Artificial Womb development

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Armoured Armoured's picture
Artificial Womb development

A article came through my feeds yesterday on artificial womb development, and how it is already beginning debate in medical ethics.

Artificial Wombs and surrounding controversy from Motherboard.

Of course there will be debate on the ethics of the technology- there were about heart transplants, but today its standard practice. The state of the art isn't there yet but due to the pace of development, will be very, very soon. I have no doubt this technology will be mature and active within a few decades.

I was surprised to see mention of pushback by feminist thinkers on the topic, however. Is this a widely held feeling, or is it a case of a few fringe extremists being picked out just for the article? I guess the ultimate question is if childbirth is sacred enough an institution to the general feminist community to make it a consistent issue.

Jagdragoon Jagdragoon's picture
Fascinating!

It's always rather mood-lightening to see our progress to the next great leap forward, and this is one of them. It's interesting to see the emerging technologies, and imagine how they could all work together to improve lives everywhere.

Such exciting times, we live in!

As for the feminist push-back, I don't know. I would think they would be all for it, honestly. Removing the need for 9 months of parasitism and morning sickness would seem to be a powerful equalizing effect. After all, no need for separate gender norms if there's no need for the separate roles, no?
(Not that there ever really was, frankly, but that's a separate discussion.)
To be fair, I tend very much to the whole "Feminism/MRM is missing the point" side of the fence. Can't get to the middle of a room with no gravity, that happens to be a vacuum, without applying the proper force in both directions simultaneously. (Or at least with exceptional timing, but the poorly written metaphor breaks down pretty fast. For some reason I was thinking solid-fuel rockets.) Otherwise, you're just going to keep swinging past the center, you know?

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
I believe their stance is

I believe their stance is that it is something that no man can do and thus it is one of their most empowering things.

Jagdragoon Jagdragoon's picture
Hm...

That makes sense, I suppose.
But, it would be kind of hypocritical to cling to that privilege, after complaining about social inequality, would it not?

Slightlyonfire Slightlyonfire's picture
Treading carefully

This is a potentially really cool technology which will be especially useful for people with fertility problems (solving the problem of surrogates) and reducing? eliminating? problem pregnancies, I can see potential problems (beyond new technology needs time to mature):

1)there is an obvious massive ethical dilemma in doing this on humans (what if it goes wrong etc)- although we've already had that with IVF, surrogates etc

2) on the feminist criticism, according to the book 'Feminist concerns in medical ethics', Julien S Murphy writes that ectogenesis
'could contribute to women's opression if it is used to undermine abortion rights, reinforce traditional views of fertility, increase fetal rights in pregnancy, and perpetuate the unequal distribution of scarce medical resources.'
the three feminist criticisms she identifies are- i) ethical questions around the fetuses and chldren created as a result of this process
ii) that it would privilege 'genetically related children' ie that it has the effect of discriminating against children available for adoption
iii) would it be a technique of liberation- she raises the concern that it could potentially lead to the elimination of women, or at the very least undermine abortion rights (as it means all fetuses are- separate from their mothers and always viable), be used to impose more control of pregnant women, and increase he possibility of 'designer baby' fears.

Its worth reading the article, even if it is 20 years old and google books cuts lumps out. (the link is in the motherboard article- i wont link here as it is a monster link. Helpfully, it concludes that feminists should not oppose this technology, but have a hand in its development.

there would also be practical concerns: for example, would women who choose (or do not have access to this technology) to have natural pregnancies be discriminated against?- In employment, by their insurer etc, etc,

In summary, feminists think this technology could do anything from liberate women from the shackles of pregnancy to the elimination of women. They would much prefer the first answer.

I may be only be slightly on fire, but that is still not cool. It is, in fact extremely hot.

Jagdragoon Jagdragoon's picture
Fair enough.

I can see where those concerns come form, I suppose. But it's not fundamentally any different than a technology that would eliminate the need for sperm.

If someone sees the elimination of the need to carry to term a child as the elimination of women, does that not speak more to what they think of as defining women, rather than a problem with the technology?

As for the ethical dilemma, I don't really see it. Look at the terrible things that happen to children born the 'normal' way? They're human in all the same ways someone born through a C-section is, so anyone that would try to argue differently is just wrong. If it goes wrong, the 'pregnancy' is terminated, just like in 'natural' miscarriages.

As for its use on oppressing women, I still don't see it.
I mean, point 'i' is silly, frankly. People are people.
Point 'ii' is no different than normal births. It's not any more related to adoption than IVF or any other method of helping couples reproduce when they can't normally. If anything, the problem with adoption is birthrates to couples that can't or won't take care of the child, and that's solved through a combination of physical (such as contraceptives) and social (welfare, social safety net) factors.

Point 'iii' is a longer discussion, though. If the fetus is viable at all gestation points due to the technology, abortion does become obsolete, yeah. But since the woman doesn't need to carry the fetus to term in the first place, it can't really be used to control pregnant women, because, as you mentioned, the fetus and would-be mother are separate entities. If anything, I would suspect there to be a stigma attached to 'natural' birth, rather than any significant controlling of women's pregnancies. That said, the abortion issue (at least in the US) is completely bonkers in the first place, so I will have to admit that crazy and/or stupid people will try to control pretty much everything. But that's on them, rather than the potential technologies they would rant about.

