Elon Musk, Artificial Wombs, and the Impending Shortage of Mars Colonists

Over the past few years, headlines that are hysterical have been enticing. Twitter exchangeElon Musk, CEO of Tesla, Vitalik Buterin and Sahil, founder and chief executive officer at Gumroad, musing about possible world population collapses and how to make synthetic wombs.

Warning: “Rich men recommend synthetic wombs be replaced by women” Insider Paper. ViceGrumbles: “Cryptocurrency-Titans Newly Obsessed with Artificial Wombs.” You are always trusted Daily StarDeclares that “billionaire crypto geeks want to replace human mothers by’synthetic’ wombs.”

Musk’s tweet that he worried there might not be enough people to move to Mars due to the aforementioned outrage started this ginned-up tempest of moral outrage online. collapsing populationThis century, here on Earth. Musk may not be able to describe collapse, but he is correct that the world’s fertility trends will lead to a peak in the middle of the century. Then the population will plummet back to the level it was by the end of 2100.

Musk’s grim observation regarding the imminent shortage of Mars colonists caused Lavingia, a Twitter user to respond with helpful suggestions for greater investment. synthetic womb technology would make having kids much faster, easier, cheaper, and more accessible. Buterin followed. chimed inA tweet stating that synthetic wombs “would remove the high-burden pregnancy and significantly reduce the inequality” People would be more likely to decant because of the ease with which synthetic wombs allow them to carry offspring. More babies would mean that some children could be Mars colonists.

The headlines may be a bit too dramatic for now, but how far are researchers from creating an artificial womb? Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia published a 2017 study that kept premature lamb fetuses in amniotic fluid bags for four weeks. The researchers are trying to find a way to preserve and deliver extremely premature human embryos. However, it’s a start towards developing artificial wombs suitable for human gestation.

Researchers from Israel reported that their team was able to successfully grow developmentally normal mouse embryos in artificial uteruses. It is amazing because the average length of full-term mouse gestation takes around 20 days. In the future, said Paul Tesar, a developmental biologist at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, “it is not unreasonable that we might have the capacity to develop a human embryo from fertilization to birth entirely outside the uterus.”

Buterin suggested that artificial wombs would level economic play between men and women. This is not true. The main issue with Buterin’s idea of an artificial womb being able to equalize the distribution of labor in child-rearing is it.

Let’s set aside for the time being the social and ethical issues that safely gestating human babies in bottles raise. Let’s instead focus on Musk’s worries about populating his Martian cities.

Evie Kendall, an Australian bioethicist and author of “Ectogenesis: Space Exploration,” wrote that “Ectogenesis” (artificial reproduction technology) can yield many advantages on Earth. It could also provide a sustainable and safe way to colonize an off-world population. To prevent an Earth population decline, you can use artificial wombs instead. It is cheaper to send full-grown human beings to Mars by rocketing eggs or sperm.

Kendall explains that “Gestation foetuses could be kept in a controlled and protected environment to prevent any damage from radiation, nutritional deficiencies, or microgravity.” This way of reproducing would reduce risks for female settlers, and prevent the loss of early settlement workers to mortality and maternal morbidity.

Musk will need to deal with Martians that were born from synthetic wombs. They will be lured by rich fleshpots on the mother planet to abandon colonial life and migrate to Earth.