Cloning Dogs: This Can’t End Well

Okay, peoples. For the low cost of $100,000, you can now clone your pooch. You know, for when ol’ Fido is getting up there in years, and you want to replace him with a new model of himself.

I don’t see this ending well.

First off, let’s set aside the ethics of the thing. Let’s assume it’s a perfectly good idea to clone your pet. What are you expecting to get out of it? I don’t think you’ll get a carbon copy of the animal you’ve grown to love over the years, because it will encounter totally different experiences over the course of its life. This whole “clone your friend” approach works if and only if animals are a complete product of their genes. Same genes = same animal. And I just don’t buy that. If you took two identical animals, treated one nicely and one cruelly for the space of five years, you’d have two very different end results.

So what this is is basically a chance to pay $100,000 for a pet that looks just like the pet you’ve had.

Um . . . people? You do realize there are all sorts of perfectly adorable, cuddly, lovely pets in our animal shelters, right? They cost a whole lot less, and they’re just as ready to give you their undivided love and affection. That fact alone is enough for me to be against this whole concept.

But what about cloning in general? Is that taking the powers of God into our own hands? Is it amoral to do it?

I can see both sides of this. We already create life in test tubes. The main difference between this and artificial insemination is where we get the original material from. I’d imagine that as science gets progressively better, it’ll blur the lines between cloning, reproduction, and genetic tweaking further and further.

The catching point for me isn’t whether or not the process of cloning should or shouldn’t be done–it’s further back than that. I could see areas where cloning is beneficial. But I could also see many more where it steps over the line. We’re cloning puppies now. You know it’ll be people eventually. And then the question becomes “How much choice should we have in deciding what sort of a child we want?”

One free of diseases and abnormalities seems like the easy answer. But what’s an abnormality? Who gets to decide that? And once we’re making decisions based on what’s normal and what’s not, what’s to stop us from boutique shopping? (“I’d like a tall, outgoing girl with blue eyes and high scores in Charisma, Dexterity, and Wisdom, please.” My gut tells me having a child shouldn’t feel too much like cheating when you roll an RPG character.)

It’s fascinating to watch science get closer and closer to issues science fiction has been predicting for years. Scary, as well. Because if they were right on cloning, why wouldn’t they be right about the singularity?

And Terminators.

There’s a chipper thought for your Thursday . . .

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