Splitting/Duplication in Humans

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Splitting/Duplication in Humans

Postby liberonscien » Tue Jun 07, 2016 3:51 am UTC

What would it be like if humans could reproduce asexually in addition to sexual reproduction?

I don't mean like a human would fertilize its own eggs either, but instead would increase in size and split into two identical copies of itself, similar to how bacteria do, while retaining its memories, unlike bacteria.

I think that society would be very different.

We would likely have laws regarding the legality of killing a copy, and the marriage of two copies. Sweat shop owners would encourage their most productive workers to reproduce often. People might raise armies made of themselves, or other people. Before dangerous missions, people would split into two, and leave one copy behind.

I've edited the thread title to more accurately refer to what's actually being discussed. - gm
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby cyanyoshi » Tue Jun 07, 2016 8:18 am UTC

liberonscien wrote:We would likely have laws regarding the legality of killing a copy, and the marriage of two copies. Sweat shop owners would encourage their most productive workers to reproduce often. People might raise armies made of themselves, or other people. Before dangerous missions, people would split into two, and leave one copy behind.

I don't know about that other stuff, but I'm doubtful that marriage would evolve as a concept in an asexual society. Or at least it would have far different implications. On the other hand, maybe an individual would be in a vulnerable state while reproducing and would need some kind of family or community structure to ensure survival.

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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Jun 07, 2016 11:22 am UTC

Self-marriage may be a legal necessity, in various ways. Property, benefits and suchlike belong to... who? Perhaps best to give both(/all) selves a 'married' status, with joint responsibility and advatage over the original singleton's situation, like the archaic matrmonial 'wife is property of/reponsibility of husband' , but bi-(poly-)directional instead of unequal.

Perhaps start with such a presumption until and unless 'divorce' is initiated, which would be the extraordinary circumstances.

It might be reasonably assumed that both 'offspring' have the same interests as their original parent (unlike Multiplicity's clear 'copy of (copy of...)' succession) and so when one dies then inheritance (nominally) automatic, except perhaps dealing with the risks of self-on-self homocide (none of the "-cide" terms I've come up with sound quite right), which indicate something beyond the usual murdery motivations. But life-insurance is going to be a vastly changed industry. Payouts to (traditional) next-of-kin/beneficiaries withheld whilst there's continuation of the original, in even one body, perhaps.

Also, voting. Tricky. One vote per original? Per 'offspring'? And taxation..? To support a personal 'army', self-organised distribution of employment would generate multi-person wealth, paying multiple instances of income-tax (dodges and 'load-shifting' aside), but there's loads of other problems, depending on the tax-regime lived under. Assuming they live under a single tax regime. Can one 'offshore' one's other-selves, and 'do a Google'?

...and loads more, along those lines, but already answers to earlier questions start to affect further extrapolated queries.

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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby SDK » Tue Jun 07, 2016 3:53 pm UTC

Killing yourself can take over "homicide" entirely. Call the other kind "heterocide" going forward.

So, using our current sexual methods, it takes 9 months to make a tiny sort-of copy of yourself, and another 10-20 years to get the copy up to speed. If full-grown humans were going to split into more full grown humans, this is going to be a very long process too. You'd have to try really hard to double your body weight in a year, let alone double everything inside yourself perfectly. Obviously we'd be biologically setup to do that kind of thing in such a world, but you are not going to be very functional during this process with half a person hanging off your body while they slowly grow from within you. This is going to be like pregnancy, except the baby your carrying weighs 100 pounds. Honestly, just based on that alone, I imagine many people would choose to reproduce sexually so they could avoid the hassle (and pain?).

But let's say this process is super fast and only takes a year (and yes, that is super fast). Making an army of yourself? Good luck with that. Financially, you'd be better off just hiring a thousand mercenaries than spending the next decade doing nothing but eating and feeding your growing numbers. Not to mention that such ambition doesn't really lend itself to taking orders from people that are literally your equals.

