Vitalik Buterin, the 27-year-old Russian-Canadian programmer who co-founded Ethereum, wants societal problems to be solved with synthetic wombs — artificial uterus devices that would allow for pregnancy to take place outside the body.
Researchers have experimented with artificial wombs. So far, they’ve come up with one that can support lambs that are developmentally equivalent to a 24-week-old human fetus. Currently, there are no artificial womb experiments involving human fetuses, Discover Magazine reported. But in 2019, scientists in the Netherlands proclaimed they were within 10 years of developing an artificial womb that could save the lives of premature human babies, The BBC reported.
Synthetic wombs would be an innovative solution to the gender pay gap, according to Buterin.
“Disparities in economic success between men and women are far larger once marriage+children enter the picture. Synthetic wombs would remove the high burden of pregnancy, significantly reducing the inequality,” Buterin tweeted on Jan. 18. He included a graph illustrating the wage difference between men with children and women with children.
Buterin’s idea gained support from some men in tech but was shot down by several women who argued that biological gestation isn’t the main barrier to gender equality. High costs of child-rearing, limited governmental support, and widespread sexism are the obstacles, Netweb reported.
A heated conversation broke out on Twitter.
“We should be much more worried about population collapse,” tweeted Tesla owner Elon Musk (@elonmusk).
But techpreneur Sahil Lavingia agreed with Buterin. He tweeted, “We should be investing in technology that makes having kids much faster/easier/cheaper/more accessible Synthetic wombs, etc.” Lavingia is the founder and CEO of Gumroad, a web platform where creators can sell products directly to consumers.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the 2007 bestseller “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable,” suggested on Twitter that synthetic wombs are not a huge leap from synthetic currencies. “Crypto culture: synthetics currencies, synthetic contracts, synthetic possessions (NFT),…, ergo synthetic wombs” Taleb tweeted.
Others weighed in.
“There is a conversation taking place right now about synthetic wombs being a good idea. I can say so much right now about the people that are for it, but it would cause quite the controversy,” tweeted Cantering Clark.
Many were against the idea.
“The bond between human and child begins in the womb. My wife and I used to interact with our first born while she was still in the womb. Some things are more important than money. I can only imagine what would be lost to children born in synthetic wombs,” tweeted nathaniel gordon (@nategordon).
“There are things in life that should be sacred. Things that make us human and intertwine us with the human experience. The world becomes darker when we discard the sacred. Philosophical rant over,” tweeted Elyk (@sumrandomguy10).
“In the future there’s gonna be two societies, reproducing humans that interact with ppl irl & the largely online cohort that get all of their food+needs delivered & maintain relationships with other ppl strictly through the internet whilst only having sex in virtual reality sims,” tweeted Ansem (@blknoiz06).
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 74: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin returns for a new season of the GHOGH podcast to discuss Bitcoin, bubbles, and Biden. He talks about the risk factors for Bitcoin as an investment asset including origin risk, speculative market structure, regulatory, and environment. Are broader financial markets in a massive speculative bubble?
Photo: DisobeyArt / istock https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/DisobeyArt?mediatype=photography