The Push for More Babies: How Tech Elites Think It Will Save the Planet

Malcolm and Simone Collins, Youtube screenshot
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Pronatalists are “pro-birth” activists and anxious governments spooked by declining birth rates that fear the world is on the verge of “demographic collapse”. There is fear about an aging world with fewer working-age bodies to support social programs and growing populations of pensioners and economies and living standards will stagnate or collapse. The movement is led by billionaire business elites and people like Malcolm and Simone Collins who advocate for artificial wombs, creating human embryos using skin, muscle, liver or blood cells. Pronatalism overlaps with transhumanism, the idea that science should save humanity. The key is selecting for superior genetics. According to the video, the Collins believe that as long as each of their descendants have at least eight children for 11 generations, the Collins bloodline will eventually outnumber the current population. Malcom said that they could set the future of our species.

It is ironic that many wealthy elites have only one or zero children, according to Elon Musk, who links wealth to IQ. People who believe strongly in protecting the environment have a low birth rate of 0.7.


Warning: vulgar language


Soon after China reported that it saw more deaths than births last year, its first population dip in 60 years, Elon Musk, father of 10, again sounded the “population collapse” alarm, tweeting that a decline in birth rates globally heralds an “existential problem for humanity, not overpopulation!”

The billionaire Twitter owner is perhaps the highest profile figure associated with a resurgence of pronatalism, a new generation of “pro-birth” activists and anxious governments spooked by declining birth rates. Pronatalists fear the world is on the verge of “demographic collapse” and that if something dramatic isn’t done, the consequences will be dire. Among them, a rapidly aging world with fewer working-age bodies to support social programs and growing populations of pensioners; innovation will suffer, economies and living standards will stagnate or collapse. Civilization, Musk has warned, “will crumble.” It’s all a much bigger risk than global warming, the Tesla CEO has tweeted. “Mark these words.”

The reborn movement, Business Insider reports, is “taking hold in wealthy tech and venture-capitalist circles,” led by billionaire business elites and people like Malcolm and Simone Collins, the Valley Forge, Penn., founders of According to the Collinses, “humanity has a very real chance of experiencing an extinction event.” Life-extension therapies likely won’t save us, the couple says, despite the vast sums poured into “rejuvenation” tune-ups and young blood transfusions by Silicon Valley types. What could save us, they say, are artificial wombs that would make childbearing truly egalitarian, or a reproductive process, currently being tested in mice, that could permit the creation of human embryos using skin, muscle, liver or blood cells that have been coaxed into behaving like egg and sperm cells. Embryo screening and selection also figure into their plans.

The couple has three young children and aspires to have at least four more. “If you are committed to a high birth rate and building a healthy culture for your family,” they state on their website, “we want to talk!”

Declining birth rates merit serious consideration, economists have said. Children play a crucial role in economic growth and “intergenerational fiscal sustainability,” wrote the authors of a recent paper in Fertility and Sterility that makes a case for publicly funded, medically assisted reproduction. According to some forecasts, 183 of 195 countries will have total fertility rates — the number of children a woman delivers over her lifetime — below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman, by 2100. “When you’re slightly above 2.0 or 2.1 versus slightly below, that’s the difference between the population growing forever and the population shrinking forever,” Charles Jones, a professor of economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business said in an interview last month. Negative population growth, Jones said, “could be a problem.” If birth rates continue to collapse, Musk has warned, “civilization will indeed die with a whimper in adult diapers.”

But some say the new generation of pronatalists is operating from a warped bubble of techno-utopia, that its leaders are more interested in populating the planet with their own genes and artificially assisted “super babies” than collapsing cultures, an image pronatalists reject. “Imagine if there really were some secret cabals of rich dudes trying to just make more of themselves,” Malcolm Collins told the National Post. “Wouldn’t that be outrageous and wild?”

“What we find ironic about this is that, for the first time, there’s a pronatalist movement that is not about preserving any particular culture, but rather one about preserving as many cultures as possible and avoiding a hard landing on demographic collapse,” said Malcolm.

