Taking a stab at prophecy, an AI expert foretells that by 2070, one-fifth of the population will choose lifelike, virtual babies over real ones. Couples who cannot have or afford babies, or want to stave off ‘overpopulation,’ will be able to rent AI children for a mere $25 a month.
According to Catriona Campbell, who EY-Seren (a company she co-founded in 2001) calls a “renowned behavioral psychologist” as well as a “leader in human-computer interaction,” this would constitute a “Tamagotchi” generation, named after the popular 1990s-era virtual pets. Campbell, also a former UK Government adviser, says that the experience, through augmented reality (AR) and the use of haptic ‘touch-sensitive’ gloves, would dwarf the virtual-pets phenomenon, nearly dissolving the line between real and unreal.
Not only would the AI simulate facial expressions, emotions, and speech of a child to an uncanny degree, but couples would have the sensation of actually touching their children. Furthermore, couples can order the AI to program the child’s physical features and personalities, as well as determine its starting age and rate of development. Should these ‘parents’ get bored with their creation, deletion is provided as an option.
Being even bolder in her predictions, Campbell claims that “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,” and that she can see these virtual young “becoming an accepted and fully embraced part of society in much of the developed world.”
It is a long-term solution to birth control without preventing people from having children, Campbell says, even though it is “unpalatable” to most for now. “This will lead to the first, fully digital demographic which, although somewhat strange on first appearance, in fact represents what could be one of mankind’s most important technological breakthroughs since the advent of the Bronze Age, given its potential impact on global populations and societal change,” she says.
Naturally, this technological wonder would be hooked up to the Metaverse, a virtual reality platform operated by Meta (formerly Facebook). According to the World Economic Forum’s web page, the social phenomenon would be so “commonplace” as to “become an extension of reality itself.”
Not everyone is as elated by the prospect of non-biological ‘reproduction.’ World-famous psychologist and self-help guru Jordan Peterson called it “more utter anti-human insanity,” while social commentator and independent journalist Paul Joseph Watson labeled it “just more anti-natal propaganda, predominantly targeting white western countries, which are already seeing birth rates rapidly decline.”
It’s not the danger of overpopulation, but the exact opposite trend, that keeps Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder Elon Musk awake at night. Only last December, as reported by The European Conservative, he stated that “if people don’t have more children, civilization is going to crumble, mark my words.”
Tristan Vanheuckelom writes on film, literature, and comics for various Dutch publications. He is an avid student of history, political theory, and religion, and is a News Writer at The European Conservative.