New Artificial Wombs Could Pave a Better Future for Everyone
In 2017, scientists created a BioBag, the first artificial womb used to grow a baby lamb. So it was only a matter of time before this new concept would be considered for growing a human baby. And recently, the idea of an artificial womb facility called EctoLife brought some attention to what childbirth might look like in the future.
According to the World Health Organization, about 15% of reproductive-aged couples worldwide are affected by infertility. For instance, 9% of men and about 11% of women of reproductive age in the United States have experienced fertility problems. In this situation, the EctoLife concept may become life-changing for many people who struggle to conceive a baby.
Its creator, Hashem Al-Ghaili, also believes it will make miscarriages, premature births, and C-sections a thing of the past, not to mention all the other risks for women’s health during pregnancy or complications shortly afterward. In addition to the time of Semmelweis, it may be the second time we could save thousands of lives around the globe.
The EctoLife, in general, is the concept of a large facility with 75 highly equipped labs that would be powered by renewable energy. Each of these labs would be able to accommodate up to 400 growth pods meant to replicate the exact conditions inside a mother’s uterus.
Any diseases or sudden changes in the baby’s state will be almost impossible due to the infection-free environment of the pods. They will also feature sensors that monitor the baby’s vital signs 24/7. And if the artificial intelligence-based system spots any potential abnormalities, it will immediately report them to be fixed.
This may be an extremely new experience for future parents as well. In his video, Hashem Al-Ghaili suggests that they will be able to monitor their child’s progress right on their smartphones. A special app will provide them with a high-resolution live view too. And they will be able to share that footage with their loved ones.
It’s known that babies can recognize language and learn while they are still in the womb. Because of this, Al-Ghaili also thinks it would be better to equip the growth pods with internal speakers so parents can choose a playlist and play music for their child. Or maybe they’ll want to sing with their own voices to help get the baby more familiar with them before birth.
One more good thing in this sci-fi scenario is that women can forget about the pain of childbirth forever. EctoLife is supposed to provide a safe and pain-free alternative to natural birth. The delivery will be done with just the push of a button, so you and your partner can enjoy the whole process.
The growth pods won’t need too much energy, and their long-lasting batteries will allow parents to incubate their babies right at home. And then the babies will be “delivered” into this world safe and sound, with all the comfort they need at such a moment.
Today, this idea is still purely an imaginative creative exercise. And in the future, even with all the necessary technology, we’ll still face many ethical issues.
However, many great inventions in history started as extravagant ideas. And only then did they all develop into new technology many used to consider a mere fantasy. Where will we end up with this one?