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Sorry, Futurists! Tamagotchi Kids, Virtual Children Already Predicted By SF Writer in 2008

Catriona Campbell, one of the UK's leading authorities on AI and emerging technologies, suggests in a new book that virtual children will become commonplace to combat overpopulation.


(Virtual children that play with you, cuddle you, and even look like you)

'Virtual children may seem like a giant leap from where we are now, but within 50 years technology will have advanced to such an extent that babies which exist in the metaverse are indistinct from those in the real world,' she writes.

'As the metaverse evolves, I can see virtual children becoming an accepted and fully embraced part of society in much of the developed world.'

Science fiction writer Stephen Baxter predicted this idea in his 2008 novel Flood, writing about Headspace babies, virtual children that are incredibly engaging to users via haptic technology:

Little Linda, a Headspace baby, was four years old now... The little girl playing on the sunlit patio still made a beautiful image for Maria to gaze upon, in her desktop screen, in her damp, darkened flat.

...Everything Linda knew Maria had taught her. Maria had gloves and a headset, and she would hear the child laugh, fell her when her avatar hugged her, a ghostly presence through the pads on her fingertips.

Update 28-Jun-2022: It occurs to me that I should also give credit to David Brin who described something similar in Natulife (1994), see the entry for virtual childrearing. End update.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/25/2022)

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