Long story short, I imagine the vast majority of people might make one or two copies then get on with their life, kind of like they're doing now...
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Whizbang » Tue Jun 07, 2016 7:27 pm UTC

The Commonwealth Saga by Peter F Hamilton explores this somewhat. The main antagonist is a species of aliens that reproduces asexually. It takes a slightly different angle than you propose, however, in that the aliens form a hive-mind with their offspring until such a time that one of the offspring is separated from the group for long enough to form an independent personality, and then it becomes a competitor for limited resources. In the extreme scenario presented, there is a "there can be only one" sort of mentality between hive minds.

Certainly tribal ties would be stronger in the scenario you propose.

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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Nicias » Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:39 pm UTC

You might also want to check out the Orthognal Series.

The main species in reproduces essentially asexually, an adult "female" splitting into two male and two females, with the males sterile. Sometimes they split into 2 females and 1 male, or one of each.

Some of the plot is driven by a desire to change this. Both to curb the exponential population growth and to allow "mothers" to survive childbirth.

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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Xanthir » Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:27 pm UTC

And it's a great series in general for exploring what a universe's physics would be like if spacetime were Euclidean rather than Minkowskian. All around great nerdery in physics, biology, and feminism with a very alien species.
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby liberonscien » Thu Jun 09, 2016 3:59 am UTC

In this scenario, the division is quick and painless. A person could split into two while at a normal weight, but both copies would be younger/smaller.
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby liberonscien » Thu Jun 09, 2016 4:09 am UTC

Soupspoon wrote:Self-marriage may be a legal necessity, in various ways. Property, benefits and suchlike belong to... who? Perhaps best to give both(/all) selves a 'married' status, with joint responsibility and advatage over the original singleton's situation, like the archaic matrmonial 'wife is property of/reponsibility of husband' , but bi-(poly-)directional instead of unequal.

Perhaps start with such a presumption until and unless 'divorce' is initiated, which would be the extraordinary circumstances.

It might be reasonably assumed that both 'offspring' have the same interests as their original parent (unlike Multiplicity's clear 'copy of (copy of...)' succession) and so when one dies then inheritance (nominally) automatic, except perhaps dealing with the risks of self-on-self homocide (none of the "-cide" terms I've come up with sound quite right), which indicate something beyond the usual murdery motivations. But life-insurance is going to be a vastly changed industry. Payouts to (traditional) next-of-kin/beneficiaries withheld whilst there's continuation of the original, in even one body, perhaps.

Also, voting. Tricky. One vote per original? Per 'offspring'? And taxation..? To support a personal 'army', self-organised distribution of employment would generate multi-person wealth, paying multiple instances of income-tax (dodges and 'load-shifting' aside), but there's loads of other problems, depending on the tax-regime lived under. Assuming they live under a single tax regime. Can one 'offshore' one's other-selves, and 'do a Google'?

...and loads more, along those lines, but already answers to earlier questions start to affect further extrapolated queries.

Technically, there is no original. Imagine a creature that is cut into two pieces, both pieces regenerate, no original.

Scenario:
Bob lives in Colorado.
Bob splits into two.
Bob A stays in Colorado.
Bob B moves to Kentucky.
There is a divergence.
Bob A and Bob B start with the same memories, but end up with different memories from that point, may turn out to be like twins, in a way.

I think that countries would be set up extremely different than they are now. I think one possible solution is that all copies would have to agree on who to vote for, and only get one collective vote. Would people have to register copies? I think that would be debated.
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby liberonscien » Thu Jun 09, 2016 4:14 am UTC

SDK wrote:Killing yourself can take over "homicide" entirely. Call the other kind "heterocide" going forward.

