Could Cloning Technologies Make Us Immortal?
A short work looking into the theoretical applications of cloning technologies that could potentially help humans become immortal or, in the very least, live dramatically longer lifespans.
Scientific innovation is always on the brink of incredible breakthroughs that could revolutionize not only our world, but the future of humanity in general. Research scientists and inventors work around the clock to come up with solutions to problems that have plagued our species for millennia. From the invention of refrigerators that prevent food from spoiling, to the design of vaccines and medicine to prevent diseases in major populations, these brilliant minds and creations have led to a massive increase to the longevity of the human lifespan that our ancestors never believed possible.
However, this is merely the initial stepping-stone to the unbelievable technologies soon to come. Such technologies could work not only to change the world as we know it, but to increase our lifespan so dramatically that we could cure even death, itself. In this section, we will then be going over the technological and scientific advancements in cloning that could help humans to become immortal within your lifetime.
The Advent of Cloning
Although most people would believe this technology to sound like something right out of a science fiction novel, it is actually hardly the case. In fact, cloning technologies have been around for over two decades now and have been implemented in commercial scales and used around the world.
In July of 1996, the first clone was created. A young sheep by the name of Dolly came into the world through the process of cloning technologies. This was revolutionary and led to immediate use in the commercial world. Did you have a cow that could produce incredible levels of milk and want more cows exactly like it? Use cloning. Do you have a pet that passed away and want to bring it back? Use cloning. Do you want to study a specific animal but need to have a multiple amount of that specific animal to mitigate environmental or genetic variables? Use cloning.
The ideas and possibilities were limitless. Imagine an army of clones of Albert Einstein whose DNA could still be used today to create clones. Or Imagine an army of your perfect soldier that are all completely expendable. Or imagine, as our topic today suggests, cloning yourself to replace organs, blood cells, or even an entirely new body. Theoretically, though you might not be able to live forever, you could increase your lifespan dramatically and perhaps live just long enough for other future technologies to help take its place.
There are two routes one could potentially take with this technology.
An individual could use cloning technologies to become immortal through genetic means. Living their life and, before coming to its end, said individual could begin creating a clone of themself that would later grow up to continue their work. Considering personality, behavior, interests and most traits of a human being are purely genetic, the new clone would be similar to the individual in every regard except memories. A normal child would only contain half of the genetic code of the original parent and could differ tremendously in other areas; however, a cloned child would be 100 percent identical to the original parent and would mean that regardless of its generations and the countless iterations of cloning it goes through, it would always be exactly identical to its original parent.
Some theoretical limitations of Legacy immortality are the loss of specific memories or experiences from a parent clone to their child. Unlike science fiction theorists claim, a clone is not capable of storing memories of the original donor, as only genetic information is passed. This could mean that a clone could greatly differ from their source parent in behavior, as certain memories or experiences could have been a catalyst for specific habits, personality traits, motivations, aspirations or moral values.
Additionally, recent work by epigenetic researcher David Sinclair shows that even in the case where two individuals share identical DNA, larger phenotypic traits appear to be altered. In the case of identical twins, which share one hundred percent identical DNA, epigenetic factors cause alterations in gene expression. This results in the average height difference between twins being roughly two inches, with some individual cases having much greater ranges. According to Sinclair, factors like physical height, health, longevity, cancers, intelligence, skin tone and susceptibility to disease could be widely varied due to environmental factors, hormone production, specific experiences (that may cause stress), access to nutrition, diet, exercise, sleep schedule and personal choices/thoughts.
In this regard, there are many researchers who believe that despite sharing 100 percent identical genes, individuals could vary in appearance and likeness as greatly as complete strangers from different parts of the world.
Another route one could take with cloning is to grow a clone and to use the clone to be a perfect donor for organ transplants. If an individual was to face heart disease or blood loss, they could use the body of a clone as a library of spare parts to be used in the case of accidents or illnesses. In fact, it would be possible for the individual to replace their entire body with that of a clone in the not-too-distant future.
As ridiculous as it might seem, there are already successful trials and surgeries of total head transplants on animals and even a human trial testing period for a head transplant for a paralyzed individual by Dr. Canavero. The main issue of these tests is the head rejecting the new donor body, but this would prove to not be an issue if the body donated was an exact genetic clone of the original.
Dr. Canavero even provided the statement in regard to his work, saying "A successful head transplant could mean immortality for those who can afford it". I am quite positive that you are then wondering, "If this technology is possible and readily available, why aren't these advancements being used to help solve current and existing issues?" And there is a simple answer.
The only reason why human cloning is not already a massive commercial industry and medical advancement revolutionizing the world and subsequently the human race, is due to the political pressures caused by Ex-American President Bill Clinton and ethical Human Rights Activists of whom have banned human cloning research on an international scale due to its philosophical conundrums and morally debatable means of human advancement.