Bryan Caplan, author of The Myth of the Rational Voter, and Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, long ago expressed a desire to clone himself. To some extent I can understand the desire. There are many ways that my toddler son resembles me in terms of his behavior patterns that are uncanny. This allows me to gain insight into his thought process, and hopefully mentor him in a manner which would be more difficult if he wasn’t quite like me. The similarities we be even greater if he was a genetic clone. Personally, I am not inclined to clone myself because I get along very well with different types of people, and don’t have the impulse to encounter a literal mini-me. I’ve never, for example, regretted not having an identical twin. But to each his own.
I thought of Caplan when I read this article in New York Magazine, Paying $100,000 to Clone Your Dog Won’t Give You Your Dog Back:
Even still, sometimes the things you know with your head can’t compete with the comparatively dumb hopes of your heart. That NPR report referenced earlier included the story of Dr. Phillip Dupont and his wife, Paula, who run a veterinary clinic in Louisiana. The Duponts paid Sooam $100,000 to clone their dog Melvin, a pet they loved and trusted so deeply they even let the dog “babysit their grandson in the backyard all by himself.” The Duponts got three puppies out of the deal, though one of those puppies died. The other two are named Ken and Henry, and the couple is so happy with them they’re considering using Melvin’s DNA again — what better dog to give their grandson than one created with the DNA of his former babysitter?
It seems likely that over time the price point for cloning technologies will decline. It may be feasible for families to recreate, at least genetically, the same pet for generations using the original cell line. In Frank Herbert’s Dune series Duncan Idaho was resurrected over and over through an advanced form of cloning. And, if the need for continuity of identity is heritable, one can imagine clone lines of humans developing over time. This isn’t that far-fetched, there are many taxa where there are closely related clonal and sexual lineages. Similarly, one can imagine sexual random mating humans, and clonal lines who have sex only for pleasure.