Re: human evolution and artificial birth

From: zeb haradon (
Date: Wed Jun 28 2000 - 19:09:45 MDT

>From: Anders Sandberg <>
>Subject: Re: human evolution and artificial birth
>Date: 28 Jun 2000 22:22:09 +0200
>"zeb haradon" <> writes:
> > - Although I am not aware of any particular progress towards this goal,
> > makes perfect sense that soon, physical birth will be a thing of the
> > It's dangerous, takes up a lot of time and energy, and I hear that it
> > hurts too. If I see a company which is making any progress towards
> > birth (via some kind of incubator), I'm going to invest my life savings.
>I wouldn't at first. While I agree that in vitro wombs make excellent
>sense (once the technology is developed far enough) *rationally*,
>childbearing is an intensely emotional, (dare I say it?) spiritual and
>socioculturally enmeshed affair that radical changes of it will at
>best take time. There will likely be some demand for it, and it might
>increase over time, but I wouldn't expect a sizeable group of parents
>immediately adopting it. It is something new, possibly frightening,
>expensive and lacks the emotional buffering caused by a traditional

My expectation on early adoption would be that many pregnancies would still
be natural, because many pregnancies are accidental - or semi-accidental
(someone wants to have children at one point, or whenever it happens, and
one day it happens). Among people planning to have children, I'd think maybe

> > - It is possible to seperate X-chromosome bearing sperm from
> > bearing sperm in a test tube, thus making it possible to choose the
> > 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
> > of this technology is based on the fact that it will skew gender
> > 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
> > in Afghanistan, I would expect a 90/10 skew. The short term, social
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > the "least fit" males and females. If only 11% of the male population
> > 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
> > sense is debatable.
>You assume several things here that I find doubtful.
>First is that a gender inbalance would reinforce the misogynic
>tendencies, when it could just as well lead to an increased value of

I'd considered this but didn't mention it in my post because I was thinking
mainly about the biological - I think there would be an "increase in value"
for women, but as property. I do not think it would lead to greater freedom
and independence. In countries where women are already treated as property,
such as Afghanistan, this would lead to a superficial improvement in the
quality of life for women.
Something I hadn't considered - would these nations take part in the
practice? Afghanistan is not exactly a center of scientific research. I
guess I would expect them to, but only several decades after it were

>Second, you assume that fit individuals in a population where few can
>reproduce will hook up with each other. First, fitness in an
>evolutionary sense (many grandchildren) have little to do with
>survival, health and wealth accumulation today - it would be the
>people who reproduced more that would be the winners, and as a general
>rule the higher the level of education and social status in modern
>societies the fewer kids on average. Second, you assume that in this
>scenario the good properties would be significantly inhereited
>(genetically or memetically) - this may hold only for some
>properties. Third, it assumes that only the best mate with the best,
>which is also not necessarily true.

I'm very aware of the fact that my sense of what it "Best", in the moral
sense, correlates only slightly with what is "best" in the Darwinian sense.
But, in the Darwinian sense, I think that the "best" do hook up with
eachother. People generally end up paired with others of similar
attractiveness. Think of people you know - I am sure that many instances
will spring to mind immediately where this is not true, where a very
physically unnatractive person has a very attractive mate - but these are
exceptions and definitely not the majority. Just look around next time you
are in a restaurant.

>Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
>GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

Zeb Haradon (
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