Japan is set on funding artificial intelligence matchmaking schemes in an effort to boost its fading birth rate and help its lonely-heart citizens find love. Beginning next year, the country will seek to subsidise local governments that will start running the project. They believe that the use of AI to pair people provides a wider and smarter range of potential matches.
According to Japanese cabinet officials, the technology aims to effectively ignore the usual stated preferences of users based on age, income level and looks. In lieu of these typical preferences, the program will base its matching points using "emotional quotient." This would allow potentials to connect with a person that has similar values, personalities and emotional intelligence.
In a statement from Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, he said the government plans to allocate two billion yen (£14 million) in the next fiscal year to fund the matchmaking program.
Although there are existing human-run matchmaking services available in the country, these mostly use the standard forms that only list people's interests and hobbies. AI systems can delve deeper into this set of information and can perform a much more advanced analysis .
Government data shows that the number of marriages in Japan have fallen by 200,000 from the year 2000 to 2019. The city of Saitama spent about £107,000 on matchmaking services in the fiscal year to March 2019, and saw 21 couples make it to the altar, the BBC reported.
Last year, the number of babies born in Japan hit a record low of 865,000. The nation is seeing a fast- greying generation and has been trying to find a way around reversing it's low fertility rate - which is considered to be one of the lowest in the world. Japan's population is projected to take a huge dip from 128 million in 2017 to less than 53 million by the end of this century.
On the other hand, Sachiko Horiguchi, a socio-cultural and medical anthropologist at Japan's Temple University believes helping young people who are earning low wages is a better alternative to funding AI matchmaking.
She said recent reports suggest there is a link between lower income levels and loss of interest in romantic relationships among young Japanese adults. This could well be associated with the lack of support for working mothers in Japan, where there are strong expectations that women will do all the housework and raise children at the same time as working their day jobs.