What if I said that in the future women will no longer be beholden to the biological nature of physically giving birth to children? That doesn’t mean children won’t be born; simply they’ll be conceived and brought into this world through what is known as ectogenesis – a scientific process whereby a fetus is grown within an artificial womb. As a result, women would no longer have to suffer through 9 months of emotional stress, not to mention the grueling pain of giving birth soon thereafter.
For a group of students at the ArtEZ University of the Arts, it’s a future that is well on its way, given they’ve just designed a crib that is based on this very concept. Called the Par-tu-ri-ent, this project aimed to create a concept design for an incubation system capable of growing children outside of a mother’s womb. As a result, the Par-tu-ri-ent pod was given birth – an artificial and intelligent incubator that would reside in your home and mimic the intimacy that goes along with the birthing process.
It has a transparent curved lid for parents to keep an eye on the growth of the fetus, a feeding device that can be attached to provide all of the right nutrients, and a communication device for those intimate moments when the parents soothe their child with words and song. The crib also comes with a portable care bag that can be slung over the shoulder and simulate the baby’s kicks. And when one of the parents begins rocking the portable bag, the crib will then simulate the same motion, maintaining a physical bond between the two.
Even though the students don’t actually plan on creating a fully functional ectogenesis pod, the idea will soon transform into reality in the coming years. Scientists have been testing artificial wombs on nonhuman animals for years. We humans will eventually be able to have a go, though not without more research to ensure the safety and efficiency of artificial wombs for human fetuses. For the next five to ten years, research will go on and the idea will continue to be debated.
“The project is intended to offer a realistic impression of what the consequences of the progress of biotechnology and bio-design could be.”
– Fast Co Design
Thirty to fifty years from now, ectogenesis will have become the norm. A large chunk of the human population, if not most of the human population, will opt for their children to be born within artificial wombs. Others will likely prefer the more original means of giving birth, despite the possible risks of doing so. Ultimately, it will become a choice for soon-to-be parents.
Children born through this process will likely show signs of perfect health, as the process of providing the right nutrients, medications, etc. will be far more direct than normal birthing methods. Gene-editing will also likely be involved in the birthing process via ectogenesis, whereby a fetus’s genome will be edited to ensure immunity from diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc. By this time, a new generation will have been born – a generation that will never need to fear disease ever again.
Photo Credit: Artez Product Design Arnhem