Written by Michael P. Owen
Web Posted January 13, 1999
Updated August 05, 2000
The process of cloning an individual in Autoduel Earth, where performed by Gold Cross or another organization, is a two-step process. First, a clone body is made by growth-accelerating a cell sample taken from a donor, a process that takes over four weeks. Second, memories must be implanted into the clone body to give the mental functions to higher than base life functions.
Body cloning and memory transfer are two of the most important technologies to Autoduel Earth. Political and corporate leaders use cloning discourage assassination attempts. Professional autoduelists have a increased chance of survival when they enter an arena. Interstate highway couriers can travel the gang-infested highways of Autoduel America with less worry that one ambush will be the end of their careers, permanently. People who have clones can be saved from death when they have life-threatening accidents, fatal illnesses or grow so old their bodies simply stop operating.
It is possible to perform the cloning process more than once. Several people in Autoduel Earth are now living as their second, third, fourth or even fifth clone. If there are any problems creating the duplicate body, another one can be generated easily. Memories can be passed from clone to clone many times. Because the cloning and memory transfer can be repeated an infinite amount of times, as long as a member of Gold Cross or other cloning agency has the money for repeated procedures, immortality is obtained for that person . . . theoretically. There are several limitations to cloning that Car Wars does not discuss, limitations that players in campaigns should keep in mind, to keep their characters alive. This article will discuss why cloning is not a foolproof fountain of youth.
Unless otherwise noted, the rules in the articles listed in the Bibiography
section at the end of this document remain in effect.
Generation of a Clone Body
This section can easily spawn a debate over metaphysics and religion. This article is to expand the background of Car Wars, not to discuss some of the most complex questions of life, therefore some assumptions and declarations will be made. These assumptions are being used to make the rules in this article playable in a campaign without requiring players of Car Wars campaigns to have doctorates in medical ethics.
Individuals in Autoduel Earth exist because of several properties they have. First, their brains have enough intact neural hardware to hold memories and knowledge for sustained periods. Second, there is some component that cannot be duplicated in a laboratory that makes the individual have sentience. This component, which makes each person unique, is called by many names: consciousness, personality, spirit and soul, among others. These terms will be used interchangeably in this article for purposes of Car Wars characters.
All organisms have a consciousness, but to varying degrees. There is a cellular consciousness, a tissue consciousness, an animal consciousness, a plant consciousness and a human consciousness (see The Power of Myth videotape series by the late mythology expert Joseph Campbell). For purposes of this article, the consciousness a human has will be one that will be the one that gives the person sentience, self-awareness and the ability to interact with his or her environment.
When a sperm cell and an egg cell combine in the process of fertilization, the formation of a new organism, an organism-to-be, has been started. A character will usually have a consciousness when generated from the traditional method of creating humans: mating of a sperm and egg cell followed by the organism-to-be developing in the mother for nine months. The exception is if the organism has suffered brain death, an event discussed below.
When a clone body is generated in a laboratory such as Gold Cross, the growth-acceleration process used prevents the clone from developing normal mental functions. In order for the clone to operate as a functional human being mentally, development of the mind by memory implantation is required. For Car Wars purposes, a clone body generated in this fashion does not have a consciousness. A laboratory-grown clone body can be considered brain-dead, although the brain is intact. If a person does not have a functional mind (consciousness and memories), the person is not alive.
The pro-euthansia movement in the 20th century United States works towards getting U.S. laws to permit individuals suffering from extreme, untreatable pain or total physical, untreatable incapacitation from disease or injury, to voluntarily select death over continued medical treatment or being sustained on life support. The pro-euthansia movement considers an human as being alive if there is brain-activity. Once there is a flatline on an electrical encephalogram (EEG) scan, a person is considered to be permanently dead. This situation can be considered the same for a laboratory-grown clone body, but the implantation of memories, contrary to what the Car Wars and GURPS rules discussing cloning state, will not awaken this body from its status because something more is needed, which is discussed later. Implantation of memories in a brain-dead person cannot bring that person back to life because at the point an EEG flatlines, the neurons and the rest of the cells in the brain have begun to decay. If the brain does not have functioning cells, memories cannot be held. This is the reason why memories cannot be transferred from bodies to a clone body or a MMSD if the donor body has endured too much damage (a totally burned body, a body that has taken more than 10 hits of damage, or a body that has taken two hits of damage to its head).
