In my mad scientist lab, the scientist has a machine that makes a very high quality (atomic level) scan and clone of himself. The problem is, it takes some hours to work, so the mad scientist sleeps in the machine. He doesn't want his clones to develop an identity of their own, so every night he freezes his old clone, merges their experience into his brain, and reclones himself. This all happens while he is asleep. So when the scientist wakes up, there are almost identical brain states present in both the real scientist and the clone. What are the psychological effects of wake up every morning and asking: am I a clone? Is there anyway to intrinsically "know" you're a clone? Or do you just have to prepare yourself to compare where you fell asleep from last night to where you woke up the next day? Would the clone feel upset about being frozen every evening? Or would he recognize that this is just another form of sleep from which he will awake?

  • $\begingroup$ This seems highly dependent upon how cloning works in your world. Since you don't describe the cloning process we can't help you figure out what the process will feel like. Please also remember that character driven questions are off topic for this site. We also have a strict one question per post policy. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 23, 2022 at 21:12
  • $\begingroup$ Hello Jacob, welcome to worldbuilding. You have two close votes. To avoid your question being closed (a) You're allowed to ask one-and-only-one question (you're asking 6 questions, related or not). (b) Qs cannot be hypothetical (by definition, asking about an experience no human has ever had and won't in the known future is 100% hypothetical). (c) Qs that can be reasonably answered with a book-length answer are off-topic (this could realistically be answered by writing an entire book). Please take the time to read help center and help center. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 24, 2022 at 3:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ One more thing. (d) Without explaining in detail the psychology of your mad scientist, this Q is impossible to answer. Nine billion people live on this planet and every single one of them will have a unique experience to the conditions you've described. That makes the question in need of additional details, opinion-based, too story-based, and in need of more focus. (Click on the "Close" link to see more about VTC reasons). I'm trying not to cast a close vote myself - but please take the time to read our rules explaining how to write a good question. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 24, 2022 at 3:32
  • $\begingroup$ My main confusion with this is "merges the experience". If you had hamburgers and your clone had french fries, which do you remember having for lunch yesterday? Do you remember two yesterdays one after another - if so, which one was first? Also, why doesn't the freshly made clone know it because he's in a nutrient tank, lacks a belly button, has part falling off where the 3D printer had a slight warping problem, etc.? $\endgroup$ May 24, 2022 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ This is a classic question in philosophy of identity. Suffice it to say: there is no consensus, and precious few facts we could appeal to for help. You will have to decide how your character experiences it. I'll just add that it's one hell of a handwave to flatly assert that he merges their consciousnesses into his own. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    May 25, 2022 at 2:02

3 Answers 3


They're both real

If they are identical they can both see themselves as the "real" mad scientist. There's no need to reclone at the end of the day because the clones can resynch their experiences to the same effect. Both mad scientists wouldn't see a problem because the very concept of merging experiences implies a dualist philosophy meaning that the body is merely a vessel for the mind. As long as they become a singular conscious at the end of the day they would think of the other body as an extension of themself. If you are really keen on recloning, rather than picking the "real" mad scientist they would choose the mad scientist in better physical condition. In fact, clones should be made from a body that is kept in stasis so the mad scientist is always young and healthy. You could pig out and eat a box of doughnuts every night without gaining weight or feeling sick afterwards! Get drunk without the hangover! You can do whatever you want knowing tomorrow your body will be literally brand new! Yay cloning!

  • $\begingroup$ 'Freezing' the real body is a good idea. The clones would be frozen each night, their memories copied to the real one, and then redistributed to the bodies of the clones(no sense in wasting good bodies each night. Repair the bodies and/or replace the brain) You could even try to keep it a secret which clone is the clone. Lock down the memories where they know the actual body is frozen (keep a file ICE), and make them unknowing of which body is the clone. They both know they might be a clone but depending on their personality, might not want to find out or find it inconsequential. $\endgroup$
    – vinzzz001
    May 25, 2022 at 8:49

Jump cut

If the scan is a perfect copy you have a problem. It is impossible to tell if you are the clone. The only thing that links you to the past and a continuous sense of self is you brain functionality and your memories. You are you because you think like you and you remember things that happened to you in the past. The clone meets both of these requirements, and therefore is you.

