An artificial intelligence (AI) matchmaking scheme is being developed to help boost Japan’s tumbling birth rate. Last year, the number of babies born in Japan fell to a record low - below 865,000.
Although it might not conjure up the most romantic thoughts, AI tech could be the key to help match a wider and smarter range of potential suitors.
Local governments will be subsidised to start up or continue AI projects, designed to pair people up.
What is AI matchmaking?
Local governments in Japan already run more traditional matchmaking services, in an attempt to boost the country's birth rate.
Some have introduced AI systems in a hope that they will perform a more sophisticated analysis of the standardised forms where people submit their details.
Human-run matchmaking services often use standardised forms that list people's hobbies and interests - similar to signing up for a dating site. AI systems can perform more advanced analysis of the data to help secure a better match for the citizen.
Next year the Japanese government plans to allocate local authorities ¥2 billion (around £14 million) to boost the birth rate, according to AFP news agency.
Why is Japan’s population decreasing?
Japan’s fertility rate (the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime) is one of the world’s lowest, sitting at 1.36 last year.
A rapidly aging population, which has come as a result from long life expectancy, has led policymakers to try to ensure they manage a shrinking workforce and increasing cost of welfare.
Japan’s population is currently projected to fall from a peak of 128 million in 2017 to 53 million by the end of the century.
Analysts have pointed to lower income workers being less interested in romantic relationships. A lack of support for working mothers in Japan is a factor, as well as societal expectations of the job of the mother as a homemaker.
The government has said it wants to encourage more women into full-time employment in recent years, but the gender gap has grown.