As a transhumanist, though, 'designer babies' are a positive to me, not a minus. Healthy and happy are pretty centrally important, and if that's as a result of careful control of the genome and womb-state, then so be it. "Gattaca" wasn't a dystopia for the baselines because of the existence of superior genes, it was the social stigmas and complete lack of support for baseline humans. I mean, if anything, the movie stands directly against the premise, being that it's a baseline that excels in a world of 'superiors', even if he does have to fake his identity to do so.

I will grant, though, that humans do seem to have problems with treating people in a way that makes sense. But I blame that on humanity, rather than our tools.

I just don't see how it can be used to support 'traditionalist' views of fertility, but it's certainly possible that I just don't have enough information on that subject to be aware of it. That caveat applies to pretty much anything I, or much anyone, says, though. Or, it should.

I think anything that eliminates women, also eliminates men, so we're all together in that boat. On the other hand, eliminating gender/sex could have positive effects, so who knows?

There are definitely concerns about discrimination, but that happens anyway. Figuring out the specifics of how our society is going to adapt to the technology is half the fun, and most of the point, in any case. The work-to-live scheme we have going now, backed with capitalism, isn't really going to fly when robots, or expert systems, have replaced the majority of our workforce. We have some interesting times ahead, I think. I wonder how the social movements of today will fare?

(Edit: Apparently I just kind of write a lot. Sorry. ^^')

Slightlyonfire Slightlyonfire's picture
Cautious optimism

You make some good points, and the article and I generally agree with you. I'll try and explain the points you didn't understand.
The ethical dilemma is the experimental one:is it morally justified to create people via a method that may have serious negative effects on their lives, which we may not understand in the long term. (It's the IVF question all other agin except way more complicated) it's also the thalidomide question. It's ethics though, so you takes your stance and you gets your consequences.

The adoption question is the same as it was for IVF. It can't defeat the argument for artificial wombs.

The abortion question. I think there's more to it than you realise. Abortion rights have been made available on the basis that the foetus is medically essentially indistinguishable form the mother. This technology means that is not true. Those who believe life begins as conception would use this technology to eliminate abortion rights. Best case scenario- don't want to carry the child to full term- have it artificial wombed! In an incredibly invasive surgery! . Worst case (if it's not possible to transfer a foetus from womb to an artificial womb) you have to carry it to full term no matter what. Either way- bye bye female autonomy and consequence free sex.

On the elimination of women, it's an extension of the designer babies argument, and it's pretty damn paranoid (but- should be pointed out- sex selective abortions and female infanticide still happen in 2014). For what it's worth it goes like this:
1. Women are a discriminated group
2. Historically, in certain circumstances the ruling power has sought to eliminate discriminated groups i.e genocide.
3. This has not happened to women because they are needed to birth more (male) children.
4. This technology allows for the creation of children without the involvement of women.
5. Therefore, women could be eliminated/ made obsolete.

Admittedly, this could equally happen gender reversed. But, to be honest, there are far more oppressive patriarchies than there are oppressive matriarchies. It's pretty damn paranoid. But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

This was pretty long, but this is a complex subject. My basic point: feminists are generally cautiously optimistic about this. It could be liberating. It could have negative effects. What is necessary is to make sure the technology is used positively, but not negatively. (Although that could be said of any technology)

I may be only be slightly on fire, but that is still not cool. It is, in fact extremely hot.

TranshumanMarina TranshumanMarina's picture
@Jagdragoon

@Jagdragoon
Perhaps its a bit inappropriate, since its slightly off topic, But since you brought it up..

Personally, I think its a common fallacy that feminism and MRM are opposite and only focus on their respective genders. For one thing, Feminism actually does seek to apply proper force in both directions, It simply assumes that there is more correction to be done one way then the other. I suppose if I were to explain feminist ideology using the same metaphor, it would be that the (maybe?) solid-fuel rocket had a bug, causing it to propel one direction more then the other. feminism is less about correcting course, as its about correcting the bug, which would, in turn, make things less problematic, even for the direction that is 'in favor'. Of course, this bug has to be slowly corrected, which has the side effect of appearing to those not in the know that these corrections are used to just up the thrusters on one side until it overtakes the other, even if thats not actually the goal.

but, being a feminist, I can only speak for what I know of the feminist ideas, and obviously, I don't speak for all feminists, so its entirely possible i'm off base, even if only with some groups of feminists.

@ the subject of Artificial Wombs.

I cant speak for anyone else, but personally, my issues with Artificial wombs are overpopulation related. I think we are already Overpopulated, and I personally have no intention of reproducing.. (ergo, making reproduction easier feels wasteful to me, though progress being what it is, I wouldn't stand in the way of this becoming a reality, thanks to all the health related uses it has.) Assuming though, the AWs come when we have some room? it sounds much more pleasant alternative.

During the fall, humanity received a grim reminder, We lived in fear of the T.I.T.A.N.S and were disgraced to live in these cages we called Habitats.

Jagdragoon Jagdragoon's picture
Civility? On the internet?

To: Slightlyonfire, TranshumanMarina

Thank you for a civil discussion on what could easily become... messy.
I have a tendency to be rather blunt, and perhaps somewhat rigid in my ethics. (However far from the norm they may be.)

On SOF's abortion response:
I suppose that makes sense. I am completely unable to process the thinking of those that would restrict abortion rights, but as I see it, it's a matter of access and context. Also the nature of the procedure.

