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I'm currently designing an advanced peaceful alien civilization.

In this civilization almost every individual has approximately a few hundred clones of themselves across their planet or even the universe.

Here's how the thing goes:

  • First and foremost it is important to say that their species' bodies are techno-organic and that they are immune to practically everything that could kill a normal being. Meaning that they don't need any sort of medical care, and that the clones are not meant to be used as a way to ensure the survival of the individual by let's say, organ transplant.

  • Second of all, the clones are not created in the midst of the individual's life. You see, their species' infants are grown inside special capsules. You first describe how you want the infant to be like (think of it like designed babies), then you wait a few hours and then he or she is ready. Though they don't create just one infant, they create all of its clones with him/her. Basically it's like a large cocoon from which a bunch of similar looking infants come out. The family then takes the babies, grow them etc.

However, I've been thinking, why would a society want to have clones of themselves, what's the reason?

I mean, since they're peaceful they obviously aren't meant for an army, if they're basically immortal then they don't need them for medical support, plus they're not used as slaves if that's what you're thinking like in most movies, so why would they want they want to have clones, or more accurately, why would they want their children to have clones of themselves.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm assuming that from your perspective, there's some reason -- for the sake of the story or plot -- that these clones need to exist? If you would share that reason, it may help to generate useful answers. $\endgroup$ – JDM-GBG Jan 1 at 1:05
  • $\begingroup$ stupidity and an ignorance of evolution? $\endgroup$ – John Jan 1 at 7:07
  • $\begingroup$ Read Brave New World. $\endgroup$ – T. Sar Jan 2 at 16:15

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I haven't come up with a reason why anyone would want 100 clones of their child, but I found a way how the same result could be achieved.

Baby catalogs

Soon-to-be-parents can choose attributes of their baby from a catalog. It's basically like a character creation in a video game - choose one of 10 available skin tones, combine with one of 5 available eye colors and so on. The number of possible combinations is huge but not infinite.

To make choices easier for parents, there are basic packages for optimized default babies (high intelligence, immunity to all known illnesses and so on). If most parents choose a default baby and change only appearences, you end up with hundreds of unintentional clones like today hundreds of people share the same first name.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is awfully plausible. Even if the 'catalog' has a million combinations that are selected from uniformly, in a population the size of Earth's there will still be over seven thousand exact clones of you running around. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jan 1 at 15:24
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You say that these aliens have techno-organic bodies. Perhaps they were simply always made in batches. I'm guessing that they didn't evolve that way. So their creators may have intended them for whatever and made them in identical batches. Now, they may no longer do whatever, but they still reproduce in the same way. They have never seen a reason to change it. Each one of them has many clone siblings and that feels natural to them.

They want their children to have siblings who are basically the same as each other, like twins. Yes, they will still have unique characteristics and personality. But their genetics and general background will be the same.

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They evolved having large litters of children

Alien psychology is not the same as human psychology. First, let's consider why humans often want to have children.

In many ways, humans' desire to have children seems irrational. Children are a financial burden, they require a lot of effort, and they limit the freedom and free time of the parents. So why bother?

There are many possible reasons, but part of it is that we evolved this way. We evolved emotions such as love, we evolved to feel a strong bond with our children, and we evolved parental instincts.

Perhaps these aliens evolved having large batches of children, like fish or sea turtles. It's only natural that they'd want to continue to do so once they discovered advanced technologies like cloning and gene selection. When these technologies came along, they would design their ideal offspring and order a batch of the same size they would have had naturally.

Why make them all clones instead of customizing each child? Again, it comes down to alien psychology. This is a species that evolved having hundreds of similar-looking children. They simply place no importance on differentiating the genetics of each one. Once the parents have picked out their optimum designer baby, it's only natural they'd want them all to have the same design. Similar to if a human IT department head were to order 200 computers for their company and were asked if they'd like to customize each one. They'd say no: they already chose the optimal design and they place no importance on individualizing each machine.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think I like your answer better than mine. $\endgroup$ – Jedediah Jan 2 at 2:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Jedediah Thanks! I liked your answer too. It's sensible. $\endgroup$ – Mike Jan 2 at 6:41
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Eugeny and narcissism

If the species has a will to power (even if as pacifists) and an ideal of beauty/genetics, then, as the lyrics to Pearl Jam's Do the Evolution go:

Admire me, admire my home, admire my son, admire my clones!

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The perfect constructs to fit their roles.

There is a number of roles to be filled in society and each person has been tailored and tweaked over many many iterations to fit that role until there is no need for variation. In fact variation of any kind is frowned upon unless it fulfills a predetermined need - which would have to be formulated according to the procedures, submitted for review by the bureaucracy, accepted provisionally, put on the waiting list as low priority - and finally presented to the Ruling Council, debated, and rejected/accepted, or sent back for ammendment to go through the whole system again.

