The company EctoLife have revealed the world’s first artificial womb facility which offers customers baby characteristics to choose from on a menu.
The facility is capable of growing 30,000 babies a year and claims to be based on over fifty years of scientific research.
The concept is the brainchild of Berlin-based Hashem Al-Ghaili, a biotechnologist and science communicator. He says the facilities will enable infertile couples to conceive a baby and become the true biological parents of their own children.
There is also an ‘Elite Package’ an offer that offers would-be parents the opportunity to genetically engineer the embryo before implanting it into the artificial womb.
Everything from eye and hair colour to strength, height, and intelligence can be chosen, and inherited genetic diseases can be avoided.
In a promotion of the company Hashem said: ‘Introducing EctoLife, the world’s first artificial womb facility, which is powered entirely by renewable energy.
Hashem believes the technology is available already, and only ethical constraints are holding the concept back from reality.
He stated: “Every single feature mentioned in the concept is 100 percent science-based and has already been achieved by scientists and engineers.
He went on ro say: “In terms of timeframe, it really depends on the ethical guidelines. Right now, research on human embryos is not allowed beyond 14 days. After 14 days, embryos must be destroyed due to ethical concerns.”
“If these ethical restrictions are relaxed, I give it 10 to 15 years before EctoLife becomes widely used everywhere,” Hashem said.
The facility features 75 highly equipped labs, with each able to accommodate up to 400 growth pods or artificial wombs.
Every pod is designed to replicate the exact conditions that exist inside the mother’s uterus. A single building can incubate up to 30,000 lab-grown babies per year.
The pods are equipped with a screen that displays real-time data on the developmental progress of the baby. The data can also be viewed via a phone app.
It is broadly thought that babies recognise language and learn words while still in the womb, EctoLife growth pods feature internal speakers that play a wide range of words and music to your baby.
An app allows a choice of playlist baby listens to and the ability to sing directly to them to gain familiarity with your voice before birth.
In a statement the company summarised: “EctoLife provides you a safe, pain-free alternative that helps you deliver your baby without stress. The delivery process is smooth, convenient, and can be done with just a push of a button.”
Many critics have questioned the broader implications of an artificial womb facility and the possibility of choosing your offspring’s characteristics. Hashem has said “only ethical” questions remain, which perhaps understates the precedence such procedures set. Some have imagined an arguably not-so-wild scenario whereby a nation in the future decides to breed only the strongest, healthiest and most complete human beings, and why the implications of this would be.