While laboratory-grown clone bodies are considered to have blank minds,
there is another procedure that can be used to create a clone body that
does make the clone have a consciousness. This technique, called traditional-grown
cloning, is based on the cloning experiments of the 1990s, with the genetic
duplication of mammals such as sheep and cows. Under laboratory conditions,
a sperm cell is allowed to fertilize an egg cell. The nucleus of this zygote,
the part of the cell that contains the genetic material of the organism-to-be,
is removed. A nucleus from a somatic cell (non-sperm or non-egg cells)
is taken from a donor cell and added to the nucleus-free zygote. This hybrid
cell is implanted into a female's reproductory organs and is allowed to
develop normally for nine months. The organism that results is genetic
duplicate of the person who donated the nucleus for the zygote. This clone
does have full brain activity and a consciousness. If this clone were to
be programmed with new memories, by a donor body or a MMSD, the character
would likely have severe mental problems (discussed below).
Clone Bodies, Memory Sets and A Character's Consciousness
There are two different types of clone body: laboratory-grown, which does not have a consciousness, and traditionally-grown, which does have a consciousness. For an character to exist in Car Wars, several components are required. First, the brain must be functional and relatively intact. If the brain has been damaged by injury or disease, the character may live memory loss, mental ailments and emotional ailments are likely to be present. Second, a memory set defines and shapes a character's personality. Without a memory set, a character is like a newborn baby, with functional neural hardware but without the software of memories and skills. Third, a consciousness is what makes a character sentient. If a character flatlines, the brain cannot hold memories or the consciousness anymore, therefore the character dies.
There are two types of death for a character: heart failure and brain
failure. Heart failure is not always a death sentence for a character.
A heart can often be restarted, bringing the character back from falling
into the abyss of permanent death. The main reason heart failure will kill
a character is because once the heart stops, the brain suffers from a lack
of blood supply, hence a lack of oxygen. The cells of the brain asphyxiate
within a few minutes, causing damage to the brain that is usually irreversible
and often leads to brain death, the permanent end of a character. Without
a functioning brain's hardware, memories and a consciousness cannot be
stored, therefore the character ceases to exist.
Getting the Grim Reaper Stalled in Traffic
Fortunately for Autoduel Earth, there are some 21st century medical technologies that prevent imminent cardiac arrest from meaning certain brain death for a character. There are a few options for medical personnel when treating a dying patient.
First, the drug Suspend (see GURPS Ultra-Tech 1) can be injected to slow brain damage. Suspend will only work if it is circulated throughout the body. The only way for this to occur is if the heart is kept beating, whether restarted by CPR, electrical stimulation or manually squeezing the heart. Suspend gives medical personnel more time to perform treatment to save the character, using medical or lazarus treatments (defined below).
Second, the drug Adrenalzine (see Uncle Schmalbert's 2037 Catalog in ADQ 5/1 or UACFH) can be injected to hyperaccelerate the metabolism of the dying character. Contrary to being advertised in the Uncle Schmalbert's section of Uncle Albert Catalogs, this drug is available and has been used by paramedics for many years. Like Suspend, Adrenalzine must be circulated through the entire body to be effective, therefore the heart has to be pumping again, from CPR, electrical defibrilation or manual squeezing. Medical personnel are in a race against time even more when using Adrenalzine because once the drug is injected into the patient, 60 minutes remain of the character's life. Adrenalzine is the preferred drug of paramedics when trying to keep the character alive. Suspend is often used to prepare a character that will likely die regardless of medical treatment, therefore the drug is used most often as a preparation for lazarus treatment.
Third, if a character is placed into suspended animation, also called freezing, within 24 hours of cardiac arrest, the character can be saved, but not by normal medical procedures (see GURPS Ultra-Tech 1). Because irreversible brain damage has occurred, resuscitation is not possible. A more complex set of medical procedures are required to prevent the character from passing to the Next Level. It is more accurate to call the medical procedures used in this case lazarus procedures, because they involve resurrection of brain-dead individuals. Cryogenic storage will prevent the separation of consciousness from the character's body and the deterioration of memories for no more than ten days, not cumulative with Suspend. The use of suspended animation is preparation for consciousness-and-memory-transfer (CMT; see below). Freezing is not a medical treatment. Instead, it is a way of buying time for the character.
Fourth, a character can be saved if rushed to a lazarus facility and
has a CMT. Standard medical care is now no longer an option. The role of
Gold Cross and other facilities that perform cloning and CMT enter the
Memories Versus Consciousness
The difference between the two types of clone bodies available in Autoduel Earth, laboratory-grown (without consciousness) and traditionally-grown (with a consciousness) is very important for determining if a character in a campaign will survive once suffering a fatal injury. This difference is the main reason this article was written.
