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In a far future humanity has advanced in the fields of A.I./robotics and genetics. Every household has an A.I. and robots/androids serving them, but strangely the humans prefer mindless clones to realistic androids.

Humans usually use them as for variety of things, both nefarious and good. It's understandable that a small percentage of humanity would fear, dislike and outright hate the machines. It seems, however, that nearly 60% of humanity own them and it's even legal. Which doesn't makes sense, since androids can do better jobs and other things than those clones in every possible ways.

They have no physiological needs and are even more economical. So, why would clones be popular among humans and even legal? I want a good excuse why.

Footnote, to clarify two things:

  1. Mindless clones are not brain dead but they don't have any free will at all, and you can customize their personality.
  2. Killing a clone is illegal but doesn't count as murder. You just have to pay a fee to the original owner.
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    $\begingroup$ Mentally, how do the androids differ from the clones? Do they have the same intelligence, same lack of free will, etc.? That would be a potential point of distinction between the two. $\endgroup$ Apr 10 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ Flesh brains that can preform complex task when given verbal commands are intelligent so they have free will they have just been broken to the point they no longer resist. So lets be clear you want to know why your people prefer broken slaves to androids or robots. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 10 at 15:50
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    $\begingroup$ @OwenReynolds I was more thinking of one of the underlying messages, You can't make people with no free will you can only indoctrinate and break them. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 11 at 4:56
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    $\begingroup$ As distasteful as it might be, I’d look to humanity’s past for attitudes towards slaves. Just because slaves had independent thought didn’t mean people acted as though they did. $\endgroup$
    – Telastyn
    Apr 11 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ Note that clones allegedly being mindless/vegetative is part of the sales pitch for the ones sold in The Island. $\endgroup$ Apr 12 at 15:53

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The mindless clones are used as "friends with benefits" by their owners, and for those kind of benefits no android or robot can compete with the real thing.

Of course this is not something publicly spoken of, but is mutually understood that the clones satisfy all the needs of their owners. That is accepted as lesser evil than having real humans perform those kind of activities, for which the demand has never fallen.

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    $\begingroup$ There's also the uncomfortable possibility that the clones, being physiologically human, could be intentionally used as surrogate mothers / sperm donors to allow people to create offspring without having a spouse, e.g. either clone+owner or clone+clone. $\endgroup$ Apr 10 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah +1 this was my first thought.... and so far only thought... $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Apr 10 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ This implies people allow clones from themselves to be used by others for sex. Considering how people dislike their basic pictures and information being abused I would suspect that (most) people would object to their exact clone ending up doing all manner of sexual acts. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Apr 10 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ But you could easily say that people prefer robots -- Cherry 2000 or WestWorld. or real world sex robots. If I see "no one wants to do it with a robot" I assume the author lacks imagination. Then again, think of the ad campaigns between competing sex-android and sex-clone manufacturers. $\endgroup$ Apr 10 at 22:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Demigan Surely it's fine for most people to object. The nature of cloning is that you only need one. $\endgroup$ Apr 13 at 18:38
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Well OF COURSE you want your Spare Parts storage clones to be mindless.

We all want to live forever, or a good imitation thereof.

So it is a very good idea to have a spare body hanging around, one that is 100.0000% genetically and structurally compatible with your own.

But.. The ethics and morality of killing another person just to replace that arm you misplaced in your hover-bungee accident can be an obstacle. You want the best matching spare part, so of course it has to be a clone. But you mindwipe the clone before it realizes it's alive, thus you can kill it to harvest the spare parts with a clear conscience.

