In a country where over 70% of unmarried men between 18 and 34, and 60% of women, have no relationship with a member of the opposite sex, and where birthrates are among the lowest in the world after Japanese women gave birth to fewer than one million babies in 2016 for the first time since the government began tracking birth rates, Bloomberg reports on an industry that’s profiting off the reluctance of young Japanese men and women to find a human partner.
What Bloomberg calls the “virtual love industry” in Japan has blossomed into a multi-million-dollar concern as unmarried men and women increasingly turn to simulated digital offerings for companionship. Inventors create applications that essentially allow users to build a ‘virtual wife’ or ‘virtual husband’. While we imagine virtual companions bring badly needed comfort to millions of lonely Japanese, as Bloomberg notes, the industry does have a dark side: Some virtual-reality offerings promote unrealistic and even damaging portrayals of women as submissive. And men as domineering and menacing.
“Starting today, you live here now, with me,” he snarls. “I expect you to keep me entertained.” Wait, isn’t that his job?
A real young man on the streets of Akihabara, a district of Tokyo known for its anime and manga culture, is impressed by a demo of the game but declares, cringing, “Getting hit on by a man—it was pretty embarrassing.”
Simple companionship isn’t Takechi’s only vision. His virtual world of husband and dutiful wife, he says, “could develop into love, if we keep investigating further.”
One inventor who build a virtual-reality platform said he aims to create a virtual partner who brings greater satisfaction to Japanese men and women than a human companion would. That’s bad news for the Japanese economy, which, thanks to the looming demographic crunch as the population rapidly ages, will need to increasingly rely on the Bank of Japan’s “stimulus” to avoid a deflationary spiral.
“She’s always there, always listening, ready to cater to her husband’s every whim. Meet Azuma Hikari, Japan’s digital “wife of the future,” according to her inventor, Minori Takechi, who believes his AI construct can go some way toward solving Japan’s problem with loneliness.
Hikari lives in a bubble—like, an actual bubble, or a little transparent cylinder at any rate—in a skimpy outfit, lending a sympathetic ear to her man’s troubles, responding to commands, and flirting (“bath time—do not peep!”). Age: 20. Height: 158 centimeters. Specialty: fried eggs. Dislike: insects. So, less like Siri, more like Offred.
Takechi set out to create a partner who “brings greater satisfaction than human interaction.” Best of all, Hikari is bashful, so her owner “doesn’t have to communicate with her all the time,” Takechi says with a shy grin, in the second video in our Love Disrupted series. He is selling his prototype for $2,700 and reports 300 pre-orders, mainly from men in their 20s and 30s.”
At any rate at matter, should North Korean Leader follow through with his threats to “sink” Japan with nuclear weapons, a decision that, using the logic of certain investment banks, would represent an unprecedented economic stimulus.
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Meanwhile, we recently noted that the thriving market for lifelike sex dolls may have jumped the shark after a company offering sex doll rentals shuttered its new venture after less than a week after it inspired a storm of controversy. But we doubt that setback will forestall more advances in sex doll technology. For a look at what's to come, the Daily Star recently published a look inside the sex doll workshop of Spanish scientist Dr Sergi Santos, who recently produced a talking sex robot named Samantha.
The Daily Star published some exclusive photos of Santos's "works in progress"...
Many of the images of the dolls mimicking real-life situations are simply uncanny...
It's a silicone angel...
And here's video from inside the workshop...