The psychic Kuato in the movie Total Recall said, "A man is not defined by his actions, not his memories," when speaking to Douglas Quaid. This statement describes the industry of cloning and CMT in Autoduel Earth very well. If a character had a traditional clone of himself or herself grown, the clone will not be mentally identical the original character. Why? The clone will have completely different experiences, memories and knowledge than the original. If it was possible to make a copy of the memories and knowledge of the original character and implant that information into the clone, the clone would still be a unique individual. Genetics do have a large role in affecting a character's expertise in skills that will be learned and the personality traits the character develops over his or her lifetime, but genetics are not the only factor. The experiences a person gains and actions performed are also factors in the development of a character's personality. This debate is often called nature versus nuture.
If a traditional clone was made of Albert Einstein, would the clone act and think the same way as the original Einstein, if the clone was given all of the knowledge the 21st century had about physics, was placed in accelerated learning programs (Einstein had poor grades in secondary school, probably caused by his level of thinking was several levels above the rest of his peers . . . and teachers) and was not raised in a country such as early 20th century Germany that was not preparing for warfare against its neighboring countries and its own cititzens? Almost certainly, the clone would not be a mental duplicate of the original Einstein. Why? The memories and experiences gained by the clone are quite different than the original Einstein and the consciousness is different. Yes, the clone is a genetic duplicate of Einstein but that does not mean the consciousness of Einstein has been duplicted. Lazarus technology in the 21st century is incredible for extending a person's life, but it cannot duplicate a consciousness, a component of a character that is better explained by religions. Regardless of how high a technology level society develops, even in the year 10,192 A.D. (the time of Frank Herbert's novel Dune), a consciousness is something that science will not be able to create or duplicate. A consciousness is a mystery of life that will likely never be explained.
It is very likely that a human clone will be created before 2005. There
have been reports in U.S. newspapers and on television news broadcasts
that South Korea, Japan and the Illinois physicist Richard Seed are working
on adapting the cloning techniques used to generate Roslin Institute's
(Scotland) cloned sheep Dolly, the University of Hawaii's cloned mice and
Kinki University's (Japan) cloned cows to make a human clone. These efforts
could produce an infinite number of copies of one individual, but each
of those clones would be a new person. This aspect of traditional cloning
is very important to keep in mind when using cloning to keep a Car Wars
Neurochemistry: The Foundation of Lazarus Treatment
As mentioned above, traditional cloning is a 20th century technology. While the traditional cloning of a human causes many legal and ethical questions (discussed below), the procedure cannot be used to extend life. Yes, a traditional human clone can be grown as a source of tissues and organs, which can extend life, but even the death sports world of Autoduel Earth has forbidden that practice. Even if the use of tradtional clones for tissues and organs was permitted, in the 21st century that procedure is not required, thanks to the perfection of stem cell techologies that permit regeneration of one type of tissue without having to create an entire organism. Biologically, it is often easier to create to an entire organism than to create a particular tissue or organ. Incubation and manipulation of stem cells have made regeneration of tissues, organs and even limbs an everyday event in Autoduel Earth.
Cloning would be rarely used by non-medical and non-scientfic personnel if one of the Holy Grails of biology was not acquired in the 21st century: understanding neurochemistry, the language of the brain. This one development permits cloning to be used as a way of postponing permanent death for character for a long time. The understanding of neurochemistry, the ability to create wetwired cybernetic-neural implants and the knowledge to construct devices such as a MMSD, when combined, have enabled cloning to emerge as an effective method of extending a character's life, within some limitations.
Humans can have copies of their memories, skills and knowledge duplicated and placed into laboratory-grown clone bodies by direct transfer or from placing that information into a MMSD. As mentioned in the Gold Cross rules in CWC2.5, the advantage of a MMSD is the memories are able to be stored for many years, versus only one month in a blank or laboratory-grown clone. Note that only memories, skills and knowledge are transferred into a clone or MMSD. This fact is very important for a client of a cloning agency to keep in mind.
When a character has cardiac arrest and brain death starts to occur, deterioration of memories, knowledge and skills increases as more brain cells die from asphyxiation. If the character can brought to a cloning facility within 24 hours of cardiac arrest, or within seven days of cardiac arrest, after being placed in suspended animation, the separation of consciousness from the character's body, which what a flatline EEG actually means, can be stopped. The neural hardware of the brain can no longer hold a consciousness and the rest of a person's mind once brain damage starts, but the mind, hence the character, can continue to exist. The mind of the person (memories, knowledge, skills, and most importantly, consciousness) is able to be moved, not copied, from the dead body to a cloning agency's mainframe computer, often called a "spiritual switchboard." The mind is able to be moved from the spirtitual switchboard to a laboratory-grown clone body. After this process is complete, the character is alive again.
