Compared to what?
December 2, 2021 1:18 PM   Subscribe

I just saw a preview of the movie "Swansong" where someone with a terminal disease is perfectly cloned and if he never tells his family, the cloned "he" will live on while the original "he" dies.

I saw a Twilight Zone or Night Gallery (or Outer Limits, or One Step Beyond) episode where someone, somehow comes into contact with a duplicate of himself who, at least in this telling, was a much better version of himself. The original agrees to let the duplicate replace him because he realizes he has hurt his loved ones and isn't capable of changing. When I saw it as a kid, it always struck me as the ultimate act of love. What was that episode?

I imagine at some point in the future, technology may create something similar either virtually or corporeally. Is there any scientific literature on how we are racing to replace ourselves in this way?
posted by CollectiveMind to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
 
1. First unwarranted assumption: that we are "racing to replace ourselves."
2. Second unwarranted assumption: that we could replace ourselves with replicas who had approximations of our own life experiences. This is so far beyond anything science can currently envision that any scientific literature on it wouldn't be scientific.
3. You'd love the Netflix series Living With Yourself.
posted by adamrice at 1:43 PM on December 2, 2021 [11 favorites]


It could have been The Outer Limits episode "Replica" from 1995, but it could have been something else.

The Mind's I explores philosophical questions adjacent to this, were it possible. But as adamrice points out, the best we can do in the foreseeable future is to to build a creepy puppet.
posted by credulous at 2:17 PM on December 2, 2021


A clone would still be a separate individual, with its own consciousness, not so different from an identical twin. They might be able to successfully pretend to be the original, but would in actuality be a distinct, separate person.

The question of whether an exact copy -- down to the individual whatever-are-the-basic-physical-building-blocks-of-embodied-conscious-experience -- would literally be the same individual is more in the realm of philosophy than science.

We have yet to come to consensus on what individual consciousness or identity even is, we're a long way away from being able to race towards it or away from it or even really to know which direction it lies.
posted by ook at 2:20 PM on December 2, 2021


(You may find these of interest, particularly "Staying Alive" and "You're being tortured in the morning", for exploring these sorts of questions)
posted by ook at 2:33 PM on December 2, 2021


What was that episode?

This is a near match for the Wide World of Mystery episode, "The Cloning of Clifford Swimmer" (1974; YouTube), directed by Lela Swift. In this story, the original has hurt his loved ones and the clone is the much better person who treats them well, and the original does let the clone replace him for a while but the ending is not happy or generous.
posted by Wobbuffet at 3:03 PM on December 2, 2021


A clone would still be a separate individual, with its own consciousness, not so different from an identical twin. They might be able to successfully pretend to be the original, but would in actuality be a distinct, separate person.

If you're interested in a fictional look at what the legal rights of clones might be in a future-with-cloning, I can recommend Constance by Matthew FitzSimmons which looks at this idea in depth.
posted by jessamyn at 3:54 PM on December 2, 2021


Was it possibly the Twilight Zone reboot in the 80s with Bruce Willis of Harlan Ellison’s Shatterday? I can’t answer to the other things but that episode always stuck with me.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 5:26 PM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]


James Patrick Kelly discusses this notion in his novelette "Think Like a Dinosaur". A Corporation hires people to work in a distant solar system. They are sent there by a "matter transmitter" (think Beam me up, Scotty).

The workers never know that they were scanned and copied, and that an iteration of themselves was sent. They never know that their body is destroyed as a process of transmission. Nor do their iterations ever know this. The same process transpires when the clones "return home."

Kelly writes the story through the eyes of the human operative who runs the transfer technology for the corporation. He must deal with the results when things go a bit astray. Among the issue in Kelly's story are corporate ethics, and the nature of consciousness.
posted by mule98J at 9:32 AM on December 3, 2021


Response by poster: Credulous, right. I thought the authors discussed this in their "transporter" analogy. Or, maybe it was in Escher, Godel and Bach. Can't remember.
posted by CollectiveMind at 9:44 PM on December 8, 2021


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