Raising ‘virtual babies’ in the metaverse – the solution to the problem of population growth?

An expert in the artificial intelligence (AI) industry predicts that raising ‘virtual babies’ in the metaverse will become common in the next 50 years.

In the book AI by Design: A Plan For Living With Artificial Intelligience (roughly translated: AI Design: A plan to live with artificial intelligence ), Ms. Catriona Campbell, a leading AI expert, argues that the problem of population growth will make society gradually accept the “virtual baby”, creating a big change in demographics, which she calls the “Tamagotchi generation”.

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n the future, humans can interact with virtual babies through VR glasses and tactile gloves

“Virtual babies can be a big step forward for all of us at this time,” she writes in the book. But within 50 years, the technology will be so advanced that the babies that exist in the metaverse are no different from babies in real life.”

The world population is close to 8 billion people. Once an adviser to the British government, the uncontrolled population growth, which affects the environment, is what worries Ms. Campbell. In 2020, a study by the data analysis company YouGov showed that nearly 10% of couples choose not to have children because of concerns about population growth , and more than 10% of survey respondents do not want to get married. family because the cost of raising a child is too expensive.

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Tamagotchi toys used to be a craze in the 1990s and early 2000sSCREEN CAPTURE

In the wake of declining birth rates, Ms. Campbell thinks consumers will start to be as interested in virtual babies as with Tamagotchi, the handheld virtual pet device that made headlines in Japan in the late 1990s and early 1990s. 2000 and created a craze among European children. “We are gradually creating a generation of Tamagotchi,” she said. Tamagotchi children will be more real than ever to their parents, for a variety of purposes.” The benefit of raising a virtual baby is that it doesn’t cost much, doesn’t take up space or resources in real life.

According to Ms. Campbell, with advanced CGI and machine learning technology, virtual children will have faces and bodies like real people. They can interact and react to their parents using facial recognition technology and speech analysis.

They will speak, mimicking the reactions of children in real life, such as the babbling of babies, the giggles of babies, the responses of teenagers. Parents can choose the environment to interact with the child, such as in the living room, park or swimming pool, and can even choose the child’s growth rate according to their wishes. Virtual children’s appearance will be based on the image of their parents. Parents can also take a test to choose the personality of their child.

In the metaverse , Ms. Campbell believes that tactile gloves will help parents interact with their virtual child in a more authentic way. At that time, parents can cuddle, feed and play with children.

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Ms. Campbell predicts AI kids will initially be available through a monthly rental, requiring only a small fee from parents to maintain the service.

In fact, there is a company Soul Machines in New Zealand that is testing virtual babies in the BabyX project. The project aims to anthropomorphize AI to get more people to interact with the technology.