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Metaphysics & Psychology

A threat to global demographics? People fall in love with virtual characters just like real people

A threat to global demographics? People fall in love with virtual characters just like real people 1
Photo: Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner.' WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT

In place of, or rather, in addition to other agendas, as well as the childfree ideology, which implies the voluntary rejection of offspring, another danger has come to the continuation of the human race – virtual romances with bots endowed with artificial intelligence.

The “romantic relationship” between humans and computer characters has not only become a reality, but has also begun to threaten real relationships.

“The need to love and be loved is a persistent universal aspect of human psychology. For most of our history, that need has required another person to satisfy it—someone who can be loved and loved in return. Today, a virtual agent can potentially meet this need, writes IFLScience.

The authors of the study, in which several dozen women were asked to play games and then evaluate their partners from among computer characters with AI, note that the majority of the subjects not only endowed their digital counterparts with human traits, but also expressed a desire to continue these relationships in real life. If, of course, this were possible.

However, not only women can be charmed by artificial intelligence: the men who played LovePlus fell in love with their virtual girlfriends to the point that they preferred them to real women.

Researchers believe that it is unlikely that any of the people will fall in love with a customer service chatbot or a navigator, but digital partners endowed with AI may well compete with real people.

Japanese study on romantic computer games

Recently, scientists from the University of Hiroshima (Japan) decided to check whether users of romantic computer games exhibit anthropomorphism. It was the first study of its kind. The results are published in the British Journal of Social Psychology and reported at the university’s website.

In many countries, computer games are gaining popularity when a person “builds” relationships with a virtual character. The player is offered different situations, choices, to which the virtual counterpart reacts in one way or another. It is based on the same technology on the basis of which chat bots, speech assistants and call center robots are created, but at a more complex and higher level.

The researchers concluded that the level of humanization of a character created by artificial intelligence among users of such games is quite high. These relationships are generally perceived by the players as “real” and falling in love as “genuine”. People tend to form strong bonds with virtual lovers.

The scientists then tested whether having a virtual “romance” with a character affects a person’s behavior in the real world and concluded that were no adverse effects.

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“Relationships with virtual agents can feel real and authentic, making people feel good and want to keep going. These games provide millions of people with the opportunity to maintain, develop and enjoy the romance of a relationship. This is an important area of ​​social life. The human need to love and be loved is universal; throughout history it has implied the existence of another person. But today a virtual agent can satisfy these needs,” the scientists write.

This is where the tendency to anthropomorphism works, which almost every person has to one degree or another. So the “robot lover” is most likely really just around the corner and we wonder if this will spawn its own wave of “lovers of all natural”.

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