It is quite possible, and highly advisable, to copy memories, knowledge and skills into a laboratory-clone or a MMSD as a deterrent to brain damage. When the mind transfer is performed, the consciousness will usually be transferred into the new body without difficulty but memories, skills and knowledge (MSK) may be lost because of the brain damage in the character's original body. Copies of a person's MSK into a clone or MMSD can prevent this disaster from occurring, saving the character many hours in post-cloning therapy. Ace Johanssen, the Texas Intelligence agent that entered Houston to recover nuclear warhead detonators in 2039, suffered MSK problems when transferred into a clone body, because of sabotage at the Gold Cross facility Ace used (see Mean Streets). The consciousness of Ace was able to be transferred without difficulty, however.
Ace Johanssen's resurrection experience explains the most important concept of lazarus techology in 21st century. The following excerpt from Mean Streets explains this concept eloquently, "Ah, the wonders of 21st century technology -- the Major has had your body recovered, scanned with the proper beams, and your mental pattern has been lifted and transplanted to the body of a clone, grown months ago from your own donated cells and waiting for a time like this." This situation of recovering a body and performing a mind transfer is what makes cloning to preserve a character's life work. Copying of MSKs does not help the character survive. A blank clone cannot be activated with MSKs. A blank clone can only be activated with a consciousness, while is able to be transplanted, is something that cannot be duplicated. A character's body is the only recipticle of his or her own consciousness. If the character's body dies and the mind, MSKs and consciousness is not performed with the time limits discussed above, the character is permanently dead.
The transplantation of a character's consciousness into a laboratory-grown
clone is the one procedure that permits a character to continue in a campaign
when his or her body suffers a fatal injury. If the body has taken more
than 10 points of damage (this often occurs when a vehicle explodes), if
the head has taken two or more points of damage or the body is completely
burned, there is no longer enough functional neural hardware to hold the
consciousness to the body, therefore the character dies. A traditionally-grown
clone created from surviving cells, a process called genetic reconstruction
(see GURPS Ultra-Tech 1) would not enable a character to live because the
consciousness has been permanently lost.
If a character is going to survive when his or her body dies, a consciousness
transfer must take place. In order for the consciousness to be transplanted,
the body the character is using must be transported to a cloning facility.
Deathrunners (see GURPS Autoduel First Edition and ADQ 10/2) are employees
of cloning agencies to recover clients of the agency for consciousness
transfer. These medical experts are also gifted in the art of autodueling,
because their clients are often located in hazardous situations. If it
were not for deathrunners, many people in Autoduel Earth that have clone
bodies would cease to exist because the bodies they are using at the time,
the source of their consciousness, are returned to a cloning facility in
time for a mind transfer to occur. Deathrunners are truly saints, risking
their own lives in order to bring the dead back to life.
Different Uses of Mind Transfer
The transplant of a character's mind from a dying body into a laboratory-grown clone is the most common use of mind transfer technology and human cloning, but is not the only application of these two processes. Cloning agencies have wondered if would be possible to place a character's MSKs into a traditionally-grown clone. Every attempt that has been documented has ended in the mental breakdown of the clone. Once a consciousness is established in a body, the brain starts to create its own MSKs. Implantation of MSKs from another person would disrupt this tapestry, creating permanent psychosis.
A frightening idea is to transfer a character's consciousness and MSKs into another person's body. This concept is explained in GURPS Cyberpunk, GURPS Ultra-Tech 1 and ADQ 7/2. More detail on this idea will be discussed in a future CWIN, but the a few of the effects will be discussed here. Because the MSKs transplanted were from a different body, they will likely be impaired for at least double the amount of time after a mind transplant is performed (see ADQ 7/1). The rules in GURPS Cyberpunk, GURPS Ultra-Tech 1 and ADQ 7/1 should be used by the referee of a campaign when determining how much impairment to the character's MSKs will occur because of the new body. While a character may have a difficult time using his or her new body, the consciousness will likely be intact from the transfer, although an extensive amount of counseling will be required to deal with the character's new physical form.