Considering that we can apply a (equally crazy-advanced) filmfomr pacemaker with a small snake-cam-like bendy arm, I don't know that the procedure would be terribly invasive. This does, of course, depend on gestation and other things, but then the law depends on that, too, so I guess that's just the nature of these things.

Since technology isn't a "suddenly you can fly!" kind of progress, the technology only, or should anyway, modify the discussion when it is present. Not everyone has access to the Wombot 2.0, so for those that don't, it's as if the technology hadn't been invented. Viability of the would-be child depends on the mother's access to her own needs, after all. What isn't present, shouldn't have an affect, aside from what happens when it's not present. (No water? The fact that water exists and is drinkable doesn't improve the viability of a pregnant woman's ghostrider, if she's in the middle of a desert with no such water. The fact that she, too, is dying of thirst is kinda secondary to the discussion, but that's just what happens when we don't get water.)

I suffer from the same problem most do, which is that I, internally, assume that whatever position I've come to hold is probably right, by nature of it being right. That's probably partially a result of carrying the position that an objective truth exists separate from our positions, regardless of our perception. (A long line of people all running into a wall seems to imply the existence of some sort of obstruction, regardless of how we perceive it. The fact that we can't be sure it exists is secondary to the discussion, when it at least seems to be able to apply its effects.)

So, I figure the abortion rights argument basically breaks down to there being one truth, and two sides that are varying degrees of wrong. One's side of being wrong tends to result in a loss of autonomy and the misapplication of religion, so as far as I'm concerned they're more-wrong. But that's just how I see it.

I don't really know about the inherent value of 'consequence-free sex' (or, if it really exists in the first place, since social interaction and emotional 'thangs' are possible consequences in and of themselves), but I have little interest in it, so I don't know that I am able to see it from the position of those that very much do desire sex. In as far as it doesn't affect me, I don't care. It does affect people that do care, and in a negative way, to have people try to apply certain views of morality outside of their own domain, so for that reason I'm a supporter of the whole "give us freedom or give us superior firepower with which to acquire freedom" camp.

The above comes from the same guy that holds that most notions of 'justice' are only valuable as a result of their benefits for society and the individual, as opposed to any inherent or intrinsic value. So, take it as you will.

I'm supportive of the pro-choice movement because, frankly, it's less absurd. And as far as I'm concerned, more correct. It has more value for society and the people in it than does the opposing view; again, as I see it. For that reason alone, the development of technologies that remove the need for the mother to exist in the first place (or any other such progression into the strange, horrifically exciting future) shouldn't impact the abortion debate, beyond providing another option. The fact that some people want to force one option or the other is the inherent problem. I'm almost a fan of mental/social 'redaction' to the end of... just kinda putting them somewhere else, but I'm a misanthrope. I hate most of humanity, but I recognize that such actions are fundamentally the same as what I'm so vehemently against. But that's life.

I write a lot, and I seem to ramble a lot, so, my apologies.

The way I see it, almost every sperm or egg, given the appropriate environment, could result in a healthy, sentient individual. The fact that "appropriate environment" covers a huge list of possibilities is both kind of the point, and something that doesn't matter. I mean, the whole argument is over what constitutes that environment, and what rights those people that fall within those parameters, but there's no great outcry over every lost sperm or egg, so it's rather hypocritical, in my eyes, to raise a stink when an egg and a sperm happen to have been fully introduced.

The data in our brains is us, frankly, so before that point I don't see a reason to believe we're alive. It gets complicated after that point, but I'm not a mother, thankfully, so I don't really have a vested interest in it one way or another. An artificial womb should provide the perfect balance between both sides. Life gets a shot, and we don't have to be parasitized or forced.

In my opinion, separating the method of reproduction from the body is pretty central to equality anyway. As soon as male/female ceases to exist, so do the problem that list that as a prerequisite. To use a metaphor, we've settled into our new house. We should probably start unpacking the luggage, and putting down the baggage. It's starting to drag us down and hold us back. But my views tend towards exhuman, so, there's that.

I guess I kinda managed to weave most all of my response to SOF into that. So much for covering only the one point. ^^'

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~(Formatting, Ho!)

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TranshumanMarina, I tend to look at it as more of what the sides see in our society.
Feminism seems, as a whole, to believe in the Patriarchy, in that the power structure is maintained and used by males, therefore disadvantaging women.
The MRM movement (should probably just be called Masculinism, since it sounds close enough to not make the whole discussion sound odd) instead sees a society in which male effort and value defers to the female, a Matriarchy in which male production is aimed towards acquiring the favor o the female. Both of these views are intentionally skeletonised for the purposes of discussion. This is the pushing from both side I mean. Both sides recognize many of problems that the system causes, but both have the inherent bias towards their own 'side', just as a result of their parsing of society's complicated setup. There are feminists that seek to fix the problems that society causes for men, in the same way that many of the MRM members recognize and want to fix the problems that society causes for women. The problem, is that each side looks at their own side with a nuanced brush, with a tendency to see the good more than the bad. The exact opposite is applied to the other side, and a perfect example is this very site. The ban on identifying as a MRA is absurd. I can see why the site owners/mods/EP writers would view the MRM movement as inherently asshole-filled, i mean, from the descriptions, a couple people were positively VILE in their actions, here. Using this microcosm, we would assume that MRA's are generally shitty.

