Exploring the Virtual Girlfriend Trend
Ever since artificial intelligence improved to the point where it could hold even a half-decent conversation, the virtual girlfriend has been in the works. Having a virtual girlfriend or boyfriend is something that appeals to many people, including those with anxiety when talking to potential mates, those who lack the confidence that comes from dating experience or those with physical or emotional problems that keep them from dating.
Of course, that’s not always the case. For other people, a virtual date sounds like a lot of fun too. But where do you find these virtual girlfriends or boyfriends? How advanced are they and is it worth your time to test out the waters? I decided to explore the virtual girlfriend trend myself and checked out some of the various options that are available.
Virtual Girlfriend Apps
The first method of obtaining a virtual girlfriend that I looked at was the app marketplace. As you can see, there are a lot of virtual girlfriend apps. They come in two basic types – the avatar style virtual girlfriend that presents you with a depiction of the girl on the screen and the types that only offer text without any sort of visual stimuli. Sorry if you prefer the virtual boyfriend – I didn’t try out any of those, and I only checked out Android apps, because I don’t own an Apple device.
I was a little afraid to try out the most highly-rated, seemingly relevant result, because the anime girls looked awfully young to me, so I went with the next result instead – an app called My Virtual Girlfriend by Wet Productions (Not a word).
My interest was piqued right away when the app had me fill out a short personality quiz. Then I was matched up with several girls – three of them geek girls, which showed that at least it figured out my type. That was impressive. When I finally selected my geek girlfriend I was a little disappointed however. The interaction from that point was very limited and I couldn’t get the chat function to work (if there was one) so I moved on.
The second app that I tried was one of the chat simulators that simply use text rather than some kind of visual display. I thought that the AI on these might be better, since all the developers had to focus on was getting the virtual girlfriend to sound like a real girl.
Alas, I was disappointed. I was hooked up with three girls who "texted" me within the app. One ignored my hello (which is often the case in real life too) and the other two were just weird. One girl had ADD and sent me nine texts before I had even had time to open the first one. The second girl kept giving nonsensical answers and asking me random questions.
I tried out a couple more apps and found them all severely lacking for anyone looking for a meaningful conversation with his or her virtual girlfriend. I wasn’t expecting much, but it was still disappointing.
Robot Love Poll
Experts say that eventually, humans will fall in love with their robots. Could you see yourself falling in love with a robot if they were indistinguishable from a human being?
Virtual Girlfriend Software
The next logical place to look seemed like the software market. After all, rudimentary artificial intelligence had been around for few years before apps became the biggest thing, with the advent of Cleverbot and Evie. But sadly, the only PC software that I could find that would fit the definition of ‘virtual girlfriend’ was a program called Kari. I tried out the Pro version and was disappointed in the AI.
Real Virtual Girlfriends
If you want a more substantial virtual girlfriend experience you probably already know about the most common type – escorts. These girls (and guys in some cases) charge hundreds or thousands of dollars to pretend to be your girlfriend for an hour, a day or whatever time period you desire (and can afford). But in some cases, escort is a front to hide illegal activity and the cost is prohibitive for those who want to practice interaction with a potential mate, gain confidence or simply have a good conversation.
Luckily, Fiverr and other services around the web have come to the rescue. If you mine Fiverr carefully, you can find virtual girlfriends who are willing to talk, text and even send you pictures, for as little as five dollars.
Most of the services that you will find out there are used with Facebook or other social media sites, with the purpose of making people believe that you have an attractive girlfriend, rather than actually having one for a period of time – a virtual partner for conversations and to keep you company throughout the day. The Fiverr clone Tenrr actually has an entire category devoted to online girlfriends or boyfriends.
The Future Landscape of Virtual Girlfriends (and Boyfriends)
So, what is the future of the virtual girlfriend or boyfriend? According to experts at the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, robotic romantic partners will be one of the future virtual partners. Not only will these romatibots be commonplace, they could replace human companionship completely for the millions who currently do not have a love life.
But there is another form of the virtual girlfriend that is just over the horizon as well. Virtual reality is currently in its infancy, but eventually, virtual companions will be available that will be so realistic that you won’t be able to tell the difference between a photograph and an avatar.
But if the technology of virtual reality advances far enough, I see a future where robots, chat-bots, apps and all manner of artificial intelligence will become obsolete and people simply date online. They enter virtual reality and could spend the day in Paris while actually living across the globe from each other. In fact, actual physical appearance might cease to be a factor altogether and attraction to your date’s avatar will be your main concern. No matter what the future holds when it comes to virtual girlfriends and boyfriends – it is going to be a wild ride.
What do you think? Tell me your opinion or predictions for the future in the comments below.