A new concept for an artificial womb has offered an interesting glimpse at what the future of baby-making could look like, depicting an incubator that operates from out of the parent(s) home.
The concept shows how “similar products may be the future of surrogacy and pregnancy,” according to creators Futurism. It depicts a retrofuturistic incubator, shaped like an egg and complete with a transparent shell, which allows the developing fetus to be fully viewable.
Alongside this incubator, Futurism has also conceptualized a slow in which food of the parent(s) can be distributed into the artificial womb, while they can also communicate with the unborn baby using a separate microphone. This microphone allows the user to communicate with the baby as they are developing.
This concept is obviously not being brought to market, and comparable technology remains a long way off from becoming a potential reality. However, earlier this year a team of researchers managed to successfully design an artificial womb for animals for the first time ever, with doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) managed to successfully grow a lamb in a vessel that could potentially be used as incubation for human babies in the future.
The study, published in Nature Communications (via The Guardian), revealed how a “biobag” had been used in order to keep a lamb fetus in the conditions needed for it to grow. While the study’s authors stated that the technology was not able to support a baby through the entirety of its gestation, it would be able to help babies that had been born prematurely.
Imagine you could design your future son or daughter. What would your perfect child look and act like? What physical and mental traits would you want your child to have?
But perhaps the more important question is this: Would you modify your future child’s traits if you could?
It’s a question all prospective parents may soon have to wrestle with. Recent innovations in gene editing technology have already made it possible to remove certain hereditary diseases from a human embryo’s DNA, which is exactly what a Swedish biologist did last year. However, the technology could theoretically be used one day to create children full of desirable traits and free of any adverse traits their parents don’t want them to have.
In anticipation of these technological advances, Superdrug Online Doctor surveyed 1,000 people, 500 Americans and 500 Europeans, who were either parents or interested in becoming parents and asked them what traits they would modify in their future children if they could. The two most commonly cited traits were health and intelligence.
Men and women agreed intelligence, by far, was the most important mental trait for their children to have. Other commonly desired traits included creativity and kindness.
In terms of physical traits, health was by far the most cited characteristic among both men and women. Everyone agreed weight and attractiveness were of secondary importance, but men prized athletic ability far more than women did.
Based on the survey results, a man’s ideal child is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy of above average height, while a woman’s ideal child is a black-haired, blue-eyed girl of average height.
When asked how much they would pay for these genetic modifications, a plurality of people said they would pay between $1,000 and $5,000 for an intelligent child and $10,000 or more for a healthy child. However, a slight plurality of Europeans said they would only pay between $1,000 and $5,000 for a healthy child.
What Superdrug Online Doctor did not mention was how many respondents said they believed genetic modification of children was unethical, although the report implies respondents were asked that question. A STAT-Harvard poll conducted in January 2016 found a whopping 83 percent of Americans did not think changing the genes of unborn babies to improve their intelligence or physical characteristics should be legal. In fact, 65 percent did not even think changing unborn babies’ genes to reduce their risk of developing certain serious diseases should be legal.