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Over the past thirty years, technology has grown in importance in the everyday lives of just about everyone on Earth. It has changed how we work, how we play, and even how we learn. It has also changed the way we go about finding romantic partners and potential mates. In fact, that particular use of technology dates back much farther than most people even realize.
The earliest known example of computer-aided dating goes all the way back to 1959 when a group of researchers at Stanford University used an IBM 650 mainframe computer to match 49 couples together as part of a school project. In the years since, online dating has become the default way that people find others that could be their perfect match, as well as a booming technology industry unto itself.
Although the current online dating market is quite robust, consisting of a variety of platforms and mobile apps, there's one problem that has dogged the industry from the very beginning: it still relies on humans to come up with the parameters that make a good match. Today, though, a new breed of online dating services is starting to blend the latest in technology, from AI to facial recognition software to take the human element out of the matching equation. Here's a look at some of the most interesting examples – and the cutting-edge tech that is now making them possible.
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The use of AI technologies in online dating services isn't new. Industry giant eHarmony has been developing AI within their platform for years, first to make more accurate matches, and then by providing users with subtle pushes to go and meet people they've been talking to on the site. There's another new dating platform that takes the concept of AI to a whole new level, though. It's called AIMM, which is an acronym for Artificially Intelligent Matchmaker.
The system uses a sophisticated AI to handle everything about the dating journey – from finding the right person, to providing advice about how to get to know them. It automates everything, from arranging phone calls between users, to offering tips on what to say on the call. It even collects feedback from users to learn from its' own advice, so it can do an even better job with future calls and meetings. In short, it's like hiring a dating coach that knows the right buttons to press to get people together – without the embarrassment of sharing intimate details with a live matchmaker.
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Another cutting-edge technological approach to online dating involves the very basic building blocks of human life: our DNA. That's the twist that Houston-based dating platform Pheramor is bringing to the online dating industry. It makes use of an algorithm that matches eleven specific genes that research has shown to be a predictor of interpersonal attraction. Those matches are then filtered using data from users' connected social media accounts, to find individuals who are both genetically compatible as well as having similar interests and life goals. So far, there's conjecture within industry circles as to the efficacy of the Pheramor model, but they're nevertheless attracting attention. In fact, their test kits sold out within a day of launch, proving that they have quite a following already.
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There's another high-tech approach that's sweeping through the online dating world, and it's less about finding people with similar interests, and more about finding people that look like exactly the person you'd want to date. That's the idea behind Dating.ai, which uses high-accuracy facial recognition software to find users that match a sample image, on a variety of the most common dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, or PlentyOfFish. It's a unique usage of the technology, which can help users across a variety of platforms find the right person without having to scan through thousands of profiles. If nothing else, it should act as a kind of filtering mechanism, to cut through all the maybes and find a better match.
Photo: Skórzewiak / Adobe Stock
Between the new platforms that provide digital dating assistants, to those that use facial features or DNA to put people together, there have never been more options available for people that are looking for love online. The one thing that they all seem to have in common is that they're using technology to eliminate the middleman and connect people who make a good match – not just based on someone else's idea of who might be "the right one". Judging by the rapid adoptions of these technologies and others into the industry, the day may soon be coming that people will be able to take advantage of a fully-automated, successful dating experience, free from the hit-or-miss approach that's common today. And that should be cause for celebration for the millions of people who are still looking for love in all the wrong places.