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Artificial wombs have become a luxury in society, allowing them to forgo the burden of carrying a child for nine months. Originally, this was an expensive process that currently only the wealthy and privileged can afford. However, big corporations such as Amazon, General Motors, etc, have also taken an interest in the technology, in order to use for their own purposes. The prime focus of a corp is to maximize shareholder profits. One way to accomplish this is to reduce the cost of labor. This can be done by corporations investing in this technology in order to grow their own workforce.

These machines are housed in specially built facilities, where they can be monitored around the clock. Embryos are fertilized in vitro and placed in a artificial womb made from cloned samples. These would be grown from a collection of cells to create a cheaply mass produced womb casing that can be made reusable for a set number of times. Facilities would have the capacity and space to create thousands of these machines cheaply. With this method, a company can create its own work force without the need to supply market rate compensation. These children will be grown in these pods and decanted when they have fully developed. They would then be raised by the company and indoctrinated in its culture. These children will be legally owned by the corporation as their "parent", spending their lives working for it in order to pay back the cost that it took to grow them.

With companies no longer having to pay a living wage to outside workers, this creates opportunities to save large amounts of money. I would like to prevent this from happening. At first I thought that simple legislation could be put in place that forbid companies from doing this. However, this could only be realistically adopted in first world countries, where the rule of law can be enforced. A company could easily move or simply outsource to a less scrupulous nation, where laws are lax or consistently ignored, and grow a workforce without any legal ramifications. Others could simply bribe legislators under the table and authorities to look the other way.

What limitations must I introduce in order to prevent corporations from doing this?

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    $\begingroup$ Ummmm.... Resident Evil comes to mind. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jul 25 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ Just read the novel Cyteen by C J Cherryh, which goes into great detail on the ethics, economics, philosophy and technology of breeding cloned workers. $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Jul 25 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ Why are mass produced humans cheaper than wage slaves? I'm missing where it's cheaper to birth, educate, feed, clothe, and house humans than it is to just pay them the minimum wage and leave the burden of workers' subsistence on the state like we do today. $\endgroup$ – Alex H. Jul 25 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ If you are just looking to grow laborers and/or unskilled workers then this may work as they need very little technical ability and high brain-washing to be complacent. "Growing" a knowledge worker is what will sink your costs unless you have a way to grow only intelligent people and sustain their intellect at a mass scale. $\endgroup$ – MonkeyZeus Jul 26 at 13:00
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    $\begingroup$ What radical changes does your world have to justify "These children will be legally owned by the corporation"? No new legislation needs to be passed, that would not be legal in pretty much every third world country right now. While in some laws prescribe some obligations for children to e.g. take care of their parents, I'm aware of no country where children are legal property of their parents. Sure, in some places you can probably ignore the law if you're influential enough, but that's how modern slavery works - the slaves aren't legally owned by their slaveholders, it's outside of law. $\endgroup$ – Peteris Jul 26 at 20:37

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There are a number of structural issues that combine to make this not a good idea for your corporations to begin with, regardless of legal or moral concerns.

First, there's the problem of cost. You need to build and maintain facilities to produce and house these artificial wombs, which as you mention require round-the-clock specialist attention. You need to provide all of the nutrients and whatever else it takes them to develop. And then you have thousands of infants - you need to house them, feed them, look after them, educate them until they're economically productive. Your corporations won't see a red cent of productivity for a good 15 years after they start funding this initiative; that's a tough thing for an executive to give the green light. (Sure, there are fields where you could start people earlier, but then there's fields where they'll need even more training and education.) Even then, since they're not being paid, you need to provide homes, food, medical care, amenities, and everything else. You can save some money over just hiring people, but that will only delay the point where you break even.

Second, this is an experimental way of bringing up workers, as opposed to the tried-and-relatively-true systems we have in place now. Your executives know that they can hire people on the job market when needed. They don't know that, after 15 or 20 years of investment (considering the prototyping phase), their growing project will actually yield useful results. Maybe they can be pretty sure, but that's still not certainty, and people tend to be averse to big risks. Not to mention, if somebody just plain doesn't mature into a useful worker by the traditional method, you can always just flunk them in an interview. If your vat-grown workers turn out duds, you're out a lot of time and money.

