26 January 2008

Take Cloning, Add Artificial Wombs -- Pretty Soon You've Got Yourself A Brave New World

Considering recent breakthroughs in cloning technology (via JWBats), ongoing research in artificial organs, and ongoing research into ectogenesis--one can easily project a future where embryos are created via cloning or IVF, and implanted into artificial wombs for full gestation until delivery.

Human sperm can be made from mesenchymal tissue, should sperm cell counts continue to drop. Parthenogenic fertilisation of human eggs is another possiblity. The creation of chimeric embryos is an even more potentially radical step toward a new world. With nuclear transfer techniques, what would you get by combining the de-nucleated egg of a chimp with the nucleus of a human skin cell?

There is a lot more in the pipeline than those items. But let's go back to simple IVF combined with a reliable artificial womb. Would there be a demand, and would it be an ethical procedure? My projecto-meter answers yes to both questions. In the western world, particularly, modern women want to have it all. Career, family, children, school-girl figure. One problem is time. Another is biological wear and tear. The artificial womb answers both problems, and others besides.

The ethics have to do more with understanding the things that make us truly human, and the things we only believe make us human. That question is ongoing, but I have my opinions.

What about cloning combined with the artificial womb? That is a very fascinating combination that could lead to a truly startling future. Particularly when you throw hybrids and radical germline engineering into the picture.

But that will have to wait for a future time.

Interesting PopSci article on artificial wombs

A series in Slate by William Saletan

Early stage microfluidic artificial wombs


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Blogger Irish Tory said...

I dont Know about you, but this makes me distinctly uncomfortable!

Saturday, 26 January, 2008  
Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

If anything like this were to be implemented it would be wise for societies to not become too dependent on it and continue to mix in the genes of people who were born via natural birth. Otherwise we could be left with a species which could not perpetuate if a massive solar storm turned off the power (or similar scenario).

I suspect that much of what dissuades people from having larger families is the time and financial constraints. Short of some super VR Matrix-like schooling device keeping them busy in the artificial womb until they are 18, I could not see anyone creating baby hatcheries without a plan to raise them all and giant state-run mass parenting institutions would be a nightmare.

I guess you could say that I am not intrinsically against it but I don't see it working on a practical level during our lifetimes.

Saturday, 26 January, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Well, look at what is happening to Russia, Italy, Spain, Japan. Their populations are shriveling up due to lack of interest in procreating.

It may be too late for Russia, given Czar Vlad's heavy hand on the tiller. For Italy, Spain, and Japan, artificial wombs may actually allow populations to stabilise.

Should those nations depopulate, it would be a terrible waste of good real estate.

Saturday, 26 January, 2008  
Blogger painlord2k@gmail.com said...

The problem, in Italy, is the heavy burden of taxation. Try to raise a family when half of your work go in taxes. And the public services are very unuseful.

If they lower the taxes, the natality and the economy will jump up near immediatly.

Saturday, 26 January, 2008  

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