Artificial Wombs Are Coming, but the Controversy Is Already Here


Image: Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
Image: Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
Of all the transhumanist technologies coming in the near future, one stands out that both fascinates and perplexes people. It’s called ectogenesis: raising a fetus outside the human body in an artificial womb.

By Zoltan IstvanMotherboard.Vice.com

It has the possibility to change one of the most fundamental acts that most humans experience: the way people go about having children. It also has the possibility to change the way we view the female body and the field of reproductive rights.

Naturally, it’s a social and political minefield.

The term ectogenesis was coined in 1924 by British scientist J.B.S. Haldane. He predicted by 2074 only 30 percent of births would be human births. Science has grown much quicker than he realized, and his take is probably much too conservative. Some futurists like myself (I’m also married to an ObGyn) think ectogenesis will be here in 20 years, and widely used in 30 years around the world.

It’s not an entirely speculative concept; scientists are actively working on developing the technology, primarily for medical reasons. In an article for Reproductive Health and Social Justice, a daily nonprofit publication providing news and analysis on sexual and reproductive health and justice issues, journalist Soraya Chemaly discussed two leading scientists in the ectogenesis field and their projects:

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