These days, The Council rarely accepts requests for change to the accepted genome lists, in fact not once within living memory. Through time your society has been perfected such that all scientists are of a half dozen types - each reproduced across the civilisation, all engineers are of only a few types, similarly repeated for the whole of society's varied roles.

This means that society can be truly efficient and standardised across the whole multi-system civilisation, everyone knows their role and is perfectly happy, because - why wouldn't they be, they've been designed to fit their lives perfectly. In this egalitarian utopia, how could anything possible go wrong?

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    $\begingroup$ I read a book a long time ago where the plot was basically this plus conditioning infant workers to enjoy whatever awful working conditions their 'clade' was designed for. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jan 1 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Joe Bloggs Probably a common trope, I re-read my answer and suddenly realised all that was missing was Dur-Ell and a capsule carying Krypton's last hope to Earth. $\endgroup$ – 011358 smell Jan 1 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ Clones powered by sunlight? Never. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jan 1 at 15:37
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It's pragmatic

As advanced as your aliens have become, with the ability to design babies with an optimization of the many complex potential genetic interactions, they are more aware than lesser intelligent species that designing a really good individual is hard. Setting aside the question of mass production, the other reason you don't have every iPhone or Samsung Galaxy be uniquely distinct from all the others is that it would require an absurd amount of design work to concieve of all those variations, and try to optimize in every case. Now consider such design in terms of all the potential interactions between all of an advanced organism's genes!

With "natural" biology, with generalized and in some ways modular traits, you might have the advantage of occasional great innovations, but are forced to accept that things might also go somewhat or horribly wrong. With fully (or largely) designed techno-biological creations, you don't want a dice roll. Variety is good, sure, and your aliens know better than to have every crop of babies be identical. Still, new, rigorously tested, authorized models aren't a dime a dozen.

You might even have the equivalent of the FDA, a Mercy and Preservation organization, protecting both the society and the babies-to-be from the "depredations" of carelessly random child design, when the technology exists to make sure in advance that the children designed meet general specifications (as developmentally modeled by incredibly powerful computers).

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Some possible solution:

  • Gender distribution making it difficult to find a possible re-population match

  • Connecting to current trend in the west with lowered sperm count have had a counterpart in their history where the population became sterile and this was counteracted by invention/approval of cloning of the humanoid population. The population don't, or few of the population, have the ability of natural reproduction.

  • Gattaca in the future.

  • Sovereign plot (Guardians of the Galaxy)

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1. Efficiency.

mold

It is not trivial to set things up to make a techno-organic clone. There are a lot of details one must attend to - correction of mutations, optimization of technogenetic interfaces and so on. Once you have everything set, it is economical to use your setup multiple times. It is like making a mold for a cast part - if you have gone to the trouble of making a good mold, you will want to cast multiple parts with it.

2. Family.

These clones are raised together, kibbutz style. They form a bond with one another like that of identical twins, but they are many. Throughout life they will have an actual fraternity / sorority worth of clone sibs whom they can count on to back them up no matter what. In an advanced society where there would otherwise be a real risk of individual isolation, these networks of clone sibs bind the culture together.

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Whatever this race's common goal is

If these aliens you describe are really semi-immortal beings, it's only logical you're talking about a very advanced civilization. The way I see it, it's virtually impossible to grow this far as a race as long as you keep having futile fights over things like greed, racial issues or religion.

Part of the solution for this, let's say, "Earther" problem, is having a common goal, a purpose. Maybe the thing that drives this alien race is reproduction - they feel like they need to spread to every corner of the universe and maintain themselves alive. Or maybe they're trying to save the universe from an ancient danger, an evil that will destroy many lives.

Regardless of what you choose their goal to be, that can't be something easy - and that's why they need the clones. This extra manpower is just as capacitated as the original to perform whatever jobs they need to - say building some crazy reactor. They're not obligated or forced to do anything because of the simple fact that they WANT to do it, because that's helping the race achieve the common goal. They see the bigger picture.

After it's done, maybe the clone sticks around to help some more, maybe he starts the building of a reactor of his own - and thus the process repeats.

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It could be a way to find perfection for a specific role. Let's say a certain baby was made to be an expert in building ships, if one of the clones show some kind of revolutionary idea that improve the ships he makes more than the other clones, they could use him to make the next batch of clones, they may be clones but their experiences will be different(right?), and that could change them in some way that can be replicated. The same goes for flaws, they'd find the reason and correct it in the next batch.

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