Japan boosts Artificial Intelligence funding to help match lonely hearts - GulfToday

Japan boosts Artificial Intelligence funding to help match lonely hearts


A mother and her daughter in colorful kimono walk through a tunnel of torii gates for Shichigosan celebration in Tokyo on Monday. AP

Japan is seeking to boost its flagging birthrate by funding the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help match lonely hearts, an official said on Monday.

Although it might not conjure thoughts of romance, AI tech can match a wider and smarter range of potential suitors, the cabinet official said.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government plans to allocate two billion yen ($19 million) in the next fiscal year to back local authorities that run schemes to help their residents find love, he said.


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In a country with a long history of human matchmakers, local governments have already moved on to AI matching systems to pair people up, but many only consider criteria such as income and age and only produce results if there is an exact match.

The latest envisaged central government funding will allow access to systems which pair people with a potential partner even if those income or age wishes do not match, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said.

Around half of the nation's 47 prefectures offer matchmaking services and some of them have already introduced AI systems, according to the cabinet office.

PassengersMetroPeople use their phones while commuting on a train in Tokyo. AFP

The human-run matchmaking services often use standardised forms to list people's interests and hobbies, and AI systems can perform more advanced analysis of this data.

"We are especially planning to offer subsidies to local governments operating or starting up matchmaking projects that use AI," the official said.

"We hope this support will help reverse the decline in the nation's birthrate."

Japan's fertility rate — the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime — was 1.36 last year, one of the world's lowest and far below the rate needed to maintain a population.

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