility in the future because his liver or his heart is failing. They’re going to clone him, and then take out the clone’s organ and do a transplant. They guy walks in, they do they procedure, and he gets up to leave but he’s strapped to the operating table, and all of the doctors are like, “Sorry clone, you’re not going anywhere.”

Because the clone has all of the guy’s memories up until the point of cloning, that’s what it feels like. Right? I don’t know. I’m totally pro-cloning. I would clone myself in a second. It wouldn’t be exploitative. I’d be more than willing to share half of my life with a clone. The immediate upside is that I’d only have to work half as many hours. We could just take turns. So that would be great.

But the obvious downside is that we’d be spending double the money on food and drink. Clothes wouldn’t be a problem, because I have more than one pair of clothing. But laundry detergent use would definitely double. Still, I think it would be worth it, absolutely, to be able to go to work half the time. There are so many ways to split it up. It’s like I would only have to work two days a week. Or, I could work a full week and then have a full week’s vacation, and we could alternate.

Most clone story problems happen because a guy makes a clone of himself and then realizes once the clone exists that there is just too much stuff that he’s not willing to compromise with himself. Like the organ donor story that I started out with. If you want to get cloned, you have to go into it assuming that you’re going to be the clone, because maybe you will be. Who knows whose memories are going to belong to which one? And what if the cloning company is run by a bunch of incompetents, always mixing up who is the clone and who is the original?

I’m just saying, you plan it out in advance so that if you were to wake up tomorrow as a clone, you’d be happy with all of the decisions the original made in advance. Equal power sharing. Equal work time. And yeah, an extra kidney if something goes wrong. Livers would be problematic still, the same with hearts. But kidneys, eyes, hands, anything that there are two of, you’d be fine.

Unfortunately it’s never going to be that easy. The first people to get their hands on cloning technology will definitely be the ultra-rich. And everybody knows that the ultra-rich are basically a bunch of selfish a-holes. They don’t want to compromise on or share anything. They earned it, the right to own everything. They’ll take the above scenario, the organ harvesting I’m-not-the-clone-you’re-the-clone story and they’d think about it, they’d acknowledge what would have to be a pretty unpleasant scenario for the clone, and they’d just say, well screw that guy, screw that clone, screw myself. I need an extra heart and I don’t care if I have to bring into existence an identical version of myself to do it.

I would love to clone myself and then challenge the clone to a race, or a game of basketball, or rocks-paper-scissors. I’ve never lost rocks-paper-scissors. Not even once. Maybe we’d walk up to each other, eye-to-eye, we’d both go “rocks-paper-scissors says shoot.” And we’d both draw rock. That’s always my first move. And then I always go scissor. And then scissor. It goes rock, scissor, scissor, rock, scissor, paper, paper, paper, paper, paper, paper, rock, paper, paper, rock, paper, scissor. I always do that combo because it’s unbeatable. But that’s as far as I’ve ever gone. What would it be like against myself? Would it just be an eternal tie? We’d be standing there, for days, rocks-paper-scissors shoot: paper, tie. Rocks-paper-scissors shoot: paper: tie.

And the days would go by and people would come up to us and go, “Robs, you really need to take a break, stop for even just a second, go to the bathroom, take a drink of water.” But neither of us would quit. You know why? Because I would never quit. So therefore the two of us would never quit. But eventually the physical demands of everything that people had been warning us about, food, water, bathroom breaks, they’ll all have taken their toll, and we’ll both pass out at the exact same second.

And we’ll both wake up in the hospital, and the doctors will be saying, “Sorry Robs, but you didn’t go to the bathroom and didn’t drink any water to the point where all four of your kidneys failed at the same time.” And we’d be shocked, but the doctor would tell us not to worry, he’d say, “Don’t worry boys, your insurance covered some pretty fancy procedures, and we were able to clone the two of you. So as soon as your clones are all ready, we’ll just harvest their organs and give them to you.” And I’ll open my mouth to say, “I don’t know how I feel about that doc,” but I wouldn’t be able to actually say it out loud, because my mouth is taped shut, and my arms and legs are strapped to the hospital gurney. And I’ll break into a cold sweat as I realize that I’m the clone here, and they’re going to harvest my kidneys. And my head is strapped down also, but I move my eyes as far as I can to the side and I can see another me, also strapped in, and two more of me to his side, laying down on the operating table as the doctors tell them not to worry, that the procedure will be over and done with in no time, that there’s nothing to worry about, this is a very common operation we’re talking about here.

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