Artificial intelligence is getting more and more attention these days and it seems, soon it will solve many aspects of human life. The Japanese government has announced a subsidy for AI research that aims at improving romantic partner search services.
That’s right: high technology should help the Japanese find their soul mate. Starting in 2021, the government will subsidize artificial intelligence companies if their products are aimed at finding the perfect partner for the user. For this, they plan to allocate two billion yen (over $ 19 million). Regional administrations will distribute funds among local developers.
As the BBC writes with reference to local media, the logic of the project is as follows. Existing services take into account some physiological parameters (for example, age) and, possibly, the income of a potential partner. Moreover, this is true for both marriage agencies, where people are engaged in the selection, and for applications or sites, where a certain algorithm do the mix and match. In such systems, many important criteria, such as hobbies, interests and personal values, often go unaccounted for.
AI-based developments are designed to correct such shortcomings, and the increased number of happy couples is to change the demographic situation in the country. Over the past decades, Japan has become one of the fastest aging nations. According to official forecasts, if nothing is changed, by the end of the 21st century, the population of the state will decrease to 53 million people, while in 2017, 128 million people lived in the Land of the Rising Sun. In 2019, the birth rate reached an anti-record – only 865 thousand children.
However, the government’s draft met with well-founded criticism. For example, according to Sachiko Horiguchi, professor of sociocultural and medical anthropology at Temple University, this approach will not change anything globally. Young people have not had the opportunity to build families, and will not have. He cites several important features of Japan that affect demographics.
First, the country has very low salaries for newcomers and young workers. It’s very difficult for them to have a good living, and earning money for their studies. At the same time, building a family is often out of the question.
And secondly, Japan occupies a paradoxically low position in the world ranking of gender equality. Despite the high level of development of the country, there are still strong patriarchal stereotypes: and still the lion’s share of domestic responsibilities and work for childcare or other women are on their shoulders. If they have ambitions to build a career or simply to support themselves, there is no strength for the family. In addition, understanding the prospects in long-term relationships, Japanese women often choose to avoid them and live for themselves.
Criticizing the government’s project of financing “AI matchmakers“, sociologists propose to redirect money to more necessary reforms in the country. For example, allocate funds for youth support, educational programs or women’s assistance centers. Without these measures, experts say, no artificial intelligence will force young Japanese people to meet or have children.