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Digital 'companions' are now on order in Beijing

By Rene Pastor | China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-13 08:08
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[Photo/Xin Hua]

A few days ago, I began reading a story, in which young people in Beijing are getting or creating digital "companions" to ease their loneliness over a romance gone bad.

The avatars are perfect "boyfriends "or "girlfriends". They can hold a conversation, are "cute" and never lose their temper.

For someone who just got out of a relationship, the benefits provided by the digital relationship are comforting. Gratifying, even.

In a lot of science fiction, visionary writers "explore" a world where cybernetic organisms, which is a fancy way of saying a robot, wed or become lovers to a human being.

They see that as the future and the reality is probably closer than we think. The future seems to be already here in Beijing.

In the science-fiction TV series The Orville, a series created by comedian Seth MacFarlane partly based on the popular and long-running Star Trek, the ship's doctor marries a robot/cyborg at the end of the third season in the 10th episode finale.

The whole thing came off naturally. The groom's family was composed entirely of a robot species called the Kaylon. They all showed up at the wedding.

In the movie Ex Machina in 2014, Alicia Vikander portrays an alluring cyborg who flirts with a human programmer in the research facility of a Google-like internet company.

The flick ended darkly, with the robots killing their creator.

Another fascinating TV series is Westworld, where robots created for pleasure turn on their operators.

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