EctoLife is a concept that offers parents to ‘produce’ customised babies with the help of artificial wombs. An ‘Elite Package’ would allow people to choose their baby’s level of intelligence, height, hair, eye colour, physical strength and even skin tone
Have you ever imagined a baby being ‘produced’ in a factory-like environment? In what looks like a scene from Keanu Reeves’ Matrix, a video of rows of babies being grown inside a pod has got many talking about the future of pregnancies.
See Also: Healthy foods to eat as a pregnant woman
EctoLife, the “world’s first artificial womb facility” is just a concept for now, which offers a way for parents to produce customised babies.
The concept is the brainchild of Berlin-based Hashem Al-Ghaili, a producer, filmmaker and science communicator and “molecular biologist by trade”, as per his website.
What is the ‘artificial womb facility’? What are its features and why is EctoLife needed? Let’s take a look.
EctoLife – What you need to know
The concept of EctoLife is based on over fifty years of “groundbreaking scientific research” by researchers globally, says Al-Ghaili.
It will be able to develop 30,000 babies a year in a lab in transparent “growth pods”.
The facility — which would run on renewable energy — plans to house 75 labs, each equipped with up to 400 growth pods or artificial wombs, reports UK’s Metro newspaper.
These pods are designed to provide the same environment that is present inside a mother’s womb.
Parents can keep a track of their baby’s growth and development through a screen on the pods that showcase real-time data, as per Metro.
This data can also be monitored via an app on the phone.
“The artificial-intelligence based system also monitors the physical features of your baby and reports any potential genetic abnormalities”, Al-Ghaili was quoted as saying by Mirror.co.uk.
During the time of delivery, the baby can be removed from the pod with the “push of a button”.
“EctoLife provides you a safe, pain-free alternative that helps you deliver your baby without stress. The delivery process is smooth, convenient, and can be done with just a push of a button”, a statement was cited by Metro.
“After discharging the amniotic fluid from the artificial womb, you will be able to easily remove your baby from the growth pod”, it further explained.
You might also like: How to avoid unnecessary Pressure in Your Life
How much does ectolife artificial womb cost?
If donated eggs or a surrogate womb are required, the costs skyrocket above $100,000.
Ectolife: Artificial wombs
Al-Ghaili believes that artificial womb facilities could become a reality in 10 years or so if ethical restrictions are removed, reports Mirror.co.uk.
“Every single feature mentioned in the concept is 100 per cent science-based and has already been achieved by scientists and engineers”, he said.
“The only thing left is building a prototype by combining all the features into a single device”, the filmmaker was quoted as saying by Mirror.co.uk.
He says once ethical constraints are relaxed, people can be willing to adopt the technology in the near future.
“In terms of timeframe, it really depends on the ethical guidelines. Right now, research on human embryos is not allowed beyond 14 days. After 14 days, embryos must be destroyed due to ethical concerns”, the producer said.
“If these ethical restrictions are relaxed, I give it 10 to 15 years before EctoLife becomes widely used everywhere”, he stated, as per Metro.
“Add to that five years of public awareness and education to help people become more receptive to the technology”, Al-Ghaili added.
Ectolife: ‘Elite Package’
An ‘Elite Package’ would allow people to “genetically engineer the embryo before implanting it into the artificial womb”, says Mirror.co.uk.
Parents can select their baby’s level of intelligence, height, hair, eye colour, physical strength and skin tone.
Thanks to CRISPR-Cas 9 gene editing tool, you can edit any trait of your baby through a wide range of over 300 genes”, a statement said, as per Metro.
The ‘Elite Package’ will also let parents “fix any inherited genetic diseases”.
Ectolife: Need for artificial womb
EctoLife provides an option for parents to have children without going through pregnancy or even conception, notes Interesting Engineering (IE).
Al-Ghaili claims the artificial womb facility can “help” countries facing the problem of a declining population such as Japan, Bulgaria, and South Korea among others.
It also aims to facilitate infertile couples to become parents of their own biological offspring.
The filmmaker believes the technology can be a solution for women who had their uterus removed due to cancer or other factors.
Watch the video below: