Artificial womb: Video shows what pregnancy may be like in the future

Would you want to take one home if it freed you up from the hassles of pregnancy?
Ameya Paleja
EctoLife: The world’s first artificial womb facility.
EctoLife: The world’s first artificial womb facility.

Hashem Al-Ghaili/ YouTube  

The concept of the world's first-ever artificial womb facility has been unveiled. Called EctoLife, the facility can produce up to 30,000 babies every year. The use of the word "produce" is deliberate since, as one can see in the video below, the facility aims to give parents a wide range of tools to get a baby customized to their desires.

The concept and need for such a facility are pretty clear. The global human population is now reaching its peak and is expected to fall from here. The world's richest person, Elon Musk, has been vocal about this and, by fathering nine children so far, believes he is doing his best to prevent the world from suffering a population collapse.

Others though are looking at technology to address this need for a younger population that will support the global economy in the decades to come. According to a UN report, countries like Spain, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, and Portugal are among 23 such countries that are at the forefront of such a crisis.

Back in 2017, researchers built a BioBag that contained all the necessary components to make an artificial womb and grew a baby lamb in it, a Forbes report said. The EctoLife concept aims to scale this up to an industrial level and apply this to humans instead.

How can EctoLife help?

As seen in the video, a facility like EctoLife can help parents have children without having to go through pregnancy or even conception. It is well known now that fertility rates have been dropping drastically in the past few decades. Last month, Interesting Engineering reported how sperm count had declined 51 percent in the last 46 years.

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A facility like EctoLife can improve the success rate of conception by using procedures like in-vitro fertilization and then transplanting the fertilized embryo directly into the artificial womb. Here, the growth and development of the fetus can be monitored 24/7, and timely interventions made to prevent the loss of pregnancy.

Artificial womb: Video shows what pregnancy may be like in the future
An EctoLife Pod could be installed inside your home too

Parents could simply turn up on the date of maturity to pick up their baby or be involved in the pregnancy through tools such as virtual reality, a haptic feedback body suite, or access audio-visual feed through their phones. Even a Cesarean section delivery is a bloodbath, but a baby delivered through an artificial womb such as EctoLife could effectively be delivered without any blood loss in the future.

The purpose of the video

Just to clarify, EctoLife isn't an actual company or research organization that is aiming to provide such a service anytime soon. Rather, the concept has been shared by video creator and science communicator, Hashem Al-Ghaili, who has previously shared ideas like a nuclear-powered hotel that never lands.

With EctoLife, Al-Ghaili has once again brought into realistic domains an idea that many would consider outlandish or impossible. Yet, his video creation makes it look that technology and science are within grasp, and such a future is not very far away.

What Al-Ghaili also manages with this video is bringing to the fore discussions about the ethics of such a technology, where parents could be given the option to tweak multiple characteristics of their unborn child, which could even lead to a race for a "super baby" someday.

Clearly, a technology like this would be a boon for those who cannot conceive or have a history of miscarriages or genetic conditions in the family. But if fertility rates keep dropping and the global north has a population crisis, this could soon become the mainstream way to have children.

The video surely raises more questions for us to ponder and makes for an interesting share.