Scientists in China created an AI robot system that cares for human embryos growing in artificial wombs, a report from The Independent reveals.
When we think of AI-monitored humans in artificial wombs we think of the dystopian sci-fi future presented in 'The Matrix'. However, the researchers behind the very real project believe their new system will be a force for good that will help to boost China's population — the country is currently dealing with its lowest birth rate in six decades.
The team, from Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology in China's eastern Jiangsu province, designed the robot to constantly monitor and care for human embryos by adjusting the nutrition, carbon dioxide, and other important factors in the artificial embryos. They claim the new robot-assisted artificial womb is a safer and more efficient method for growing embryos than a natural womb, though no human trials have been conducted so far.
Investigating the 'unsolved mysteries' of embryonic development
The researchers, who outlined their project in a paper in the Journal of Biomedical Engineering, explained how it could rank embryos based on their development potential. The paper also described how the scientists have already tested their system on animal embryos.
In their paper, the researchers say their system could help to uncover "many unsolved mysteries about the physiology of typical human embryonic development." What's more, it could also "also provide a theoretical basis for solving birth defects and other major reproductive health problems."
It's worth noting that the researchers' system is very much in the concept phase, and then there is the fact that they likely wouldn't be cleared for human trials given laws on experimenting with human fetuses. Still, China does have somewhat of a track record for controversial experiments. In 2019, for example, scientists from Spain and China teamed up to develop human-monkey hybrid embryos. What's more, if the situation were to get progressively worse when it comes to China's declining birth rate, the country has been known to take drastic action in the past when it comes to controlling the size of its population.