My, myself and your spare time.

“You seem pretty busy – Didn’t we clone you yet? Ah-ha-ha-ha!”
– a particularly unappreciated colleague today.

My current vocation has me juggling a number of extra tasks above-and-beyond the norm. Whilst this is superlative at keeping me distracted from the pressing mind games I so enjoy, when combined with my lack of expert competence in this area, the result is long days. I do, on many long days, wish the colleague above was right. It is with this flight of fancy that I wordily graffiti today’s copy of The Internet.

A staple in science-fiction, cloning is, simply put, the concept of creating duplicates of people. However, whilst we have removed the fiction from this initial concept, (helloooo Dolly!)  the reality results in a subject of identical genetic potential, but none of the skills, experience and natural interference that helped create the original. Science fiction steps back in at this point, and whispers sweet nothing’s in your ear…

“WHAT IF you could have a second you? WHAT IF this Other Nick would work in your place whilst you create? WHAT IF Wolverine was bitten by the radioactive spider? WHAT IF?!?!”

The obvious answer is: Spider-Wolf. He does whatever a spider-wo-…look, that’s just going to turn into a massive digression which won’t work too well. Google Image search is a weird, weird place.

Now as far as sci-fi goes, there are two general types of clones. The first group are the Replacements; the clones we manufacture to fill particular roles in society. Good examples of this can be found in Blade Runner, Star Wars Episode 2 and Alice Cooper’s song “(We’re All) Clones”. These clones are put to work doing the things we’d rather not do ourselves. From the combat models, to performing dangerous industrial work, through to slave labour. And being Alice Cooper. This is great for us, but questions are quickly raised about the ethics involved, and then Harrison Ford shoots a whole bunch of them.

The other type are the ones you find equally often in comedies and tragedies (bear with me). These are the Enhancers; the extra versions of You that should give You more time to do the things You want to. But after the hilarity of mistaken identities and social engineering subsides, you are left with a chilling scenario that will make you question just how far you will go. The Sixth Day seemed to roll both comedy and tragedy into one, but not for the reasons you might expect. (Arnold Schwarzenegger is a funny, tragic man)

The problem with both scenarios is as similar as the scenarios are different – the problem is that clones are people, too. The Replacements will want their own lives, free of being the menial labour class.  Being indistinguishable from humans, questions are immediately raised about how they can even be effectively separated from us, and how can we be so sure that we OURSELVES are not clones. This is the question that stops Harrison Ford shooting even more of them.

At the same time, the extra versions of you have the same dreams, desires and devotions. The trap is, there are now multiple You’s to lead that one life. Would you want to spend hours chained to a desk job whilst your perfect double enjoys freedom to create, experience and recreate? No, of course not. Well, neither would they. You would soon find yourself in a perilous scenario, leading You (or Them) to spout cliche’s such as “there can be only one!” or “this world isn’t big enough for the two of us”, or “Get off my plane!” My Harrison Ford obsession notwithstanding, these cliche’s carry weight – there really can only be one, as you’ll both demand to have the kudos, the family, the love that the other also demands. Very awkward.

The only viable option I can see here is one still swimming in the miasma that is science fiction’s murky home, but also a compromise, as it will cause the bejewelled dragon of commerce to salivate in a glittery and financially reckless fashion.

We will copy you on to a USB.

This third option will provide you with a duplicate, but one only in terms of mental acuity. It will be a perfect replica of your brain, your personality, your thought processes. This copy of you will now be loaded into a professional Template – a person who takes the concept of a consigliere, or authorized attorney to a more literal level. They would be your legally approved representative, by being you. You could send a Template to perform work tasks for you if sick, or load a Template in a foreign city to allow you to attend important work engagements, assured that you will have the right decisions and involvement. And then, once the contract is over, the data is reloaded to you, so your long-distance experiences are now literally your own.

These Templates would be contracted, and make themselves available as any other profession operates. Some would work business hours, others more flexible contracts. You would pay a premium to hire such a double, but the ability to literally be in two places at once could be worth it.

The glamour industry could also chip in, allowing you to hire a Template who was a renowned celebrity, such as an actor. For the extremely wealthy productions featuring your Template could be staged, creating the ultimate ego trip.

And there is no downside. The Templates get to uninstall your brain and go home to their own family. But then I guess a new ethical dilemma will arise, and that is thus: Who is responsible for the Template’s actions? And how will you know who is currently loaded and active at any point in time? By suggesting a form of personality-loading and sharing in this respect, we may simply be opening up the door to a more tricky version of identity-theft, whereby a Template who previously wore you, continues to act on your behalf. Or worse, they sell on your duplicate which would then allow someone to become you from a previous, specific point in time. What would happen if you suddenly awoke and found there was someone else leading YOUR life? You would be confused, you’d be angry and scared. You might go so far as to try and forcibly take back the life you know is yours.

And then, only after the madness and rage has subsided, and You have performed that most base and vile action to ensure Your life is Yours and Yours alone, You’ll suddenly realise that You can’t remember anything before an odd point in time. What did Other You do to you? It’s okay – he’s dead now.



~ by nick on June 19, 2012.

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