So, using our current sexual methods, it takes 9 months to make a tiny sort-of copy of yourself, and another 10-20 years to get the copy up to speed. If full-grown humans were going to split into more full grown humans, this is going to be a very long process too. You'd have to try really hard to double your body weight in a year, let alone double everything inside yourself perfectly. Obviously we'd be biologically setup to do that kind of thing in such a world, but you are not going to be very functional during this process with half a person hanging off your body while they slowly grow from within you. This is going to be like pregnancy, except the baby your carrying weighs 100 pounds. Honestly, just based on that alone, I imagine many people would choose to reproduce sexually so they could avoid the hassle (and pain?).

But let's say this process is super fast and only takes a year (and yes, that is super fast). Making an army of yourself? Good luck with that. Financially, you'd be better off just hiring a thousand mercenaries than spending the next decade doing nothing but eating and feeding your growing numbers. Not to mention that such ambition doesn't really lend itself to taking orders from people that are literally your equals.

Long story short, I imagine the vast majority of people might make one or two copies then get on with their life, kind of like they're doing now...

On the other hand, communism would work well for a society of copies, I think.
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jun 09, 2016 4:52 am UTC

So we're not really talking about reproduction at all, but Calvin's duplication machine?

I mean, organisms that reproduce asexually don't generally have memories, but the process either produces a daughter cell or organism while leaving the parent intact, or scraps the parent for two daughter organisms.You end up with two genetic copies of the parent cell, but one or zero "originals". For a multicellular creature, the budding method seems a little more practical than the division one; there are plenty of multicellular plants that use vegetative reproduction by producing runners, etc. Of course, humans do in fact have equipment for producing more humans, and that would seem the most convenient option for any parthenogenetc shenanigans in any case.

But you're not interested in the biological aspect, you're interested in the social what-if. And honestly, there are definitely a lot of sci-fi options out there for that, all the way down to The Sixth Day.

I think right now, people are philosophically split on whether their sense of self is defined by a continuous and singular narrative, or by a pattern of attributes like memory and identity. It's an open philosophical question with no right answer, because those things have been indivisible in all of human experience to this point, and the value and one-ness of a human being is defined by social norms that develop from practical necessities. Personally, in the "transporter paradox" scenario, I certainly think of "myself" as a pattern, not a continuous line of experience, so I wouldn't have any fuss about being duplicated and having the original destroyed, but others are completely entitled to squeamishness with the concept if they simply value a different set of elements of the things that make up themselves.

In a society where those things have always been separable, where anyone could duplicate him- or herself as easily as they could have a child, and without the assistance of a procreative partner - well, I think influential and well-resourced individuals are going to be very likely to become little clonal guilds, for a start. But if the copies are magically produced at the same physical age that the original was, you don't have that immortal dynasty potential.

Thing is, though, if this is a part of human biology from the beginning, it has to have begun somewhere in evolutionary history, and has to have had a selective benefit and a behavioral role. We do not have open philosophical questions about the most basic features of our life cycles - humans are roughly monogamous , are driven to produce and care for their children, live in family units of some particular size, have taboos against incest and bestiality, etc. not because a bright human once came up wtih any of these ideas and wrote them into cultural law, but because these are behavioral aspects of our species that culture developed around.

So asking how human society would have developed differently with this additional biological attribute is a little off point. You'd need to figure out the biological imperative and the selective advantage involved in this trait first, then figure out how that might express itself in culture. Any philosophical musings on what it all might "mean" from the perspective of one of these people and the question of how their senses of self are going to be defined is a third level of abstraction built on top. (In real life, the moral message at the end of the story is written around the events that happened, not the other way around like we do in fiction.)
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Jun 09, 2016 7:28 am UTC

liberonscien wrote:
Soupspoon wrote:Also, voting. Tricky. One vote per original? [...]

