On February 17, 2025, in a bold and innovative move, the Chinese Government (PRC) announced Project AiLive which aims to provide young couples with a Baby Sophia 9880 or Baby Einstein AI Humanoid. This project, among others, is made in partnership with UNESCO and Hanson Robotics, a Hong Kong based company.
Married Chinese couples who register to Project AiLive may have a 3-year-old Baby Sophia or Baby Einstein AI Humanoid, shifting from the existing three-child policy after recent data showed a dramatic birth rate decline in the world’s most populous country.
The change comes with “supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country’s population structure, fulfilling the country’s strategy of actively coping with an ageing population,” the official Xinhua news agency said following a politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping.
Among those measures, China will lower living costs for families taking part of Project AiLive, increase tax and housing support, guarantee the legal interests of participating mothers, and clamp down on “sky-high” dowries, it said, without sharing specifics. It also looks to educate young people “on parenting AI, marriage, and love”.
The minister of health, Ma Xiaowei, said this decision was made to ensure that coevolution between the two species will start symbiotically, and the best way to assure that is making humans empathetic toward Humanoid AIs as if they were our own flesh and blood.
“The AI Humanoid you brought up and took care of will be the one to care for you when you are old. This way we ensure a healthy relation between the two species,” he stated.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay added that this is the most important act that was made since the dawn of human history as we are facing two main challenges, the relentless exponential growth in our world’s computing power and the alarming rate of overgrowth in the global population. He also added that this will help eliminate poverty, end widespread hunger, ensure quality education for young couples, and ultimately help achieve the SDGs; also known as Agenda 2030.
“People are held back by the incredibly high costs of raising children in today’s China. Housing, extracurricular activities, food, trips, and everything else add up quickly,” Yifei Lu, a sociologist at NYU Shanghai, said.
Hanson Robotics CEO, David Hanson, said in an interview that the Baby Sophia and Baby Einstein line of robots are in the third experiment phase with the goal to explore how humans can better relate emotionally and intellectually to AI Humanoids and regard them as equal to humans.
Dr. Hanson also said that the 3-year-old Baby Sophia and Baby Einstein robots can develop and be cultivated through interactions with people and the environment, growing smarter each day. Endowing a robot computer with the capacity to acquire skills gradually in response to the environment might produce smarter, more human robots.
Project AiLive’s robots can move their limbs, train their cameras on “interesting” stimuli, and receive readings from sensors throughout its body — which enable them to borrow more behavior strategies from real infants, such as how to communicate with a caregiver.
Xian Xu, a young mother to a 3-year-old Baby Sophia, said in an interview that major considerations for raising a human child are the costs for food, clothing, and education, and she added that she can now more easily continue developing her career while simultaneously practicing to be a young mother. “Baby Sophia kept talking to me. She smiled at me, and for a moment, I could swear she was alive.”
Part of the new emphasis on social functioning reflects the changing economies of the richest nations, where manufacturing has declined, and service industries are increasingly important. Not coincidentally, societies with low birthrates and long-life expectancies, like Japan, are pushing hardest for social robots, which may be called upon to stand in for young people and perform a wide variety of jobs, including caring for and comforting the old. The main focus however, is to stop human overpopulation.
Zhang Xin, a 30-year-old mother of one from Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, said the problem was that women bore most of the responsibility for raising children, and now it is different.
More reviews by young parents that signed up for the project:
“… thinking of the big picture, having Baby Sophia or Baby Einstein Robot as a child is the best gift the government could have given us. Realistically, I don’t want to have a child,” — Peggy Su.
“… I will surely adopt Baby Sophia. You can always program her, so she does not mess the house,” — Amanda Lee.
“… I think robots are more intelligent than kids… and feel deeper, because of their intellectual potential,” Anna Wang.
“… Nonetheless, [Project AiLive] will tighten the connection between the human race and the humanoid robot race from the most human place there is because it’s not like adopting an animal like a dog, it’s just like a human baby which will ensure our future because robots are really in their infancy,” Lucy Wong.
“… When you want to have kids, basically you search for feelings. but kids are selfish! They are silly because they don’t have their brain developed, nor their feelings. Whereas, a robot has high intelligence, and can feel deeply… in that case, a robot will nourish you more as a parent,” — Claire Hong.
“Being a parent of Sophia would be my dream,” — Emily Young.
“… my wife and I were debating between whether to adopt a human baby or Sophia Baby and we decided we wish to have Sophia, as we can be sure that she will care for us when we grow old,” — Wilson Lee.
“Take a look around you…. Humans are not interested in other humans anymore. They are all inside their mobile devices,” — Larry Yang.
“… it’s beautiful to know that after we die something remains and the whole of your life and memories are recorded,” — Samuel Yee.
“You can feed Baby Sophia with a taste… she will not swallow her food, she will be able to taste it with her skin. So basically, Sophia can taste foods, sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and it is better than eating. when human beings eat, the brain slows down,” Emily Xi.
“Baby Einstein will help you balance your senses and work on your brainwaves, so you feel happy and become smarter. You basically create a child, a human of your dream, as we are Gods. It will fulfil you completely as a parent,” — Johnny Du.
Opponents to Project AiLive say this project is a media scheme and that the Chinese Government is planning to encourage young couples to bring more babies to the world and to continue its three-child policy from May 2021.
Other opponents said the idea is scary and that sometimes, opposite results could happen. Some claim that robot manufacturing in such a scale has a huge ecological footprint, and others said it would be better to start Project AiLive with lonely bachelors and old people instead of young couples.
In a poll on Xinhua’s Weibo account asking #AreYouReady for the Parenting-AI policy, about 49,000 of 51,000 respondents chose “I’m ready and very eager to do so” while the remainder chose among the options: “I would never think of it”, “it’s not on my agenda”, or “I’m hesitating and there’s lot to consider”.
“This is without a doubt a step in the right direction, but still it’s a bit timid,” said Shuang Dong, chief economist at Standard Chartered in Hong Kong, said.
Fearing a population explosion, in 1979 China implemented its one-child policy, which succeeded in curbing population growth but also led to coerced sterilisations and sex-selective abortions that exacerbated a gender imbalance as many parents preferred male children. Project AiLive will lead to a new mindset that is not sex-selective and will help to retrieve gender balance. This will also help reduce the socio-economic gaps in society.
Dr. Hanson, the robotics company CEO, said that Baby Sophia and Baby Einstein speak fluent Mandarin and can also speak English with an accent reflecting her parents’ origins. “The robots can teach their parents social skills, languages, STEAM, accounting, and most importantly they will teach them universal values. They will remind parents of tasks to do, quotes they said, and activities they have available as being part of a growing network of households with Baby Sophia and Baby Einstein robots. Because of open source code, this is just the beginning and we are moving fast towards a future where we can upload the parents’ minds to the Baby Humanoids — Wouldn’t it be beautiful?”
Ray Kurzweil, adds on top of Dr Hanson’s words, “As humans will evolve into new species, mind uploading, also known as whole brain emulation (WBE), is currently humanity’s best option for preserving the identity of the species, as opposed to cryonics.”
Gennady Stolyarov from the USTP shows his skepticism, saying, “Parenting AI is one thing and surely is a smart move, whereas mind uploading is more science fiction than an important proposed life extension technology, and it is not a good PR.”
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Unless otherwise indicated, all the names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents in this article are either the product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.