Japan to fund AI matchmaking to boost birth rate

A mother carrying her baby in Japan
Japan has one of the world’s lowest fertility rates

Japan plans to boost its tumbling birth rate by funding artificial intelligence matchmaking schemes to help residents find love.

From next year it will subsidise local governments already running or starting projects that use AI to pair people up, last year the number of babies born in Japan fell below 865,000 – a record low. The fast-greying nation has long been searching for ways to reverse one of the world’s lowest fertility rates, boosting the use of AI tech is one of its latest efforts. Next year the government plans to allocate local authorities 2bn yen ($19m, £14m) to boost the birth rate, reported AFP news agency.

Many already offer human-run matchmaking services and some have introduced AI systems in the hope they will perform a more sophisticated analysis of the standardized forms where people submit their details. A few of the existing systems are limited to considering criteria such as income and age, only producing a result if there is an exact match. Local media say that the funding aims to allow authorities to harness more costly advanced systems that take into account factors like hobbies and values.

“We are especially planning to offer subsidies to local governments operating or starting up matchmaking projects that use AI,” a cabinet official told AFP. “We hope this support will help reverse the decline in the nation’s birthrate,” Japan’s population is projected to fall from a peak of 128 million in 2017 to less than 53 million by the end of the century. Policymakers are racing to ensure the country’s contracting workforce can meet the expanding costs of welfare.

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