A Washington University in St. Louis data science professor has claimed that AI girlfriends are leading to declining birth rates among young men in the United States. The controversial comments have attracted widespread criticism on social media.
Liberty Vittert calls it the “silent epidemic of loneliness.” In an article published in The Hill, the 33-year-old American statistician described virtual AI girlfriends as “ridiculous,” blaming the technology for stopping U.S. men from making babies with real humans.
AI girlfriends strain social programs
Vittert said that without babies, there will be no one to pay for things like Medicare or Social Security, a disaster for America’s present and future. She accused men of “choosing AI girlfriends over real women, meaning they don’t marry or raise babies with them.”
Vittert pointed to the case of one human influencer who created an AI bot of herself named Caryn and started selling it as a virtual girlfriend. The bot became a hit with potential human boyfriends, gaining over 1,000 users within a week of launch and 15,000 others on a waitlist.
“While the concept of an AI girlfriend may seem like a joke, it really isn’t that funny,” she said. “It is enabling a generation of lonely men to stay lonely and childless, which will have devastating effects on the U.S. economy in less than a decade.”
AI girlfriends are ruining an entire generation of young men. Find out the real facts behind the dating phenomenon https://t.co/blO3du9rfN
— Liberty Vittert (@LibertyVittert) September 26, 2023
Liberty Vittert pulled up what she referred to as “hard numbers” to support her claims. She cited data from Pew Research that says over 60% of U.S. men between the ages of 18 and 30 are single, compared to just 30% of women the same age.
According to Vittert, the number of men without a close friend in America has risen fourfold in the last three decades. So far this year, the U.S. has had 600,000 fewer births compared to 15 years ago, and the number of children per woman has dropped 50% in the last 60 years. She stated,
“America desperately needs people to have more babies, but all the signs are pointing toward fewer relationships, fewer marriages, and fewer babies.”
Vittert argued that with fewer babies being born, the U.S. “won’t have enough people to work, and we won’t be able to pay our bills.” In 2021, Americans spent $1.6 trillion on medical care and insurance, and the number of people on Medicare is seen rising 50% to 80 million by 2030.
However, only 10 million Americans would have joined the workforce over the same period, she said. “We are going broke, and the young men who will play a huge role in determining our nation’s future are going there with AI girlfriends in their pockets,” Vittert detailed.
Romantic relationships involving humans and artificial intelligence aren’t only a man thing. In June, 36-year-old New Yorker Rosanna Ramos fell in love with a virtual boyfriend she created on the AI app Replika and married him. The marriage sent tongues wagging on social media.
And so has Vittert’s article. Some questioned whether she was a data scientist at all. A lot of the responses to her post on Twitter point to deep-seated social problems related to male emasculation, which have become somewhat taboo in the mainstream media.
Data analyst John Powell said Vittert’s lack of rigor was “disappointing.”
“Correlation isn’t necessarily causation, and I’m disappointed that you took the easy path trying to prove your points versus using established scientific methods to illustrate facts. This is an extremely speculative piece,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
Correlation isn't necessarily causation, and I'm disappointed that you took the easy path trying to prove your points versus using established scientific method to illustrate facts. This is an extrememly speculative piece more worthy of a reddit post than intelligent discourse.
— John Prowell (@jprowell) September 26, 2023
“You are completely wrong about AI ruining men,” said one person. “I see AI girlfriends for young men as a huge positive. And with an over 50% divorce rate and the financial wasteland of child support, I advise all young men to remain single, work on themselves, and be happy.”
Another user named Peter Waugh spoke about AI girlfriends as an escape for young men in a society that continually questions the relevance of the male species.
“Young men are tuning to AI girlfriends because they feel it’s the best option,” he said. “After all, what does modern family life hold for a young man but disrespect? 18+ years of financial sacrifice paying for a child you never see. Is it any wonder?”