ChinAI #74: AI + Dating in Japan

Tencent Research Institute looks at a Japanese White Paper on Declining Birthrate

Welcome to the ChinAI Newsletter!

This week’s translation was finished a while ago, but I wanted to time it for around this time of the year, as last Monday (11/11) was Singles’ Day (光棍节) in China.

As always, the archive of all past issues is here and please please subscribe here to support ChinAI under a Guardian/Wikipedia-style tipping model (everyone gets the same content but those who can pay support access for all AND compensation for awesome ChinAI contributors).

Feature Translation: How does AI work in the realm of love and marriage?

A Tencent Research Institute (TRI) piece, written by Lao Mu (老木, alias name) in July 2019, uses a novel initiative in Ehime Prefecture, Japan, which deploys AI to help young people find a match, to examine the possibilities of AI + dating. “AI” in the sense that it’s used throughout the piece is relatively basic matching algorithms (finding the closest match to one person on a range of different characteristics). Thanks to Riko, a good friend from Iowa City, who now works in Tokyo, for her help in adding qualifying comments to the full translation.


  • Japanese government conducted a survey of 3,980 unmarried men and women aged 20-40 in December 2018 that found 68% are “okay with not getting married,” and 60% believed "even if they are married, they are okay with not wanting children.”

  • Based on the results of this survey, the Japanese government published a White Paper on “Societal Countermeasures for the Declining Birthrate” in June 2019. This White Paper noted new initiative in Ehime that claimed using AI to screen and match people, in the process of a collective blind date activity organized by the prefecture, improved the success rates of blind dates by 16%.

  • The piece goes on to reflect on how to "apply “product thinking” — breaking down the complex problem of finding your match into simpler ones that can be quantified — to applying AI in the realm of love and marriage.

FULL TRANSLATION: How does AI work in the realm of love and marriage?

ChinAI Links (Four to Forward)

Should Read: Love in the Time of AI — Guardian article

A great piece that gives more context for this week’s feature translation: “When dating sims first became popular in Japan, they were often reported on by the media with a tone of moralizing disgust, partly because of the obsessive way fans played. These games were seen as an escape, a last resort for nerdy men who needed virtual girls to substitute for real, healthy heterosexual relationships. Along with anime and manga, dating sims were blamed for the low fertility rates in Japan, and the young men who played these games were sometimes described as “herbivores”, as if lacking in carnal desire. This attitude was shared by western media, too, where Japanese dating sims were seen as a curious, almost alien pathology…With the popularity of dating sims now growing outside Japan, similar concerns have once again emerged. In China, where a dating sim called Love and Producer was downloaded more than 7m times in its first month, media reports about the game have been mostly negative, if not alarmist. One Chinese commentator argued that the only reason young people were drawn to dating sims was because their real lives are “brutally lacking” in real love. “The simplicity, consumerism, and hypocrisy of romantic simulation games,” he wrote, “reflect the love-free disease that belongs to this era.”

Should-read: Hikvision Markets Uyghur Ethnicity Analytics, Now Covers Up

Charles Rollett of IPVM finds that Hikvision has marketed an AI camera that automatically identifies Uyghurs on its product page. The site was taken down after IPVM questioned them on it. Related: Recent NYT report exposes 400 pages of internal Chnese documents on the crackdown on ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.

Should Read: Key Takeaways from the Beijing Association of AI Conference from Hannah Kirk

Following up on last week’s readout of the BAAI conference, another attendee of the conference, Hannah Kirk, provides her summary of a panel discussing AI ethics. Seems like there was good discussion of how cultural context will shape the interpretation of AI principles that use the same words.

Should Read: National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Interim Report for Congress

The NSCAI released its interim report for Congress. I was impressed by the positive vision how the U.S. can leverage AI to present a positive vision of the values it stands for, especially the emphasis that ethics and strategic necessity are compatible with one another. Page 60-65 are especially impressive — based on more than 30 briefings with experts from AI-first companies, traditional companies that have successfully integrated AI, and AI orgs within the gov., NSCAI outlines a model for integrating AI across the DoD workforce.

Thank you for reading and engaging.

These are Jeff Ding's (sometimes) weekly translations of Chinese-language musings on AI and related topics. Jeff is a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, PhD candidate in International Relations, Researcher at GovAI/Future of Humanity Institute, and Research Fellow at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

Check out the archive of all past issues here & please subscribe here to support ChinAI under a Guardian/Wikipedia-style tipping model (everyone gets the same content but those who can pay for a subscription will support access for all).

Any suggestions or feedback? Let me know at or on Twitter at @jjding99