Technically, there is no original. Imagine a creature that is cut into two pieces, both pieces regenerate, no original.
Assuming that's the bit you were refering to, I meant numerically one vote per original. I appreciate the 'perfect mitosis' aspect, meaning that both 'daughters' would have to share their now discorporeal singleself-parent's voting power, by whatever mutual agreement they might decide amongst themselves (or by fulfilling their pre-split personality's original thoughts on the subject, which they will know, even if they discover reasons to consider the situation afresh). If part of the reason for splitting is for division of labour, then already one 'daughter' is probably going to be assigned to keep up with all the news (and probably convey a.summary of things original-self thought they1 would still need every partial-self to know) and so would probably also be the voter. Unless the plan was to maintain a personal 'collective democracy' to allow the differing experiences of the two (or more!) selves to decide.

Legislatively, whilst traditionally-born twins/triplets/etc are given voting rights to each and every happenstance member of the sibling-group, I can't see there being any good reason to let arbitrarily budded-multiples to gain extra votes for an 'original' just through splitting him/herself deliberately.

Whilesoever no new loopholes are discovered, probably tie voting even more firmly to whatever citizen ID is generated for each live-born individual (SSN, NI#, etc) and, jurisdictionally, greater cross-checking to ensure that a prior singleton is not casting more votes.across more borders than is already allowed for dual-citizenship/multi-residence singletons who are willing to travel or arrange postal-voting options to fulfil

However, the fight for extra representation (or else for lessened individual responsibilies, in line with the calving off of raw voting power) could be the basis for a significant challenge by those with a splitting-tendency. Either by hiring the best, and most sympathetic lawyers (or lawyer, prior to doubling/quadrupling/octupling up to carry the necessary workload of research?) or becoming a set of (previously) one-person-armies using force of (multiplied) arms to get their way...

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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby liberonscien » Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:37 am UTC

As as already been said, groups of copies would collectively decide how to vote and stuff, I wonder how stuff like dual citizenship would be handled.
There is an election in France.

Joe A is in France.
Joe B isn't.

How would they decide on what to do?

Would they get to vote? The group might not be looking out for France.

What about War? What if your copy is the enemy?
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Jun 09, 2016 3:46 pm UTC

liberonscien wrote:As as already been said, groups of copies would collectively decide how to vote and stuff,
... yes, by me. That's my own speculation.
I wonder how stuff like dual citizenship would be handled.
There is an election in France.

Joe A is in France.
Joe B isn't.

How would they decide on what to do?
Go by Joe.original's previous ability to vote, modified only by Joe.collective's later application for French citizenship/whatever. One for all, all for one! Huzzah!

What about War? What if your copy is the enemy?
The way countries deal with foreign-nationals, or those of dubious (or even dubiously dubious!) loyalty and affiliation is something that has a long history. If copy meets copy as enemies in the field of combat then something very wrong has already happened, either with one/both representative nation's recruitment policies or in the breakdown of ideological relations between the two/more copies. Maybe both!



Not that this inspired my speculation, but the obvious reference now is Ann Leckie's Ancilliary Justice (very, very minor spoilers in making that suggestion, because of the way the story is time-structured). And there's another book that I have (bought in a remaindered book store, a few years back, so probably didn't do too well or get the sequel that it seemed to be begging to lead onto) but can't find, right now, that had the premise of multiple non-singleton implementations, amongst its galaxy-wide expansion of humanity, from quantum-linked (and relativity-suffering!) hive consiousnesses across multiple distributed bodies through self-cloners who practiced splitting-and-remerging for memory synchronisation purposes ("two of them would meet and go into a room, soon after just one would come back out", to badly paraphrase the character-narrator's own lack of knowledge of the process) and others just clone copies of themselves as totally independent agents1 who also seem capable of acting against each other (or not towards other copies' new interests?), as well as just plain singletons, especially in light of the galaxy-wide "fall of Rome" scenario that has severed the hive-minds and dissolved much of the galactic civilisation's glue in the process. But fictional lore covers many different examples, and obviously I'm trying to leave those influences as no more than background in my thoughts on the matter ;)


