AI matchmaking, cosmic romance and ChatGPT bring digital options for Valentine's Day

Zhu Shenshen
Shanghai people have taken to the virtual world this Valentine's Day, finding curious options with AI matchmaking, cosmic romance and ChatGPT, at select locations around the city.
Zhu Shenshen

Shot by Jiang Xiaowei. Edited by Jiang Xiaowei. Subtitles by Chen Jie.

Jewelry, flowers and chocolate, or fine dining for Valentine's Day? This year, Shanghai people are finding new romance in the digital arena.

They're taking artificial intelligence-powered selfies in updated phone booths, seeking cosmic romance with "space roses" and their digital counterparts, and asking ChatGPT, an AI-generated chatbot for advice on celebration.

On some local streets, Shanghai's iconic red public telephone booths carry a certain nostalgia for people of a certain age, while bringing user-friendly functions and 5G networks after recent upgrades.

A new function called "AI photography" made its debut on Valentine's Day, which supports romantic selfies and AI-powered matchmaking services for singles. For example, AI can predict the appearance of your preferred other half.

Now the service is available in several smart phone booths, including one on Nanjing Road W.

Lucky attendants have a chance to get free roses, said China Telecom's Shanghai branch, an operator of the booths.

Besides the new romance, the upgraded phone booths feature various services such as phone charging, three-minute free calls and one-click button for car-hailing, emergency service for lost elderly people, information inquiry on community activities or urban renewal projects, and the 12345 government service hotline for disabled groups.

AI matchmaking, cosmic romance and ChatGPT bring digital options for Valentine's Day
Ti Gong

A cosmic romance with a rose and digital counterpart becomes a new choice this year.

During this year's Valentine's Day, a cosmic romance gift and related digital counterparts in the virtual world have also attracted people's attention, reflecting the booming development and potential for innovations in metaverse and blockchain technology.

Huifu and Futurespace jointly released "space rose" gifts, whose seeds have been to the space, and virtual roses NFR, or Non-Fungible Rights, digital certificates based on blockchain technology.

The packages cost 214 yuan (US$31.5) for a rose only, and 520 yuan with digital certificates.

Huifu, a Shanghai-based firm focusing on payment, will expand into blockchain and NFR sectors in 2023, which are used in digital collections, digital rights issuance and intelligence transaction and the metaverse. The company's "cosmic romance" campaign is seen as water testing for the expansion.

In January, Shanghai released a blueprint to speed up metaverse development, which connects the virtual and real worlds with advanced tech. The city aims to boost the metaverse industry with an expected output of 350 billion yuan (US$50 billion) in 2025.

ChatGPT, the hottest consumer and business AI application globally, also plays a role in the festival.

Mike Li, a Shanghai-based marketing director, used ChatGPT to find gift inspirations for his girlfriend.

The AI chatbot brings suggestions to cover jewelry, SPA, tech gadgets, personalized gifts, romantic dining, and flowers and chocolates. The last choice, which locates a bouquet with her favorite flowers and a box of gourmet chocolates, "is a classic Valentine's Day gift that never goes out of style," said ChatGPT.

Li was surprised by the last sentence of ChatGPT, which blurs the lines between accurate but normally emotionless AI suggestions and human chatting in the physical world.

"Remember, the most important thing is to choose a gift that reflects your relationship and shows her how much you care about her," said ChatGPT.

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