Can an Algorithm Really Predict Love at First Sight?
- Louise Thompson
- On May 11, 2013
Latest posts by Louise Thompson (see all)
- Can an Algorithm Really Predict Love at First Sight? - May 11, 2013
Editor’s note: CitizenTekk publishes experts and startups. We asked Badoo to write for us because they currently have over 170 million users in over 180 countries on their social networking website – which is more than Instagram.
The Internet is present in all parts of our life – even when it comes to love and romance. In what way is online dating changing our society? Can an algorithm really predict love at first sight? And can technology improve our relationships in real life?
People don’t like being told what to do. Whether it’s being told how to behave at certain society events, or sneakily eating a cake when you’re supposed to be dieting, there’s a natural human inclination to buck all of the “good advice” that people offer you, and instead find your own (sometimes complicated) path to a well-lived and more interesting life. And it’s the same when it comes to romance and dating.
In my opinion, traditional online dating sites are far too prescriptive when it comes to finding love. And that goes against the grain of what falling in love should be all about. Where’s the romance? The spontaneity? The fun? But you can’t blame those dating sites for trying. After all, they benefit from turning dating into a serious business, taking your hard-earned money month after month. And, let’s be honest here. They are banking on your failure to meet “the one” in order to protect their monthly recurring revenue from you. So why would you trust their advice or matches at all?
On that note, when was the last time you asked someone to fill out a seven-page questionnaire when you bump into them at a bar? That’s probably the quickest way to kill romance, not cultivate it. And it’s the very imperfections and unexpected quirks that make falling in love so wonderfully human. Finding someone who might be three inches shorter than your preferred height, but with whom you have insanely good chemistry? Even the most complex of algorithms can’t match that feeling.
However, that’s not to say that the Internet can’t play a crucial role in helping people meet and date. We’re all living busier lives and are increasingly reliant on technology, so using tools and apps to help us makes sense. And we’re getting lonelier too, as long working hours, increased geographic dispersal and more time being spent online, are all contributing to us having fewer real life friends than we used to. A recent Cornell study points to this, surmising that many of us now have just two close friends in real life, even as the number of online “friends” we have is on the increase.
On that note, when was the last time you asked someone to fill out a seven-page questionnaire when you bump into them at a bar? That’s probably the quickest way to kill romance, not cultivate it.
But most online dating sites don’t really reflect real life. And that’s a problem. In real life, people meet spontaneously. They might strike up a conversation with you in a coffee bar, based purely on the unusual blend of coffee beans you happen to be drinking that day. They might decide on a whim to check out a new local bar, and end up meeting the love of their life that night. Or, they might not meet that special someone, but end up making fast friends with the bartender, based on their mutual appreciation of the music of Johnny Cash and specialty Belgian beers. You get the picture.
Technology should reflect real life when it comes to helping you find love. The best dating sites and mobile apps are the ones that don’t tell you what to do or how to behave. They simply make it easy, fun and fast to connect with new people in your area. Just like being at a local bar, coffee shop or nightclub. No pressure, no expectations. Say “hi”, break the ice, and see what happens. Isn’t that the way most of us prefer to cultivate new relationships? And importantly, this new breed of apps provide a seamless bridge to offline meetings, so you can quickly gauge whether your online chemistry is matched in real life. With many millions of social interactions to date, these apps also make it easy to meet people nearby, often with clever location-based technology that simply enhances the ease with which you can meet new people in your area. We’re spending more and more time on our mobile phones now, so location and proximity tools are increasingly important for meeting people on the fly.
Online/mobile dating is definitely here to stay, but the smart companies are the ones that respect the way we prefer to interact with others in real life, and seek to enhance it, not control it.
The best technologies and apps should simply make it easier and more fun to meet new people, and then let us humans do the rest. They should open the door to possibility and wave you inside.”
Louise Thompson, Director of PR at Badoo, a leading social network and dating site.
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