Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bottle Babies

It seems that it may be possible to grow a baby in an artificial womb. At least, scientists managed to keep human embryos alive and growing healthy until the now traditional 14 day limit. We don't know what would happen if they continued.

Artificial wombs are a science fiction trope - one which has been explored in numerous works since Brave New World. For some interesting implications, I recommend C.J. Cherryh's Cyteen, Regenesis and Serpent's Reach. Also Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga and, most especially, the related novella Ethan of Athos (which can be found in Miles, Mystery and Mayhe).

Embryos can self-organize without input from the mother, is the big discovery. Actually carrying a child to term in the lab is not something the scientists say will happen any time soon.

But what if we could?

It would disrupt human society more than almost any other technological development. The ethics of surrogate motherhood, for example, can get challenging...