China unveils world’s first AI child | Inquirer Technology

China unveils world’s first AI child

/ 11:30 AM February 08, 2024

They say a child learns quickly by observing parents and other adults, so Chinese scientists created one powered by artificial intelligence.

China unveiled their latest project at the Frontier of General Artificial Intelligence Technology Exhibition. It was a virtual entity that looked like an obedient little girl who performed chores and interacted with humans. 

This project and similar ones may seem silly until you realize they might be the building blocks of our technological future. We’ve learned so much about how humans learn and develop that we’re applying those principles to the coming generation of robots. Would we become good parents and raise a proper digital assistant or an electronic menace?


Why create an AI child?

The audacious project had the support of the Beijing Institute for General Artificial Intelligence or BIGAI. “To advance towards general artificial intelligence, we must create entities that can comprehend the real world and possess a wide range of skills,” says its founder and leader Professor Zhu Songchun.


General Artificial Intelligence is an AI program that can think and act like humans. Our modern tools are advanced, but they have not reached human-like levels of autonomy and critical thinking. 

As its namesake, BIGAI is one of the scientific institutions vying to reach this AI “holy grail.” A researcher told Malaysia’s The Star that general intelligence must have physical and social common sense akin to humans. 

An AI entity must complete tasks while defining new ones by itself. They saw inspiration from human children who learn naturally from surrounding people. 

Hence, Chinese researchers created Tong Tong, or “Little Girl,” the world’s first AI child. The Star states the machine has emotions and intellect and is capable of autonomous learning.

Attendees of the Frontier of General Artificial Intelligence Technology Exhibition tested Tong Tong from January 28 to 29, 2024. Little Girl fixed a crooked picture frame when programmed to like tidiness.

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If the picture was too high, the bot would find a stool so it could straighten the frame without help. Moreover, the machine would find a towel and clean spilled milk, showing Tong Tong’s ability to interpret human intentions. 

“Little Girl possesses a mind and strives to understand the common sense taught by humans. She discerns right from wrong, expresses her attitudes in various situations, and has the power to shape the future,” stated a BIGAI video.

Little Girl would likely improve further with enough exploration and human interaction. Nevertheless, it is not yet a general artificial intelligence.

From AI children to AI romantic partners

Evolution of AI relationships - From AI children to romantic companions.

Experts may say high and low that artificial intelligence hasn’t reached human-level intellect yet, but it hasn’t stopped many from forming relationships with these bots.

READ: Should you get an AI girlfriend?

These are AI chatbots programmed to simulate the behaviors and emotions of a user’s preferred partner. You could create another half of you that has every characteristic you ever wanted. 

Artificial intelligence can memorize and adapt to your previous conversations, hobbies, likes, and dislikes. That means it could speak with you when you’re having a rough day or behave only according to how you like. Also, Reuters says AI developers claim AI girlfriends can combat loneliness and improve your dating experience in a safe space. 

If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to have someone during Valentine’s Day, they might be the solution you’ve always wanted. They can keep you preoccupied and simulate a conversation with a special someone.

However, forming a relationship with a digital avatar has several downsides. The most glaring problem is they’re too perfect. They could ruin your perspective of what a real relationship looks like.

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Having a girlfriend means having an intimate relationship. Like any other human connection, it is prone to misunderstandings and arguments. There will be times when you’ll have trouble with your partner’s behaviors.

Similarly, your other half may find things about you to be irritating or frustrating. If you want it to last, it will involve lengthy and sometimes painful discussions regarding you and your partner’s flaws.

A real-life girlfriend will not always act according to what you want because she has a separate life she’s managing. However, AI girlfriends disregard these real-life hassles to satisfy a user’s needs. 

A deeper look into being human

Artificial intelligence is probably the fastest-growing technology in the world as we are developing AI children and partners. However, a deeper look makes us question parts of humanity we often take for granted. 

For example, the AI girlfriend trend causes some to reevaluate what it truly means to have a romantic partner. Also, AI-generated art asks us to define the scope of human creativity.

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These are questions we must answer as we adapt more and more of these technologies.

TOPICS: Artificial Intelligence, China, technology
TAGS: Artificial Intelligence, China, technology

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