Andrew enjoys taking a look at where the future is leading us by zooming out and taking a look at the big picture.
Change Is Constant
For millennia, mankind ran after his food, hunting wild beasts with sharp sticks to put dinner on the table. Whether we ate or starved depended on our ability to kill. This way of life, a life of survival, governed every hour of our existence. The hunt dictated where we would live and what we would do with our time. But as time went on, our way of life began to change. We discovered agriculture. We began to bury seeds that would grow into plants and grains. Suddenly, we were able to survive without running after wild animals so often. Now, we could hunker down and stay in one place, establishing the first traces of civilization as we know it.
My point? The only constant is change.
Mankind was forever changed by the agricultural revolution, then the industrial revolution. Now, in the midst of a technological revolution, many more changes are taking place. Perhaps no sector has seen more progress than the medical industry, especially when it comes to childbirth.
The Artificial Womb
Artificial wombs are already under development. As information technology improves at an accelerating rate, so does the rate of innovation. Every day we understand more about how developing embryos grow at a cellular level. Once scientists know exactly how an embryo grows, they can identify the ingredients necessary to spur the development of life. With this knowledge, scientists and biological engineers can create an artificial womb will the ability to support a fetus.
Scientists have been growing cells in labs for decades, including "test tube babies," which were first experimented with in 1977. Today, it's just a matter of closing the gap between fertilization and early cell growth.
The Perils of Pregnancy
Reproduction is the key to mankind's continued existence, but the current method of childbirth, which has remained unchanged for thousands of years, frequently results in the death of the mother or the baby. Fortunately, medical science has continually advanced, reducing the frequency of maternal deaths to only a handful of women per 100,000. Still, childbirth requires prolonged and painful labor, and can result in:
- Premature birth
- Psychological trauma
- Cesarean section (C-section)
- Infection can often result from bleeding
- Vaginal tearing
- Hemorrhage (which can result in death and often does in third world countries)
Additionally, before the birth of the child, pregnancy can cause everything from morning sickness to violent mood swings. The pregnant woman's bodily systems must run at maximum capacity, which can be extremely harmful.
Artificial Wombs Will Make Childbirth Better
Given that pregnancy consists of nine months of torture, and that childbirth may result in the death of either the mother or the child, why not carry a child to term under the best environment possible, where the fetus will be monitored around the clock and have instant access to medical attention?
We've changed the way we live and the way we die. Now it's time to change the way we are born.
What Is an Artificial Womb? (Video)
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2014 Andrew Smith
Leila on December 12, 2018:
Hi I am from Iran and I am completely agree that giving birth is barbaric. Women have to be aware of the right of their selections. Cows give birth like human. I am so sorry if you think I am impolite but it is true. We are human not look like animals. Sex for pleasure is ok and animals do not do it for pleasure. There is a tip for women you are human not a baby maker.
Genevieve O'Dimm on July 03, 2018:
Any woman who would willingly get infected with a parasite is mentally ill. 100% agree.
Andrew Smith (author) from Richmond, VA on December 12, 2016:
@asqa - so you're saying it's a really bad idea, and the person who is ultimately produced from it is essentially no more human than a robot, but if you can't reproduce, it's all good in the hood?
aqsa on December 11, 2016:
thats a very bad idea ....
i mean really outside the womb.. :/
there is a relation between mum n child during these nine months .. thats like producing robots huh ... :/ very stupid idea
but often this can be applied for those who cant reproduce :)
Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on September 13, 2016:
Another dumb idea from science like Thalidomide was. Nuts.
Wow on June 28, 2016:
Really Roningirl, LeslieAdrienne? It matters that a guy wrote this piece? Well, guess what - I'm a woman, and I'd be very interested in this technology (were I to ever change my mind about bringing new humans into the world). I have no intention of ever getting pregnant - it's too risky, and I have better things to do with my life to be honest... (Also - you can easily BUY an artificial penis. It's called a dildo. I don't see men having a problem with that...)
Hentaiclone on June 24, 2016:
Roningirl is an idiot. Not everyone with a vag sees child birth as some beautiful/marvelous event that should give you the warm-fuzzies. I would never consider having a child the old fashioned way. Hell. Naw.
And yes, I have a uterus. One very much closed for business.
Leslie A. Shields from Georgia on June 24, 2016:
I was pondering how I would comment on rhis article when I read Roingirl's comment...... She has spoken heroically and I echo her response wholeheartedly!
You can tell a guy wrote this.....
Michelle on June 24, 2016:
If anyone, including scientists, ever REALLY thought hard about the consequences to the child, they would NEVER give birth, artificially or not. Unfortunately, the mentality (particularly of the Western world) is we get what we want or we do whatever it takes to get it. This is barbaric. We are in the Dark Ages.
Roningirl on June 23, 2016:
This is the most stupid fear-mongering article I've ever read. It's clearly written for and by people without wombs who would more readily reinvent them without "all the mess" than try to understand and marvel at their organic, biological beauty. Since this is my sexual reproductive organ you are hocking here like a shifty car salesman, why not try substituting every "womb" with the word "penis," and see how much traction your idiotic idea gets? ...Btw even if artificial wombs were to become a viable or even attractive option, this article fails miserably to present the merits for choosing such an option or a cogent argument (besides fear of the icky unknown) for when this option would be most desirable to pursue.
Miss on June 23, 2016:
Y'all keep saying "mother", though. What happens if, say, a male-bodied, gay individual uses this technology to bring a child to term? What happens to the idea of "mother" then? What I find most interesting about these technological possibilities is how they would alter the gender system, since gender so far been rooted in reproductive complementarity.