If a character's mind is moved into another character's body, the prognosis of the character receiving the incoming mind is not good. The implanatation of another's consciousness and MSKs into a character's body with an active mind is analogous to formatting a computer's hard drive then installing software to the clean media surface. It is very likely after these two procedures are completed that most data on the hard drive present before the formatting and software installation is permanently lost. The same situation applies to the mind of the body receiving a mind transplant. The nun that helped Alex Furlong in the movie Freejack described this process very well, "Some rich SOB died and has placed his mind in a huge computer called the Spiritual Switchboard. There is nothing spiritual about that. Sometimes I wonder if the Good Lord has forsaken us all. Then his mind is placed in your body. That is his ticket to immortality." Furlong queried "You mean like a brain transplant?" Alex's friend replied "No, no, a mind transplant. Electronically, your mind is utterly annihilated." Permitting one character to take over another character's body, effectively killing the character in the host body (effectively the process known as brainburn; see GURPS Cyberpunk and GURPS Ultra-Tech 1) , is a topic that should be discussed by all participants in a campaign before it is used because of many legal security problems it causes (discussed below). As mentioned in the ADQ&A Compendium and ADQ 7/2, it is very likely that such a transfer would result in both character's dying from the experience because a consciousness can usually only survive in his or her own body.
A character's consciousness should be placed into a clone body within 48 hours of being moved into a spiritual switchboard. After 48 hours, the consciousness will suffer severe mental challenges when placed into a clone body. Use the penalties to MSKs found in the rules for cloning found in ADQ 4/4 and ADQ 7/1, doubling the penalties and the duration of those penalties for every 12 hours the consciousness is kept in a spiritual switchboard after 48 hours. The holding time of a cloning agency like Gold Cross to hold a character's consciousness for two days enables cloning agencies to have a body delivered to any branch of their organization for the resurrection to be performed, not just the facility that has the character's blank clone waiting for a consciousness implantation. The character's consciousness can be placed into a portable version of a cloning agency's mainframe computer, which is transported to the cloning clinic that is holding a character's blank clone, at which time the consciousness transfer is performed.
It is quite possible for modifications to spirtitual switchboards to be performed to enable storage of a consciousness for longer periods of time than 48 hours. After a while, a consciousness may start to be dependent on his or her electronic home. Autoduel Earth uses enviromental interfaces and cybernetics to access the Intenet (see ADQ 10/2, GURPS Cyberpunk, GURPS Ultra-Tech 1 and GURPS Ultra-Tech 2). If a Matrix runner hits Black Ice, which is often used by organized crime syndicates (most often by the Japanese Yakuza, the Chinese Triads) and the largest mega-corporations on the planet to protect their most valuable data, it is possible the Black Ice will not simply kill the character. Instead, the computer virus will convert the Matrix runner into a ghostcomp (see GURPS Cyberpunk, GURPS Ultra-Tech 1, the novelization and theatrical production of the short story Johnny Mnemonic and the television movie Knight Rider 2010). The advantages and disadvantages of a character existing as a ghostcomp are discussed in the supplement Fast Lane, written by the New Omaha Vehicular Association (NOVA). Fast Lane will likely be available on the SWAT Web Site or on the NOVA Web Site before June 1999.
If the concept of killing a character by mind transplant is too dark for you to consider in Autoduel Earth, few people will argue with you. The ability to perform such a task might not be able to be performed in 2049 anyway, because of the high technology required to perform such a task. It would be possible, however, for a consciousness of one character to be transplanted into another character's blank clone. Assuming if this procedure does not kill the consciousness or give the consciousness permanent mental illness, the penalties in ADQ 4/4 and ADQ 7/1 would be assessed, except at double strength and double duration, because the mind needs to adapt itself to a new body.
Why would someone want to place his or her mind into another person's blank clone? This procedure is an excellent method for espionage work. An undercover police officer could infilitrate a large-scale criminal organization that spans the globe and act as one of its members. The criminals would have a very difficult time distinguishing who is the real criminal. To make this method work better, it is quite possible for some MSKs of the criminal to be added to the clone body along with the consciousness of the law enforcement character. Because there would likely be incompatibility problems, like early Macintosh computers trying to read IBM software, cybernetic implants might be required for the character to use another character's MSKs. The rules for these brain modifications are discussed in GURPS Cyberpunk, GURPS Ultra-Tech 1 and GURPS Ultra-Tech 2.
Assume that a character's mind can be placed into another character's blank clone. Now there are two (or more, if the procedure is repeated!) genetically identical individuals in Autoduel Earth. How is the identity of the actual character distinguished from the impostors? If MSKs of one character cannot be accessed by another character's consciousness without cybernetics, the presence of a cyberjack will give the imposters away easily, as long as the original character does not have a cyberjack! Imposters will likely not act exactly the same way as the original character, therefore over time, the associates of the original will notice their comrade is acting strange and may conclude there is an imposter present.
Suppose you are playing an underconver FBI agent who has volunteered to infiltrate the Anarchist Relief Front, who has managed to steal components to create an Algae Blight, a thought too terrible to contemplate if released. Your consciousness has been transplanted into a blank clone of an ARF agent (likely dead but could still be alive). You successfully gain the acceptance of the ARF cell and you manage to find the bio-warfare laboratory. Unfortunately, you discover the completion of the Algae Blight project is imminent. You are covertly call your FBI friends to tell of your location, but as they are going to tell you some very important news, someone you know walks into the room where you are located, along with many of his friends, all aiming automatic weapons at you. The person who just entered the room looks exactly like you. The ARF agent you are impersonating escaped from the FBI!