Third is forward planning. Knowing what your business will need in a year or five years takes a lot of practice and skill. Knowing what you'll need in 15 or 20 years is all but impossible, especially when you take into account acquisitions, mergers, divisions. The last thing you want when you're trying to plot out a business strategy or arrange a merger is to have thousands of maturing workers sitting around. If your corporation decides that it needs to shift its focus, will its workers be useful to its new direction, or a burden?

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    $\begingroup$ This is pretty much an extreme extension of "why don't companies train workers anymore?" $\endgroup$ – chrylis Jul 25 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ I can just imagine a company growing a generation of workers carefully selected to be genetically predisposed to be efficient at operating their shiny new punch-card machines. Once they're fully grown and trained two decades later ... $\endgroup$ – bta Jul 25 at 23:22
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    $\begingroup$ @bta Even worse, you just know there'd be that one exec who says "we already have the workers, we need to keep the punchcards to maximize their value". $\endgroup$ – Cadence Jul 25 at 23:28
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    $\begingroup$ @bta: Find and read "Beachhead in Utopia." Workers trained for particular devices only. One poor sap is trained on machine A, but his records all say machine B - and he can't access the records, only potential employers can. After a long search for work (because machine B is obsolete and nobody needs workers for it anymore,) it comes out that he is trained on machine A and lands a job - just in time to be picked up and liquidated as an unemployed burden to society. $\endgroup$ – JRE Jul 26 at 8:40
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Why would they grow them rather than using robots?

Robots are probably cheaper to build, can work 24 hours a day, you don't need to wait years for them to grow up, they don't need to be fed, don't need to sleep, don't get sick, don't get hay fever or pregnant or any of the other day to day things that people get even if they are artificial that will stop them working.

The only limitations that matter are the economic ones, human staff barely work out as it is relative to automation. Actually having to feed and house your staff not just pay them probably costs more for the worst paid workers.

Added to that, you're paying to support them for 12-16 years before they're the least bit useful to you and that's just as basic labour. The cost benefit isn't there.

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    $\begingroup$ Notably, robots are kinda dumb, and with the best will in the world they'll continue to be generally dumb for some time, with only specific areas of AI expertise. Being able to replace all human labour and creativity is still a way out. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Jul 25 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime True, but you don't really need to replace all the humans. That's why workers in e.g. car factories are now highly skilled and specialized, with heavy support from dumb robots and automatons of all kinds. This kind of economy will continue for some time - the barriers are mainly the cost of robots (which steadily goes down), availability of capital (workers are cheaper at first investment) and government subsidies (either in tax breaks or outright subsidies based on number of humans employed). Self-grown workers have the same downsides, and then more to boot. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Jul 26 at 7:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Luaan oh sure, there's nothing sensible about growing your own, unless you can cheaply force grow them into pre-trained adults. But you still need potentially pretty large human workforces. For a more dystopian view of the future, have a look at amazon's patents that basically facilitate computer control of menial human staff... location tracking, gaze tracking, activity monitoring, all the rest. That's what the future evil corporation looks like; pod people are waaay more effort. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Jul 26 at 10:01
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These children will be legally owned by the corporation as it's "parent", spending their lives working for it in order to pay back the cost that it took to grow them.

This sounds familiar...

At first I thought that simple legislation could be put in place that forbid companies from doing this.

No need - it already exists...

Any company that started doing this would nigh-instantly be sanctioned by pretty much every member of the United Nations. It would be impossible for them to be based in, or do business in, any United Nations member or observer state. That brings the list down to less than 10:

Republic of Kosovo
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
Republic of China
Republic of South Ossetia
Republic of Abkazia
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Republic of Artsakh
Pridnestrovian Moldovian Republic
Republic of Somaliland

Given that several of these countries would quite like to be recognised as members of the United Nations (or, at the very least, to make money from United Nations states), they are also unlikely to allow the company to exist within, or do business within, their borders.

So, your company now has a large, cheap workforce to produce all the goods, products and services that they can't sell to anyone. They either drop the plan, or implode.