P.S. Mindless exact body doubles would also come in handy for various less-than-polite activities, like:

  • Meet the man/woman of your dreams, but don't know if you are sexually compatible? Now you can eliminate all of the guesswork, without the social awkwardness if it does not work out.
  • You have actors. Actors have stunt doubles, but they often do not look very convincing. Clones make supreme stunt doubled, and as a bonus their mindless status allows for a much greater risk factor in stunts, with no lawsuits from bereaved family!
  • A clone can make for a really convincing alibi! "No yer honor, I was in hospital having my tonsils extracted, I could not possibly have blown up that schoolbus in the next state over"
  • Onanism can be so much more satisfying with the assistance of a clone of yourself.
  • Medical tests: So Mr. Parker. This drug will either cure your genetically malformed liver, or kill you. Do you consent to taking the risk? "HEck no!! Have Pete here test it for me!!!"
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    $\begingroup$ Notable examples of course being Never let me go and The Island (the Ewan McGregor film), at opposite ends of the optimism scale. $\endgroup$
    – Graham
    Apr 10 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ Sexual compatibility is pretty much all that social awkwardness. All you would be testing is physical attraction, which is far more temporary in how long it can keep your attention. Also I suspect that you would be responsible for your clone's actions (or whoever owned him). You would have to prove that A: your clone wasn't getting his tonsils out while you murdered and B: that you weren't responsible for the clone as he murdered someone. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Apr 11 at 8:44
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for stunt doubles (or other body doubles. Let my clone spend six hours a day at the gym, or get the boob job, instead of me.) And other +1 for the medical test dummy. $\endgroup$ Apr 11 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ I think some of your other points are good, but if clones are ubiquitous I think we can assume they'd be useless as an alibi... $\endgroup$
    – Qami
    Apr 12 at 14:43
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People don't really trust the androids

The uncanny valley is a thing, and this reason only would put the android at a disadvantage against a clone: the idea that 60% of people who would choose a human being against a realistic android, even if more expensive, sounds like a very plausible scenario to me.

Moreover, many people think that the android mind is a technology that still has to be fully understood, and fear that they could become dangerous, while having a clone - exactly because they are more expensive - is also considered a kind of status symbol.

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Maybe they aren't as economical as you claim they are.

They might be more economical in the sense that in 1 hour of work they can do almost any task better than a clone. However they are mechanical androids, they are going to need maintenance, parts, high-tech cirquits and likely many rare earth elements. Imagine if like today the risk of a chip shortage could reduce the amount of androids available? Similarly their energy or fuel requirements might also create problems down the line.

Now clones, clones are easy. Without free will they'll eat anything as long as it sustains them, so the cheapest but nourishing food is enough along with some clean water and basic waste management already available to you. They self-repair so you don't need to bring them to the shop unless the damage is extensive, they don't need complicated systems to simulate a realistic feeling of a human being, they are excellent for when you get an accident and need spare parts quickly allowing the hospital to take your clone apart and save your life or restore that liver you've been abusing with a bad lifestyle.

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    $\begingroup$ “Don’t need to bring them to the shop unless the damage is extensive” - What an excellent phrase. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Apr 12 at 10:56
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Dumb technology is SMART technology

Everything an android sees is liable to be accessed by lawyers with subpoenas, companies sharing "advertising" information, hackers, scammers ... when you want to actually relax, rather than being on tenterhooks that half a sentence you said might be used to destroy your reputation, you want a good, dumb, human clone servant.

They're YOUR organs - they should be useful!

The clones are mostly medical backups. Which makes more sense - paying a distant institution to feed them (probably with pollution-based garbage that is reducing your future life expectancy)? Or keeping them safe, in your home, under your watch, serving your needs, up until the point they need to make the ultimate sacrifice for the cause?

Humans do it better

The clones are certified "mindless", but they still walk around somehow. They have a human touch, even if few admit it. If you let an android walk your dog, well, before you know it, it gets a notion from somewhere that it should pet your dog. The dog freaks out, the android has a legal duty to control the dog, one thing leads to another and you're calling the cloning company for a fresh copy of the dog. Skip all that trouble and use your human clone to begin with.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for mentioning lawyer and advertising. I can imagine androids that have very, very, VERY lengthy terms of service with very tempting "I have read and I agree" checkbox. $\endgroup$ Apr 12 at 13:49
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Because 300 years ago someone hacked the code of early androids and made them attack people. It was really bad.

Modern androids have better security, but the stories and distrust never completely faded.

