The catalyst for this response: http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/pelletier20121113
I’m personally very torn here as both a parent and a futurist. Mostly so as a person who has to deal with all these adults who were not loved as children.
Parenting is not something that should be convenient. The gestation period is a process that prepares you mentally and socially for being a parent. Those who skirt their duty often continue that habit throughout the child’s life, depriving that child of necessary social skills. It’s not simply finding a ‘fix’ for the still little understood child-mother bonding in the womb.
Our entire social structures are built around how we reproduce and as we strive to make families more convenient to our pursuits of labor and ambition we are already turning our children into little Ender’s, spending their childhoods in front of monitors. A fetus may be dependent on its mother’s health and judgment, but it is that experience that offers it greater security once born. If we turn babies into some kind of consumer product we will see the same quality that get in all of our planned obsolescent distractions.
Convenience has inertia. The easier you make things, the easier they are expected to be. You cannot just hand someone a baby and say good luck! They won’t appreciate what it took to create it; they won’t be prepared for the sacrifice it needs. Gestation allows for a gradual descent into a selfless existence. So perhaps you attach an incentive to the baby, a price or punishment?
The technology may be nearly ready but our humanity has a long way to go before we could dream of having this technology ethically applied. I personally don’t see working women being the driving force behind this technology, if anything other than military/ labor purposes I see the chauvinistic conquering of the female body as the catalyst for allowing such technology to become prevalent. Even if it were to be working women, the decision to base childrearing practices around the convenience of corporations or at best the selfish indulgences of ambition is ill advised.
Will this technology someday become legal/ socially acceptable? I believe so, very much like the high rate of unnecessary but convenient cesarean deliveries. Will there be serious ethical and social dilemmas that will arise you bet ya! Will all babies at any point in the future be born in this manner? Not unless you want to find the hard answer to Fermi’s paradox.