Chinese netizens curious of Japanese AI blind date program

By Chen Xi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/8 18:38:40

A couple is seen at the Cotton Tree Drive Marriage Registry in Hong Kong, Mar. 29, 2020. (Photo: China News Service/ Zhang Wei)

The artificial intelligence (AI) can be a great means to meet potential lovers, but finding Mr or Ms Right still needs face-to-face and heart-to-heart communication, Chinese experts told the Global Times after Chinese netizens began asking if China could follow the Japanese government's use of AI technology to find marriage partners for its citizens.

According to a report by the Yomiuri Shimbun on Monday, the Japanese government is promoting a matchmaking project that uses AI to pair people up. The project seeks to recommend partners based on the potential fit between men and women, rather than conditions such as age and income.

The news began trending on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Tuesday and quickly stirred up a heated discussion on social media.

"It is surprising that a plot in a romance novel I read has come true in real life, but I still believe in my own personal feelings rather than some emotionless machine," one Chinese netizen posted on Sina Weibo. 

Some Chinese netizens wondered if China could use similar technology to solve the problem of China's low marriage rate.

"Both China and Japan are facing the same problem of low marriage and birth rate. Maybe China can also try to use AI for love matches," another Chinese netizen wrote on Sina Weibo. 

Media reported that the marriage rate in China has continued to decline since 2014, dropping from 13.06 million marriages that year to only 9.273 million in 2019. 

Yuan Xin, a professor at the Institute for Population and Development in Nankai University, told the Global Times that with the development of social science and technology, technology has been integrated into people's daily lives in an effort to serve them. 

"AI enriches avenues for blind dates, but whether two people are suitable still depends on fate," said Yuan. 

Peng Xiaohui, a professor of sexology at Central China Normal University, echoed Yuan's opinion by saying that AI can only improve efficiency and save on labor costs associated with setting up blind dates, but it cannot fully control how people will feel about someone else. 

Both experts noted that the low marriage rate in China is a result of people's changing lifestyles, the high cost of getting married such as buying or renting a house and raising children and a loss in confidence about marriage due to an increasing divorce rate. 

According to data released by China's Ministry of Civil Affairs in September, 4.7 million couples filed for divorce in 2019. Additionally, the divorce rate hit a record high in 2019, increasing to 3.4 per thousand. 

According to Yuan, many young people, especially those who have completed higher education and have high salaries, prefer to live alone without any financial burdens or emotional crises, which is another possible factor that has led to a low marriage rate. 


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