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In 1979, China introduced the one-chils policy, an extreme form of population control. The policy was part of a birth planning program designed to control the size of its population. Although reasonably successful, it indirectly led to a women shortage in the country. Boys are preferred in culture, and many girls are either aborted or simply exposes to elements of nature. The unbalanced sex ratio is unprecedented in human history.

Fortunately, technology has advanced enough to allow children to be created in exowombs. Sex cells are taken from screened individuals and fertilized, with these children being brought to term in these artificial machines. These children (predominantly girls) are owned and raised by the state, then integrated into the larger community at a certain age. With this, the government can successfully balance out the sexes.

I want this technology to only be used for the purpose that it was intended, and avoid some of the other actions that a rich government would indulge in (growing a new army, genetic experimentation on embryos, etc). What limitations should I introduce to accomplish this?

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  • $\begingroup$ What will prevent family from abusing their own girls even more if the government provide wives... $\endgroup$ – MakorDal Oct 3 '19 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ Even worse are women needed with your solution? $\endgroup$ – MakorDal Oct 3 '19 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ Forgot the last one : read Ethan of Athos, from Lois McMaster Bujold for some likely consequences. $\endgroup$ – MakorDal Oct 3 '19 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ That doesn't seem "fortunate" at all - quite the opposite. It perpetuates and encourages the original cultural problem. It institutionalizes discrimination against half the population...and that's before it gets abused. That's heinous. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Oct 3 '19 at 19:47
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If you have exowombs, any society totalitarian enough to have population controls will have no trouble implementing mandatory sterilization. Take sex cells from every citizen as early as possible, probably at puberty. Then have them sterilized. The government then has nearly complete control of reproduction, and should be able to maintain a stable population and gender balance. They'll also easily be able to pursue eugenics programs.

There will likely still be a small number of unregulated pregnancies, no sterilization procedure is 100% effective, and some people may manage to avoid sterilization in the first place. But these should be extremely rare, and if they still prove too common, abortion could be made mandatory for unregulated pregnancies.

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    $\begingroup$ the unregulated pregnancy thing being both rare and taboo has a lot of interesting potential as a main plot driver :D $\endgroup$ – MParm Oct 5 '19 at 4:35
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I want this technology to only be used for the purpose that it was intended, and avoid some of the other actions that a rich government would indulge in (growing a new army, genetic experimentation on embryos, etc). What limitations should I introduce to accomplish this?

The government will not regulate against itself if it doesn't have to. The citizens, in this case, cannot effectively apply pressure against the government to make it regulate itself.

This leaves international pressure and regulation

Similar to nuclear materials and the International Atomic Energy Agency, international inspectors attempt to account for all cloning systems and their usage. Given the huge potential for misuse (i.e. clone armies) it would be considered to be as closely regulated as nuclear weapons.

The problem is that it's a lot easier to track nuclear materials, since they are mined from known sites, and the hardware is known (it takes different centrifuges to make weapons-grade fissionables than reactor fuel.)

A totalitarian government with a large industrial base can just set up completely new, somewhat-secret production chain for exowombs and the supplies for it. North Korea couldn't set that up (especially since they probably would need to import their exowombs) but China could definitely set up a secret factory to make the critical parts in these exowombs and then use off-the-shelf components for the rest, to avoid notice.

This solution is not going to be perfect. But it will prevent flagrant abuse.

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I will try to answer your question directly and avoiding many of the (probably) off topic moral issues and other issues concerning the scenario itself. So assuming the government is going to do this in the way you describe what can be done to prevent abuse?

The government would need to put in place strong internal controls. It needs a monitoring inspectorate with draconian powers to shut operations down if necessary and with direct access to the highest levels of government in case resistance is encountered to its actions. The rules governing the inspectorate need to be firmly established in law in such a way that its decisions could not be easily questioned or overturned except in exceptional circumstances. It might also need a separate appeal body to investigate any accusations of mismanagement by the inspectorate whose decision would be absolute and final.

Note if such a government wanted to implement these measures they could, but likewise if there was a change of heart and they wanted to undo them they could. There is very little that can be done to prevent this unless the inspectorate was also given political control and control of the military.

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