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    $\begingroup$ Worth noting that the UDHR is not binding legislation, but more of a diplomatic agreement. There may be sanctions, depending on how rich and powerful and influential you are, but they are by no means guaranteed to be global. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Jul 25 at 19:00
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime: Wrt "not legislation", that is a technicality, and it actually works out the other way. In International Law, the UDHR is treated as a declaration of facts that are so obviously true that they do not need ratification. That is why they apply universally. Every government is expected to respect those rights, even those that are not UN members. $\endgroup$ – MSalters Jul 26 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ Still, the UN "forbids" this because most people in most of the UN's countries don't think this is acceptable. You may find a way to do this by paying even more money (either buying a politician or a hundred ones, or paying for economic sanctions), but you're still alienating yourself from your consumers, which I don't think has ever been a good business strategy. $\endgroup$ – Blueriver Jul 26 at 16:23
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    $\begingroup$ @MSalters nah, it is repeatedly violated all over the world. You just have to be big enough and bad enough that everyone else will either turn a blind eye, or make baseless threats that they can't or won't follow up on. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Jul 26 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime: That's also true for treaties and legislation. And if you find that the winds have changes and your protector is now looking the other way, your UDHR violations suddenly are a crime against humanity; all countries may now prosecute you. $\endgroup$ – MSalters Jul 26 at 17:43
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At some point in history, England was the most powerful country in the world and wanted slavery to be outlawed everywhere. Throughout the first half of the 1800's, England put so much pressure on markets that slave traffic was practically banished on the western world.

The country most involved in slave traffic back then was Brazil. England passed the Aberdeen Act in 1845, through which they would stop and search brazilian ships found in the Atlantic. If they were found to be slave traffickers, the crew would be judged in english courts. It was heavily enforced, and five years later Brazil passed a law forbidding slave traffic as well. The oligarchy who controlled economic power in Brazil was furious, but it was either that or going to war with England, a war which Brazil would lose faster than we could say "hey!".

More pressure was applied, and slavery was banned for good here in 1888.


Of course, England did not put so much pressure to ban slavery out of charity and kindness. The economic model that used slaves also imposed monopolies and was not as productive as the growing industrial model of that time.

Just the same, if companies employ mass-produced, slave clones, then worldwide commerce will tend to suffer in the long run, for different reasons. We see that happening today. For example, China's industrial model is bordering on slavery, and China concentrates most of the world manufacture of electronics. This places China in constant odds against other countries, with military threats here and there. Due to the economic pressure put mostly by the EU and United States, at times China does something to improve the working conditions of factory workers. Given time, it may be that in a few decades those people may have living standards closer to what we westerns have today.

And in your story, in the far future, it may be that the pressure put on by first world governments has the same effect. Those clones will exist and will be part of the industry for a time - and then international pressure will make it more costly to use the clones than to use free citizens, so the clone market will collapse and the model will cease to exist.

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    $\begingroup$ It should be noted that the GSI's modern slavery data also shows that the proportion of people affected is 0.5% worldwide (with the worst country, North Korea, topping at 10%, and the next in line being a bit more than 2%). In comparison, the US at the height of its slave usage had 18% according to the census (in 1790), steadily declining to 12.5% before the civil war and eventual abolishment. The number in China? 0.28%. Almost half the world average, and lower than all the countries in Eastern Europe except for Slovenia. Of course, China is also rather a populous country. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Jul 26 at 7:02
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Everyone is overcomplicating things. The answer is:

Simple corporate human greed

Somewhere along the line, in the 18 years it takes to grow these kids to adulthood, one of the CEOs of the corporation will cut the program because it’s not providing any value to the company in the current quarter and isn’t anticipated to for the foreseeable twelve quarters the CEO is estimated to be leading the company for. They’ll get a bunch of stock for cutting expenses. The end.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, Cadence's answer already says that. But yes, you can put it as simply as that. Even if slavery wasn't illegal (or the laws sufficiently enforced), it'd still be cheaper to just... enslave already well functioning adults. They could even bring up their own children to be the next generation of slaves - no need to pay for all those nurses etc.! I wonder if somebody had this idea some time in the past, hmm... :P $\endgroup$ – Luaan Jul 26 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ Ah yes, our duty to our stockholders. $\endgroup$ – Tyler S. Loeper Jul 26 at 17:23
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This scheme is unlikely to save any money as long as human labor is cheap and plentiful.

Let’s look at two companies. One pays its workers a poverty wage, enough to cover basic necessities but with no excess. With that wage the company’s employees have to buy their own food, housing, clothing, medical treatments, and pay for the needs of the company’s future employees, their children. If they can’t make ends meet, well, you could always give them an advance on their pay or let them live in company-owned dormitories and shop at company-owned stores where they are able to incur further debt. The idea here is that a company is only really paying for the most basic needs of its employees. If they owned the workers they would still have to pay for all of their workers' expenses, but by giving the workers the money and making them try to provide for themselves there are several advantages:

  1. They aren’t technically enslaving anyone. This is a perfectly free market exchange.
  2. They incentivize their workers to work hard without having to threaten them.
  3. They have no obligation to the wellbeing of their workers. They aren’t their “children”. If the factory closes down they just kick them out on their butts.

