Are AI Dating Services the Solution to Japan’s Decreasing Birth Rate?
Hoping to get more residents hitched, government invests in artificial intelligence matchmaking.
The Japanese government has taken on the role of matchmaker, in an attempt to counter the now decades-long problem of the country’s decreasing birth rate.
This isn’t all that new of a concept, as a little over half of Japan’s prefectures already have some form of state-sponsored dating system in place to help single citizens find a suitable partner.
What is exceptional, however, is how the Japanese government is turning to artificial intelligence software to help its matchmaking efforts.
Smarter dating systems
According to Soranews24, the officials considering this plan felt that the existing government dating systems aren’t up for the task, mainly because they’ve been too narrowly focused on certain details when it comes to connecting one person to another.
Ideally, the new program would allow singles to find suitable matches beyond things like income, education, or age by using much more sophisticated software.
When in place, the artificial intelligence-driven system would have registrants enter personal details about themselves and what they might be looking for in a partner, such as interests, beliefs, or habits.
Japanese government makes multi-billion Yen proposal
Of the prefectures with existing dating programs, around 12 of them already use some form of limited artificial intelligence. This new plan would have the government subsidize a large amount of the costs to upgrade these sites, in addition to expanding the service nationally.
The question remains: are the results worth the cost? One of the prefectures that began using AI for dating its services had to pay JP¥15 million (nearly US$143,000) to get it up and running.
Then there’s the issue that, despite that hefty initial price tag, the results from prefectures that used an artificial intelligence program were neither stellar nor disappointing. In one prefecture, the AI system made a modest 21 pairings , compared to the prefecture’s 38 couples that were matched by the system as a whole.
Still, the Japanese government has enough faith in the plan to ask for a budget of JP¥2 billion (approx US$19.05 million) to get it up and running.
In Japan, marriage remains a necessary step
If approved, the ultimate goal of the AI-driven system is to match couples who will have children, to counter the country’s declining birth rate.
For some, this might seem like an unnecessary step, but births out of wedlock remain rare in Japan.
And this is far from the only way that the Japanese government has attempted to get its citizens to “get busy” to slow or cease the county’s dramatically skewed birth to death ratio—one that currently means that there are fewer births than there are rapidly aging citizens.
Last year, we reported on another of these innovative programs, where an official government panel made the bold recommendation to give couples more time to raise families together by encouraging men to spend less time at work and more at home.
Bold actions and hope for the future
These programs are fascinating because they show how the Japanese government is facing the declining birth rate head-on using out-of-the-box thinking.
Admittedly, the government doesn’t have a real choice in the matter. If it does nothing for a couple of decades, the birth rate will drop so low that it’ll be impossible to recover from.
But it still takes a remarkably determined and level-headed government to accept and then do as much as they can to deal with the problem. It is especially significant that the Japanese government is willing to suggest upending centuries of tradition and add artificial intelligence software to their already-existing state-sponsored dating services.
We can only hope that other countries are paying attention in regards to addressing their own social issues.
After all, if an often socially conservative nation like Japan is willing to publicly address touchy subjects like sex, perhaps the rest of the world will follow suit with issues such as sex education, birth control, sex work, and LGBTQIA rights.