Will we be able to say at some point that this clone has now become your loved one? Or is there always a difference between the two? If so, what would this difference be?
In short, the clone has taken the memories and former messages of my loved one, let’s say that I am married, and that my former spouse now appears in the form of a machine that now replicates her speech, mannerisms, and memories with no distinguishable difference. I have the opportunity to live with a computer replica of my former spouse. The first question of course seems to be do I want this at all? Another question also seems to be is this process even right, in an ethical sense? However, the questions posed for this assignment include neither of those. But they are equally as interesting. I may explore the former questions later but for now, let me address the central questions noted at the outset.
I will not be able to say at some point that this clone is my loved one. This comes from a few fundamental beliefs about what a human being is. I think that human beings are completely unique. Each one of us is an individual. That means that no other person is exactly like us. It also means that we can never be copied in essence. Something about the copy will remain a copy, simply because of the fact that it is not the person himself or herself. This assumes that a person is more than a collection of experiences, words, habits, and memories. The approach of the clone company seems to be the latter. That is, they claim to upload the messages or notions from social media about a person and then replicate their speech, mannerisms, and memories in the clone. However, this assumes that a person is a collection of these listed ingredients. But do humans comprise something else?
I do not exactly know what all a human is made of. However, I do believe that the human is not a stocked box of memories and habits as indicated above. The human is certainly at least that, as our childhood and experience does inform who we are. Yet that “who” remains, even in the sentence. The mannerisms, memories, and speech all inform or stem from a person. That person is what I am concerned with. The nature of thinking about and talking about a person in relation to other aspects of who they are proves that the human is more than those aspects. The are a person, a “who.”
Therefore, the clone might have the same look, feel, and sound as my former spouse. However, they will not be the same who or person as my former spouse. Only my spouse can be that person. So, in the first place, one difference between my loved one and the clone is that the loved one has a unique personhood that cannot be shared with a machine. While some might argue that the machine can have a unique personhood, that would only go to support that the loved one is different from the clone. Furthermore, humans include things that a machine does not. The affections and the flaws of humans are unique to us, where a machine would have programmatic rather than organic flaws and would lack the quality of affections found in humans. Also, we have religious inclinations that machines do not have. The clone would not understand the concept of god in the way that humans have.
Another difference arises from my perspective. Rather than an objective difference in who the clone and loved one are, the subjective difference arises from my perspective. I do not feel or think that I could see the clone as my former loved one. Even if I did agree that they were the same person, could I live as if that clone was my spouse? Could I truly act on what I claimed, that a clone has become my loved one? I do not think so. Aside from issues of personhood, I think that the tragedy of losing my spouse would influence the way I received the clone. I could not cope easily with the fact that my spouse is gone. Furthermore, the fact that something or someone else appeared to be like her would only complicate the matter. Loss is permanent in the sense of death and something about a person coming back does not seem exactly to fit life as we know it. So the shock or transition from knowing death to seeing that person alive again would keep me from admitting or living like the clone became my wife.
Another reason I could not treat the clone like my spouse is that the clone transitions to “become” like her. That is, it gradually becomes indistinguishable from my spouse, as noted in the question. While an immediate change of becoming would shock me. The gradual change makes it even more difficult. It would be like getting to know a new person or even learning about my spouse again. Actually, it would be as if my spouse had forgotten who she was and then needed to relearn and remember many things that I already knew about her. I guess this occurs in some cases of elderly people or those who suffer brain damage and cannot remember aspects of their lives. When these things return, the loved ones in their lives might experience something similar to the clone situation. This might be a case for the cloning of a loved one. However, I do not think that people enjoy or wish for any of that relearning process. In my judgment, based on the reasons provided, the clone will never become my loved one.