The population in Japan decreases every year for 13 years. There is one of the lowest birth rates in the world and not enough children are being born to replace a population with the world's highest percentage of over 65s.
The causes of the collapse in births are not entirely clear: economic insecurity, career priorities and strict immigration standards. In 2019, only 864.000 babies were born in Japan, -5,9% compared to 2018, which was already an all-time low. The encounters disappear.
Unfortunately, this is not surprising. As I wrote earlier in this post, young people in Japan seem to have lost interest not only in children, but also in marriage (marriages went from 800.000 in 2000 to 600.000 last year), in dating and even in sex.
A state dating service
To put it mildly, the Japanese government is a little concerned. It has a good reason: the economy and the well-being of its people are at stake. Last week the Cabinet of Japan announced the investment of 2 billion yen (19 million euros) in an initiative that hopes to boost dating, weddings, sex and children: an artificial intelligence-driven dating platform. .
Does it sound strange to you that the government can be the Cupid, the pimp in your love life? In Japan this is nothing new. The country is divided into 47 prefectures (almost small states): about 25 of these already offer some sort of meeting service for residents.
Of course, to organize the meetings and bring people together they adopt more rudimentary criteria: age, income and education. With these filters they process and show singles a list of potential romantic partners. Basically a state-run Tinder.
It's not that easy
It seems easy, but the success of sentimental encounters and the birth of a love is not as easy as combining age or income. It takes a lot more to work.
The key word is "personality". We all want someone who not only tolerates us, but finds our “indispensable” flaws to paraphrase an old Gino Paoli song. These personality traits are difficult to contemplate in an algorithm, but that's more or less what Japan's new state dating service will do. Users will answer questions on topics related to their interests and values, and an algorithm will draw a "summary" from them to be included in the search filters.
A hand from artificial intelligence
Several dating apps already use AI. They use machine learning to either "connect people", or to verify user photos and filter offensive content.
The algorithm in any dating app that involves swiping to change suitors assigns users a sort of "value" based on the number of people they "like". It then uses that value to determine the order in which to view potential matches.
Yes, the whole thing is chilling for someone born in 1975. But it seems to work: Today, online dating is the premier dating vehicle for couples in many parts of the world.
State meetings: good luck in the rising sun
We hope that the "state meetings" improve the picture in Japan. The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research of the land of the rising sun provides than at current birth rates, the population will drop from 127 million in 2015 to 88 million by 2065.
Love is complicated and inserting algorithms into the picture doesn't make it much easier: but desperate times call for desperate measures, and Japan seems to be in desperate times to adopt a state dating system.
With AI solving one problem after another, implementing it to help foster dating a little romance in a place where it's badly needed might not be the worst idea.