The future can never be predicted with certainty. This is and has always been the essential difference between the future and the past. The past is fully determined and irreversible. The future is not fully determined. Thus, when it comes to looking into the future one can extrapolate present trends and predict that in 50 years time the world’s population will be almost 9 billion, but such a calculation is based on the assumption that no unusual events will take place. It may well be that a huge epidemic, a meteorite, a massive earthquake or volcanic eruption will decimate the world’s population.
Another unexpected influence may, or probably will, come from within the human tribe. Interference with natural reproduction started in the nineteenth century and will take on new forms in the next. It is more and more evident that progress in the quality of human life and society is severely hampered by natural reproduction, not just in sheer numbers, but also in the fact every new generation tends to make the same mistakes. We are coming to a critical point in time, when the next generation must be smarter than its parent. As the idea of ‘family planning’ or ‘planned parenthood’ evolved, great improvements were made in the health of mothers, children, partner and family relations, as well as social and economic conditions of millions around the world. Yet, at the same time, the continuation of the family system in practice and as a mythology has meant that no fundamental change has been made in our mode of reproduction. In fact, attempts to investigate and understand further the reproductive process are meeting with resistance from all sides. Already legislation is in place which prohibits research that might lead to interference with genetic material for the purpose of changing human nature. Scientists themselves have subscribed to a kind of moratorium on embryonic research.
On the other hand, there are always exceptions, and science cannot be stopped. Also, there is a demand from the public, which will only grow over the coming decades, to have access to genetic information regarding the health of their offspring. Childless women who desperately want to have a baby inspire scientists to do more research and experimentation on the reproductive and gestation process in general and genetic transformation in particular. Cloning has already been done on animals and will prove to be quite feasible with humans as well. Also, the first artificial womb is not far off, enabling the gestation of new life outside the female body. Probably the next great change in human evolution will be the planning of child birth from beginning to end, with optimal genetic investment, maximum quality of intrauterine care as well as provision for a better environment and quality of parenting.
This change will liberate women from the burden of pregnancy and will allow much more room for improving the genetic qualities of the unborn. The choice for life will shift from the potential mother to the not-yet-born child. The latter will be represented by a rational consensus on what constitutes health and happiness.