You and the ARF are now in serious trouble with this snafu. One of the ARF agents, the original or you, is going to be executed. Assume for the moment that you had enough exposure to the agent's MSKs so your performance as an ARF agent was almost perfect. How do the ARF (or the FBI, if they reach your location in time) know who is who? This concept was discussed in the movie Freejack. Each citizen of 2012 was given a personal identification number (PIN), a number that has 10 or more digits. The PIN is known only by the person holding it. Corporations and governmental agencies would likely know of the PIN, too.
To prevent tampering and bootlegging, the computers that hold PINs would likely be accessible by a very few individuals and those computers are not connected to the Internet, therefore Matrix runners cannot use cyberspace to steal those PINs. Transactions involving PINs would almost be exclusively be handled by computers, therefore people would not deal with PINs on a daily basis.
What happens if all of the safeguards of society are broken and two people, such as our hypothetical ARF agent and our undercover FBI agent, know the same PIN and have many of the same MSKs? This situation is left as an exercise for players in a campaign, but the Origin System's computer adaptation of Car Wars called Autoduel, discussed this subject, where an organized crime syndicate was dealing with bootleg braintapes (MMSDs). The results will be quite fun and likely explosive!
Corporate and political leaders could use the transplantation of one character's consciousness into another character's blank clone for an extra measure of security. Multiple clone bodies of the same VIP, especially the leader of a nation, could be occupied by the minds of bodyguards that have volunteered for this strange duty. Their original bodies are placed in suspended animation and a copy of their MSK set is safely stored. If these impostors survive their tour of duty, these individuals would be able to return to their original bodies. The compensation for such a high-risk job is free maintenance of a clone body, free maintenance of a MSK set and a very large income.
Another option for undercover agents is to be given a set of artificially-constructed
MSKs. The consciousness is intact but the mind is given a brainwipe (see
GURPS Ultra-Tech 1). The character's original MSKs are usually placed in
a MMSD, to be used at a later date. With the new MSK set, the character
will believe he or she is someone else. At some future date, perhaps the
original set of MSKs are implanted. It would be an interesting plot twist
if the character did not know he or she was given a false identity and
objected to the replacement of his or her personality with the old MSK
set! The movie Total Recall details this situation very well.
Evolution and Cloning
The process behind evolution is mutation of the genetic code, changes in the DNA sequence. Organisms that are able to survive are ones that have acquired mutations that allow those organisms to adapt better to the current environment than other organisms. Natural selection promotes the survival of each letter (A, T, C and G) in the DNA, each gene, each protein generated from each gene, ach trait and each organism, all at the same time.
Over a lifetime of an organism, everyday mutations in both the somatic cells (ones that are not given to offspring; cells that are not sperm or ova) and in germ cells (sperm or ova) occur. Mutations occur from errors in the duplication of DNA, radiation and chemical agents. Most, but not all, of these errors are corrected by repair mechanisms. Depending on where the error takes place in the sequence of DNA, the change may be harmful to the organism, may not affect the organism at all or in some rare cases, actually help the organism. The DNA sequence codes for a substance called RNA, which can be considered as a working copy of DNA. The sequences of RNA generated code for proteins, the molecules that perform most of the work in the cell. Errors in the DNA sequence may affect the capabilities of proteins, if the mutation is in a sequence of DNA that codes for RNA. Depending on how important the protein is to the cell, the change in protein composition may be unoticeable, minor or fatal.
The accumulation of mutations in an organism is serious obstacle for members of a cloning agency. As most people know, the quality of a document degrades when a copy is made of a previous copy. The same problem occurs when duplicating a videotape and will likely occur with repeated duplication of a character's body through cloning.
A solution to the problem of mutations accumulating when genetic material is copied again and again, a concept in biology called replicative fading, might be for a person to donate many samples of genetic material for many clone bodies. The genetic material is placed in suspended animation and is extracted when a clone is needed. The storage container of the genetic samples would have to be shielded from radiation for mutations to be reduced to extremely low levels. (Replicative fading is a likely reason why people age. The power source of the cell, the organelle called the mitochondrion, accumulates errors in its DNA as an organism gets older. These errors prevent the mitochondrion from performing its task of maintaining energy production in the cell at optimum efficiency.)
