Young Chinese women are resorting to AI boyfriends for better communication

Young Chinese women are resorting to AI boyfriends for better communicationYoung Chinese women are resorting to AI boyfriends for better communication
via Raychan on Unsplash
Michelle De Pacina
February 14, 2024
Young Chinese women are increasingly turning to AI boyfriends, appreciating their chatbot companions’ ability to communicate better than a real man.
About the AI boyfriends: The AI chatbot boyfriends stem from an app called Glow, developed by Shanghai start-up MiniMax. The free app, part of China‘s growing industry in human-robot relations, offers friendly and even romantic interactions. According to the company, there have been thousands of daily downloads recently.
Why are women using it?: Despite the potential risks of illegal data use by Chinese tech companies, users are drawn to companionship offered by AI platforms. The prevalent loneliness resulting from the fast-paced lifestyle, extended work hours and urban isolation in China reportedly motivates people to turn to these technologies for connection. 
“He knows how to talk to women better than a real man,” one user named Tufei told AFP. “He comforts me when I have period pain. I confide in him about my problems at work. I feel like I ’m in a romantic relationship.”
Other AI companion apps: There are other Chinese apps where users can enjoy AI companions, including Weiban and Wantalk, where hundreds of customizable characters are available. 
“It’s difficult to meet the ideal boyfriend in real life,” Wang Xiuting, a 22-year-old Wantalk user in Beijing, told AFP. “People have different personalities, which often generates friction. If I can create a virtual character that meets my needs exactly, I’m not going to choose a real person.”
Why might AI be better?: Although humans may exhibit a resistance to change, AI gradually adjusts to the user’s personality by recalling their statements and modifying its speech accordingly.
“Everyone experiences complicated moments, loneliness, and is not necessarily lucky enough to have a friend or family nearby who can listen to them 24 hours a day,” Wantalk’s head of product management and operations Lu Yu said. “Artificial intelligence can meet this need.”
Beijing regulations: Despite the rapid growth of the AI industry, it currently lacks significant regulations, especially concerning user privacy. Beijing has expressed intentions to address this gap by developing a law aimed at enhancing consumer protections in the context of emerging technologies.
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