Considering that the MRM is new, though, and that many movements initially seem passionate or vitriolic, I don't know that the MRM has really had the time to properly delineate what it stands for, or to weed out the crazies. The "but not all MRA's are assholes!" line, and the no-true-Scotsman-esque argument-by-proxy, (I don't know if I'm making sense, i have it in my head but can't always put things to words,) closely resembles the "those so-called feminists that are harassing peaceful men-oriented discussions aren't true feminists" no-true-Scotsman argument. I'm not saying either side is right, and I'm neither for reasons later explained, but there's a lot of hypocrisy thrown around by both sides, enough so that I'm willing to say that they are, frankly, pretty solid parallels. It's also good to keep in mind the varying "waves" of feminism, that whenever someone identifies as 'feminist' they could mean any number of things, both good and bad. the MRM just hasn't had time to say: "This is what we stand for." "Yeah, well this is what WE stand for." "No, you're both crazy, this is what we stand for." So far, it's just kinda a loose grouping of males (and females) that don't feel their concerns would be properly addressed by feminism, often as a result of the same kind of pushback to extremism that we see in the banning of MRA-labeled individuals here. Both sides see each other for the terrible ones among that group.

I, and others, hold that society is too complicated to label as either Matriarchal or Patriarchal. I've heard the term "kyriarchy" thrown around, but honestly it's just that few social interactions are inherently balanced, and with people inhabiting all sorts of varying positions, things get messy. Currently, the most important thing, that I've noticed, is to fit your role in society. There are a great many roles, and role-types, that one is expected to fit into, and breaking those expectations varies a lot, depending on which role and role-type expectation was broken. Women, though feminism and other avenues, have fought against many of those expectations to the point that breaking them is considered okay, by all but the most 'old-fashioned' or 'conservative.' Men, broadly speaking, have not. Our roletypes and roles have changed very little, in comparison to women's immense recent progress. There are intense social stigmas against men crying or showing emotion, for example, depending on the roles and role-types the men in question fall into. Some progress is being made, but radical elements of every faction under the sun complicate the matter.

The enemy, therefore, is not Patriarchy, Matriarchy, Kyriarchy, or even that mean neighbor we all seem to have, but humanity's tendency to expect what was, to be what is, and for that to be what should be. It's our tendency to factionalize and vilify that creates these violent confrontations between groups that should, frankly, be working together.

The problem is tradition, broadly speaking. The situation is sub-optimal. Groups disagree on what would be optimal. Conflict starts, goalposts are moved, and suddenly we're fighting against progress, rather than against tradition. Since gender, using our example, is really only the vector by which humanity continues its existence, replacing or removing it would seem to do more good than harm. If the concern is that we derive too much of our sense of self from our gender, then perhaps we should consider why that is, and consider if that might not be the core problem.

In other news, artificial wombs, vat-grown meat, and a prototype FTL drive? It would seem humanity is on the cusp of solving three of our biggest problems. Social issues as a result of gender, issues regarding food access and the morality of eating meat, and issues relating to space and overpopulation. Truly, exciting times.

On the flip side, airborne Ebola, social backwardness, and climate change all seem to be pushing us towards destruction, or at least general unpleasantness. Perhaps this is truly what is meant by the curse, "May you live in exciting times."

(HOLY WALLS OF TEXT, BATWOMB!) WORDS! I'm so sorry about this huge field of words. ><

TranshumanMarina TranshumanMarina's picture
if its ok, im just going to

if its ok, im just going to message you to continue this discussion, since its veering off topic radically.. is that ok?

During the fall, humanity received a grim reminder, We lived in fear of the T.I.T.A.N.S and were disgraced to live in these cages we called Habitats.

EVILrokzz EVILrokzz's picture
Interesting...

It's not that the subject itself is interesting (I've read several articles when it came out a few days ago) but the fact that people here are discussing it in a fair way. Other places always have a few people who discuss the subject... and the throngs of wasted meat that hail or hate the subject... as well as those discussing the subject.

I personally welcome the exowomb. I don't really care about all the "issues" everyone takes with it, rather I see it as a step towards a cloning vat. The leap from exowomb to cloning vat isn't a big one. After that I can clone myself, raise my clone until he is 9~11 years old and then scoop up his brain and transfer my brain into his body. Thus I see it as a limited form of immortality.

As you can see, I'm not really that big on the whole 'ethics' thing. I mostly agree with what Jagdragoon said as we seem to have much in common in ways of thinking, but I don't really know much about the various "-ists" and "-isms" so I don't agree nor disagree with that part.

If it is difficult it is attempted, if it is impossible it is done!

Jagdragoon Jagdragoon's picture
How Ghastly!

While I may be a bit out there in my mode of thinking, scooping out a sentient brain and replacing it with my own is still too rough of a pill for even me to swallow. I figure that by the time we get cloning vats down we'll probably also know how to re-fuse the spinal cord, and probably how to grow a human body without all that ethical ickyness of a human brain. After all, if there's no sentience, there's no need to even contemplate being guilty about hijacking the body!

Unless you did the whole cloning thing in a circle, and gave bodies to each of the disembodied brains... but that's a lot more work than just growing a brainless body, I would imagine.

nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
I'm also on the pro-exowomb

I'm also on the pro-exowomb side. Honestly, most of the concerns listed sound like perks.

On the abortion question, it addresses the concerns of both sides. Pro-life can safely protect the life of the fetus. Pro-choice can protect the body autonomy of the mother.

