Is Human Cloning Inevitable?
Kazuo Ishiguro’s alternate universe in Never Let me Go leaves us with an alarmingly depressing view of the future of human cloning. But is this an alternate reality or simply a forward looking prediction of disturbing medical practices to come? Recent scientific breakthroughs, like those made at the Oregon Health and Science University (More on this here), seem to point to the latter outcome. Advancing the techniques use to create Dolly the sheep in 1996, Shoukhrat Mitalipov and his team were able to create an actual human embryo from the skin cell of an individual. While Mitalipov reports that it is unlikely that this particular embryo might result in a developed human being, scientists are startlingly close to such results.
So what’s stopping full-blown human cloning trials? Well in light of recent breakthroughs it seems that the barrier is no longer scientific, only moral. But is a strictly moral barrier enough to hold off scientific curiosity? If you begin with the simple question of why we would want to clone in the first place, the answer becomes more clear and more terrifying. The major issue with organ donation and blood transfusion is that the immune system has a tendency to reject any organic material that it considers alien. If the donor has the same genetic makeup however (AKA a clone), the donation is likely to be accepted.
In a society where money wields so much power, and mortality is fleeting, it seems inevitable that if creating human clones could save lives, then that’s exactly what’s going to start happening, regardless of the plethora of ethical issues that may arise. So how do we stop this looming dystopian threat of Ishiguro’s world? Well, while it is extremely difficult to halt scientific progress, it is sometimes possible to direct it. In 2013 Shinya Yamanaka won the nobel prize for his method of turning adult cells back into pluripotent ones (Allowing the flexibility to conform to different types of tissue), providing hope for avoiding the necessity of developed human clones in order to create genetically identical material. Furthermore, 3-D printing provides new hope for avoiding this outcome, and has been shown to be capable of eventually printing human organs out of organic matter. By funneling resources into these new discoveries and techniques, hopefully we can heed Ishiguro’s warning and prevent such a depressing distortion of the human condition.
– Zach S.