Re[2]: Key Breakthrough in Human History (see p. 16)

Guru George (
Mon, 21 Jul 1997 23:05:47 +0100

On Mon, 21 Jul 1997 11:18:55 +0200 (MET DST)
Anders Sandberg <> wrote:

>On Sun, 20 Jul 1997, Guru George wrote:
>> Actually I would be *very* cautious about this. What worries me is this
>> : there's a lot of evidence to suggest that infants are a bundle of
>> expectations - possibilities waiting to be fulfilled by events in the
>> world.
>Hmm, exactly what evidence do you refer to here? You wording is
>rather fuzzy.

Lots of stuff I've picked up here and there- especially the physiologically
oriented research on myelinisation of the infant brain towards the end
of pregnancy being sufficient to mediate some emotional responses. Also
cognitive psychology as a whole, which suggests the general pattern that
the brain works that way (lock/key) - e.g. Dennet, Edelman. Also Oliver
Sacks' book on deaf people learning language (was it? - my memory is
really pretty crap, so I'm the wrong person to ask for precise details
about anything!)

>> Artificial wombs would have many positive benefits, for sure, but I
>> worry that infants raised in them might be mentally disturbed by the
>> lack of typical womb-like sounds and sensations, and also the responsiveness
>> and 'feedback' or 'communication' between mother and child in-womb (e.g.
>> infant shifts position, mother shifts position, stuff like that).
>That ought to be noticeable in the sheep that are brought up this way
>(it is very unlikely basal stuff like this would be restricted only
>to humans; mammals in general have some clever ways of ensuring the
>mother-child bond and emotional development). If it really is
>important with a more natural artificial womb the lambs ought to show
>averse emotional reactions when brought up.

Hmm - would we recognise what a disturbed lamb would be like? That sort
of thing requires a bit of the old *verstehen* I think, and I'm not so
confident that the kinds of researchers involved in these projects would
notice - not that they're bad of course (it's not their speciality), but
I would be more confident if they recognised the importance of the kind
of point I am making, and had (say) some cognitive psychologists or
maybe even psychotherapists along for the ride, looking out for just
this sort of problem. I do think it's extremely important to check this
out before we create a generation of psychos by accident or oversight.

>My personal main worry about the procedure (as shown in the brief
>film clip I saw) was that the womb was transparent and in a lighted
>room. I'm not certain, but this *could* affect the development of
>vision (both positively and negatively).
>We'll see when the data is published.

I hope so - as I say, I'm not that confident that the kind of scientist
involved in this kind of research is competent to notice the kind of
problems we're talking about.

Guru George