Can a clone have a birthday? Well, let’s just say that Dolly the sheep was delivered 22 years ago on July 5 — the world’s first cloned mammal to see the light of day.
The result of a successful cloning experiment at The Roslin Institute in Scotland, the wooly work of science sparked public outcry back in 1996, eventually leading to an extension of the ban against embryo research in the United States.
Hello Dolly! — OneShot (© Roslin Institute)
Fears of cloning linger: Earlier this year, Chinese researchers were busy trying to convince the public that their cloned macaque monkeys did not mean they were ready to clone humans. Much of the furor, however, has dissipated. Selective assisted breeding (read: cloning) has become an accepted practice in livestock, while new examples of scientific use — especially in efforts to prevent (or even undo) total species extinction — keep making headlines.
As technology and science progress, much of the existential fear that was just fifteen years ago directed at cloning has now drifted toward other concerns, notably Artificial Intelligence. Sophia, the spookily lifelike robot who was recently given legal personhood by Saudi Arabia, raises all kinds of ethical issues. Meanwhile in France, some have argued that robots should be given a place in public policymaking.
To each era its own scientific nightmares. Back in 1968, Philip K. Dick asked, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Two decades after Dolly, we might ask instead what would happened if cloned sheep were fed with artificial intelligence.
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