Thursday, May 29, 2008


While thinking about Deanna Hoak's recent post regarding a CNN article on regrowing human limbs, I considered the impact of this technology on the future.

First of all, I do believe it is possible, and we will figure out how to regrow severed limbs, failing organs, severed spinal cords, and the like. Cloning of body parts would be a great boon to medicine.

Speaking of cloning, I view the cloning of complete people to be equivalent to having a twin. It's just another person, nothing special except the ego of the person paying for it. Likewise cloning of cows. In principle, it's just another cow.

But cloning body parts would have a huge impact of people's lives. Being able to grow an extra or replacement heart, liver, or kidney would save the lives of millions every year.

If we figure out how to grow body parts outside the body, there are other potential applications. Growing meat, fish, eggs, milk without using living animals is simultaneously frightening and wonderful, depending upon your views of natural products and animal cruelty and modern farming methods.

How about this: The human body has an incredible plasticity, especially during early stages of development. The evidence is in conjoined twins, which often demonstrate full functionality in spite of extremely unusual body configurations. This opens the way to cloning extra body parts, a topic described (but perhaps not fully explored) in many science fiction stories. Extra arms are my first thought. How many of have needed an extra hand for some task?

Personally, I like the human form just the way it is. I'd use the cloning of parts for replacements only, and avoid "improving" on the shape that nature gave us.

And I don't even want to think about the pornography industry.

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