1999 – Ectogenesis Enters The Matrix

Elle Zhan Wei
June 28th 2017

The Matrix was released in 1999. As you may know, it's a sci-fi blockbuster that narrates a dystopian future where humans live in a simulated reality, called "the matrix". In the movie, physical bodies are submerged in pods where corporeal heat and electrical activity are harvested and used as energy to power up "the matrix".

The movie was a big success and brought ectogenesis to the public eye. The movie draws references from philosophical and religious ideas such as Plato's Allegory of the Cave, Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventure in Wonderland.

The Matrix, directed by the Wachowski Brothers, 1999

The Matrix pictures a very recognizable daily life to lead the audience into the story and create a shocking effect once the illusion is revealed. This "illusion" got so well known in pop culture that people claim to have experienced "glitch" in their lives, just like in The Matrix. To exploit humans in this particular way might be far fetched, but this movie enveloped the artificial womb with some darker clouds. As the technique in "growing human outside the body" is being developed in real life, the skeptics linger.

The main lead escaping the human pods in The Matrix.

This movie mirrors our collective fear in a technology that gets wild and turns our life into something we don't recognize; a technology so advanced and working so well, that it will exploit us in ways we do not even notice. Can the artificial womb stand on the opposite side of humanity one day?

Here is a small selection of other artificial womb appearance in different movies or shows. Notice how they all share the blue tinted look in the narrative of the artificial womb.

The Sixth Day, directed by Roger Spottiswoode, 2000.

The Island, directed by Michael Bay, 2005.

Kamino Cloning Chamber from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, directed by Dave Filoni, 2008.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, published by LucasArts, 2010.

Episode II, Chapter 2: Discovery on Kamino, Lego, 2013.

This article is part of the Artificial Womb research project by NNN. The goal of this project is to develop thought-provoking scenarios that facilitate a much-needed discussion about the way technology radically alters our attitude towards reproduction, gender, relationships and love in the 21st century. We highly value your feedback or input, contributions can be sent to womb@nextnature.net.

Images: IMPawards, Eurobricks, Wookieepedia

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Should men be able to give birth to children?

Lisa Mandemaker: Using an artificial womb could lead to more equality between sexes, but also between different family layouts. If men would be able to give birth to children, it would maybe be easier for male same-sex couples to have a child together.

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