The US military, concerned about the welfare of children whose parents are abroad spreading democracy (or whatever), have hit upon the brilliant idea of … wait for it … virtual parents.
The proposal outlines the idea as follows:
The child should be able to have a simulated conversation with a parent about generic, everyday topics. For instance, a child may get a response saying “I love you”, or “I miss you”, or “Good night mommy/daddy.” This is a technologically challenging application because it relies on the ability to have convincing voice-recognition, artificial intelligence, and the ability to easily and inexpensively develop a customized application tailored to a specific parent.
As fucked up as this is, I approve of this type of research. Before you say, “think of the children”, think of this: these kids are pretty much doomed anyway. Not having parents means they’ll statistically be at a disadvantage. Giving them a “friend” to talk to can’t possibly hurt, especially when one thinks of all the other internet stuff an unsupervised child might stumble upon.
And the applications could be much further-reaching than virtual parents. I’d go more into this, but your imagination is probably better than mine. Once again it seems the sci-fi writers have predicted the state of things to come.