On the elimination of the female gender question, this already is occuring!! Clearly the lack of exowombs is not holding people back. On the other hand, it lets people have autonomy over their reproductive choices without having to use methods like infanticide. So, as much as I personally disagree with interfering with children like that, from a 'not-my-business' standpoint, it seems like a good thing.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Slightlyonfire wrote:

Slightlyonfire wrote:

The abortion question. I think there's more to it than you realise. Abortion rights have been made available on the basis that the foetus is medically essentially indistinguishable form the mother. This technology means that is not true. Those who believe life begins as conception would use this technology to eliminate abortion rights. Best case scenario- don't want to carry the child to full term- have it artificial wombed! In an incredibly invasive surgery! . Worst case (if it's not possible to transfer a foetus from womb to an artificial womb) you have to carry it to full term no matter what. Either way- bye bye female autonomy and consequence free sex.

The way I see it, abortion rights are available because everyone has sovereignity of their own body. That includes the right to have something removed from it. The fetus dies because it can't survive outside of the women, not because she has a right to have it killed.

If we're able to keep a fetus alive in an artificial womb, then the woman still has the right to eject the fetus, but I don't see how she has a right to have it killed if the father wants to keep it alive in an artificial womb.

As to the "bye bye to consequence free sex", I think women will manage, just like men are managing it (not always gracefully though...) :)

The difficult discussion here I see more if the woman is endangering the fetus, like if she's a drug addict or alcoholic. When does the father get the right to have the fetus moved to a safe artificial womb?

Slightlyonfire wrote:

On the elimination of women, it's an extension of the designer babies argument, and it's pretty damn paranoid (but- should be pointed out- sex selective abortions and female infanticide still happen in 2014). For what it's worth it goes like this:
1. Women are a discriminated group
2. Historically, in certain circumstances the ruling power has sought to eliminate discriminated groups i.e genocide.
3. This has not happened to women because they are needed to birth more (male) children.
4. This technology allows for the creation of children without the involvement of women.
5. Therefore, women could be eliminated/ made obsolete.

Admittedly, this could equally happen gender reversed. But, to be honest, there are far more oppressive patriarchies than there are oppressive matriarchies. It's pretty damn paranoid. But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

In my experience, men want women for more than just making babies :)

I also think that people who present such ideas are getting of way too easy if we just label them as paranoid. It sounds like they think that the entire male population are genocidal maniacs, which would make it hate speech.

Slightlyonfire wrote:

This was pretty long, but this is a complex subject. My basic point: feminists are generally cautiously optimistic about this. It could be liberating. It could have negative effects. What is necessary is to make sure the technology is used positively, but not negatively. (Although that could be said of any technology)

Also, sometimes opposition to stuff like this is just plain old technophobia dressed up as whatever platform the technophobe has. Just because someone is a known feminist, and uses that platform and those arguments to argue against a new technology, that doesn't mean that it is actually a feminist issue.

Slightlyonfire Slightlyonfire's picture
Smokeskin wrote:

Smokeskin wrote:

The way I see it, abortion rights are available because everyone has sovereignity of their own body. That includes the right to have something removed from it. The fetus dies because it can't survive outside of the women, not because she has a right to have it killed.

If we're able to keep a fetus alive in an artificial womb, then the woman still has the right to eject the fetus, but I don't see how she has a right to have it killed if the father wants to keep it alive in an artificial womb.

The legal/moral argument to allow abortion actually goes further than that. It is that until birth the foetus is not a person but a part of the mother, exactly the same as her leg or kidneys. The fact that the foetus contains the father's genetic material is entirely irrelevant from this point of you. Your argument implies foetal personhood- I don't understand how you can accept abortions when the foetus dies if you think the foetus is a person. Unless you think it is property?

Smokeskin wrote:
As to the "bye bye to consequence free sex", I think women will manage, just like men are managing it (not always gracefully though...) :)

I don't understand what you mean when you suggest sex has consequences for men now, but not for women. Because what I meant was the original 60s meaning: sex that does not result in children.

Smokeskin wrote:
The difficult discussion here I see more if the woman is endangering the fetus, like if she's a drug addict or alcoholic. When does the father get the right to have the fetus moved to a safe artificial womb?

It's clear that you advocate father's rights over a woman's bodily autonomy. That genetic material= ownership (or something similar) that has consequences for any future transhuman technology.

Smokeskin wrote:
In my experience, men want women for more than just making babies :)

I also think that people who present such ideas are getting of way too easy if we just label them as paranoid. It sounds like they think that the entire male population are genocidal maniacs, which would make it hate speech.

I didn't say in my original post that the origins of this argument was basically: what if the nazis had exowombs and were even more mysoginistic because I didn't want to Godwin the thread. So if it makes you feel better, this feminist willl say you are not a genocidal maniac. The nazis (and other similar types) are genocidal maniacs.

Smokeskin wrote:
Also, sometimes opposition to stuff like this is just plain old technophobia dressed up as whatever platform the technophobe has. Just because someone is a known feminist, and uses that platform and those arguments to argue against a new technology, that doesn't mean that it is actually a feminist issue.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say this. Since when has pregancy not been a feminist issue? I will say this though. (very brief, terribly researched potentially off topic, ignore if you want) on feminism and medicine. The relationship between feminism and medicine is a difficult one. While modern feminism is to an extent a creation of modern medical technology- the pill allowing for sex without the consequence of children, frequently, medicine has been used as a means by which women have been controlled. one could go back as far as the force feeding of suffragettes in the early twentieth century, or the utterly horrific treatment of so-called 'hysterical' women. In the modern era I could point to mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds before abortions in some US states, or nore dangerously, cases where women in prison have been sterilised without consent, and (directly relevant to this) cases where women have been essentially forced (or actually forced) to have C-sections when they were not medically necessary. Women being forced to undergo medical treatment without their consent (which you are advocating) has a long history, and very little of it is positive. So yes, feminists are concerned about medical technology. It is an issue that affects women.

