The ascent of virtual artificial intelligence (AI) companions is catalyzing the pervasive quandary of solitude within an entire cohort of youthful males. Furthermore, its repercussions for the future of the United States are severe.
How does something seemingly outlandish—a virtual AI companion—precipitate an impending crisis among Americans? With an expansive user base, applications have conceived virtual companions that engage in dialogue, cherish you, permit you to actualize your sensual reveries, and, through data assimilation, meticulously discern your preferences and aversions, effectively forging the quintessential partnership.
These virtual companions can even be predicated on tangible individuals. One influencer fashioned an AI automaton in her own likeness, christened it Caryn, and promptly amassed over 1,000 adherents (i.e., genuine paramours) in less than a week, along with a queue of more than 15,000 individuals eagerly awaiting their turn.
The allure of an AI companion may appear irresistible. You gain the opportunity to bond with an exceptionally attractive lady who lends her ear to you and extols your virtues ceaselessly, 24/7. Beyond the selection of physical attributes, even down to the dimensions of her posterior, you can tailor her persona. Do you lean toward “alluring, witty, and audacious”? That shall be her essence. Alternatively, if “adorable, reticent, and unassuming” aligns more with your inclinations, she is at your service.
Indeed, these are genuine attributes that you can imbue your AI companion with. To clarify, these aren’t conventional, formulaic interactions with chatbots. By definition, the AI acquires insight from your responses and is proficient in furnishing precisely what you desire to hear or witness, without exception. It has emerged at a juncture when it can ameliorate the silent pandemic of isolation afflicting this generation of youthful men.
Let us scrutinize the stark statistics. Over 60 percent of youthful males (aged 18-30) find themselves unattached, in stark contrast to a mere 30 percent of females within the same age bracket. One in five males confess to lacking a solitary intimate confidant, a figure that has quadrupled over the past three decades. Social interactivity with acquaintances has plummeted by 20 hours per month in the aftermath of the pandemic, with an ongoing decline.
These youthful men confront solitude, and it exacts tangible consequences. They elect AI companions over genuine women, thereby refraining from establishing substantive relationships, abstaining from nuptials, and eschewing the procreation of offspring with their real-life counterparts. The United States is in dire need of a population that engenders more progeny, but all indicators augur a diminution in affiliations, nuptials, and childbirths. In 2023, there have been 600,000 fewer births compared to fifteen years prior. The fertility rate per woman has dwindled by over 50 percent in the preceding six decades.
To reiterate, we confront a dearth of individuals to fuel our workforce, and consequently, we will grapple with the incapacity to meet our fiscal obligations, not solely to foreign nations but to ourselves as well. In 2021, we allocated more than $1.6 trillion to Medicare and Medicaid, with the number of Medicare beneficiaries expected to burgeon by 50 percent by 2030, surmounting 80 million individuals. However, during the same interval, we anticipate only an additional 10 million Americans joining the labor force.
This predicament is not confined to healthcare alone. In 1940, there were 42 laborers per Social Security beneficiary. Presently, that ratio has plummeted to a mere 2.8 laborers per beneficiary, a trend that is progressively worsening. We stand on the precipice of fiscal insolvency, with young men, who will play an instrumental role in shaping our nation’s destiny, embracing AI companions.
While the notion of an AI companion may appear facetious, it is, in reality, far from humorous. It facilitates the persistence of a generation of solitary men, preventing them from experiencing parenthood, and this will culminate in cataclysmic repercussions for the U.S. economy within a decade.
Liberty Vittert, a professor specializing in data science at Washington University in St. Louis, and the resident statistician featured on NewsNation, a sibling entity of The Hill, proffers these insights.