Science & Tech

Scientist unveils prospect of human ‘factory’ growing thousands of babies a year

Elon Musk Warns Record Low Birth Rate May Lead to Scenario Where …

A new video has offered an unsettling glimpse of the future, thanks to a concept that promises to “reinvent the evolution” of humankind.

EctoLife, the “world’s first artificial womb facility”, would grow 30,000 babies a year inside transparent pods designed to “replicate the exact conditions that exist inside the mother's uterus.”

During a virtual tour of the facility, we are told that the pods would make premature births, C-sections, miscarriage and low sperm count a thing of the past, and would be the “perfect solution for women who had their uterus surgically removed due to cancer or other complications.”

The idea is the brainchild of biotechnologist Hashem Al-Ghaili, and is the result of 70 years of groundbreaking research, according to the eight-minute-long clip.

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Al-Ghaili and his team are touting the system as a solution to the global crisis of depleting birth rates – an issue which Elon Musk has described as one of the “biggest risks to civilization”.

They also suggest it would put an end to the 300,000 deaths from pregnancy complications each year, thereby “alleviating human suffering”.

And if this all sounds… pretty good actually, wait. Because it gets more unsettling.

The video clarifies that parents wouldn’t have to “visit our factory,” they could take their baby-pods home thanks to “miniaturised, bioreactors and long-lasting batteries”.

From there, they would be able to play a “wide range of words and music to [their] baby” via the pod’s internal speakers and even use a virtual reality headset to explore “what it’s like to be in [their] baby’s place.”

EctoLife: The World’s First Artificial Womb FacilityThe world's first artificial womb facility, EctoLife, will be able to grow 30000 babies a year. It's based on over 50 years of ...

The clip explores more of the pod’s state-of-the-art features, including “sensors that can monitor your baby's vital signs, including heartbeat, temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, and oxygen saturation.”

“The artificial intelligence-based system also monitors the physical features of your baby and reports any potential genetic abnormalities,” it continues.

Can you see where this is going?

“Prior to placing the fertilised embryo of your baby inside the growth pod, in vitro fertilisation is used to create and select the most viable and genetically superior embryo, giving your baby a chance to develop without any biological hurdles,” our narrator goes on.

“And if you want your baby to stand out and have a brighter future, our elite package offers you the opportunity to genetically engineer the embryo before implanting it into the artificial womb.”

We are then told about a sophisticated gene-editing tool that would enable parents to “edit any trait of [their] baby through a wide range of over 300 genes”.

The narrator explains: “The elite package allows you to customise your baby's eye colour, hair colour, skin tone, physical strength, height, and level of intelligence.

"It also allows you to fix any inherited genetic diseases that are part of your family history so that your baby and their offspring will live a healthy, comfortable life free of genetic diseases.”

"Elite" users would be able to select key physical traits and characteristics Hashem Al-Ghaili/YouTube

So… eugenics then.

Suffice it to say, viewers have been both fascinated and appalled by the hypothetical technology, with one Instagram user commenting: “What next? Hop in the car to [buy] your baby off the shelf from a retailer? Maybe just order one next-day shipping from Amazon?”

Another fumed: “Mankind fails yet again to realise that humans are humans and not commodities. They offer a utopia without any sacrifice or love for that matter. It’s all about convenience and comfort. It’s not ethical or moral.”

Meanwhile, movie fans have inevitably noted the similarities between the EctoLife facility and sci-fi classic The Matrix.

Quoting the character Morpheus, one wrote simply: "’There are endless fields where human beings are no longer born – we are grown.”

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