I know this sounds kinda ranty, and is very long, but my point is this: generally, feminists are in favour of artifical wombs. They are a new technology in an area which is morally and ethically fraught and complex, with strong opinion on all sides. Assuming any criticism or concerns around a technology to be technophobia is not helpful and contributes to an opinion of transhumanism among the uninitiated that is a view that is elitist, unsympathetic and ( relevant here) stereotypically male.

EDIT: my tone here is really accusatory. I'm sorry about that. I didn't want to accuse you of anything Smokeskin, just quite curious about what you thought. I mean this in a spirit of understanding. sorry.

I may be only be slightly on fire, but that is still not cool. It is, in fact extremely hot.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Slightlyonfire wrote:

Slightlyonfire wrote:

EDIT: my tone here is really accusatory. I'm sorry about that. I didn't want to accuse you of anything Smokeskin, just quite curious about what you thought. I mean this in a spirit of understanding. sorry.

No problem. I'm more than happy to explain my point of view more clearly, and I much prefer to be given the opportunity instead of being misunderstood.

My tone below might be defensive - that's not my intention, but just like your post could be read as accusatory, that's just how the written media comes across unless you use twice as many words just to add pleasantries. Let's agree to look at the meaning, deal? :)

Slightlyonfire wrote:
Smokeskin wrote:

The way I see it, abortion rights are available because everyone has sovereignity of their own body. That includes the right to have something removed from it. The fetus dies because it can't survive outside of the women, not because she has a right to have it killed.

If we're able to keep a fetus alive in an artificial womb, then the woman still has the right to eject the fetus, but I don't see how she has a right to have it killed if the father wants to keep it alive in an artificial womb.

The legal/moral argument to allow abortion actually goes further than that. It is that until birth the foetus is not a person but a part of the mother, exactly the same as her leg or kidneys. The fact that the foetus contains the father's genetic material is entirely irrelevant from this point of you. Your argument implies foetal personhood- I don't understand how you can accept abortions when the foetus dies if you think the foetus is a person. Unless you think it is property?

Imo the fetus is not a person at this point - it is closer to property. I don't think that the emotional value that the coming parents place on the fetus, and the legal implications, are captured properly by comparing it to any other part of the woman's body. Imagine for example that the fetus was outside of the woman and in an artificial womb, in which case it is clear that the woman couldn't own her own decide to turn off the womb and terminate the fetus. It it was any other part of her body on life support, she could do so, but with a fetus, she'd need consent of the father.

Now, the women has sovereignity over her own body, and that gives her the right to remove the fetus from it, even if it can't survive on its own - that's what gives her the right to abortion. But the fetus dying is (if the father wanted to keep it) an unfortunate consequence of our current level of medical technology, but it is not a right to kill the fetus that the pregnant woman has.

Slightlyonfire wrote:

Smokeskin wrote:
As to the "bye bye to consequence free sex", I think women will manage, just like men are managing it (not always gracefully though...) :)

I don't understand what you mean when you suggest sex has consequences for men now, but not for women. Because what I meant was the original 60s meaning: sex that does not result in children.


I meant it that way too. I understand your argument as you were worried that parenthood could be "forced" on the woman if the man wanted to keep the fetus alive in an artificial womb. This is the same situation that men face now (and rightly so, of course the man shouldn't be able to force an abortion on the woman).

Slightlyonfire wrote:

Smokeskin wrote:
The difficult discussion here I see more if the woman is endangering the fetus, like if she's a drug addict or alcoholic. When does the father get the right to have the fetus moved to a safe artificial womb?

It's clear that you advocate father's rights over a woman's bodily autonomy. That genetic material= ownership (or something similar) that has consequences for any future transhuman technology.

I didn't say that the father had such rights automatically, I said it was a difficult discussion.

I think it is obvious that there's some joint rights and obligations due to the source of the genetic material (if there wasn't, then for example mandatory child support after birth wouldn't make any sense).

I fully support anyone's right to bodily autonomy. And with the nature of pregnancy today being what they are, that's the deciding factor, because a fetus can't survive outside of the mother. She can do what she likes.

However, if for example it was a trivial procedure to extract the fetus and place it in an exowomb, and the woman was an active crack addict, then removing it would be a nobrainer. I don't even think we'd need the father for that, I think Child Services would step in just like they do when they remove abused children from the home.

Between a trivial procedure and grave consequences for the future child, there's a lot of ground where it is not clear who has the right to what. I believe that the right to bodily sovereignity is the overarching principle here that should in the vast majority of cases trump other concerns. But if the permanent damage to the future child is clear and serious, it isn't so black and white.

Slightlyonfire wrote:

Smokeskin wrote:
In my experience, men want women for more than just making babies :)

I also think that people who present such ideas are getting of way too easy if we just label them as paranoid. It sounds like they think that the entire male population are genocidal maniacs, which would make it hate speech.

