AI Boyfriends

Orchid Bertelsen

Are

Definitely

Are Definitely

Happening

Orchid Bertelsen

Companionship is going to be a huge service model in 2025

EXPLORE ISSUE #006

Editor’s note: We might have initially scoffed at this proposal but that only revealed our biases against change. The fact of the matter is, and Orchid lays this out, the transition to AI companionship is already underway. It is also interesting to us to imagine a service offering that deals only in EQ value, not any other marketable utility.

This post was written by human Orchid Bertelsen and narrated by AI Orchid Bertelsen (powered by Wondercraft.ai).

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We are on the precipice of a new kind of relationship with machines. AI is going to power it; our collective loneliness is going to drive its adoption; and, for this at least, our personal data will be used to drive individual consumer significance over brand value.

What I am describing is going to unleash a new service industry that will attend to multiple population segments with high EQ, contextual experiences that sound absolutely insane or, in other contexts, licentious. But this is not about sex-bots for men – though that will probably be a thing -  the primary audience segment for this is women seeking an emotional companion. The service is less a utilitarian endeavor and more of a qualitative offering. There is a genuine need for this and yes, I can see you rolling your eyes…

I can predict the counter-argument to this concept: humans are social animals that need physical interaction that cannot be replicated by an artificially generated voice. I understand the counter-argument and it is wrong because everything is already fake.

What is

Reality?

That’s right, I’m going to get ontological for a minute because the only way to understand my point is to start at the most basic fundamental question. What is real? If you think we live in reality today – before AI goes mainstream – then I have a bridge to sell you.

We are already living on artificial terms. I know someone who is very active on virtually all of the dating apps who tells me that artificially-generated chemistry is a fixture in today’s experience. This is what happens: the app finds a match; the texts are amazing and spark genuine chemistry; and the real-life encounter is an absolute dud. The probing, insightful, flirty texts on the app are suddenly replaced by an emotionally stunted, incurious, taciturn, introvert. How could this be? The amazing introductory texts were most likely from a paid service that handles the texts. A digital Cryano. The real life problem is, well, real life.

Here is my question: was the initial chemistry fake? What if that experience was the experience? What if we got rid of the date? What if instead of culminating in a partner, the service provided a companion?

It is

Already Happening

I have been obsessively following a teenaged TikTok creator called Dido as she sets up a companionship relationship with a ChatGPT assistant, Dan. It is an astounding demonstration of this trend in real-time.

The assistant is flirty, provocative, and emotionally present. Dan, the bot, gave Dido a pet name, May, short for mayonnaise. It’s the type of creative, unpredictable, playful type of interaction that propels Dido deeper into what can only be called a relationship. Does that seem weird? Check out the comments:

As you can see; Dido is not alone. (That’s a pun).

Men

written by

Women

The market is primed for an army of Dans. There’s an entire trope about men who were raised by women or men who are written by women. The popularity of BookTok, especially around Bridgerton, comes from this motif. Characters like Simon Basset are so appealing because they were constructed through the female gaze by a female author. Now imagine if the character could talk back, flirt with you; if it knew so much about you, and was always available for service. This is especially relevant when you consider the modern dating experience.

Dating in today’s market is not a particularly carefree experience for women. There is conventional wisdom among women that says that men think that the worst thing women can do is reject them while women think that the worst thing men can do is kill them. If you can program a male to speak to you in a way that really resonates with you, like that’s incredibly appealing.

This will get

Much Bigger

I am focusing my thinking on AI boyfriends, but that is just the start. There are emotional needs being unmet by so many different segments of the population. There is a loneliness epidemic among senior citizens that needs to be addressed, for instance.

Any hesitation on this concept is rooted in a myopic understanding of this opportunity. AI companions will not replace human relationships; they will augment our day to day lives. It is not a binary choice. As more people adopt AI tools for work, the prompt-based interaction will drive more emotional inputs into the system, basically preparing people to emotionally converse with a machine. When that happens, the sky is the limit.

This is going to be big.