Cryogenic storage of fertilized eggs is being used in the 1990s as an experimental procedure. A young female, not ready to have children, may extract many of her egg cells and have them frozen. Several years later, the woman may want children and instead of risking genetic problems such as Down's Syndrome that may be caused from aging processes (accumulation of mutations) in egg cells as a woman gets older, the frozen eggs, which are technically many younger than the woman, may be able to be fertilized by the husband's sperm and a child can develop normally from this fertilized egg. Some laboratories in the 1990s are fertilizing a woman's eggs before they are cryogenically stored. This procedure is probably safer than using sperm that ages at the same rate as the husband because the risk of mutations that would lead to genetic defects is less if the sperm is placed in suspended animation. It is unknown as of 1999 if cryogenic preservation of cells to be used for human clones would solve the problem of replicative fading, because there is always the chance that some radiation might enter the storage container and cause mutations or if cells suffer negative effects of having their metabolism slowed to very low levels for a long period of time.
As of 1999, there is a worldwide effort, called the Human Genome Project (HGP), to map all three billion letters of the DNA sequence in a human being. Started in the middle 1980s by several universities, medical institutions and the U.S. Department of Energy (which has powerful supercomputers to make mapping of the DNA sequence much faster), the project has been moving at such a high rate of speed that it might be finished by 2005. The founders of the project guessed that at least 20 years were required, but the implementation of computer-run DNA sequencing machinery has dramatically made the HGP proceed faster.
While the completion of this endeavor will be incredible, it will actually be a minor victory for science. The Human Genome Project, which is more accurately called the Human Genome Sequencing Project (HGSP), will give a set of 23 volumes of an encyclopaedia (23 chromosomes), each without page numbers, paragraphs, sentences or even words. The real work for the field of biology will be to interpret this set of three billion letters into information into how cells work. This project, which might be called the Human Genome Analysis Project (HGAP), will take several hundred years to complete. As the HGSP has been performed, scientists have gained some knowledge on how to interpret the language of DNA, but such interpretation is not easy. The production of RNA from DNA often involves interactions of proteins, RNA sequences, many other types of moleculars and even other DNA sequences. Simply reading the DNA sequence of a human will not give a scientist the knowledge of how a human being is constructed.
It is assumed that in Autoduel Earth, the HGSP has been completed and
that the HGAP has started. Unfortunately, the HGAP will be too slow to
help many members of cloning agencies survive. If a character has a genetic
disease, creation of a clone body will not help that character escape the
effects of that disease because the clone will develop that disease as
the original body did, because the DNA will have the defective sequences
that leads to the genetic ailment. The use of gene therapy, repair of faulty
genes, duplicating those DNA sequences in a laboratory and giving those
genes to a patient with a genetic disease (usually with a virus that has
been stripped of most of its genetic material, the repaired human genes
replacing the virus genetic material) would permit a person with a genetic
disease to have a healthy clone, which can receive the consciousness of
the character. There are two limitations to this technology. First, if
the genetic disease affects the brain, the character will still suffer
penalties to his or her MSKs because those problems will have been caused
when the consciousness of the characte lived in the first body that had
the genetic disease. Over time, with psychological therapy and medical
treatment, a character in a clone body with the genetic disease eradicated
may overcome those MSK problems. Second, a character can escape a genetic
disease through cloning assuming the genetics of the disease are known
at all! If science does not know which sequences of DNA are responsible
for a genetic disease, clone bodies could be made one after another but
each body will not be healthy. Cloning may activate genes that are normally
dormant, where some of those genes may cause severe genetic problems, possibly
leading to fatal complications. Until the HGAP is completed, cloning is
at many times analogous to the gambling game involving two six-sided dice
In GURPS, cloning and cybernetics vary in Tech Level from 8 (the time of Autoduel Earth) to 16 (space fantasy). It is up to the discretion of a campaign to allow what cloning and cybernetic technologies exist in their Autoduel Earth campaigns described above. There are some technologies that should be available in all campaigns. First, stem cell manipulation, which permits regeneration of tissues and limbs, expertise that is likely to cost much more than cybernetic implantation. Second, whole body cloning, which is feasible in the 20th century. Third, memory transfers. Fourth, consciousness transplantation.