I didn't say in my original post that the origins of this argument was basically: what if the nazis had exowombs and were even more mysoginistic because I didn't want to Godwin the thread. So if it makes you feel better, this feminist willl say you are not a genocidal maniac. The nazis (and other similar types) are genocidal maniacs.

Don't worry, I didn't think you said it :)

Slightlyonfire wrote:

Smokeskin wrote:
Also, sometimes opposition to stuff like this is just plain old technophobia dressed up as whatever platform the technophobe has. Just because someone is a known feminist, and uses that platform and those arguments to argue against a new technology, that doesn't mean that it is actually a feminist issue.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say this. Since when has pregancy not been a feminist issue? I will say this though. (very brief, terribly researched potentially off topic, ignore if you want) on feminism and medicine. The relationship between feminism and medicine is a difficult one. While modern feminism is to an extent a creation of modern medical technology- the pill allowing for sex without the consequence of children, frequently, medicine has been used as a means by which women have been controlled. one could go back as far as the force feeding of suffragettes in the early twentieth century, or the utterly horrific treatment of so-called 'hysterical' women. In the modern era I could point to mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds before abortions in some US states, or nore dangerously, cases where women in prison have been sterilised without consent, and (directly relevant to this) cases where women have been essentially forced (or actually forced) to have C-sections when they were not medically necessary. Women being forced to undergo medical treatment without their consent (which you are advocating) has a long history, and very little of it is positive. So yes, feminists are concerned about medical technology. It is an issue that affects women.

Absolutely. And if for example someone wanted to ban artificial wombs, giving women access to iWombs would be a feminist issue. The opposite, trying to keep artificial womb away from the public, I have a hard time seeing that as an issue (but maybe some relevant issue will pop up).

Slightlyonfire wrote:

I know this sounds kinda ranty, and is very long, but my point is this: generally, feminists are in favour of artifical wombs. They are a new technology in an area which is morally and ethically fraught and complex, with strong opinion on all sides. Assuming any criticism or concerns around a technology to be technophobia is not helpful and contributes to an opinion of transhumanism among the uninitiated that is a view that is elitist, unsympathetic and ( relevant here) stereotypically male.

I never said that any concern over technology was technophobia. You can for example find plenty of posts here where I've voiced great concern over the implication of strong AI for example.

What I did say was that there are some people that are technophobes, and such people will often hijack some ideological, religious or political platform that they have access to to voice their concerns. Bottom line is, I don't think we should pin "resistance to artificial wombs" on feminism, which we seem to agree on.

Erulastant Erulastant's picture
Quote:

Quote:

The legal/moral argument to allow abortion actually goes further than that. It is that until birth the foetus is not a person but a part of the mother, exactly the same as her leg or kidneys. The fact that the foetus contains the father's genetic material is entirely irrelevant from this point of you. Your argument implies foetal personhood- I don't understand how you can accept abortions when the foetus dies if you think the foetus is a person. Unless you think it is property?

If you had kidney failure and were dying, and I was the only person nearby who could donate a kidney, would it be ethically justified for doctors to knock me out and steal my kidney to save you? The same principle applies in the abortion debate--Even if the fetus is a person, (I happen to believe it isn't, but that's tangential to this particular point) it's rights do not supersede those of the mother. (Under anti-choice laws where abortion is banned, the infant would actually lose rights the moment it's born. That's a bit weird.)

You, too, were made by humans. The methods used were just cruder, imprecise. I guess that explains a lot.

kindalas kindalas's picture
Just a reminder

Tread carefully in this thread. I don't want to have to issue a bunch of warnings during Gen Con week because a discussion drifted into a pro/anti choice screaming match.

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Jagdragoon Jagdragoon's picture
I return! Or Something.

Honestly, this thread is already running better than similar topics I've seen elsewhere. If anything were to restore my hope in people in general, it's a lot of the people on this forum.

It's interesting, in that a fair bit of what I've read of Smokeskin's* I've disagreed with, but I agree just about 100% on this topic. I mean, those arguments are basically really well written versions of my own, and for that alone, I give my applause. (*I want to say it was their writing, anyway, on Anarcho-Capitalism, which I'm probably writing incorrectly. For the record, I'm a state-ist.)

That we've been able to discuss such an intensely emotional series of issues is a testament to non-dickishness. I'm far too jaded to believe it, but maybe, just maybe, Rousseau Was Right.

Slightlyonfire Slightlyonfire's picture
Smokeskin: thank you for

Smokeskin: thank you for replying in so much detail. I think we've come to an agreement on the matter. the father's rights stuff is interesting but probably off topic. As it stands now that the foetus has the father's genetics is legally irrelevant. You are only legally the father, with the rights and responsibilities that come with that once the child is born (i.e. the child is a person). EDIT: what I mean is that you can only be the parent of a child, and it is only a child once it has been born.

That the exowomb means you can trace fatherhood back to presumably conception? It has a certain genetic logic. It certainly raises many questions, which I am very much not qualified to answer.

Erulastant: the power of the foetal personhood argument is that it means the foetus is a person, with the full protection of law. Specifically, protection from murder. Any abortion would mean killing a person (which means the mother and any one who assists-doctors would be liable for murder.) That's why its the holy grail of the anti choice movement- because it is a very simple, very powerful legal argument. Person is a really powerful word- it's possibly the most important word, legally speaking.

I may be only be slightly on fire, but that is still not cool. It is, in fact extremely hot.

