Re: human evolution and artificial birth

From: John M Grigg (
Date: Wed Jun 28 2000 - 01:55:45 MDT


I enjoyed your post about artificial wombs for humans. I have pondered this topic too. I am concerned about the artificial/mechanical environment of an artificial womb. I have heard the voice of the mother and even the father(if around much) can have an effect on the unborn child. Without this I wonder what the problems/differences might arise? A baby with an attachment disorder? An affinity for machines? I realize tapes could be made and constantly played of the mothers voice, heartbeat, etc. to try to make things more natural.

If I remember correctly, in Japan a lab brought a baby goat to term in an artificial womb. But the scientist said that human biology is more complex and would take time to master. He felt with permission and sufficient funding he could probably do it, but it would be nowhere as easy(technically) as with the goat.

I could see career women flocking to companies which offer this service! They can continue their job without the discomforts of pregnancy and of course birth. And you could plan ahead for the birth party! I realize some groups will fight it but to me the writing is on the wall.

Your comments about brain size vrs. birth canal size is food for thought. But to gain larger brains I would thing genegineering would have to take place. This raises the classic question of haves vrs. have-nots. It could be VERY expensive to pay for an artificial womb. The poor will be left out in the cold on this one. Class struggle and strife could really increase as we all know.

As for nations where with present biotech they kill their female offspring, what fools! Smuggling girls from one poor country to another will become huge business. The very prospect is so horrible. Even with that, violence and homicide over the available supply of women will skyrocket.


John Grigg

On Wed, 28 Jun 2000 02:18:10
 zeb haradon wrote:
>I was thinking about mid-tech artificial birth (artificial insemination,
>artificial wombs) and the way it will effect human evolution. Overall, it
>would be positive. I'm pretty sure that with genetic engineering, much of
>this may be superceded by direct manipulation, but if genetic engineering
>did not exist (and even if it's banned, how long will that last? A few
>generations maximum), the technological changes going on in the world of
>fertility medicine provide a lot of opportunity for Darwinian evolution.
>Here's two I came up with which I thought were interesting, so I'm tossing
>them out for discussion:
>- Although I am not aware of any particular progress towards this goal, it
>makes perfect sense that soon, physical birth will be a thing of the past.
>It's dangerous, takes up a lot of time and energy, and I hear that it really
>hurts too. If I see a company which is making any progress towards womb-less
>birth (via some kind of incubator), I'm going to invest my life savings.
>What this means for human evolution is a massive increase in brain size. The
>only thing limiting the brain size right now is the narrowness of the birth
>canal. Intelligence is a valuable survival trait, and that's why it's
>genetically worth the increase in childbirth deaths that humans experience.
>It makes perfect Darwinian sense to assume that the death rate for
>childbirth (meaning for the woman giving birth) and the size of the brain
>are perfectly balanced for maximum benefit/minimum loss. When the
>death-during-childbirth factor is removed, there's no limit on the size of
>the brain. (OT: here's a great news story related to this topic:
> ).
>- It is possible to seperate X-chromosome bearing sperm from Y-chromosome
>bearing sperm in a test tube, thus making it possible to choose the gender
>of your child (and I think it is even being practiced somewhat). In many
>cultures, female children are not valued as much as men children. The fear
>of this technology is based on the fact that it will skew gender populations
>as almost everyone chooses to have male children. I would not expect this to
>be widespread at least in US culture, although a 60/40 skew is not
>unimagineable. In extreme male-supremecist cultures like that being endorsed
>in Afghanistan, I would expect a 90/10 skew. The short term, social effects
>of this would be bad. I'd expect to see an intensification of attitudes
>which treat women as property. Long term and biologically, I'd expect to see
>a general increase in any ability which has to do with survival, health,
>wealth accumulation, and attracting a mate. The reason for this is that if
>only 10% of the population were female, only 20% of the population would
>breed. With the roughly 50/50 mix we have now, anyone who is fertile can
>have a child. The "most fit" males and females hookup with eachother, as do
>the "least fit" males and females. If only 11% of the male population was
>breeding, the "least fit" 89% would be weeded out. In this case, whether
>"fit" in the Darwinian sense correlates with good or desirable in the moral
>sense is debatable.
>Zeb Haradon (
>My personal webpage:
>A movie I'm directing:
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