INNOVATION – AI
In today’s society, more and more people are facing loneliness, and some men are finding solace in socialising with AI-created girlfriends. This phenomenon is causing concern among experts, who warn of the possible emergence of a new generation of incels who have difficulty forming relationships with real people.
Tara Hunter, the interim head of Australian domestic violence group Full Stop Australia, expressed her concerns in an interview with The Guardian. She stressed that the possibility of having the perfect virtual partner who fulfils all your needs and desires is extremely worrying.
Virtual emotional companion
Among the popular apps offering AI girlfriends, Replika stands out. This mobile app from Luka, Inc. is positioned by its creators as a “friend without judgement, drama or social anxiety” with whom you can build an emotional connection. Replika uses machine learning algorithms and neural networks to achieve this goal. These technologies allow the app to understand and remember a user’s preferences, interests and emotional state. More than 70,000 users actively share screenshots of their personal conversations with AI friends in the Replika forum on Reddit, including screenshots of “marriage ceremonies” with AI partners.
Navigating the uncertain future
But there are questions about the potential consequences of such interactions. Belinda Barnett, a senior lecturer in the School of Media at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, said: “We don’t know what the social implications might be in the future. Regulation in this area is becoming increasingly important, particularly in terms of how such AI systems are trained.”
Japan’s example could serve as a warning to the rest of the world. In 2013, the BBC reported that men who prefer to socialise with virtual girlfriends in video games are avoiding real-life relationships. Given the country’s low birthrate and the lack of interest in sex among many men, the future looks rather strange and perhaps even bleak.