(Most other reasons named in the answers are based on subtle differences between humans and androids. The question however seems to assume those differences are not present. Otherwise, many reasons can apply and can be combined)

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  • $\begingroup$ Slap another zero onto the end and you just described Dune $\endgroup$
    – Machavity
    Apr 12 at 16:32
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Good Stuff:

These are all good reasons. I'd add a few. There may be partial overlap, but I've tried to make them distinctive:

  • Workaday world: A well-made clone with good programming can stand in for you at work on those days you want to sneak out and go to the game. Your co-workers might even come to appreciate those days when you are extra-nice and endlessly helpful.
  • Genetic diseases: If you have a genetic illness, you can have a clone made without it, and have the clone father your children - it's all in the family, right? Once your health condition (and years) advances, replace your entire body with the younger, genetically clean version (brain swap).
  • Twisted Fidelity: You and the wife are bored with your sex life, so you each get a clone of the other. Each of you has a younger version of their spouse, and that's not really cheating, right? Clone wife listens and never complains. Clone husband never forgets your birthday. Threesomes and foursomes are easy, and it's a whole different definition of voyeurism. And if your spouse dies, then you have a replacement ready, so it doesn't hurt so much to lose your spouse when your spouse is there to make you feel better about it (say that three times fast).
  • Human aggression: Beating an android feels like breaking a vacuum cleaner. Evil people like hurting human beings. If you can clone people you dislike, then you can abuse, torture, or kill them with (more or less) impunity. It's also a child molester's paradise, since they thrive on power and control. This is like The Purge, but without the collateral damage. People can convince themselves it's not morally reprehensible.
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    $\begingroup$ I have a genetically identical person walking around and even if I were unable to get children it would be an incredibly hard decision to let the "clone" do my job. I would make it a cleaner "clone stemcells of me without genetic disease, transform them into spermcells and use those". As for human agression, something made to suffer is a lot less "enticing" to sociopaths and molesters than something that you took control from. You would more likely give them training in what they want and potentially give them an out "I didn't know it wasn't a clone..." $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Apr 11 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan There might be a small percentage of the worst of the worst for whom this wouldn't be enough, true. I've read enough about serial killers to think most would love this. I did consider the practice and plausible deniability situation for killers. I suspect you'd need some kind of "tell" on your clones somewhere since I could think of lots of situations where it would be an issue from law to prioritizing healthcare. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Apr 11 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ Your last point might make Hitler (or similar) the most popular clone model on offer. $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    Apr 12 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ Having foursome with yourself.. Edit: also, people that hate themselves now can just beat up their clones? $\endgroup$ Apr 12 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Nuclear03020704 I had been meaning self+clone+wife+wifeclone, but I suppose some people would view self+clone x3 as keeping to one's self... $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Apr 12 at 14:39
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Legally, AI & androids have free will (though clones do not).

Early in the days of general artificial intelligence, adaptive AI systems became sophisticated enough that there was a bunch of debate about whether the were conscious or not, and what legal rights they had. This culminated in a lawsuit where an AI filed a suit to be legally recognized as being equal to a person. There was a bunch of complex legal maneuvering, but in the end the AI partially won its legal challenge, hinging in large part on the fact that the AI itself was the one who initiated the lawsuit.

Following this, there was a flurry of legal challenges in the courts and new laws in the legislature, but when the dust settled it ended up that (effectively) any AI sophisticated enough to run a house or control an android was granted a legal status that, while not necessarily rising to full personhood equal to a natural-born human, was still granted the benefit of "free will" under the legal system.

But the catch was this status is complex and has layers, edge cases and loopholes. For example, if you move an AI to a different machine, is it still the same individual? It was under this framework the clones were created - deliberately to fit in a loophole. According to the law developed for AI, the particular way the mindless clones are made means that it's not legally a separate person - it's effectively a body part, like hair or a kidney or blood plasma. So legally, people are free to sell them to others to be used as an object.

Certainly, there's people out there advocating for clone rights. But the legal framework for free will is grounded on the concept of being able to petition for the state yourself. As of yet, none of the mindless clones have brought their own suit. (Such lawsuits have always been their owners commanding them to file, which legally negates the concept that they had free will enough to choose.)