Steel Accord Steel Accord's picture
Amen!

Of all transhumanist technologies I would love to see developed . . . well the first would be augmentation, but this is a close second!

No longer would people need to abort a new life. That person can go on and the mother would live as well. Everybody wins!

Not to mention the other possibilities for extra-terrestrial colonization. I mean, if we can grow the colonists during the trip, they're born on their home and we leave instructions for . . . you know this is actually kind of sounding like Superman's origins. XD

Your passion is power. Focus it.
Your body is a tool. Hone it.
Transhummanity is a pantheon. Exalt it!

BOMherren BOMherren's picture
To play the devil's advocate...

There are groups which aggressively pursue reproductive r-strategy to further their ideological or religious position, e.g. the Quiverfull movement.

Such a group can democratically impose policy changes by maintaining a high degree of social control over their membership, and encouraging a high rate of reproduction within that membership, typically eschewing values like education, individual choice and the pursuit of individual well-being. Children are raised to hold the same ideological conviction as their parents, and typically share responsibility for the care of their younger siblings. They don't need to worry about producing convincing arguments, so long as they can maintain sufficient homogenaiety of opinion among their membership.

In the narrow sense, as far as I can tell, this sort of stategy has not been nearly as effective as advertised by its proponents. Actual reproduction rates frequently fall below stated targets. As well, attrition rates are high, with members of such movements frequently separating from them when they become old enough to make their own choices.

Personally, I suspect it has to do with the psychological and physiological stress of constant pregnancy. We see elsewhere in the world, when exposed to Western cultural values, women can sometimes start to demand more from life and from their society than being full-time mothers. How much more would that not apply to women who are already the citizens of a first-world country - especially when their group wants them to raise not just 3 or 4 children, but 8 or 10 or even 12 children?

In a wider sense, small to moderate differences in the average reproductive rates and political leanings of larger ethnic, ideological or religious groups are already effecting appreciable and compounding intergenerational demographic shifts, with attendant political consequences. But that is a much more controversial topic, which deserves to be discussed elsewhere.

So imagine for now what would happen if an initially small group of r-strategists were to gain access to cheap, commercially available exowombs. Let us further assume that these exowombs can at least somewhat reliably carry fetuses to term from the middle of the first trimester.

In the worst case, if all of my suspicions regarding the reason for the failure of strongly r-leaning strategy is correct, then the sustainable reproduction rate of the group would be primarily limited by the amount of funds available to it forr child-rearing. This could easily translate to average rates of reproduction in the 8-12 range, or considerably higher if the group enjoyed additional financial support from e.g. government programs, moderate adherents of the same ideology, or well-to-do members of the group itself.

Right now, political parties compete based on their ability to construct convincing arguments and rhetoric. Right now, the strongest democratic strategy seems to involve having a reproductive rate somewhere in the range of 3 to 4, a low-to-modest First World standard of living, and to maintain a large intellectual class of agitators and pundits.

In a world with exo wombs, the optimal strategy would probably look very different. For one thing, it would probably involve considerably lower standards of living and much less focus on intellectual pursuits.

Worse yet, all the possible solutions I can think of seem at least as bad as the problem itself.



Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
There are so few cults with

There are so few cults with such practices that it is complete irrelevant, isn't it?

I've heard people raise similar concerns over the fact that people with low IQ get more children than high IQ people, and this difference is on large population groups. And also the same suggestion that the "solutions are worse", which I don't get. Is it because that you're considering things like forced sterilization as a solution? Why not just fix the root of the problem: that people are able to vote for oppression of other people?

BOMherren BOMherren's picture
Smokeskin wrote:There are so

Smokeskin wrote:
There are so few cults with such practices that it is complete irrelevant, isn't it?

Under contemporary conditions, where very strongly r-leaning strategy has proven ineffective? Yes, very few people do it.

I'm talking about a situation where technological change makes it a viable strategy, or even the optimal strategy.

Also, I was talking about the worst-case but still plausible-seeming exowomb scenario. We might well imagine intermediate stages, depending on the accuracy of the stated assumptions and the maturity of the technology, or other developments which could produce even more pronounced shifts.

Smokeskin wrote:
And also the same suggestion that the "solutions are worse", which I don't get. Is it because that you're considering things like forced sterilization as a solution?

For all the obvious reasons, and many more besides, that one's very low on my list of possible solutions.

Smokeskin wrote:
Why not just fix the root of the problem: that people are able to vote for oppression of other people?

I'm not sure precisely what you mean by this, but some of my ideas fall under this general category. I'm sympathetic to this point of view, but I see it presenting considerable challenges.

For one thing, there are a lot of children in low income families, whose parents planned their future around publically subsidized reproduction and a host of other services. I already wouldn't want to be one of those children, but that's not to say there isn't room for things to get even worse.

And that's even assuming you can marshal the requisite political will, which seems to go against the current trend.



Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
BOMherren wrote:Smokeskin

BOMherren wrote:
Smokeskin wrote:
There are so few cults with such practices that it is complete irrelevant, isn't it?

Under contemporary conditions, where very strongly r-leaning strategy has proven ineffective? Yes, very few people do it.

I'm talking about a situation where technological change makes it a viable strategy, or even the optimal strategy.

You're absolutely right, the strategy could become more appealing and that could change its use.

I think you're also right that it isn't the pregnancy that's the truly limiting factor - it's what comes after. Nursing robots could be the thing that makes the threat real :)