Love machine: Man ‘marries’ robot he built himself

Artificial intelligence engineer ties the knot with his creation after two months of ‘dating’

 A Chinese artificial intelligence engineer has given up on the search for love and ‘married’ a robot he built himself. File photograph: Nic Delves-Broughton/PA Wire

A Chinese artificial intelligence engineer has given up on the search for love and ‘married’ a robot he built himself. File photograph: Nic Delves-Broughton/PA Wire

 

A Chinese artificial intelligence engineer has given up on the search for love and “married” a robot he built himself.

Zheng Jiajia (31) decided to commit to his creation after failing to find a human spouse, his friend told Qianjiang Evening News.

Zheng had also become tired of the constant nagging from his family to find a partner and the social pressure to get married, so he turned to a robot he built late last year, who he named Yingying.

After two months of “dating”, he donned a black suit to “marry” her last weekend at a ceremony in the eastern city of Hangzhou which was attended by his mother and friends.

While not officially recognised by the authorities, the union had all the trappings of a typical Chinese wedding, with Yingying’s head covered with a red cloth in accordance with local tradition.

China has one of the worst gaps between male and female populations in the world, mainly due to sex-selective abortions following the introduction of the country’s widely-criticised one-child policy, which for decades controlled how many children each family could have.

The latest figures published by the World Economic Forum recorded 113.5 men for every 100 women in China.

The gender imbalance, coupled with changing attitudes towards marriage among the country’s middle class, means many men will never find wives.

For now, Yingying can only read some Chinese characters and images and speak a few simple words, but Zheng plans to upgrade his “bride” to give her the ability to walk and do household chores.

Until then, he has to carry the 30kg robot in order to move her.

Social media reaction

Reaction in China to the union has been mixed, with some social media users mocking Zheng and others wondering if it is all just a publicity stunt.

“You won’t have her mother looking down on you, you don’t have the pressure to buy a home and you get to save money and energy,” one user wrote on WeChat, a popular social network.

“He’ll slowly get old, his face will become wrinkled and his hair will grow white - but will he upgrade her to grow old, or just to be prettier?” another user asked.

Stories of robots replacing humans are commonplace in China, most notably in the smattering of restaurants where the waiters are automated.

However, the machines rarely live up to expectations.

Zheng previously worked at Huawei, the Chinese smartphone company, before quitting to focus on an artificial intelligence start-up.

Guardian service