Japan has made plans to boost its waning birth rate by investing in artificial intelligence matchmaking schemes to help its residents find love.
From 2021, it will subsidize local governments that are currently running or will begin AI projects to pair people up. Last year, only about 865,000 babies were born in Japan— a record low.
The quick-greying country has been looking for ways to turn around one of the world’s least fertility rates for years. Increasing the use of AI technology is a recent effort of its.
Next year, the government allocation for local authorities to increase its birth rate is 2 billion yen ($19m, £14), as reported by the AFP news agency.
A lot of them already have human-executed matchmaking services. Some have now introduced AI systems hoping it will carry out a more sophisticated evaluation of the standard forms where people’s details are submitted.
Some of the existing systems are restricted to taking into account criteria like age and income, and only produces an outcome if there is an exact match.
Local media have stated that the investments by the government is to allow the authorities purchase more expensive and advanced systems that don’t consider factors like values or hobbies.
‘We are especially planning to offer subsidies to local governments operating or starting up matchmaking projects that use AI,’ a cabinet official said to AFP. ‘We hope this support will help reverse the decline in the nation’s birthrate.’
The population of Japan has been projected to fall from 128 million to less than 53 million by the end of the century.
Lawmakers are in a haste to make sure the contracting workforce of the country meets the growing costs of welfare.
Sachiko Horiguchi, a socio-cultural and medical anthropologist at Japan’s Temple University is of the opinion that there are more effective ways of increasing the country’s birth rate than subsidizing AI matchmaking, like assisting young people earning low wages.
She made reference to a recent report which suggested that there is a link between lower income levels and lack of interest in romantic relationships among young adults in Japan.
‘If they’re not interested in dating, the matchmaking would likely be inffective’, Dr Horiguchi said to the BBC. ‘If we are to rely on technologies, affordable AI robots taking over household or childcare tasks may be more effective.’
Analysts and critics have pointed out the inadequate support for working moms in Japan where there are expectations that women will do all the house chores, raise children and also do their jobs.
The government has stated its plan to encourage more women to go into full-time employment recently, but there has been growth in the gender gap.
Japan’s rank in the 2019 report on gender equality by the World Economic Forum is 121 out of 153, going down 11 places from the previous year.
By Marvellous Iwendi.
Source: BBC News