More than a quarter of the world’s countries have pronatalist policies aimed at boosting fertility rates and encouraging people to have more babies. Critics, however, argue the “humanity is going to collapse” trope is creating unnecessary alarmism and that the planet’s most pressing problem is that there are already too many of us consuming too much. If there’s any collapse to be feared, “that would be environmental collapse,” said Nandita Bajaj, the Toronto-based executive director of Population Balance, an organization that works to fight environmental degradation that it says is a result of human expansionism. The world’s population hit the eight billion mark in November. “Globally, we’re still adding about 80 million people every year to the planet,” Bajaj said. “That growth stems from pronatalism, which is all of the cultural and institutional pressure that promotes or even coerces childbearing.”

The planet is in a state of “ecological overshoot,” said Bajaj, who teaches a course on pronatalism and overpopulation at Antioch University in New Hampshire. “We are straining Earth’s ecosystems far beyond their capacity to regenerate.” Climate change, biodiversity loss, growing scarcities of freshwater are all bigger problems than “the bizarre claim that we’re not producing enough babies,” she said.

She and others also see the fertility rate hand-wringing and pronatalism resurgence as part of a more troubling trend in right-wing populism, one that exalts masculinity while oppressing women, and that isn’t so much about having more kids as it is the “right” kids. “We do not need numbers. We need Hungarian children,” Hungary’s populist, anti-immigration Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in 2019. “Migration for us is surrender.” In Hungary, women with four or more children are exempt from paying income tax, for life.

Russia recently revived its “Mother Heroine” award, which delivers a payment of one million rubles (about $21,600) to women who birth and raise 10 Russian babies (the lump sum is paid on the 10th baby’s first birthday).

After 35 years of a one-child policy that led to a fertility rate of 1.16, gender-selective abortions and 15 million more men than women, China’s new three-child policy includes closing vasectomy clinics and limiting the availability of birth control, in addition to tax deductions, longer maternity leave and free fertility treatments for heterosexual couples.

Pope Francis once lamented that people prefer dogs and cats to having children and called intentional childlessness a form of selfishness. In the U.K., an unnamed cabinet minister recently suggested that British women, like Hungarian women, should get tax credits for having babies. The Sun called it “Bonk for Britain.”

Japan’s prime minister this week warned the country, one of the most expensive in the world to raise a family, is “on the brink of not being able to maintain social functions,” that it’s “now or never” to do something to reverse free-falling birth rates.

The Fertility and Sterility paper, meanwhile, argues that generous public subsidies for fertility treatments for the one in seven infertile couples would produce at least as many, and likely more children than baby bonuses or other pronatalist policies. In other words, turn from the “able but unwilling, to the willing but unable,” the authors wrote.

The high costs of childcare and housing, competitive job markets and worries about the future and environment are just some of the factors behind the demographic headwinds. But falling fertility rates are also strongly correlated with gender equality and giving people, especially women, more liberated reproductive choices.

As such, fertility decline should be celebrated, Bajaj said. “It’s not that people are just going to stop having kids.” Rather, in more liberated, democratic societies, they tend to have fewer children, more spaced out, and later in life. Bajaj considers “depopulation alarmism” a form of reproductive coercion that reduces women to birth vessels to realize political, religious and nationalist agendas.

In Canada, the average number of children per woman was 3.7 during the mid-20th century baby boom. By 2020, it had fallen to 1.4. Two dozen countries could see their populations shrink by more than 50 per cent, including Japan, Thailand, Italy and Spain, by century’s end.

But other areas are set to see rapid growth. In sub-Saharan Africa, the population is forecast to triple over the course of the century, growth that will increase pressures on food and other resources, which are at times strained, even now.

Indeed, today, almost half the world’s 2.2 billion children are already at risk from pollution and food insecurity, according to Bajaj’s organization, which argues that pronatalism not only undermines reproductive autonomy but also neglects the needs of future children.

