Meanwhile in the Future: A World With Artificial Wombs

Illustration for article titled Meanwhile in the Future: A World With Artificial Wombs

Well hello there, and welcome to our very first episode of a brand new podcast called Meanwhile in the Future! I’m Rose, and I’ll be your host for this set of forays into the future.


Here’s how Meanwhile in the Future is going to work: every episode will tackle one potential future scenario—everything from a sudden ice age, to the end of antibiotic effectiveness, to a world in which contact sports are banned due to head injury. First we’ll take a quick jaunt into the future, to hear what it might sound like. Then, we’ll call up some experts to help us walk through, in great detail, what might happen next.

Our first episode is about artificial wombs. What happens when women no longer have to physically bear children? Who wins? Who loses? Who takes artificial wombs to a far away planet to create a colony of super-beings? Listen here to find out!

This episode we spoke with Lois McMaster Bujold and Maureen Sander-Staudt. If you want to check out Bujold’s books, you can find them all here. Some of the books that involve uterine replicators are Shards of Honor, Barrayar and Ethan of Athos. To find more bits of science fiction that explore futures full of external wombs, this thread on Goodreads has a whole bunch of recommendations.

Sander-Staudt wrote the chapter on ectogenesis in this book, and it it she runs through how a variety of feminist schools of thought feel about the technology. For more on artificial wombs, check out this piece by Soraya Chemaly, who walks through a lot of the concerns surrounding baby-incubating machines.


This debate is coming for us sooner than later. Just last week, the New York Times reported a new study in which a handful of premature babies born at 22 weeks—two weeks earlier than what is currently considered the point of viability—survived. “The Supreme Court has said that states must allow abortion if a fetus is not viable outside the womb, and changing that standard could therefore raise questions about when abortion is legal,” Pam Belluck writes for the Times.

What do you think? Would you sign up for a uterine replicator? How much would you pay to have your baby incubated outside a human body? What does this future look like to you?


If you you have ideas for futures we should overthink, we’d love to hear them. You can leave them in the comments below, or drop us an email at And if you want to subscribe to the podcast, you can do that via Soundcloud or iTunes or if you prefer a plain old RSS feed we’ve got one of those too.


We hope you’ll come back for the next episode of Meanwhile in the Future. I won’t give away the future we’ll be discussing, but let’s just say it involves a vast, werewolf conspiracy.



did you come across anything about how this would affect adult unconscious contents? ie. dark warm water and a heartbeat as a comforting place, would no longer exist, no longer show up in dreams, or projected into mythology and fairy tales etc.

Also, a society might actually be able to issue licenses for sizes of populations, and actually create a favorable balance within a region. instead of letting instinct ruin run everything.