No, believe it or not this paper wasn’t written by Bryan Caplan or Robin Hanson. From the abstract:

In this paper, we analyze the extent to which market forces create an incentive for cloning human beings. We show that a market for cloning arises if a large enough fraction of the clone’s income can be appropriated by its model. Only people with the highest ability are cloned, while people at the bottom of the distribution of income specialize in surrogacy. In the short run, cloning reduces inequality. In the long run, it creates a perfectly egalitarian society where all workers have a top ability if fertility is uncorrelated with ability and if the distribution of ability among sexually produced children is the same as among their parents. In such a society, cloning has disappeared….

Unlike the normal, unpredictable, process of genetic heredity, cloners will be able to guarantee that their clones will be high-ability by cloning high-ability individuals. This paper looks at whether people will create clones for profit. Assuming that slavery will be continue to be illegal, the question is how could someone appropriate wealth from a clone they created?  The authors offer three ways:

Negative bequest – this is when you borrow money in someone else’s name, e.g. adopt the baby clone and rack up debt in it’s name. Apparently, this is legal in Japan.

Informational retention – here you withhold information from the clone about where they came from, and who their “model” was unless they pay for it. A problem with this is that the clone has to wait until he’s older to pay for this (since child clones don’t have money, obviously) in which case you may have ruined a lot of potential, as they could have been investing in particular talents throughout childhood. For instance, the clone who learns on his 18th birthday that his model was Mozart, but he’s neglected to learn piano.

Gene ownership – if genetic codes are patentable in the future, then you could sell a clone his genome which contains information that could help them stay healthy or improve their labor market earnings.

Education – top tier schools could form a consortium to clone high-talented individuals to increase the demand for their products, and since top tier schools are not easily replicable this will drive up prices and increase rents.

The first one seems worst to me, since clones have no choice but to pay rents. Given the desirability of having these high-ability clones as citizens, I assume that some countries would pass laws to serve as sanctuaries from this type of debt.

I am curious as to what Bryan Caplan, who has previously argued for his right to clone, would say about whether these things methods of clone wealth appropriation should be legal?

About these ads