Scientists in China have developed an AI robot system that cares for human embryos growing in artificial wombs.
It sounds like a dystopian sci-fi future exhibited in ‘The Matrix’. However, the researchers behind the very real project believe their new system will be a force for good that will help to boost China’s population. This is because China is going through the lowest levels of birth rate ever recorded in the past 60 years!
The team, from the Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology in China’s eastern Jiangsu province, designed the robot to constantly monitor and care for human embryos by adjusting the nutrition, carbon dioxide, and other important factors in the artificial embryos. They claim the new robot-assisted artificial womb is a safer and more efficient method for growing embryos than a natural womb. Human trials are yet to be conducted.
The researchers, who outlined their project in a paper in the Journal of Biomedical Engineering, explained how it could rank embryos based on their development potential. This innovation will be tested on animals.
In their paper, the researchers say their system could help to uncover “many unsolved mysteries about the physiology of typical human embryonic development.” What’s more, it could also “also provide a theoretical basis for solving birth defects and other major reproductive health problems.”
However, it is still in its concept phase, and there is the fact that they likely wouldn’t be cleared for human trials given laws on experimenting with human fetuses. Still, China holds a record for carrying out controversial experiments. In 2019, for example, scientists from Spain and China teamed up to develop human-monkey hybrid embryos.