Human Cloning: The Trade-In Strategy
Sun, 23 Feb 1997 17:45:07 -0500 (EST)

What follows may sound a little crazy, but the news about successful adult
mammal cloning and the reaction that's already apparent has set my brain to

As I'm sure most of you have already realized, this technology suggests a
"quick and dirty" approach to transcending the "natural" human lifespan.
Assuming that the technology for repairing broken neural pathways continues
to develop as quickly as it has seemed to in the last couple of years, it
appears that cloning up a replacement body and transplanting the brain is a
pathway that is almost within reach. This assumes that the donor body can be
developed in such a way that its brain does not develop a consciousness or
personality. This last point presents some technical challenges, to be sure,
but nothing that can't be overcome with near-term technology. For discussion
purposes, let us call this the "trade-in" strategy.

As I mentioned in my shoot-from-the-hip first reaction posted to the list, I
sense that we'll see a massive reaction against this technology. It's
entirely possible that the media will quickly transform this into a political
hot potato and that the politically "safest" way to deal with it will be to
ban it.

Fortunately, it sounds like the basic technology isn't that complicated. It
isn't hard for me to imagine a facility being developed outside the US in
which "trade-ins" could be cloned and developed. All that's needed is a
basic genetics lab, a source of host mothers and then whatever it takes to
maintain the trade-ins. The actual transplant technology won't be needed for
at least 15-20 years, obviously.

Of course, folks who will want to take advantage of the trade-in strategy
should optimally get their first clone going at around age 40, so that a
fresh 20-year-old body is waiting for them when they get to be 60. (The way
I feel some mornings now, I'm thinking starting one at 20 might not be a bad
idea :-)

The point is this: This idea will certainly occur to a lot of people, and
very soon. Creating relatively secure and, probably more important, secluded
facilities for this endeavor ought to be a high priority for people who can
afford it. Certain areas of southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America would
seem well-suited to siting such facilities.

Assuming interest in such an idea, how might these facilities be developed?
Obviously, a network of the right people would need to be developed to bring
together money and expertise. Biologists and physicians willing to work on
the idea would have to be brought together with investors willing to put a
great deal of capital into developing the facilities, which would then have
to be built and managed. The Alcor organization of course seems a prime
candidate to serve as an initial node for developing such a network. I
wonder if anyone is interested in this idea?

(And yes, BTW, I just happen to be reading "The Lost World," Michael
Crichton's sequel to "Jurassic Park" right now . . .)

Greg Burch <> <> or
Medical Ethicist: Somone employed to distribute pessimistic
soundbytes to hungry reporters whenever science develops something