What a gimmick. Let's clear the air (so to speak) about the nature of pod pilots (capsuleers) in New Eden: they are nothing more than clone-based bio-mechanical tools. They are not you. They are not me. They are the "things" that we command to do our bidding with New Eden space ships.
We are not pod pilots, we are Operators.We sit at computer terminals and command the industrial bred clones that interface with space ships. We operate one or a number of different clones at any one time, but we do so from the comfort and safety of land.
Face it, living in space sucks, big time. Zero gravity does bad things to your body, as do all the god-knows-how-many-and what-type of subatomic particles that constantly pass through matter. A pod pilot is stuck in a pod. No pizza delivery. No beer and pretzels. No Friday nights out on the port. And, the main rub, since the use and control of space is competitive and for all real intents and purposes lawless, your life expectancy in space is laughable, but not funny.
Though New Eden cracked the space travel nut, it wasn't long before the lines for space pilot enlistment dried up as the true nature of the horrific and short-lived lifestyle became apparent.
Enter the human-like clone. Certain corporations offered immortality - let us clone you and your consciousness could live forever. Unfortunately, the reality was that the cloned original would die at the moment consciousness was transferred. In other words, what "lived" forever wasn't you, it was a copy of you. When people figured out that offering yourself up for cloning was a death sentence (it would do you no good that another creature was prancing around with your memories if you're food for worms), the Get Cloned Here lines also dried up.
To make New Eden space travel the thriving enterprise it is today, cloning without the death of a donor had to be perfected. And perfected it was. Corporations are now able to build complete humanoid creatures from basic materials without the need to harvest a living donor.
But, what exactly are these clones? That's a sticky question. It became clear that if they were fully functional human beings we'd be left with the same problem - no thanks, I don't think space is for me. No one in their right mind is going to volunteer to become either a pod pilot or a spaceship crew member. So, what was needed were human-like creatures that could be completely controlled by Operators like me and able to successfully interface with the complex equipment of spaceship systems.
Much of this is kept a secret, to the extent possible. The clones themselves don't have the capacity to strike or revolt, but chances are some segments of the human population would find the way they're used and sacrificed a bit barbaric.