Robot nanny: Chinese scientists build artificial womb

i24NEWS

4 min read
Children stand with relatives waiting to cross a traffic intersection in the Central Business District of Beijing, China, January 24, 2022.
AP Photo/Andy WongChildren stand with relatives waiting to cross a traffic intersection in the Central Business District of Beijing, China, January 24, 2022.

The 'robot nanny' can monitor embryos 'to an unprecedented detail, for any sort of defects' during pregnancy

Chinese scientists reportedly created an artificial womb for fetuses to safely grow outside of a human body in a ‘robotic nanny’ that can monitor and take care of embryos.

Nathan Minsberg, an i24NEWS contributor based in Hong Kong, said the potential breakthrough comes at a time when China is “facing its lowest birthrates in a decade.”

“All within the realms of possibilities, of course, if the laws and moral-ethical background allow for this technology to materialize,” Minsberg added.

Researchers at the Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology in China’s eastern Jiangsu province developed the artificial intelligence (AI) technology to take on the responsibility of bearing children.

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Minsberg explained that the AI ‘nanny’ is already looking after animal embryos, and that some scientists believe the same type of technology can be used for human fetuses to “grow more safely and efficiently.”

“Through this robotic system, monitoring embryos can be done to an unprecedented detail, for any sort of defects that may occur during pregnancy,” he told i24NEWS.

A research paper published in the Journal of Biomedical Engineering said the technology would “not only help further understand the origin of life… but also provide a theoretical basis for solving birth defects and other major reproductive health problems.”

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Although international law currently prohibits experimental studies on human embryos beyond two weeks of development, Minsberg noted that China is hoping this will soon change.

“[China] is facing one of the largest declines of birthrates in the world,” he said, “with the number of newborns nearly halving in the last five years” as Chinese women are increasingly rejecting “traditional priorities” like marriage and childbearing.

The journalist highlighted how birth rates are also low throughout the world, and that this technology could be utilized elsewhere.

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