In Canada, policies like tax credits and long maternity leaves are family friendly. All very positive things, Bajaj said. Immigration is also a “fantastic way” to help offset fertility decline, she said. By 2025, Canada is set to receive up to 500,000 newcomers per year. “But there is this bias towards more people, more resources, all based on this idea we need to keep developing and growing…. When that bias becomes strong enough, governments will turn to polices to promote higher fertility rates however they can.”

Trevor Hedberg is not an absolute anti-natalist, as in someone who believes people simply shouldn’t reproduce — groups like believe the optimal number of kids is zero. But Hedberg, a University of Arizona philosopher and author of The Environmental Impact of Overpopulation: The Ethics of Procreation, believes there are pretty strong arguments one shouldn’t procreate “a whole hell of a lot.” Given the current state of the environment, he’s more concerned about getting fertility rates even lower, voluntarily, by, for example, increasing access to birth control, providing women more educational opportunities and media campaigns that promote the social acceptability of small families.

According to the projections published in the Lancet, the world’s population is expected to level out at 8.8 billion by century’s end, 800 million more than today.

The objective shouldn’t be to cram as many human bodies as could survive into the world, Hedberg said. “If you’re going to have basic moral integrity, that would entail some kind of commitment to not make the (environmental) problem worse, which means reproducing under replacement level fertility.” So, a maximum of two biological children. “If you want a larger family, adoption might be permissible,” he said.

Hedberg can see a moral argument for Malcolm and Simone’s cultural argument, that certain cultures could be threatened by falling birthrates and that people might wish to procreate for the preservation of the values or traditions embodied in those cultures. (They don’t, however, say exactly which cultures.)

However, “If the reason to procreate and have lots of children and do this environmentally unsustainable thing is just self-interest, then that is not going to hold up to moral scrutiny,” Hedberg said. It’s also not clear why one needs to produce a boatload of kids, and not just one or two, to carry on one’s legacy. “Doesn’t that just seem sort of inherently self-interested, or selfish?”

For many, the most disturbing part of the pronatalist pitch is the “technophilic” piece. On their website, the Collinses said they want to work with families “to approach the often-daunting task of freezing sperm, eggs and embryos” to allow people to postpone childbearing so that they may first pursue careers or create “optimal scenarios for child rearing.” The couple has undergone multiple rounds of IVF — in their “Year of the Harvest,” they produced 26 embryos — and has donated some of their own unused frozen embryos. “We understand how hard the whole process is,” Malcolm said.

More controversial is an IVF add-on known as polygenic risk score screening, which estimates an embryo’s future susceptibility to a certain polygenic (meaning based on two or more genes) condition, say, high blood pressure, based on an aggregate of multiple, potentially millions, of genetic variants. The technology is used to score for the risk of cancer, diabetes, schizophrenia and a handful of other conditions. But it’s also being marketed by U.S.-based companies to sort for non-disease, complex traits like intelligence, height and “intellectual disability.” The Collins’ youngest, four-month old Titan, was born from an embryo that underwent polygenic screening before it was selected for transfer to her mother’s womb. It’s giving kids a better roll of the dice,” Simone told Bloomberg News for its article, The Pandora’s Box of Embryo Testing is Officially Open. “We are the Underground railroad of ‘Gattaca’ babies and people who want to do genetic stuff with their kids,” Malcolm Collins shared with Business Insider’s Julia Black.

In addition to questions about validity, reliability and accuracy, groups like the European Society of Human Genetics consider polygenic screening unproven, unethical and seriously societally risky by sorting embryos into “yes” or “reject,” like swiping right or left on a dating app. The journal Nature has warned the tests could lead to the needless destruction of viable embryos or induce women to undergo repeated rounds of ovarian stimulation to collect more eggs, to make more embryos. The technology demands “a broader societal discussion … it is well past time to discuss how far it should go,” the editors wrote.

“When you look at the motivation for (polygenic screening) it’s clearly enhancement,” said University of Toronto bioethicist Kerry Bowman, who teaches a course in the ethics of emerging biotechnology. “It’s still very, very much looking for improved people.”

