It is no secret that humans are having fewer babies. More and more people are deciding to forgo parenthood, on top of the number of people who would like to be parents but for whatever reason are unable. With the human population set to decline drastically over the next century, people are looking for other ways to make becoming a parent easier. Chinese scientists have developed an AI robotic “nanny”- that is, an artificial womb that can grow a fetus into fully-formed babies.

Chinese Scientists Created Robot “Nanny” That Simulates The Womb

A group of Chinese scientists has come up with another potential solution to the dwindling world population: An AI robot “nanny” that monitors and cares for human embryos growing in artificial wombs. The birth rate in China is the lowest it has been in six decades and has caused concern in the country about an imminent population crisis. Scientists are experimenting with these artificial wombs and robot ‘nannies’ as a potential solution to the problem. (1)

Researchers at the Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology in China’s eastern Jiangsu province developed this AI robot to ensure the environment in the artificial wombs is just right. The nanny observes, documents, and manually adjusts the carbon dioxide, nutrition, and other environmental inputs constantly. Apparently, the robot is also capable of ranking each embryo’s potential. (2)

“There are still many unsolved mysteries about the physiology of typical human embryonic development,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “[This technology will] not only help further understand the origin of life and embryonic development of humans, but also provide a theoretical basis for solving birth defects and other major reproductive health problems.”

A Safer Environment?

Scientists say that artificial wombs actually provide a safer environment for the growing fetus than a mother’s womb. Naturally, there are zero conflicts with outside life and environmental factors. For example, being a machine as opposed to a human, one can make sure that the growing baby receives perfect daily nutrition. There is no worry about pollutants or toxins such as cigarette smoking or alcohol consumption. (3)

Naturally, there are benefits to a situation such as this. For example, couples who are unable to get pregnant could use this rather than trying to find a surrogate. It also may help encourage some women to want to have children if they know they don’t have to go through the challenge of carrying and birthing that child. What’s more, say a mother gets in an accident and dies or becomes comatose, these artificial wombs and nannies can be a safe second option so that the fetus can continue to mature without their mom.

Legal and Ethical Concerns

Of course, this is highly controversial technology. First of all, there are an overwhelming number of people who do not like the idea of babies not being grown in a natural environment. Many argue that the love and care that a mother transmits to her growing child throughout the pregnancy process will be lost in this situation. Regardless of perfect nutrition and environment, the lost love is something that many argue is priceless. A human mother, after all, talks to her baby and begins caring for that baby emotionally long before it is born. This undoubtedly has an impact on the health and wellbeing of that child. (4)

On top of that, there are actual legal issues with this kind of technology. Currently, the scientists are using mice embryos with this technology because international law prohibits them from using human ones. This means that the technology might not work in exactly the same way on humans. The technology will need to be developed further before discussions can be considered for using the robot nannies to help grow human embryos in artificial wombs. What do you think? Could there be a place for artificial wombs and caregivers in the world of human reproduction? Or, do you think we should leave this one up to nature?

 

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