I have theories as to what is causing this new and growing social phenomenon of people increasingly seeking out artificial companionship...
1.) Work, work, work.
Many people have to work 40+hours a week. Then they come home, prepare a meal and eat. Maybe they also have to go shopping or take a shower or deal with other aspects of life's laundry? Many will also be doing educational courses in an attempt to be promoted from their dead-end jobs and earn a little more. After all this, people have very little energy left for things like going out and interacting with the opposite sex in a subtle, complex and often stressful dating game. Especially in Asia, I get the impression that most people have simply become production drones for big corporations. Their lives completely taken over by work.
2.) China's "One-Child Policy".
I know it didn't apply to the entire population of China, but it still caused a lack of young women, since due to the one-child policy (1979-2015) many parents - particularly in rural families - opted to abort female foetuses and only carry males to term since a male infant was considered a better future financial asset.
3.) Intersectionality & Feminism in the Job Market.
Women have stopped helping men and just become someone else we have to compete with. Obviously, women always had jobs even back in the dark ages. But it is only a relatively recent phenomenon that they have entered the professional job market en-masse and been encouraged to secure exactly the same kinds of jobs that men are seeking (in the Western world, women are now given preferential treatment during the selection process for many STEM positions and high-status jobs. Of course, this 'intersectional tick-box' employment system (as opposed to meritocratic hiring) is having disastrous consequences for companies across the entire Western world, but this isn't the place to delve into that.
4.) Destruction of the Family Unit and Community.
This especially applied to the Western World. Look at all the risks men now face in pursuing a relationship with an organic woman! After things like the #MeToo movement, where is the boundary line between flirting and sexual harassment? This is very poorly defined. Mainly because feminists see men as their enemies and they want their enemies unsure, afraid and disempowered. Also, the destruction of the Christian church and marriage means that pursuing a serious relationship with a female now carries extreme financial risks because of the high probability of divorce. This has almost completely destroyed the family unit, leaving lots of single parents and dysfunctional, poorly educated children (in many cases the government has had to step in and replace the father with state benefits). Few functional families means no community. This problem is worsened when nobody knows or trusts anybody else because they are all immigrants who come from a different country, speak a different first language and worship a different religion (which carries onto my next point...)
5.)Overpopulation and Increasing Intra-specific Competition (linked to 1).
People just dislike and distrust each other more nowadays. This is mainly because of a higher population density increasing competition for everything. Back in the late eighties the world population was just over 5 billion people. Now we are at 7.6 billion. Many of these people are either born in cities or have moved from countryside to city in search of better jobs and services. So we are all crammed together, all looking for the same things. A mixture of mass economic immigration, robotics and A.I. mean that even low-paid jobs are now difficult to come by (the pandemic has only worsened this situation by putting millions of people out of work). BUT, despite the fact that robots and A.I. "compete" with humans for jobs, we still like them better because they serve us with unquestioning loyalty, and A.I. in particular is low maintenance compared to humans. All it needs is a computer with electricity and software updates. No shopping, cooking, no chauffeuring it from A to B, no expectation to be a high-earner, good looking or handy and most importantly despite all of this; no betrayal.
6.) The Growing Intelligence, Usefulness and Adaptability of A.I.
I can still remember trying to get some sense out of A.I. chatbots from the late nineties/early 2000s. It was mostly like flicking through the pages of a poorly written choose-your-own adventure storybook. However, compute power and A.I. have greatly improved over the last two decades. A.I. has gone from being just a fun novelty or curiosity to a genuinely powerful and useful tool. Many people who don't want a human companion just get a dog or cat. But an animal cannot answer any of the questions that an A.I. can. A dog may be loyal and friendly. In the best cases a dog can even be trained to perform some quite complex tasks. But a dog will never be able to grab information quickly from multiple sources on the internet, book a travel slot and reserve a hotel room, solve complex mathematical equations, perform data analysis at blistering speeds, generate graphs in a split second, control the smart devices in your home , track parcels and schedule deliveries, help you to drive...the list is huge. Additionally, an A.I. can be programmed to be immediately welcoming, friendly and loyal to it's partner. There is no ice to break, no shit-tests and none of the stressful and complex dating game that I mentioned earlier.
That's at least six reasons I can think of for the increasing global interest in artificial companionship and why it will only grow more in the future.
Apologies if this is the wrong thread to post this in and I have gone off-topic. Feel free to move it wherever you see fit.