Your virtual girlfriend

Cyberspace meets meatspace, in the form of your new virtual girlfriend, Vivienne. Developed by Artificial Life, Inc, Vivienne can converse in 7 languages and can move through 18 settings, such as bars, restaurants, shopping malls and movie theatres. She loves virtual flowers and chocolates that you can buy here. You can even marry her and get cell phone messages from her mother-in-law.

This is all done through your cell phone. According to the article, “Vivienne … is at the leading edge of a wave of services that companies are developing to take advantage of the much faster data transmission rates made possible by 3G technology.” It utilizes expert systems located on servers to handle the 35,000 topics that Vivienne can discuss, from philosophy to movies to sculpture to banking.

Apparently there are technical problems because the 3G cell phone batteries run down easily and there is no voice recognition (although she voices her responses, you have to text your requests). But consider the social problems.

Artificial Life has already run into delays in introducing Vivienne to men in Asia and Europe. It originally hoped to have her flirting on cellphone screens by last Christmas.

[However, there are cosmetic problems] -Vivienne is being reprogrammed not to bare her navel or display body piercings in conservative Muslim countries like Malaysia.

And the designers are worried that Vivienne’s boyfriends might become addicted to her so contact will be limited to one hour per day.

Now I can hear the guys thinking out there, “if only I could limit my conact with my girlfriend to one hour per day.” Or “if only I could get a girlfriend willing to ‘respond’ for a few virtual flowers or movie tickets.” Will we have lots of virtual hookups because they’re more efficient, giving us what we desire, instead of the more messy reality? From the success of certain types of chatrooms, I think the answer is yes.

3 Responses to “Your virtual girlfriend”

  1. Jen says:

    This is absurd! As if we need anything else to INCREASE the number of hours that people are dependent on technology for. Our society is becoming less and less “good at” inter-personal relationships – people don’t know how to act in a face to face setting, they are used to computers as go-betweens. having “Vivienne” around may serve only to increase this problem. what happens when a real-life girlfriend becomes “not as good as” Vivienne, or when people decide that Vivienne is all they need and opt out of relationships with living humans… maybe this is technology’s attempt at population control… at least until they figure out a way for Vivienne to have children… Whoa- here’s a crazy thought: will virtual people one day count in the world population total?

  2. mike says:

    You know there are some people out here in the world who are inable to interact with others not because they don’t want to, but because of how they look, what kind of person they are, or how they were raised. Most of the people who rant against people becomeing more and more socially inept due to technology haven’t had a lot of trouble getting dates. It’s one thing to talk about the bad side of a virtual friend when you already have one of your own, but when people don’t like you and you’ve spent twenty years or so being rejected and ignored by members of both sexes, the idea of something that will fill the need for social interaction without ever careing that you’re shy or stupid or overweight becomes a very appealing one. For every smart and beautiful woman out there who thinks a virtual girlfrined is stupid there are a dozen quiet, ugly, geeky guys, who she would probably never talk to, who will end up buying a virtual girlfriend for their cell phone, just to feel less alone.

  3. sieber says:

    Point well taken. We forget that sometimes.