Compared to this first company a second company trying to grow its own workers has many additional expenses and few advantages. You have to build and maintain high-tech artificial wombs. You need a large staff of nurses, caretakers, and teachers to take care of the newborn children and raise them to adulthood. Taking a newborn baby from birth to productivity is going to cost a lot of time and a lot of money and isn’t going to benefit very much from scaling efficiency. Every child needs constant, personalized attention. They need parental figures or they are not going to become a functioning adult. Once you’ve invested all of this time and money to produce your workforce what have you gained? You still need to pay for your workers' basic needs so your operating costs are likely only marginally if at all lower than paying your workers poverty wages. But you also now have other problems. What motivates your workers? They aren’t being paid. Why should they work hard, or at all? What are you going to do liquidate them? Torture them? Free them? You have few legal ways to motivate them that don’t involve, well, paying them.

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  • $\begingroup$ Note that the company might not want the kids to be well functioning adults. Both the Nazis in Germany and communists in the Soviet Union tried the "assembly line" methods of bringing kids up, and it kind of worked. Their main complaint was that they were surprised how little they could affect the kids - they were not the perfect compliant socialist workers they imagined, and besides a meaningful bump in easy of indoctrination, they turned into reasonably well functioning adults easily enough (though with more than their share of psychological problems). $\endgroup$ – Luaan Jul 26 at 7:13
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Because it would never be cost effective.

The amount of money it would take to raise, train and care for its workforce, even with distopia levels of "care", would by far exceed just paying employees. Add in all the security you will need to isolate and enforce your will on your workforce, and it becomes entirely cost prohibitive.

As a real world comparison, North Korea kinda already does this. Artificial wombs are just replaced with actual wombs. They have a workforce that is very conditioned to obey the government and a police force to enforce it.

However, without support and supplies from other countries (primarily China), the entire system would collapse.

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I can think of a couple of solutions.

  1. The whole process is not worth it because robots are much cheaper to maintain. They don't need rest or food; they can be programmed to always follow orders. Even with artificial wombs, i feel like companies might still prefer robots.

  2. There can be vigilante groups who rescue these "slaves". These groups can mostly operate in the third world countries that have not yet outlawed this process. Maybe a sympathetic executive will tip off a vigilante group and they will break in and rescue these "workers".

  3. Perhaps ordinary people will protest this development because their jobs are being taken away. Even with bribes, politicians cannot ignore the majority of voters. Especially when they unite to save their paychecks.

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  • $\begingroup$ Automation. Robots. No way human capital is worth the expense of raising your own workforce in the future. $\endgroup$ – SRM Jul 25 at 15:30
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There's a number of ways to do so.

Economic inhibitors

A few independent ideas:

  • It's so expensive to build such humans in vats that it's just easier to pay ordinary people. Part of this lies in the fact that these humans start at birth and have to grow up - time is expensive too.
  • A legal way to implement this would be to not ban the use of vat-grown humans but to tax companies for not using ordinary humans.
  • All vat-grown humans have their own personalities and rebel so often that it just becomes a waste to make any - too expensive to quell revolts.

Other Ideas

  1. Rogue employee messes with the brainwashing techniques the company uses and plants a 'seed' in every vat-grown human to make them overtly or secretly sabotage the company's operations. If secretly, these humans should be completely trusted - literally forming the bodyguard units of high-profile individuals, until they (together) Order 66 their slavers.

  2. Since humans naturally rebel, many clones successfully escape, build false identities, and over time, accumulate outside of these companies. Many end up finding employment in corporate in these companies (to break the company from the inside), while others in more remote locations organize a guerilla effort to free these slaves. This could add some action into the story, as well as the mental impact of sabotaging your peers who didn't necessarily do anything wrong.

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    $\begingroup$ Shoutout to Devstr and L.Dutch for reformatting what I wrote! $\endgroup$ – cyber101 Jul 25 at 16:13
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In short, you shouldn't have to worry about this happening.

