On the metaverses, my virtual child “as I want”

A British researcher predicts that within fifty years a market will develop for “Tamagotchi children”.

Catriona Campbell, specialist in artificial intelligence, announces in her book AI by Design: A Plan For Living With Artificial Intelligencethe future rise of “Tamagotchi children”(The Guardian05/31/2022), taking the name of the virtual pets marketed in the late 1990s. These virtual children will look like their parents, they will be able to recognize them and respond to them thanks to voice analysis and face tracking. Also capable of simulating emotional reactions. And when it’s bath time or cuddle time, all you have to do is put on a high-tech glove to get tactile feedback and feel physical sensations. These are real. Children who will also grow up according to the wishes of their parents, only skipping adolescence or keeping them infants for eternity. In short, perfect children?

Utopia or dystopia?

The prospect may seem distant, but Catriona Campbell affirms it: “In fifty years, technology will have progressed so much that the babies that exist in the metaverse“, this virtual reality universe destined to supplant the Internet as we know it, “will be indistinguishable from those in the real world”. If we went back half a century, would being able to pay with a mobile phone that fits in your pocket seem realistic to us?

Besides, there is already a proof of concept, admittedly perhaps still a little rudimentary. “BabyX” is developed by the New Zealand company Soul Machines, and aims to “humanize” artificial intelligence to make it more appealing to the public. The “brain” of this virtual baby is made up of algorithms that deduce what is good or bad. And allow him “to learn to react to interactions like a real baby”. As for her on-screen movements and expressions, they are designed from real babies’ movements.

A virtual answer to real problems?

For the researcher, it is the concerns related to overpopulation that will encourage society to adopt digital children. Whether it is in terms of overpopulation, environmental protection or the cost of raising a child, there is no doubt that the arguments will not be lacking. However, isn’t this fundamentally the paroxysm of individualism? A child if I want, exactly how I want, and when I want. Children defined via a monthly subscription, which can be easily suspended or interrupted. In short, “practical” children, like everything that digital promises – and accomplishes – from making medical appointments online to delivering the jam jar when all the stores are closed.


But is a child a consumer good? Having a child, isn’t it accepting to be surprised, jostled, exceeded? The “Tamagotchi children” may not be for tomorrow, but they are already pushing us to question ourselves on this refusal of constraints, this apology for comfort, “the only ideology to achieve consensus today” (Usberika.com4/14/22), which our society is steeped in.

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On the metaverses, my virtual child

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On the metaverses, my virtual child “as I want”

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