Jenna Black is the author of the REPLICA trilogy which asks just this question and addresses the ethics of replicas. Today she is here with us today to talk about just that!
Tabitha’s review of REPLICA – coming soon
Now lets hear it from the author herself and be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY for a change to win the entire trilogy.
The Ethics of Replicas
What if you could store backups of human beings just like you store backups of the data on your computer? What if you could then restore that backup if the original person dies?
That’s the basic premise behind the Replica series, and when I first came up with it, I could think of so many ways to abuse the technology that it was almost hard to pick which direction I was going to go with it. I decided to go with making the technology available only to the richest of the rich and centering much of the ethical dilemma around the value of an individual human being.
What is it that makes you you? Is it your physical body? Is it your mind? Your personality? Some combination of the three? In the first chapter of Replica, I kill off one of my two protagonists, Nate Hayes. In the second chapter, he returns to life—but minus any memories he had accrued since he’d last had a backup scan. As far as the law in my world is concerned, Replica Nate is the same person as the original Nate. None of his loved ones have to suffer the pain of his loss, and though there is some awkwardness at first, most of them come to accept him as though no one had ever died.
And yet someone did die. The original Nate Hayes was the victim of a brutal murder, and thanks to the existence of a Replica, it’s almost like that person, that individual, completely ceased to exist. No one mourns him, at least not for very long.
The concept of being able to replace lost loved ones with such a perfect simulacrum is undeniably tempting. Anyone who’s ever suffered the pain of losing someone close to them knows how difficult it is to bear. Who wouldn’t want relief from that pain?
But what would it say about the value of human life if we could be replaced? If I lived in a world where that was possible, I think I would worry that I as an individual had suddenly become disposable. Especially if the technology came down enough in price so that it was available to a broader spectrum of people.
What if someone you loved was horribly disfigured in an accident? You couldn’t do much to ease that individual’s suffering—but you could dispose of that individual and bring back a Replica from before the accident, thereby easing your own. What about someone who was the victim of some terrible, life-changing trauma? If you could bring back a copy of that person from before the trauma occurred, you would be saved from all the difficulties and heartaches involved with helping and supporting a trauma victim. What if you were a bad guy and someone witnessed something you were doing? As long as you know there will be a Replica, you can kill the witness and not even have to feel terribly guilty about it.
Human beings aren’t meant to be replaceable. Grief, as terrible as it is when you’re suffering through it, is an essential part of life. So as tempting as the idea of Replicas might be, I wouldn’t want them to become a reality. Although if you offered me the chance to have a Replica in the immediate aftermath of a loved one’s death, I have to wonder if I would have the fortitude and conviction to say no.
JENNA BLACK received her Bachelor of Arts in physical anthropology and French from Duke University. She is the author of the Faeriewalker series for teens as well as the Morgan Kingsley urban fantasy series. You can visit her online at jennablack.com.