Scientists at the Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology in Suzhou, China, developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that can monitor and care for embryos as they develop into fetuses in an artificial womb.

The controversial experiment was published in the Journal of Biomedical Engineering and the findings were recently picked up by the South China Morning Post.

There it describes the operation of an artificial womb, which the researchers call a “long-term embryo culture device,” where multiple mouse embryos are grown inside enclosures filled with the nutrient fluids, simulating the uterine placenta. 

The function of the ‘robot nanny’ is to constantly measure indicators of the embryo’s development, such as carbon dioxide levels or the nutrients it receives. It even has the ability to regulate them to promote growth, and in the event of a defect that causes the embryo to die, it will alert a technician to remove it from the system.

The uterus and AI system are being experimented with baby mice at the moment, but there is a possibility that they could work with human embryos in a laboratory.

Some believe that this type of AI technology is being tested to reverse China’s demographic crisis as it experiences a steep drop in the birth rate. 

It would not be a far-fetched thing to think, being that Chinese laboratories have a history of controversial experiments. In 2019, human-monkey hybrid embryos were developed and cultured from the fertilized egg stage to the organ-forming stage inside a synthetic uterus.

Currently, it is only being implemented on animals because international law makes it illegal to experiment on human embryos older than two weeks.

However, the idea of human testing is surrounded by ethical and social concerns. Even more so if one considers the creation of artificial babies, a fact that transgresses human nature.

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