Immersive virtual worlds like the Metaverse could give rise to an evolution of “virtual children"; computer-generated babies that you can hold, smell and interact with, according to one of the United Kingdom’s leading artificial intelligence experts.
Cyber babies are likely to become commonplace over the next half-century, according to Catriona Campbell, on what has been dubbed as the “Tamagotchi Generation”.
Campbell, also one of the UK’s top authorities in emerging and disruptive technologies, says by 2070, augmented reality (AR) and haptic “touch-sensitive” gloves will make the experience potentially “lifelike.”
By that time, up to one-in-five parents may decide to opt for a digital baby over a real one, she believes, where children will ‘grow-up’ in real-time but will exist only in the virtual metaverse.
Parents will see and interact with their offspring through next-generation AR glasses and haptic gloves - wearable devices that reproduce sensations like grasping an object or running your hand across a surface — meaning they will be able to cuddle, feed and play with their offspring at any time.
They will cost nothing to feed, take up no space, and remain healthy for as long as they are programmed to “live.”
They could be accessible through a subscription service for as little as $25 per month.
Bizarre as the concept might be, Campbell said it represents a viable, long-term solution to birth control without preventing people from having children and offers an alternative to a world that is facing a population bulge at a time where an estimated 350,000 babies are already born worldwide each day, far outnumbering the number of deaths.
Her predictions about the future of AI and its impact on humanity are detailed in her new book, 'AI by Design: A Plan For Living With Artificial Intelligence,' which hits the shelves this week.
“Virtual children may seem like a giant leap from where we are now, but within 50 years technology will have advanced to such an extent that babies which exist in the metaverse are indistinct from those in the real world,” she says in a statement, per SWNS.
“As the metaverse evolves, I can see virtual children becoming an accepted and fully embraced part of society in much of the developed world.
“Based on studies into why couples choose to remain childless, I think it would be reasonable to expect as many as 20 percent of people choosing to have an AR baby over a real one,” she continues.
“This will lead to the first, fully digital demographic which, although somewhat strange on first appearance, in fact represents what could be one of mankind’s most important technological breakthroughs since the advent of the Bronze Age given its potential impact on global populations and societal change.”
At the rate AR and the metaverse is evolving, Campbell believes it is only a matter of time before it is used to create virtual children for couples that look, feel and behave exactly like the real thing.
She believes digital children will have photo-realistic faces and bodies, and will be able to recognize and respond to their parents using facial tracking and voice analysis built within an AR headset.
Digital children will likely “exist” in the metaverse where parents will be able to interact with their children.They will be capable of speech and simulated emotional responses – like a baby’s coo, a child’s giggle, or a teenager’s backchat – and possess a form of digital memory and other cognitive abilities.
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