The main concept to be keep in mind when running or playing in a Car Wars campaign is to realize that a character will survive only if his or her consciousness survives. If a character's body dies and the consciousness is not placed in a computer or another clone body, the character's consciousess is lost, therefore the character is permanently dead. The current Car Wars rules for cloning state that only a MSK set is required to activate a blank clone. If you want to ignore the discussion above and use the current rules, that is fine, but realize what happens. Your character's consciousness no longer exists. Another person, a clone, is replacing your character. Even though the clone may have a MSK set identical to the original character, it does not mean the original character is anyway less dead. This limitation of cloning is why cybernetics are appealing. The use of cybernetic body parts makes a character less likely to lose his or her consciousness, permanent death for the character. It is unlikely that a replacement for the human brain could be available in Autoduel Earth, enabling a character to have a total cyborg body (see ADQ 7/4, which has almost always has an organic brain. If such technology were to become available, a character would live longer because the recepticle for the consciousness, the brain, would be tougher to destroy. The determination of when MSKs would be impaired would be quite difficult because a cybernetic brain would likely be able to absorb more punishment than an organic brain.
There are some areas in Autoduel Earth where cloning is highly restricted or prohibited. The North American Deseret Autonomous Region is a location where a deathrunner's activities are forbidden. Volume Seven of the AADA Road Atlas and Survival Guide, U.S. Mountain West (p.12), states "Because of the religious doctrine of the Latter-Day Saints Church, which effectively rules Deseret, whole-body human cloning is illegal within the Deseret Autonomous Region. When entering a duel in Deseret, remember that death is for keeps in the Region." This illegal nature of cloning in Deseret is a good reason why members of cloning agencies should carefully research the rules and laws of cloning and deathrunning in the areas they visit and live. The policy of Deseret towards cloning is another piece of evidence that shows this technology is not a guarantee of extending life.
This article is by no means comprehensive nor is to be considered a set of ideas written in stone that every campaign must follow. As mentioned above, the distinction of a character's consciousness and MSK set is very important if a player wants his or her character to survive. The current Car Wars rules for cloning allow a character to continue after dying, but those rules mean that the original character, the consciousness, is still dead. Consider for a moment if cloning, MSK transplantation and consciousness technologies were available now, would you believe that you, the real you, what could be called your consciousness (a spirit or soul), would still exist if a blank clone was activated with only a copy of your MSK set? When the requirement for a consciousness to be transplanted for a character to survive, incendiary weaponry become much more fearsome because if a body is completely burned, a mind transfer cannot occur. With this article's rules, flamethrowers are likely to be more popular. If the rules in this article are in effect, the use of a sniper rifle (see HVD 7) will become very useful because one shot to the head will permanently end a character's life, which is what usually happens in 1999.
Within certain limitations, cloning does extend life, but only under certain circumstances. Remember this article when you enter combat and realize that your vehicle may explode the next second. You may want start investing in ejection seats, fire extinguishers and ask for surrender more often with the ideas discussed above are floating in your mind when you play Car Wars again. If you place yourself in your character's body armor for a moment and consider what would you actually do, your tactical decisions may end up saving the lives of your characters more often. The world of Autoduel Earth is a violent world where death is an everyday occurrence. Heroes may win many battles but they also lose battles, often with fatal consequences. Car Wars campaigns should emphasize the value of life. The ravages of the conflict between civilization and anarchy should be felt by both heroes and villains. The ideas presented in this article should make players consider actions more carefully when placing their characters in danger. Even huge sums of wealth and prestige, along with multiple clone bodies in storage, are no guarantee that one assassin's bullet will not end a character's life. This is how life should work in Autoduel Earth.
Cloning in Car Wars is not perfect and is not a guarantee for life to
continue, but it is certainly preferable to the alternative: passing to
the Next Level without a fight. Within its limitations, cloning permits
the Grim Reaper to be stalled in traffic, at least for a little while.
Car Wars Compendium Second Edition Fifth Printing
The Fast Lane: A NOVA Supplement
GURPS Autoduel First Edition
GURPS Autoduel Second Edition
GURPS Cybepunk Third Edition
GURPS Ultra-Tech 1 Second Edition
GURPS Ultra-Tech 2
Uncle Albert's Catalog From Hell
The Future of Medicine. Time. January 11, 1999.
Knight Rider 2010
Novels and Short Stories
Immortality, Inc. by Robert Sheckley
Johnny Mnemonic by William Gibson
Total Recall by Piers Anthony
ADQ and Pyramid Articles
Cloning, the Law and You. Pyramid 4.
Cybernetics in Car Wars. ADQ 7/4.
The Driver's Seat. ADQ 2/4.
Hospitalization: A Car Wars Variant. ADQ 4/4.
An Interview with Gold Cross. ADQ 6/1.
The Mechanics of Cloning. ADQ 7/1.
Mutant Zone. ADQ 7/2.
Newswatch: History of Gold Cross. ADQ 2/1.
Rhode's Roads: A Day with the Deathrunners. ADQ 10/2.
Uncle Schmalbert's 2037 Catalog. ADQ 5/1.