A new book by an artificial intelligence expert has made the prediction that future human beings will no longer have real families. Instead, they’ll own nothing and be happy as they instead raise virtual children like pets inside the Metaverse.
Best of all: you’ll pay for raising these “children,” just as you would your biological flesh and blood.
The notion was promulgated as a win for humanity’s struggle against the oft-promoted overpopulation crisis in a May 30 article by The Telegraph, which quoted Catriona Campbell, described as “one of the UK’s leading authorities in AI and emerging and disruptive technologies.”
The ‘Tamagotchi Generation’
In a new book titled AI by Design: A Plan For Living With Artificial Intelligence, Campbell claimed, “Virtual children may seem like a giant leap from where we are now…but within 50 years technology will have advanced to such an extent that babies which exist in the metaverse are indistinct from those in the real world.”
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She added, “As the metaverse evolves, I can see virtual children becoming an accepted and fully embraced part of society in much of the developed world.”
The author coined the concept “The Tamagotchi Generation,” a token that harkens back to the mid-90s craze of raising digital pets on small handheld computers equipped with a tiny LCD screen.
The Telegraph makes a point of editorially promoting The Metaverse uncritically in its coverage, describing Mark Zuckerberg’s newest MMO pet project as “an immersive digital world” that is “seen as the future of the internet and will be more physically interactive.”
To compensate for the obvious deficiencies of wearing a VR headset and LARPing inside of a sleazy revamp of Second Life compared to forming a family with an actual spouse and having an actual child in reality like an actual human being, Campbell suggests parents simply get a pair of haptic feedback gloves that will “reproduce the physical sensations of cuddling, feeding and playing with one’s offspring.”
Money to be made
The article claimed further that the notion of digital children is not so far fetched, citing a survey that found 20 percent of respondents are childless because of either environmental responsibility concerns or the simple cost of raising a child being discouraging.
But the good news is, Campbell stated, digital children is something that can be monetized, “On the basis that consumer demand is there, which I think it will be, AI children will become widely available for a relatively small monthly fee,” she said.
And everything will be so much better than the pixelated Tamagotchi handhelds of the 90s, after all.
Campbell elucidated her excitement when she stated that using advanced CGI and artificial intelligence, technology will produce “photo-realistic faces and bodies” while attaching personalities to the digital dolls that “will be able to recognise and respond to their parents using facial tracking and voice analysis.”
The outlet further paraphrased Campbell’s thesis in more detail, “They will be capable of speech and simulated emotional responses encompassing a baby’s coo, a child’s giggle and a teenager’s backchat. Their parents will be able to interact with them in digital environments of their choosing, such as a sitting room, park or swimming pool.”
And of course, the brave new world will be all about the individual’s whims and choices, “They will also be able to choose how quickly their digital children grow up, if at all.”
A proof of concept
The article also cited Baby X, a “proof of concept” for digital children created by a New Zealand company called Soul Machines.
The company’s newest promotion is a called the Digital AI Astrologizer, which it captions in a YouTube video with the edgy slogan, “Join us in the Astral Plane, or whatever.”
The program is composed of a digital face and a clumsy robotic text-to-speech AI bot that requests inputs such as one’s birthday and name while goading the user to input responses to a personality quiz.
“One moment as I study the stars in your chart,” the digital gypsy says.
And it delivers everything one can expect from the transformation of astrology into a modern pseudoscience, “You’re feeling more like a Pisces today. This Venus move will help you find ways to use your creativity and get things done creatively even if those things tend to be less conventional at times.”
Frankly speaking, the demonstration harkens back to the kind of technology seen in the Playstation 2 and Playstation 3 eras, where Japanese and American game developers struggled to create photorealistic characters with natural reactions and expressions in an effort to produce movie-like, highly immersive settings for their games.
The company’s latest update to its BabyX gimmick was posted in 2017, where it showed BabyX 5.0 interacting with BabyX 3.0 as the company demonstrated that it could have its AI recognize a picture of a sheep as a sheep.
A photorealistic image of a baby is seen excitedly, and heart-movingly, announcing “sheep!” in a tiny baby voice during the advertisement.