Your children could be your worst nightmare

Dr Curtis Strange of Strange Industries – the secretive Russian biotech lab – has a new baby. He has cloned Elvis Presley.

Dr Strange has developed a reputation for controversial publicity stunts. In 2017 he brought Adolf Hitler back to life and put him on trial for war crimes. The televised images of a confused old man subjected to interrogation and conviction so outraged his native Britons that he moved his entire laboratory to Russia.

Strange Industries refined cloning techniques with a breakthrough ability to age the clone at any rate desired – for example ageing a person 15 years in one year. This meant that, after four years, Adolf Hitler (raised in a vat) had the appearance of being 60. That would have put his birth date at 1957, 13 years after the original Hitler committed suicide.

One British minister to the United Nations outraged the French ambassador by suggesting that Napolean should be subjected to the same fate.

All of this has driven Strange Industries real products – cloning of family pets and loved ones – to a US$ 250 billion-a-year industry. Parents are cloning their deceased children ageing them to the “correct” age and then having them re-programmed back to the children they remember them being. Wealthy millionaires are cloning their wives. And Dr Strange is pocketing a fortune.

At the press conference where the new Elvis was unveiled, the journalists were abuzz. He looks like Elvis, he moves like Elvis, but the number one question was: can he sing?

(Read the full story in the detailed Analysis/Synthesis section – for subscribers only. Before you do, please take a look at the date!)

ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be

1997-9: Dolly and the cows
Dr Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute announces the first mammalian clone of a sheep called Dolly. The Council of Europe adopts the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, prohibiting human germ line interventions. The prohibition on human cloning is added in 1998 (signed by 70% of member states by January 2000). President Bill Clinton announces a ban on federal funding for all human cloning. UNESCO adopts the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, prohibiting germ line interventions.
The Korean Times reported that researchers at the Seoul National University had successfully cloned a calf using methods identical to those which produced “Dolly”. Researchers said Korea became the fifth country in the world to clone an adult animal after the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand and the United States.
Legislation to ban cloning dies in US Senate after heavy lobbying by the biotech industry. Senators are told that human cloning wouldn’t be technically possible for “at least 10 years.”

The Scottish researchers who cloned Dolly discovered that her cells are six years older than her chronological age. The cell that was used to fertilize the sheep ovum that became Dolly came from an adult female sheep, aged 6 years. Apparently, cells have an internal mechanism which keeps track of its age. This mechanism was not reset to 0 when Dolly was conceived. She was, in essence, over 6 years old when she was born.

2000-4: The wooly mammoth and bunnies that glow in the dark
A UFO-oriented religious sect, the Raelians, announces it will begin efforts to clone the dead child of an American couple.

A team of French, American, Dutch and Russian palaeontologists successfully airlifted a male, 25 ton woolly mammoth from its grave in Siberia where it had been frozen for 20 000 years. It was almost complete except for its head which had been exposed to air in the past. Since the species has been extinct for over 10 000 years, some scientists have proposed that attempts be made to breed a living mammoth from DNA, sperm or cell nucleus retrieved from the carcass. A modern elephant ovum would be used, because it is the closest living relative to the mammoth.

A child conceived in part to provide therapeutic tissues for an earlier-born sibling is born. Techniques of preimplantation genetic diagnosis are used to ensure that the child does not itself carry the disease. The press erroneously hails the child as the world’s first “designer baby.”

In 2001, Scientists in Oregon announce the first transgenic primate, a rhesus monkey engineered with jellyfish genes. Eduardo Kac publicizes the creation of a rabbit genetically modified to glow green under florescent light as a work of art.

US congressional hearings begin on legislation banning human cloning. The political struggle is quickly and erroneously defined as one between pro-life legislators who favour strong bans on both reproductive cloning and the creation of clonal embryos, and pro-choice legislators who favour a weak moratorium on reproductive cloning and an affirmation of the creation of clonal embryos.

Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), a private biotechnology company based in Massachusetts, announces that its researchers have produced cloned human embryos. Most scientists consider the experiment a failure and the announcement premature at best.

In February 2004 a team led by Dr Woo Suk Hwang and Dr Shin Yong Moon of Seoul National University obtained 242 eggs from 16 women. Of these, 176 were selected for cloning attempts. The cloning process yielded 30 blastocysts, from which they were able to extract 20 inner cell masses. One of these then grew into a line of stem cells. The South Korean scientists had successfully cloned the first human embryos.

2006: The organ trade
President John Kerry meets with Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss an international response to the potential trade in designer organs. ACT and ImClone have formed an alliance to produce hearts for transplantation purposes. These have been cloned from the heart of successful Olympic athlete, Gavin Chait, who won the gold in the 100 metres in 2004.

Kyeonghee University in Korea announces the successful cloning of a woolly mammoth. Nigeria offers to host the clone in their largest national park in an effort to stimulate tourism.

2010: The rage of the rich
A petition signed by the 250 richest men and women in the world is circulated amongst world leaders. They are demanding an end to discriminatory legislation against cloning. Some wish to clone themselves and many wish to clone loved-ones. World leaders are unsympathetic until the rich place sanctions against them. Targeted world leaders are refused medical services, sanitation and groceries from their companies. They quickly fold and cloning is legalised. There is public outrage.

2012: The island of Dr Zavos
Two survivors wash up on the beach in Florida. They report that their light aircraft crashed on a remote island. The island was host to a strange scientist who was breeding bizarre hybrid humans. The hybrids attacked the doctor and destroyed his laboratory. The young couple survived the night and fled the island on a raft. When investigators arrived they found that the island had been burned completely and no traces of the hybrids were found. A destroyed, but highly sophisticated, laboratory was found. The island was found to have belonged to Dr Panayiotis Zavos.

Disney, a division of Sony, announces a theme park on a remote island in the Pacific where patrons will be able to see live dinosaurs from the late Cretaceous period. Their first year is sold out and Disney stock soars.

2015: The infinity of Microsoft
Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, introduces his clone at a press conference marking his retirement. Dr Curtis Strange is in attendance and explains that the clone is Bill Gates, including his memories and thought patterns. Bill Gates (2) announces that he will be taking over Microsoft immediately and that Bill Gates (1) will be retiring to his mansion at Moon Base 1. There is pandemonium and many executives flock to Strange Industries to purchase similar immortality.

2017: The Hitler trials
Novartis introduces a line of replacement organs (hearts, livers, kidneys and lungs) at a low price. Consumer pressure results in major medical aid organisations including replacement every 15 years of major organs. Novartis stocks climbs substantially. Monsanto forms an alliance with 3M and announces that they will shortly be introducing similar products as well as replacement arms, legs and eyes.

Strange Industries begins the Hitler show trials. After the suicide of Adolph Hitler, owing to depression, Dr Strange flees to Russia.

2021: Elvis is Alive!
China becomes a centre for the production of replacement organs. The UN Human Development Monitor announces that average human lifespan in the developed world is increasing dramatically – they expect humans to live indefinitely.

Dr Strange clones Elvis.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.