As such, it's easier/cheaper to get a mindless clone for some things. AI & androids (at least the sophisticated ones) are effectively employees, and you have to be careful to respect their legal rights of free will. Mindless clones are (legally) just property, and you can do with them as you wish.

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There exists a nation of free androids.

They engage in some trade with the humans. Mostly they keep to themselves and mind their own business. And that business is no business of the humans. Humans are not involved or informed about the doings of the androids. Humans are not welcome or unwelcome in the nation of free androids.

Humans are inherently suspicious of the Other. Among the humans, politicians drum up support from the people by invoking the Android Menace. The free androids in their nation are speculated to have underground human baby farms, or cyborg armies, or occult war machines. They are speculated to be in league with Satan, or aliens, or both. It is easy to persuade people to overlook wealth dichotomies in their own society by diverting their attention to the scary Other. Politicians use this, as they always have. You can fool some of the people all of the time.

Because of this, what few household androids exist are looked upon with suspicion. Persons owning such androids are looked on with suspicion. The military would like to use androids but political pressure prevents it. It is therefore rare to encounter an android and usually this is in circumstances where the android's role brings it into contact with as few people as possible.

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  • $\begingroup$ Equally, this nation of free androids could have significant "fundamental android rights" concerns. Perhaps international treaties allow them to regularly confirm that androids are not being mistreated, or are not exceeding a specific sentience threshold that would require them to be freed? An annual check required that your self-learning android hasn't bootstrapped itself to sentience, mixed with the Android Menace rhetoric to create another barrier. Both not wanting to have the hassle and not wanting to run the protestor gauntlet at the validation centre. $\endgroup$
    – Jontia
    Apr 13 at 13:51
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Science cannot yet make an android's body feel the same as a human's body and people prefer to touch a mindless human than touch an android.

A mindless human can be programmed to be the perfect girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife or domestic servant.

People in wealthy societies like pets. Mindless humans could be kept as pets.

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There probably is not a single reason.

For some people, the androids still fall under "uncanny valley." They come close enough to human to be creepy in their failure.

Other people object to beings as intelligent as they are, or more so, in a servile role for fear of revolt, or possibly just because it makes them feel inferior.

Still others regard the whole maintenance and refueling of androids an infernal nuisance. Clones need nothing that the human inhabitants don't need.

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If you ask 100 people why they would prefer a mindless clone to an android, then you would likely get 100 answers. Sure some will be variations of each other, but everyone's reasons will be their own.

Clone Ingenuity

Part of it will be if the mindless clones can still do things that a pre-programmed AI cannot. If that spark of, for a lack of a better term, human ingenuity is there, then it is likely that the clones will still have use in things where raw numbers and calculations cut it.

At the end of the day, an AI is programmed. While it can learn, unless it is explicitly that type, it will be unable to learn things that are outside its programming.

As one example, an android can cook a mean to mechanical perfection, knowing that Ingredients A, B, and C cooked at temperature N for T minutes will make a dish. The AI may be programmed to know how to substitute certain things in the event that there is not the inventory in the kitchen. It could also just say the dish is unavailable due to a lack of ingredients.

A clone with the Chef Pack v12 could do something about it. Sure, it might not be the exact thing ordered, but the substitutions work great and were outside the scope of thing the AI would consider. A chef clone could also know the intricacies of certain dishes -- knowing how to handle them while they are in process. While yes, an AI can be programmed to pay attention during the process, their meal work is already choreographed.

Extreme Work

Killing a clone is illegal but doesn't count as murder. You just have to pay a fee to the original owner.

Picture a movie studio shooting a film and a character has to die as part of the movie. Yes, they could use a stunt double for the filming and do what they have done for generations. But a film executive gets an idea: Why not use a clone?

While expensive, the lack of free will and the fact that the studio would likely own it means that it should be perfectly legal to do. You get to see your favourite actor bleed out with a knife in their heart and it's so realistic, you'd think it's real! But it can't be because they are still alive. Try not to think about how many deaths now are real deaths, even if they are clones.

If this becomes the norm, expect contracts to stipulate how many clones can be made from the actors and for what purposed they can be used for.

