Dating in the age of AI: would you let an algorithm choose your partner?

Dating AI, for example, using facial-recognition technology, allows subscribers to find potential love interests based on a photo of someone they fancy, such as a celebrity

As people continue to rely more and more on computer intelligence to shepherd them through life, delegating the oftentimes inexplicable task of matchmaking to the problem-solving altar of AI is a natural progression. Should people trust algorithms with their love life?

In the novel, early days of online dating, eager and curious singles could only search for other unattached hopefuls using basic filters, such as age, gender, location, sexual orientation, and shared interests.

Fast-forward to today, and matchmaking in the cyberworld is vastly different. To maintain the attention of, by now, often chronically jaded online daters, websites are awash with clever algorithms that claim to find them potential love matches faster than ever before, while also offering them coaching in the art of love.

Tinder boosts matchmaking on its site by using Amazon’s Rekognition to trawl photos to identify key personality markers. Pictures of someone playing an instrument could see them tagged as ‘creative’ and matched with another ‘creative’.

She can offer dating advice, from conversation starters to how to overcome nerves and date venue suggestions

Match has an AI-enabled chatbot named ‘Lara’, who works via Google Home, which the company claims can be a personal ‘wing woman’.

Another, So Syncd, launched to the market a year ago, uses an algorithm to identify and match compatible Myers-Briggs personality types – users simply fill out a questionnaire.

According to its co-founder and CEO, Jessica Alderson, the aim of the algorithm is to apply “science and reasoning” to matchmaking, so singles can meet more compatible suiters.

“People find comfort in the fact the matches aren’t completely random, it makes users think about profiles more as people and personalities rather than just looks, they also don’t have to waste lots of time going on incompatible dates,” she says. The site has already seen 1,000 relationships, marriages, and engagements.

Should you take advice from AI? For the $2-3bn (?1.5-2.2bn) dating industry, machine learning and AI offers businesses a way to differentiate themselves in an increasingly over-crowded market. For those that are single-and-looking, it edarling can make the experience feel, as Alderson says, more applied rather than slightly incidental, which is no doubt appealing to time-strapped daters.

David Tuffley, a senior lecturer at the school of information and communication technology at Griffith University, Australia, whose specialist interest is AI, says one of the chief benefits of algorithms are that they help humans do jobs better than they could alone, acting as a ‘force magnifier’. He believes it’s no different for matchmaking.

“Using AI and data – such as allowing platforms to access a person’s social media – can essentially allow people to trade their data for better matches and some people are really happy to do that. Others won’t be and don’t have to,” he says.

One of the largely cited benefits of online dating is it can vastly widen the dating pool, which is a particular advantage in the Covid era, where people’s social worlds have typically shrunk due to homeworking and social restrictions. Its unique selling point is that machine learning that informs AI can derive insights much more quickly from information than humans, which can then be used to make better decisions.

Indeed, this is what the technology behind human operating-system Receptiviti does. It uses technology called LIWC (linguistic inquiry and word count), which studies people’s language – the tiny style words that connect sentences, the prepositions and pronouns that are largely spoken from the subconscious – to determine insights about their personality.

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