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The Brave New World’s Artificial Humans

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It has been said that Muhammad is the “Seal of the Prophets,” meaning that he was the last. However, our world has recently been graced by another prophet in Aldous Huxley. Huxley’s prophetic vision is unmistakable in his science-fiction novel, Brave New World, in which he delivers a valuable message: control advancements in technology before they control us. Huxley supports this message with a strong example of a society that is so overrun by technology that the human race has lost their individuality, freedom, and ultimately their identity as human beings. In this “Brave New World,” artificially-born humans are genetically engineered, divided into castes, molded into machines through hypnopaedia, and controlled by the drug Soma. The new world appears to be a perfect utopia on the surface–there is no disease, no warfare, and no sadness. However, the humans have sacrificed thought, feelings, free will, and everything which makes one human to achieve this state. Through Brave New World, Huxley teaches us that these sacrifices are far too great and will eventually occur if humans continue to misuse technology in the future.

Huxley’s warning in Brave New World carries so much weight because of the truthful predictions he includes in the novel. Despite being written in 1932, Huxley predicts genetic engineering, test-tube babies, cloning, a loss of meaning in sexual relationships, and drug abuse. All of these predictions were far beyond his time, and all have either come true or are on the brink of occurrence. The most significant of these is his presentiment that production, not childbirth, will be the process in which humans are brought into this world. Just as Huxley predicted, scientists can now produce humans outside of the womb, and soon the cloning of human beings will be feasible. The concept of producing humans without parents is the foundation of the “Brave New World” that Huxley urges us to avoid. In Brave New World, Huxley’s forewarning of the “manufacturing” of humans reveals the devastating results that our misuse of advancing technology can bring upon mankind.

In Brave New World, Huxley prophetically predicts the mass-production of humans. Huxley’s prediction begins with the first chapter, where the Director of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Center gives a tour to prospective employees. The Director explains to them the Bokanovsky Process. In the Bokanovsky’s Process, “a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult.”1 Before, one egg resulted in one human, but now ninety-six twins are being produced from one egg. The Director also explains that with Podsnap’s Technique, a facilitated ripening process, “you get an average of nearly eleven thousand brothers and sisters in a hundred and fifty batches of identical twins, all within two years of the same age.”2 This process allows fertilized eggs to be produced in mesmerizing numbers. After these eggs are fertilized, they develop in the bottling room, where all the embryos grow in tubes. Like Model Ts on the assembly line, the bottles are transported on conveyor belts that stretch almost half a mile, where at every meter the embryo is specifically conditioned for its future role. After two-hundred and sixty-seven days, the babies are decanted, which is the equivalent of birth. The result? Thousands and thousands of virtually identical babies, all conditioned and predestined for a specific lifestyle.

This controlled mass-production of babies in Brave New World possesses several results which appear beneficiary. As the Director states, “Bokanovsky’s Process is one of the major instruments of social stability!”3 In Brave New World, Bokanovsky’s Process allows the controllers to create a multitude of identical humans, perfectly suited for each social class. When all the humans are alike and conditioned to be content with their social class, it leaves no room for conflict, and therefore stability results. The motto of Brave New World, “Community, Identity, Stability,” is maintained by this process. Also, the humans are free from disease as well as from unintentional retardation and disabilities, and there is always a sufficient source of reliable workers.

On the other hand, there are many implications which result from mass producing humans. One is the loss of the meaning of life. In Brave New World, the miracle of child birth is now considered an obscene joke. Having children has gone from a sacred, precious cycle of life to a mere race between factories. In addition to this, families are unheard of, and the idea of having parents is simply incomprehensible for the people of the new world. To them, every human is the product of a tube. Also, with such a huge amount of identical humans, the identity is abolished. Everyone is the same, and no one is unique. These “Ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical machines”4 have as much heart and soul as the piece of metal they operate. Huxley’s purpose in Brave New World is to warn us of these grave consequences.

The most frightening aspect of Huxley’s prediction of cloning is that it is coming true in our lives today. The cloning era began in 1952, when the first animal was cloned by Robert Briggs and Thomas King. These scientists duplicated simple tadpoles from tadpole cells.5 This event sparked a series of discoveries and a movement of cloning research, and soon more and more complex species were being reproduced. Just recently a sheep was cloned by Scottish scientist Ian Wilmut and his colleagues at the Roslin Institute on July 5, 1996.6 This event awakened the world at the possibilities of cloning, and that cloning humans was just a step away.

As of now, a human has not been cloned. However, scientists state that cloning a human is entirely possible. There are two ways to clone a human. The first method consists of splitting and embryo into several halves. This in turn will create several sets of identical twins, or clones. The second method is more complicated, utilizing somatic cell nuclear transfer technology. Basically, it consists of taking cells from an already existing human being and cloning them by taking the nucleus of a cell, with the DNA, and injecting it into an egg or ovum whose nucleus has been removed. Therefore the resulting embryo will posses every characteristic of the person whose cell was used as the substitute, creating an exact duplicate.7

One of the greatest concerns of cloning is determining its legality. The only two countries which have completely banned cloning are England and Norway. Cloning is not illegal in the United States. Only three states, California, Michigan, and Rhode Island, have taken measures to ban cloning.8 Despite the legality of cloning in the US, shortly after the announcement of the cloning of the sheep, President Bill Clinton issued a moratorium banning all federal support of cloning research. This does not, however, ban support given by private sources, nor does it entirely prevent cloning research and experimentation from taking place.9 As of now, the legality of cloning in the US. is determined by the federal government. Currently there are no laws preventing cloning, but in the near future cloning bans are expected to be passed by Congress. However, much controversy surrounds this topic. Some say the banning of cloning violates the First Amendment of the Constitution, preventing researchers their right to academic freedom. As scientists get closer and closer to cloning a human, the legality will definitely become a primary issue and be a deciding factor in its effect on mankind.10

Despite the multitude of ethical, religious, and moral concerns cloning receives, there can be some benefits through its use. One positive use for cloning would be as a treatment for infertility. When parents are infertile, in-vitro fertilization may not always be available, so cloning would allow them to have a child. Also, parents with genetic diseases, such as sickle cell anemia or Down syndrome, will be ensured that their offspring will not possess these sicknesses. Another possible use would be to clone humans and store their organs as extras, so when someone needs a new kidney he or she will have a backup.11

Despite these useful possibilities, cloning can easily be detrimental to mankind. This is shown through the image in “Brave New World.” As stated before, whether or not the government puts firm regulations on cloning will determine what path humans go down. If humans allow cloning to freely occur, we will further travel down the path Huxley warns us of taking. Having a baby will soon lose its meaning, and in turn life itself will lose its meaning. A select few individuals will gain control over cloning, and will produce an obedient race at will. These individuals will assume the role of God, and soon the human race will be drones. Humans will be machines with no feeling, free will, or uniqueness; instead; they will be created solely for serving a purpose purely beneficial to the creator. The world will be free of war, disease, and chaos, but it will also be free of meaning, love, and humanness.

Cloning is the most immediate problem regarding technology that we as humans face today. It will also prove to be the most consequential dilemma, as exposed in Brave New World. Huxley’s predictions are coming true, and if we refuse to change, it will only be a matter of time before our world reaches the “Brave New World,” the final destination of our path of self-destruction from which there is no turning back. Huxley was truly a prophet, and like all great prophets he carried a specific message that we must adhere to: as humans, we must learn to use technology responsibly.

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