The 7th Little Pig and Human-Technology Co-Evolution: Kiri's Story

The 6th little capitalist technocrat pig married a researcher interested in the human genome. Wanting to have children, yet struggling with infertility, they spent over $100,000 and used an in-vitro fertilization (IVF) method wherein one partner's eggs were mixed with donor sperm. Cells were then taken from the resulting embryos and tested for various genetic disorders and chromosome number using a method called preimplantation genetic diagnosis. One healthy embryo was then implanted into the other partner, allowing both parents to contribute biologically to the offspring. Seven months later, Kiri (named after the iPhone's "Siri," of course) was born prematurely and spent eight weeks in the Neonatal

Intensive Care Unit (NICU), monitored constantly by sophisticated life- support machines. Kiri's parents placed a teddy bear in the isolette that played the sound of a human heartbeat—something the fetus had heard regularly in the womb (now replaced by the high-tech plastic incubator/ artificial womb), and after birth would still have heard regularly had Kiri's parents been able to hold their baby

When they were finally able to take Kiri home, they found that Kiri could not sleep in their crib without the constant sound emanating from the teddy bear. Thus, Kiri began as a cyborg—a symbiotic fusion of human and machine—a process that started with a high-tech conception and birth and continued to unfold as Kiri grew. Kiri's primary attachments were to blankets and other objects, and especially to the teddy bear and later to a cellphone and an iPad, which by now were 3D and holographic so Kiri could actually enter into the stories they read via interactive goggles.

In high school, having limited access to affordable education (for that had not yet changed in the United States), Kiri—who had eventually decided on a gender identity and now preferred the pronouns "she, her, hers"—longed for a career in medicine, and so joined the military upon graduation, hoping to have her education funded this way. The military did help her complete her medical studies, and she became a well-respected researcher specializing in the human genome, just like one of her parents. Tragically, on a field research trip to Afghanistan, she was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) and lost her leg. Kiri was sent home to obtain a prosthetic leg (Punch 1: mutilate a natural process with technology; Punch 2: prosthetically fix the damage with more technology.)

Over time, Kiri grew to love her high-tech leg and was amazed by how much she could do with it. Her connection to that leg led her to reflect on her cyborgian nature—she had always been dependent on machines, and now one was an integral part of her—along with the supersmart phone that rarely left her hands. Kiri started to think about this ongoing and ever-increasing fusion of human and machine, this cyborgian future being created. Her new interest made the military very happy, as they were able to assign her to their medical cyber-branch—a highly specialized team of researchers looking into the possibility of creating a metahuman—a human or group of humans with special abilities given to them via technologies that alter their genomes. After all, they reasoned, we are already co-creating ourselves with our technology, generating a new species, which they called techno-sapiens. Kiri herself became one of their experiments, having technologies implanted into her arm and ear so she could always be connected.

After trying for several years to conceive, Kiri discovered she too was infertile secondary to uterine cancer (which was on the rise due to all the chemical toxins accumulating in the environment). Unwilling to give up on the possibility of giving birth, she received a uterine transplant and again, Punch 2 worked. The transplanted uterus contained a tiny computer chip that allowed researchers to monitor how Kiri's body was accepting the new organ. After several attempts at becoming pregnant with her new uterus, the doctors discovered that Kiri's partner's sperm count was far below normal—something the experts attributed in part to his constant smartphone use and his habit of carrying this device in his front pants pockets. And yet, Kiri still wanted a child, so, again using IVF, she became pregnant with her own cyborgian child, whom she and her partner sex-selected for XX chromosomes. Research on the human genome had not yet reached the point where hair and eye color, nor intelligence, could be selected for, but Kiri wondered what choices her child and her grandchildren would be able to make.

Kiri did not like being pregnant—feeling large and unwieldy, having morning sickness, and being unable to bend over to strap her shoes—so she was fascinated by, and spent time researching, the possibility of growing babies in artificial wombs. But one day during her yoga class, while in deep meditation, Kiri heard the voice of her baby warn that they were in the wrong position and needed help. Kiri was amazed. She loved technology, but was also quite intuitive, and as such, was willing to trust her experience as real. She immediately changed her mind not only about artificial wombs, but also about where and with whom to give birth. Kiri found a local midwife who checked the baby's position and discovered that the baby was in fact presenting breech. After trying some re-positioning exercises that were unsuccessful, the midwife performed an external version, while Kiri silently spoke to the baby, urging movement with the pressure of the midwife's hands. She felt some fear from the baby, but kept whispering to trust, and soon the baby turned into the vertex position.

About two weeks later, Kiri the cyborg, who had only recently come to trust the evolved organic biology of her body and the process of birth, embraced the Big Bad Wolf and the raw power it represented, and had an intense, beautiful, and wildly out-of-control birth with a midwife, her partner, and a doula by her side (along with various colleagues from her research lab who were desperate to see an unmedicated, physiologic birth). She chanted and sang, rocked her body in an ancient dance, and yelled out gutturally from deep inside her soul as her baby made its way into the world. Kiri discovered the power of her own birth song, and felt triumphant beyond words as she pushed out little Quinn Riley while standing up facing and embracing her partner. Quinn was perfectly healthy, yet with one anomaly. Via the placenta's attachment to the uterine wall, the microscopic computer chip used to monitor the transplanted uterus had traveled through the umbilical cord and become encased in Quinn's brain, opening up new possibilities for studying brain growth and for furthering human-technology co-evolution—which we leave our readers to imagine...

As Kiri held Quinn in her arms, she realized she had been privileged to experience the best of both worlds over her lifetime—access to sophisticated medical technology when it served her and trust in the power of her own body when needed. She saw the need to "right-size" maternity care globally and so became an activist and researcher, committing her career to finding ways to move beyond the TMTS/TLTL dualism to offer RARTRW care—the right amount at the right time in the right way—that is, in a way that explicitly respects the dignity and autonomy of all childbearing people everywhere. Kiri loved the present and looked forward to the future, yet wanted to remember and honor parts of the past.

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