Stand-in Companion: An Intriguing Amalgam of AI and Relationships

Graphic of a robot with a prosthetic human face, but metallic body, reading a book.

The prospect of advancing artificial intelligence may induce feelings of apprehension with home systems such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Echo, drawing backlash over potential privacy breaches and safety concerns. Japan, however, appears to have embraced this new reality, having garnered a reputation for staying ahead of the curve when it comes to maintaining efficiency. AI has even permeated the world of literature with a novella that explores a dystopian society over which the Japanese government has complete control. Stand-in Companion written by the acclaimed author, Kazufumi Shiraishi, follows Hayato and his wife, Yutori’s struggle to conceive a child, amidst a legal ban on the issuance of infertility treatments and how artificial intelligence is used to replace human interaction when infidelity places a strain on the couple’s relationship. Shiraishi entertains the idea of substituting one’s spouse with a robotic counterpart; one that has been updated with the human’s memories to enhance their humanoid characteristics. The novella, although short with a mere 50 pages, teases the curious premise of humans forming emotional bonds with androids, leaving readers to ponder the implications of such a relationship, if this were to occur in our society; still abundant with stigma and a fear of the unknown.

Illustration By: William Joel