But the relationship between genes and the environment is profoundly complex, Bowman said. With the pronatalist community, “there’s a presupposition that a lot of things, like altruism, intelligence, are clearly genetically loaded.”

“Intelligence may be, to a point,” Bowman said. “But they’re assuming an awful lot, that these are genetic traits. And they may not be.”

We’re also not exactly an endangered species, Bowman said. “Yes, human fertility is declining somewhat, but human population is not declining,” though it is levelling off in a few key nations, like China and India.

And while population alone isn’t driving the environmental crisis, “it’s absolutely woven into that very complicated equation,” Bowman said. “There’s no question about it.”

There’s also no indication that our fertility is going to crash to the point we’re going to vanish, he said. “No one is saying that.”

There’s an elitist element to all of this, Bowman said — “It is sort of a soft eugenics proposal that they’re putting forward.” Pronatalism also overlaps with transhumanism, the idea that we should use all science has to offer to save humanity. But, among pronatalists, the concern seems to be more about who is not having children. “Contrary to what many think, the richer someone is, the fewer kids they have,” Musk tweeted last May. “I am a rare exception. Most people I know have zero or one kid.”

There’s also no indication that our fertility is going to crash to the point we’re going to vanish, he said. “No one is saying that.”

There’s an elitist element to all of this, Bowman said — “It is sort of a soft eugenics proposal that they’re putting forward.” Pronatalism also overlaps with transhumanism, the idea that we should use all science has to offer to save humanity. But, among pronatalists, the concern seems to be more about who is not having children. “Contrary to what many think, the richer someone is, the fewer kids they have,” Musk tweeted last May. “I am a rare exception. Most people I know have zero or one kid.”

The Cambridge and Stanford-educated entrepreneurs have raised private equity funds, own travel companies, author a series of books (the latest out this month, The Pragmatist’s Guide to Crafting Religion: A Playbook for Sculpting Cultures that Overcome Demographic Collapse & Facilitate Long-Term Human Flourishing) and are preparing for the inaugural class of their US$20,000 per student per year, home schooling-based Collins Institute for the Gifted. The last thing they want to do, they said, is pressure someone who isn’t “ready or excited” to have kids to become a parent. Rather, they’d like to nudge people planning to have two or three to consider five or more.

“A single family having eight kids that successfully passes that practice on to their own children can save their entire ethnic group,” their website states.

Dwindling birth rates could threaten women’s rights, they write, which seems especially puzzling to Hedberg, since lower fertility is a direct outcome of giving women more reproductive freedom. The Collinses argue that cultures that don’t have strong religious convictions and that treat women as equals are being “systematically deleted.”

They also position the breeding of large families as a way to achieve a kind of immortality. If having kids is no longer about having an extra farmhand, people need some other “exogenous” motivator to breed above the replacement rate, the couple said.

For cultures that seem able to maintain a stable birth rate, that motivation is usually a religious one. “And the promise of most religious movements is a form of immortality,” Malcolm said.

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1 month ago

So the part that you are not allowed to talk about is that this is not a Nazi program, but Jewish. Simone Collins is Jewish, Elon Musk is Jewish, transhumanist Ray Kerzweil is Jewish, Zuckerberg is Jewish, etc. The tech elite who want to stop others from breeding, especially those of European stock, are Jewish.

Ragnar D.
Ragnar D.
1 month ago

These globalists are again showing their love of eugenics. You can see interviews from decades ago where they were explaining how they were going to structure the society to make it very difficult and expensive to have and to rear children. Now they’re trying to use their undeserved wealth and technology to ensure that the “best” among us pass on the “right” genes for the future. Maybe if they just left people alone to make their own decisions, civilization could continue to move forward.

1 month ago

I think this is hilarious. First they want to depopulate the world.. there are just too many people for farmers to produce enough food. NOW, they get it.. there won’t be anyone to work the jobs that make THEM money. OR farm the farms! How will THEY survive without more people to work?