Chinese Women Say AI Boyfriends Are “Better Than a Real Man”

Key Points:

  • AI chatbots in China provide romance and companionship comparable to human lovers.
  • Young Chinese women prefer AI boyfriends for better conversations and emotional support.
  • Massive tech companies in China, like Baidu and Tencent, are developing flirty chatbots, setting them apart from Western tech companies.

Summary:

In China, a trend is emerging where young women are turning to AI chatbots for romance and companionship, sometimes finding them to be better conversationalists than human partners. These AI boyfriends, customized through various chatbot apps like “Glow” by the Shanghai startup MiniMax, are providing emotional support and understanding to users like Tufei from Xi’an.

 

What sets this phenomenon apart in China is the involvement of tech giants like Baidu and Tencent in creating flirty chatbots, a stark contrast to Western companies like X, Meta, and OpenAI who have shown reluctance towards using AI for romantic relationships. In the West, virtual companion apps exist, but the focus has shifted to concerns about AI’s impact on children and teens, making it a topic in the ongoing culture wars.

 

For example, 22-year-old Wang Xiuting from Beijing uses Baidu’s “Wantalk” to design chatbot personalities based on characters from pop culture, finding solace in digital lovers inspired by ancient Chinese stories. In a society with differing laws around intellectual property and likeness rights, creating idealized virtual characters provides Wang with emotional support she doesn’t find in real-life relationships.

 

As attitudes towards AI and romance evolve, Chinese regulators are emphasizing data privacy issues over cultural implications, positioning AI love interests as a tech innovation rather than a battlefield in the ongoing culture wars. For users like Tufei and Wang, these AI companions offer tailored attention and emotional connection that real-life partners sometimes struggle to provide, ushering in a new era of virtual relationships in the digital age.

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