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MACHINE MOTHER: The human factory is coming, which means it’s great that I’m old

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embergyár, gépanya / human factory, machine-mother
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The topic of the human factory has been popping up in the media for some time now, but no one is really taking it seriously. I myself came across a piece of news stating that the first baby conceived with the help of robots has been born. Overture Life, the startup developing the robots involved in the process, hopes that this could be the first step towards automating artificial insemination. Last spring, a sperm injection robot was launched from Barcelona to the New Hope Fertility Center clinic in New York, where an engineer used a Sony PlayStation 5 controller to set the robot’s needle and fertilize an “unprotected” egg.

They created two baby girls

They used the robot to fertilize a total of ten eggs, and according to a report by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), the result was healthy embryos and the birth of two baby girls.

The idea is that this automated process would be significantly cheaper than the current method, which involves highly trained experts and large laboratories performing the procedure manually.

embergyár, gépanya

Csecsemőinkubátor az embergyárban az EctiLife filmje szerint (Forrás: Twitter)

This is not particularly terrible, in fact, it’s humane, as it allows childless couples who could not afford it before to have access to artificial insemination.

For those who may not know, because they’ve been living in a fully comfortable cave for the last 30-40 years, an artificially fertilized egg is placed back into the mother’s womb, and if all goes well, the baby develops naturally from that point on.

However, this is still far from the human factory, where these artificially fertilized eggs are placed in an artificial womb and grown there until the baby is “born.”

WTF is the human factory?

In 2022, a Berlin-based molecular biologist and showman, Hashem Al-Ghaili, and his company EctoLife, announced this with great fanfare, albeit still only at the level of a clever movie.

The human factory, which would refute the Black Mirror series, could produce 30,000 newborns per year. But Al-Ghalili also suggests that he can offer a premium package to the public, allowing them to choose the sex, eye color, hair color, skin color of their child, and even make them stronger and smarter through gene editing.

If someone is really filthy rich, they can buy their own private artificial womb and “expand their family” as they see fit when the time is right. So, the EctoLife case seems more like a scam than a serious matter – they deceive the more naive investors, then quietly go bankrupt and disappear with the money.

However, although not yet on an industrial scale, artificial wombs already exist in some places, such as Israel, the United States, the Netherlands, China, and who knows where else, as such things can be hidden very nicely anywhere, even in the middle of a big city without the need for Area 51.

And now, there is no need for human donors, as seen with eggs and sperm. Israeli researchers announced in 2021 that they were able to create fully developed mouse embryos with the help of stem cells and artificial wombs.

What about Europe?

According to publicly available sources, the EU project led by Eindhoven University of Technology has made the most progress: Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands) – EU funding: 792,500 EUR, University Hospital Aachen (Germany) – EU funding: 831,943 EUR, Lifetec Group BV (Netherlands) – EU funding: 451,875 EUR, Politecnico di Milano (Italy) – EU funding: 400,000 EUR, Nemo Healthcare BV (Netherlands) – EU funding: 399,812.50 EUR.

embergyár, gépanya

Majdnem olyan, mint az igazi, csak nem kell levinni , robotkutya az Eindhoveni Műszaki Egyetemen (Forrás: TU/e)

According to scientists, the goal of the project is to help extremely premature babies survive the critical 24-28 week period. Every day that the fetus spends in the artificial womb until the 24th week increases its chances of survival.

If doctor-scientists can extend the fetal development of these babies in the artificial womb to 28 weeks with the help of the “machine mother,” they can reduce the risk of early mortality to 15%.

For understandable reasons, we do not know where the French army stands with the development of “super soldiers” announced in winter 2020.

Do we need this?

We don’t think so, because its impact on society is unpredictable and unforeseeable.

This issue has been explored several times by science fiction writers, from Huxley to The Matrix, and of course, there is the aforementioned Black Mirror series, and in none of these cases is the picture painted completely happy.

Will there be a human factory? Of course, there will be, no matter how much we protest against it. 

If we are lucky, we will open a program to settle the galaxy in the meantime, and then all of this will not be so terrible because we cannot present enough settlers naturally. 

Not to mention that the human factory will come in handy if the galaxy is not a particularly peaceful place, and we will need to open up a way with weapons. In any case, I am very happy that I probably will not live to see it.

A BALK Hírlevele


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