The United States or Nea So Copros?

April 12, 2017 § 4 Comments

In Cloud Atlas’s fifth story, “The Orison of Somni-451,” the government designs and produces fabricants, a type of clone used to supply massive amount of labor to work the country’s unpleasant menial jobs. Fabricants are intellectually manipulated to severely reduce consciousness; their daily lives follow the same monotonous routine intended to serve the desires and needs of the “purebloods,” the naturally born citizens in Nea So Copros. The fabricants’ work amounts to a modern form of slavery, as they have no choice but to work for and obey their pureblood superiors with little to no compensation. The Nea So Copros government is fully responsible for the creation, manipulation, and slavery of fabricants in Cloud Atlas. The story raises questions about the role of government in scientific practices, such as cloning, and their implementation in the real world. These questions remain relevant for the United States government as well.


The first cloned mammal in history, Dolly the sheep, created through the process of somatic cell nuclear transfer in 1997.

In 1997, scientists successfully cloned the first mammal in history, Dolly the sheep, triggering worldwide fascination, but also immediate widespread fear of the consequences of such a scientific discovery. Immediately, one central question concerned not only the scientific community, but also the average man: if scientists could successfully clone sheep, when would they clone a human being? Legislators in the United States reacted almost immediately to this scientific breakthrough by drafting bills that sought to prohibit the practice of human cloning. Representative Vernon Ehlers introduced the first bill prohibiting human cloning in March 1997—just days after scientists’ revealed Dolly to the masses. The bill sought to make it “unlawful for any person to use a human somatic cell for the process of producing a human clone,” proposing an immediate end to all potentially beneficial scientific research related to human cloning. In subsequent proposals, opinions on cloning generally differed along party lines; Democrats wished to allow the development of cloned human embryos for the explicit purpose of research, while Republicans sought to prohibit the practice altogether. In 2001, legislators, while reacting to their constituents’ profound fear (and their own, reflected a deep societal misunderstanding of the practice of cloning.

Legislators immediately reacted to the prospect of human cloning without knowledge of the potential benefits of the practice. Benefits include the potential to eliminate defective genes, improvements in reproductive technology, improve injury recovery, eliminate infertility, and much more, plus any beneficial advances not yet known due to human cloning’s inhibited growth since the birth of Dolly the sheep in 1997. As the members of our society selected to represent the concerns of all citizens, this misunderstanding and lack of knowledge is extremely problematic. Their actions, based in these misconceptions, do not reflect the interest and welfare of their constituents. And if public officials are capable of reacting so poorly for so long to a surely beneficial scientific breakthrough, chances are they react similarly to other major topics of public interest.

While human cloning is now legal for the explicit purpose of research, the ignorance of representatives and legislators remains even today, twenty years after Dolly the sheep’s introduction to the scientific community that understood her and the average citizen that did not. Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential Campaign platform opposed both embryonic stem cell research and the practice of human cloning for research purposes, while severely reducing funds for scientific research overall. If Trump’s administration is indeed informed about the potential benefits of human cloning research, then I argue it is choosing to ignore them, reflecting extremely poor representation of the concerns and welfare of the common American citizen who can benefit from further research into the practice of human cloning.

This comparison between the United States and the Nea So Copros government admittedly has significant implications. Should the government remove all restrictions for the practice, allowing the cloning of humans without regulation? Should the government control this practice, as in Cloud Atlas, and produce clones for its own purposes? Is it better to be informed about human cloning and utilize it in a harmful manner or ignore the technology altogether? Yes, the practice of human cloning requires regulation to ensure the safety and legality of the practice in question. However, I argue that there is a middle ground somewhere between the United State and Nea So Copros—one that encourages the development of human cloning technology for the benefit of humanity without abusing the practice via slavery, abuse, or other unethical treatment.



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§ 4 Responses to The United States or Nea So Copros?

  • woodrume says:

    What I think is especially interesting about these government officials’ views on cloning is not that they are misinformed or ignore scientific evidence; other scientific issues, for example, climate change, are regularly subject to these types of rhetorical abuse. Rather, it is that these views are so strong and definite while views on the development of artificial intelligence or the destruction of any type of life that isn’t human are either nonexistent or far less defined. Here again it seems that society places an enormous amount of weight on the uniqueness of human existence and its preservation. Cloning, even that which only hints at the idea that human life can be modified or created in a way that violates this uniqueness is blindly deemed “unnatural” and wrong. Is the mass breeding of animals that are killed for consumption without ever leaving a compound similarly unnatural? Not human, not important. And since many humans can’t envision artificial intelligence ever matching humanity in its unique sentience, it is being developed without hindrance. I’m not saying the things that are not being regulated are necessarily wrong (in some cases, not even close). But I think the visceral public reaction to cloning perfectly reflects the western obsession with humanity’s dominance and perceived sanctity.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Olivia Peel says:

    In our class discussion on Tuesday, Professor Clayton pointed out how we all seemed to be focusing on the matter of human cloning through the lens of a futuristic dystopian scenario. I definitely tend to think of cloning as a practice present in dystopian societies. This is not because I think that dystopias lead to cloning, but rather because it is difficult for me to imagine a future with widespread, unregulated human cloning that wouldn’t result in a dystopian society.
    Let me quickly interrupt my own train of thought and clarify that I don’t disagree with the concept of cloning in general. I think there are a lot of practical applications, especially with therapeutic cloning, and that it is definitely something we should continue to explore. That said, I believe that there would be negative consequences to large scale human cloning. To be completely blunt (and admittedly a bit dramatic) it all comes down to supply and demand. If society can create clones of humans with relative ease, what does that mean for the value of a human life? Optimistically I’d like to say that it wouldn’t change. But realistically I think it would—at least for the clones. People would look at a cloned person and think of them as something less than human, something mass-produced and maybe even with a literal monetary value.
    Basically what I’m saying is that I think that unregulated human cloning could develop into something very much like the world in Cloud Atlas under the Nea So Copros government.
    (Re-reading your conclusion I feel like this is pretty much exactly the point you were making. You made it very well, so this is probably redundant. But all this is to say that I agree with you that it would be ideal to find a healthy middle ground where the government does regulate parts of cloning, but private citizens are involved enough so that government corruption doesn’t swell and lead to a totalitarian dystopia. Ideally the government and the people would work in a system of checks and balances to ensure that society is ethically sound.)


  • tiffjku says:

    I’ve often pondered the production of clones. And as Olivia stated, the way media portrays cloning is always within a dystopian society view. People present information the way they feel about it, colored by their opinions. There aren’t many objective pieces on human cloning (at least none that I have read). It’s the same with GMO’s. I was telling my friend about how I thought GMO’s were beneficial, and she asked, “Are you talking about those fat chickens who can’t even walk?” I had actually been thinking this as well. but I realized that was a different case because those chickens had hormones injected into them, not have their genetics modified. But I realized the reason we both thought of the same situation was because we both saw those things, GMO’s and those hormone injected chickens, always grouped together in pieces of works like documentaries. I understand that the point of the documentary is an animal rights activist statement, but the way they grouped these two things together is wrong. From what I know, GMO’s don’t harm the organism being modified like injecting chemicals and hormones does. You can’t talk about these two things in tangent because they are entirely different things. Yet it is a propaganda technique to ultimately get you to stop eating meat.

    I think if we looked past the “scary stories” of dystopian societies and tried focusing on the benefits, we could really further our science and technology. However, that is not to say that we should completely disregard those stories. It’s always good to take things with a bit of skepticism. We really should think ahead about the rights and freedoms we will give clones, how we will treat them, and who gets to regulate them. I hope it won’t become a capitalist ordeal where only the rich control this technology. There are many questions to ask outside of the clones themselves but also to the society and people that are introduced to them.


  • mihirakonda says:

    I am very confused by the negative, almost visceral, reactions to cloning, and especially human cloning, when in reality the process is very similiar to in-vitro fertilization (IVT) and the only difference is that the fusion of a sperm and egg is substituted with somatic cell nuclear transfer. It is definitely an incorrect statement to say that all people are accepting of IVT but I think I can comfortably say that it is a much more acceptable idea than conducting human cloning. I wonder where this idea comes from. Is it, as you say, due to ignorance? In his essay “The Uncanny”, Freud explores the feelings of the uncanny that arise in response to a ‘double’ or doppelgänger. He says that the double leads to a ‘return of the repressed’ as it reminds one of their primitive, childhood state, and so cause the uncomfortable feeling of the uncanny. I don’t know if I always readily see the logic behind Freud’s arguments but maybe he has something here.


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