1 The narrator is actually a 'built' copy by third parties, who found a thoroughly destroyed physical record of his copy-information in deep, deep space and painstakingly gathered the fragments back together and reconstructed this 'lost' version of him to the best of their (not insignificant!) abilities. He has gaps in his memories, and it's hard to know whether he can trust his old colleagues. Or if anyone, including himself(/ves?), can trust him! Wish I could find the book, it'll be around here somewhere... *rumages further*

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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jun 09, 2016 5:02 pm UTC

Unless copying is utterly effortless and copies are easily disposable, the vote thing is irrelevant because the resulting individuals are the resulting individuals.
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jun 09, 2016 5:34 pm UTC

Eh, not much different from identical twins. You can't guarantee synchronization after copying.

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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Jun 09, 2016 6:13 pm UTC

Not synchronisation, but the original conceit was that memories (thus motivations and experience) started off identical, more a basis of commonality of interest than 'mere' twins.

Doesn't mean 'clone divorcing' could not then legitimaty happen, but it would be difficult to ascertain premeditated claims of "Yes, we are all individuals!", even while toeing the party line with multiple voices.
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jun 09, 2016 6:31 pm UTC

Yeah but ... why? You've been taking that as an assumption, but there's no actual basis for it. In a society where this is a thing, you're going to have a slightly different sense of what an individual is, but whatever that turns out to be, it's going to be as natural and fundamental to them as our sense of the individual is to us.

We don't artificially handicap people for having children, despite the fact that those children will be disproportionately influenced by their parents and will someday be allowed to vote in elections. We do prevent children from voting, and one of the reasons is that they'd be very likely to have their votes dictated by their parents, but that's far from the only reason.
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Jun 09, 2016 7:15 pm UTC

Just working with the OP...
liberonscien wrote:I don't mean like a human would fertilize its own eggs either, but instead would increase in size and split into two identical copies of itself, similar to how bacteria do, while retaining its memories, unlike bacteria.

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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby SDK » Thu Jun 09, 2016 7:44 pm UTC

liberonscien wrote:In this scenario, the division is quick and painless. A person could split into two while at a normal weight, but both copies would be younger/smaller.

How long did it take you to grow from a child into an adult? The process as a whole will not be quick no matter how you slice it.
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Sizik » Thu Jun 09, 2016 7:52 pm UTC

Presuming that mass is conserved, would a 200 lb adult split into two 100 lb 13-year-old-equivalents? What happens to various age/development/maturity-based laws/privileges/restrictions when people can turn into kids willy-nilly?
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Jun 09, 2016 7:57 pm UTC

(OP actually first said "increase in size then split", with the implication of the splits identical to pre-process singleton, whilst later seems to be "split into half-sized copies" and the need to then grow up again, so definitely confusion here.)

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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:21 pm UTC

If the splitting reverses aging, everybody's going to be doing it. I mean, it'd be the standard form of reproduction.
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby liberonscien » Thu Jun 09, 2016 9:31 pm UTC

Sizik wrote:Presuming that mass is conserved, would a 200 lb adult split into two 100 lb 13-year-old-equivalents? What happens to various age/development/maturity-based laws/privileges/restrictions when people can turn into kids willy-nilly?

Mass is conserved.
Perhaps people would have their birth date as part of their SSN or something. Or perhaps, division would have to be witnessed in order to be verified.

People would effectively be immortal, in a sense.
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby liberonscien » Thu Jun 09, 2016 9:33 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:(OP actually first said "increase in size then split", with the implication of the splits identical to pre-process singleton, whilst later seems to be "split into half-sized copies" and the need to then grow up again, so definitely confusion here.)

The second one can be done whenever, the first one would take preparation and could be done in order to maintain psychological homeostasis, or something.
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Re: Asexual Reproduction in Humans

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:08 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:So we're not really talking about reproduction at all, but Calvin's duplication machine?
Yeah, this is technically a sort of asexual reproduction, in that it's a kind of reproduction that doesn't involve sexual activity, but the thread title was fairly misleading.
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