Sunday, 15 February 2009

Cloning as an extreme of social structuring

I read a paper yesterday on "the economics of human cloning". The idea is that people can have themselves cloned, then gain part of the income from their clones' future earnings, for example by selling them information about their strengths in the workplace. Under the assumption of income maximisation, people with high earning potential can end up paying people with low earning potential to act as surrogate parents for their clones. People with medium earning potential can end up doing neither, but working in the economy as normal.

The situation it describes seems to be from science fiction and irrelevant for the real world, but its mechanisms and techniques are general, and most of its assumptions (with one notable exception relating to the infinite supply of genes) are just a little more extreme than those applicable to prevailing societies. So the social structuring observed in the model feels like a parody of the lack of social mobility in them.

I enjoyed the paper, though it is not widely cited (economists have other preoccupations than cloning). It is available here.

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