Unless the clone is in a place it knows the clone should be, it must assume it is the original. The experience would either be a jump cut if the scan happens when the subject is awake, or waking up someplace new half way through a dream if it happens during sleep.

If someone switched the bodies halfway through, then the original would think they are the clone and the clone would think they are the original, and there would be no difference either way.

The “mauler twins” a pair of clones from “Invincible” is a good example of this. “Soma” is also a good video game example of cloning consciousness.

However, if the process takes hours there could be an issue. Fluctuating signals in the brain occur incredibly quickly, so a “scan line” could form, where the scan doesn’t capture an adequate slice every time it measures the brain, leading to residual error. This could be detected with proper instruments.

  • It feels great, it feels great, man

More as a comment.

"... develop an identity of their own,..." - too late, if one is not sleeping and free to wander around, he knows he is a clone, as he knows what original knows (atomic scans is not enough for that, you have to preserve signals in the brains, but considering that magic merging back(which is far from trivial) I assume tech is quite advanced so it makes a good clone)

Fist of all the questions you ask, most of it, are result of subjective perception, unique to each individual. And here are bad news, "He doesn't want his clones to develop an identity of their own ... so every night he freezes his old clone, ..." - not a great situation, and I would not recomend cloning to a subject with such attitudes. But it rather your problem, as author of the idea, who didn't ironed details of it, and does not understand the situation fully, than a problem of a mad scientists, who developed(assuming) quite advanced technology, and had years(assuming) of mental preparations and changes and problems to solve.

This technolgy is more suitable for people who, mm let's word it in this way - inclinded to sacrifice themselfs for a greater goal/good. Then deviations of expirience, for a day week month do not matter that much. But there always a chance of a fork go wrong.

One of the problem in this situation, quite fundamental one, is that this cloning process creates not a copy of intelligence, but a whole human. This fundamental fact leads to many problems of all kinds, one of which is that rigth after the creation, previous history does not matter and rigths of a human extend on that clone - because he is a 100% human, no matter the way he is born.

  • there are ways to make digital copy with non human body and then it is not a human.(not inferior, not superior, just not a human - it has its cons and pros)

Another problem, at least of the q as it worded - there is no goal or task for such process, such cloning. It more just an existence, not a problem solving. Once it is a problem solving or goal or a purpose - there is a way for a clone to tell when it is done. Once it is done, as an example building secret underground fusion reactor ITERv332 - once you dig that underground cave of that size for a week, initial excitement for the idea is gone, you sure want to go "sleep" on your own. Or writing an paper for arxiv, or...

With just existance things are different, it can be a goal in some cases, last survivial clones himselfs again to continue, idk there can be all kinds of goals or things to do, including things like in Highlander's. Meaning independance and surviving of the fittest (in this case Montecarlo maze of expirience - where one gets most fittest expirience)

So do not be so boring as killing a clone each day, be more like Rick cloning himself freely, and whatever when it suits some goal, and make colliseum of death when time comes.

A clone can take endeavor with 10% survivial chances - whatever he dared not to do before, whe it was just one body. And expirience of this kinds is accomulated by main body. Expirience of that kind, there once in 3 month a clone has it twice. For a clone the interest it - next time he wil be cloned he will be smarter, more expirienced and all that.

So knowing that one is a clone may be releasing shakles than some mind shattering expirience, which seems to be a theme of movies of that kind.

  • having some rules between clones themselvs may help, but that a different topic

Making it up always as a problem - it means looking at the opportunity from a bottom of a well. Alterd carbon tv-series was not bad in this regard, in essence they all are clones, and no one is bothered that much by that, even if authors were to shy continue by eleminating cooperative(or not) groups of clones of the same person.

All in all, the way it formulated in q that cloning is useless, but there are ways to make it meaningfull with or without killing clones each day.

All the clone subjective q's are in realm of psyhology, and answers are different for different people. Some ppl can use this opportunity some will be less effective, but it hard to screw the situation if cloning technology is good(if it not good enough it still some sort of mini evolution situation, and can't be considered as fail)

So be less conservative and look more for channels with excistencial content, expand your perception of what humans are capable of, and they are quite capable.


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