Andrew Smith (author) from Richmond, VA on June 03, 2016:
Well, you're absolutely entitled to your opinion. I believe, however, that the future will hold fewer and fewer who cling to this belief. Ultimately, it's only a guess on my part, and time will tell. I do so look forward to the day when we at least have the choice!
Thanks for taking the time to chime in. It really is appreciated.
Vickie K from New Jersey on June 02, 2016:
This article is very well written and interesting. I found it a bit too clinical in the sense that you have removed all emotion from the matter, and what has more emotion attached to it then pregnancy/child-rearing?
I have been pregnant four times. I have given birth to three babies. I sadly had a miscarriage at the three month mark during my 3rd pregnancy. It was devastating to me. I also had an emergency C-Section with my last pregnancy. I completely agree that there are risks involved with pregnancy, both emotional and physical. That being said, I would NEVER choose to use any womb other then my own. There is an emotional connection and an experience that ought to be had with pregnancy/labor that is well worth the risk.
I suppose the point I am trying to make is this: the act of carrying a baby, and delivering it, is so profound and meaningful that to remove that experience from humanity would be a disservice in my opinion.
Trent Max on August 14, 2015:
Also, all this stuff about experiences in the womb shaping ones later life is marginal at best. We are born tabla rasa and forget most of our earl childhood for a couple of reasons.
First, it's traumatic as hell. Second, the reason it is so traumatic is we have no ability to CONCEPTUALIZE until we attain language. Thus we have no ability to reason and therefore lack our own means of survival; given that reason is man's means of survival as proven by Aristotle and Ayn Rand.
Trent Max on August 14, 2015:
100 years is pessimistic. It's viable now to raise mice in artificial wombs. The biggest obstacle is government regulators. That's the biggest obstacle to most tech advances, of course. And it's getting worse.
Personally, I'm not having kids unless it doesn't matter how old I am or whether or not I have a partner in the process. If it's not possible in the next 30 years, it means that society is going backward and we are heading for a new Dark Age, thanks to the same causes as the last one: the combination of government and religion.
Andrew Smith (author) from Richmond, VA on May 18, 2015:
Very interesting take, Erik. I disagree fundamentally that we are moving steadily toward a society more divided than before. Contrary to this view, all evidence points toward poverty declining, and the gap is narrowing, not widening. Nevertheless, you're right - we will have to remain vigilant.
I'm unconvinced that there is some kind of magical, spiritual, irreplicable bond between mother and child. There is evidence that a lot goes on during the pregnancy that we don't understand, but there is no evidence whatsoever that we will never understand this well enough to replicate it exactly.
Erik van Lennep on May 18, 2015:
Look for a massive rise in sociopathic beings coming into the world via artificial wombs, as well as people with profound senses of disconnect, rootlessness and other profound psycho-spiritual disorders. As the world will likely be even more divided along wealth=class lines by then, early uptake will be by the wealthier, who will have better access to leadership roles. This technology will likely tip the tables toward an even less empathic, far more sociopathic leadership cartel than we currently have.
Seems much of the justification for this technology is still based in the 19th century move to reclassify pregnancy as a disease. Something very successfully done by the medical cartels of the time.
Andrew Smith (author) from Richmond, VA on January 17, 2015:
Ian - Valid points. I do think this is very much a possibility, once we better understand the mother/child connection. First will be fetuses that otherwise would be completely doomed (say mothers who die early on in pregnancy), and once that is successful, we'll graduate to less urgent situations, ultimately making ectogenesis for everyone.
Ian Shankey on January 17, 2015:
A big part of the Child's development In Utero is the constant feed back from the mother; her voice, touch, heartbeat, etc. I think you'd have to have some sort of future internet based, 2-way communication & feedback system, where the mother's mind is connected to the artificial womb, and in some way she could talk to & touch the outside of the womb, providing the intimacy & familiarity the child would need to develop in a healthy manner.
rudini on December 20, 2014:
Andrew Smith (author) from Richmond, VA on December 19, 2014:
You might be thinking of 2045, the hypothetical "magic date" Ray Kurzweil predicts.
Ricky Ricardo on December 19, 2014:
Isn't The Singularity supposed to arrive in the 2020's? We'll all be uploaded by then, so the very thought of birth will be obsolete, whether it involves a human or not.
oldestgeek on December 19, 2014:
Anything 100 years out is a fantasy not a prediction.
Andrew Smith (author) from Richmond, VA on September 26, 2014:
Absolutely, Glenn. That's the main reason I allowed for 100 years with my (somewhat audacious) headline: we need a lot of time to work out the kinks. Having said that, though, there is simply no justifiable reason to put a mother's life at risk if we can work out the emotional and other unforeseen aspects with artificial womb use.
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on September 26, 2014:
The human race is the only species that changes nature. It's interesting that the concept of pregnancy in an artificial womb is potentially possible. There are other things to consider besides feeding the embryo and waste removal. For example, it is known that the fetus experiences what the mother is going through, and this can affect it's future. So I wonder how it's life will be different when it develops in an artificial womb. There may be new kinds of psychological circumstances that are not presently known.
JG11Bravo on August 12, 2014:
Interesting prerogative. I admit I was entirely unaware that artificial wombs were becoming any sort of viable.
Hentaiclone on August 12, 2014:
Not that I would ever want to have a biological child of my own, but if I did in some strange parallel universe, I would only consider going into production if "outside of the womb" was a financially feasible option. My uterus is not an oven. No thanks. DO. NOT. WANT. Yucky.