With this method, a company can create its own work force without the need to supply market rate compensation.

If they don't pay the employees a competitive wage, then they will leave to work somewhere else. The company that grew them would be out the money spent growing them and would get nothing in return.

These children will be legally owned by the corporation as their "parent", spending their lives working for it in order to pay back the cost that it took to grow them.

This is not true. The only way that someone would owe this sort of debt to a company would be if it was part of a contract that both parties agreed to. Minors aren't generally considered legally competent enough to enter into a contract like this, so the child could walk away and leave you little recourse. That assumes you somehow convinced them to sign the contract in the first place. Even in the best-case scenario, you'd be hard-pressed to recover any costs you spent growing, birthing, and raising them in the time period before they signed the contract. Considering that a child is unlikely to have a reading level high enough to reasonably understand a legal contract before age 16-17, that's a lot of unrecoverable costs.

With companies no longer having to pay a living wage to outside workers, this creates opportunities to save large amounts of money.

Your workers' living expenses aren't really dependent on whether they were grown in-house or not. A low wage would have the same effect on both classes of workers.


The only way that this model would enable a company to lower their personnel costs would be if they could effectively keep the workers as slaves. Outlawing all forms of slavery is the simple solution, but likely isn't strictly necessary. Even if slavery was legal, it will almost always be cheaper to buy a slave that's already the right age and has the right skill set than it will be to grow your own and hope they turn out like you need them to.

The only real advantage to growing your own workforce from scratch (assuming eugenics is out of the picture) is that you'll have lots of time to teach them the exact skillset that you think* they'll need to be an ideal employee. It would almost certainly be more cost-effective to operate a system of tuition-free private schools, where you can incorporate necessary skills into the curriculum without having to financially support the students.

* Spoiler alert: you're almost certainly going to be wrong on this one.

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In short, you can't. That's right, I said it. If there is a cost effective way of growing "people" for mass labor deployment, then only those in the world with the most power will have any say over it.

But then you have to break that down into how it could be cost effective. Further you would need to run a risk analysis. And not to forget about the politics of it.

I'll leave the cost effectiveness and risk analysis as an exercise to the reader. Companies routinely do these kinds of analysis, the simple trick here is to ignore the moral implications and just get down to crunching some numbers.

The interesting aspect of it, as far as I, and I think most people would be concerned, is "how could they, how dare they"? So, yes, in summation, I think the question is political and moral.

To turn the politics in one's favor, simply lie. Explain that these are not human beings. Elaborate, be creative. They simply aren't, or you can actually make them different. Genetically alter them. Heck, if you're growing them in bags, what added expense is there for mass gene editing. Just work in batches while you're scaling up. If you apply gene editing and some of the specimens die, well no one should care because they weren't human to begin with. You can frame those results as a filtering of the required attributes. The one's that survive gene editing are the one's you needed anyway, those were the goal to begin with, the target you're aiming for.

As for the moral questions. Hide the truth, so help you. Don't let out videos of screaming, convulsing, newly hatched oids, that die after a few minutes. The screamers always get the sympathy. Some video will inevitably leak eventually. Be prepared for that. Use heavy law suits and a lot of posturing to keep those incidents under control. Be prepared to show similar videos of medical testing on animals to sway the public away from the notion this this could ever be considered anything except business as usual. Never use the word "immoral". Always use words like "justified" and "legal" and always refer to "precedents" in various contexts, but never negate your terms as in "unjustified", "illegal" or "unprecedented". And for God's sake, never, ever refer to the subjects as "people", you can call them anything but that. In fact don't even refer to people as "people". You can call them "my fellow citizens" or [your nation]ians or what have you.

Explain how your industry helps the citizens by providing goods and services in or from environments that are too harsh or too dangerous for humans and perhaps where robots do not have enough common sense to adequately solve the kinds of problems that these oids are useful for. Let the oids be celebrated on the order of a service animal or even on par with police dogs, but do not let them be pitied and never let your company be vilified for what it is doing. Your company is providing a service to the common good of all humans. Plain and simple.