The Threshold Code

Another reason I've not seen mentioned yet is that there are people that know just enough on the topic to be wary, or they learned about AIs and androids when they were starting to emerge and not as fully stable as they are now.

While not necessarily amateur programmers, they are the people that know enough about computer code and building applications to be wary of an AI. This wariness could be built on misconceptions and incomplete knowledge.

For a parallel, consider online shopping. Many trust it and do it on a daily basis. Then there are those that don't do it because they don't trust it. Sure it can be encrypted to high heck but it won't matter to somebody that's already made a decision about it. That and the intermittent news of data breaches where information is stolen does not help.

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Nobody can organize a legislative majority necessary to restrict zombie clones. Because semi-sentient and non-sentient clones make reliable party-line voters, easily channeled into directed mob violence, easily pacified and controlled with propaganda (and other means).

Some centuries prior, governments and corporations secretly produced a large number of bio-zombies for combat and low-wage labor. Natural, autonomous humans never saw it coming and had their real wages and living standards significantly reduced within just a few short decades. And because nobody could tell each other apart, zombie humans interbred with natural humans and produced more semi-sentient humans, easily swayed (although incompletely) with remote mindwipe technology.

A very small, secretive clique of autonomous humans and extra-terrestrials planned these events unfolding; they control the communication networks, electronic and space-based surveillance, AI weapons, all the resources of hard power. They have access to quantum computing, anti-gravity transport, zero-point energy, tech that violates the known laws of classical physics; ordinary humans still believe in the conservation of energy and object permanence. The clique has fully automated the production and maintenance of their secret tech. They also control the formal institutions of power and prestige - and they will never, ever appoint or hire an ordinary human or zombie into a managerial role or allow them to win public office, much less have access to venture capital to become successful entrepreneurs. They believe that the ordinary humans deserve to be poor and powerless.

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Mindless clones ("doubles") are described, as a minor plot element, in the 1965 science fantasy novel Monday begins on Saturday by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. Wizards in the novel create such clones of themselves to perform simple, menial tasks, such as waiting in line instead of their "owners" or lifting and moving heavy equipment. Being single-task creatures they have very simple organisation and as such are easy to create and not too expensive to destroy after they fulfill their role or malfunction.

Similarly, in your world such mindless clones are popular because they are cost-effective and reliable for performing simple tasks. They don't need to be programmed; one's clone can receive any bit of knowledge or skill one possesses, therefore making a perfect helper in trades and household chores.

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Everyone wants a couple of clones of themselves around for use as spare parts if needed, and you might as well make other uses of them since you’ve got to have them anyway. If you have an accident or a heart attack or whatever, there won’t be time to clone you a replacement organ — you need to have them available at all times in a walking spare parts repository.

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The human clones would probably feel more real to their owners from a psychological standpoint. They could also be used as a source of organs, blood, and other body parts for transplants and such.

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Many living things like the companionship of other living things. The Android may be better at most tasks but, it's not alive. For many people, it could just be a more advanced pet that you may have grown up with.

It's legally permitted because the state doesn't make that style of moral judgements and the clones are not necessarily hard for the state to manage. The state may in fact prefer that people have clones as it does a better job at keeping them occupied.

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As smart as the AI's have gotten you can still get them confused with statements like 'This statement is false'. The mindless clones however just keep looking in the distance doing what ever it is they where last tasked with, without worrying about the paradox. Particularly mischievous children therefore have found ways to skip out on their AI babysitter by getting the AI to try to reason about a paradox while the mindless clones just ignore the children.

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Because in future humans would be relying on robotics, Tech, and AI. And the work is now on it's full capacity to make the world better. So Making human clones "mindless" will do their work and also for many other purposes such as soldier and for fighting laboring. and the higher minds would be controlling them.

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A sense of power and status.

Many people have a deep-seated psychological need to wield power over their fellow humans. Throughout history, people in power have owned slaves instead of simply paying employees, have made servants do things they could easily do for themselves, have humiliated others for the sake of their own status.

Owning a robot servant does not fulfil this need. Owning pseudo-human servant, on the other hand, makes you feel important in a way that most people today can only dream of.

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