One last bit. Keep in mind that power almost always comes from power and wealth to begin with, going way, way back in time. New power is almost always just a variation on some previous version. It simply shifts from person to person, generation to generation. Only very rarely does someone come to power from nothing. The right hand knows this. And the left hand is telling the citizens that they are the ones benefiting. But the right hand is not telling the left hand that the power differential, between the corporation and the citizens, as a result of this industry decision, is shifting so dramatically that getting the citizens' consent is merely part of the process. No one but the right hand knows this going forward. By the time the citizens come to understand the nature of the thing that they're ( permitting isn't exactly the right word, accepting maybe ), it will be far too late for them to have any chance at re-balancing the playing field. The power lost to the corporation is all in the "permission granted". Corporations, in general, are designed to take advantage of just such a situation, and they will.

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I agree with others that the expense and effort of creating a huge infrastructure to continually grow huge numbers of clones for a workforce is unlikely to be practical, but there's a way cloning could be used for this without mass-production.

Why bother creating huge clone farms to mass produce workers, when you can just engineer a small number of starter clones who are pre-dispositioned both genetically and psychologically for fecundity, loyalty, and insularity, then let them reproduce?

These initial clones are raised in a company town, where every citizen is an employee who works for the company, and all resources come from the company. Within a few decades, you'll have a workforce that grows itself, in a community where the company is inherently trusted, and all the wages they are paid come back to the company.

Aside from the cloning part, this is something that companies have actually done in the past, so it's pretty realistic.

Preventing something like this would be more difficult than simply preventing mass growing of clones, because aside from the first generation, technically the employees have free will and are choosing to participate.

The best way to prevent something like this would probably be strong public opinion triggered by some disastrous event, possibly backed by religious fervor.

"The Clonetown experiments conducted by a cartel of manufacturers in the late 21st century were an initial success, leading to improved productivity and reduced costs for cartel members. This success was short-lived, however, coming to an abrupt halt with the Teliaville Massacre of 2104, where an entire clone town was burned to the ground and many of its residents brutally killed by fanatical followers of the Church of the Celibate Savior.

The incident was apparently triggered by the disappearance of a child from a neighboring community, and the mistaken belief that the child had been kidnapped by the town for breeding purposes. Since then, corporations have gone out of their way to avoid any association with clone labor, and have invested heavily in automation instead. Meanwhile, the former inhabitants of these clone towns continue to suffer unusually high levels of unemployment, mental illness and suicide..."

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There's a lot of good answers already, especially discussing the cost of raising children. Another issue for your companies is where do they get the genetic material? While collecting sperm is easy and non-invasive, collecting viable eggs is a lot more complicated. (Takes a least a month, with daily hormone injections and a surgery at the end of it.) Knowing that their progeny would become slaves, who would provide the samples with which these children would come from?

In most countries, there is some form of government agency that would get involved if children are abused. Most countries have some form of child labor laws as well. In order to be at all cost effective, I don't see how the company could avoid violating these laws. It's really expensive to feed, educate, provide health care, and provide adequate adult supervision to children, especially from birth.

Think about it this way, why aren't companies adopting/kidnapping children to run their factories? It's a horrendous enough crime that people will care, even in less developed countries, and it's not cost effective.

When there eventually becomes some form of government investigation into these poor children, they would likely become wards of the state or be returned to their biological parents. Biological parents have a lot of rights to their children.

If we premise that these companies are working somewhere with minimal government oversight, I still can't imagine it ever being cost effective.

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  • $\begingroup$ Lots of people donate eggs to strangers. All you need is an agency that is partly legit and partly not. $\endgroup$ – arp Jul 28 at 2:51
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As already mentioned, robots are much more likely (especially in a world, where humans already invented artificial wombs). But if you need some evil "company owns human" scheme I have another idea: Companys implement chips to human brains. Those things control the human while he es at work (not like a puppet, but more like "you should do this now". While you have no control over what you actually do, you are managing walking, gripping something and so on). Once you are done, you mostly forget what you were doing. People would argue, that it's like earning money in the sleep, while others argue, that the people become like zombies working for the companies.

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If your story really depends on having this you can just look for existing phenomena around the world about human trafficking in the modern day.

How much more different it is to have them vat grown than it is to have them illegally reside in a country where you can pay off the authorities, take their passports and essentially limit them to work only for you and live only in your factories shanty town. How much of a difference does it really make after all? this also provides you with actual real world examples of how corporations are "getting away with it" while avoiding being connected enough to have the export venues for the factories products be blocked.

The practices are often illegal in the market the factory resides in and also in the market the products are exported to - but it still happens and the workforce is essentially forced "company men" - sometimes willingly(escaping even worse conditions in their home country).

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