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Thanks to AI, the future of dating looks like an episode of Black Mirror

Thanks to AI, the future of dating looks like an episode of Black Mirror

Would you use an AI ‘dating concierge’ to decide your matches?

AI has been something of a buzzword for the past few years. As “artificially intelligent” technology continues become more and more sophisticated, it's becoming more a part of our day-to-day lives. How we write emails, how we craft to-do lists, what we see on our social media feeds, even our beauty regimes — AI's becoming involved in all of it.

And now, it seems that that AI has also found its way into the dating app industry. (Are any of us really surprised?)

Last week, Bumble's founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd, spoke at Bloomberg Tech in San Francisco where she mused about how AI might soon be used to speed-up and automate the online dating process.

“You could, in the near future, be talking to your AI dating concierge and you could share your insecurities… and then it could give you productive tips for communicating with other people,” she said, adding, “There is a world where your dating concierge could go and date for you with other dating concierge … and then you don’t have to talk to 600 people."

Essentially, you and your potential partners would have AI avatars — bots that are programmed with your interests, likes, dislikes, even conversation habits, who can then “chat” with other AI bots to see if the two real people behind the bots might be a good match. Think of it like an arranged match — and the matchmaker is a robot.

Not scary at all, right?

Unsurprisingly, people quickly took to social media to share their horror at the prospect.

“We’ve literally gone from “tech helps me get answers to stuff/ ie google..” to “I want tech to LIVE MY LIFE FOR ME,” wrote one person on X.

Another wrote, “People would do anything these days just to avoid responsibility of actually connecting with a human being.”

One person even noted that the whole premise of AI dating concierges sounded eerily like an episode of Black Mirror — you know, the very creepy show about a bleak imagined future in which tech poses a threat to humanity as we know it?

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In fact, there was one episode, called “Hang the DJ," that featured an AI-driven dating program pairing up individuals — needless to say, it doesn't exactly end well for humanity.

Another wrote, “People need to stop treating dating as an optimisation problem and as a personal development opportunity. Will this AI concierge (ripped off from Black Mirror) also help you in your marriage too? Why not just date an AI tailored to you then?”

However, others were a little more receptive to the idea. After all, if AI was able to effectively pre-screen hundreds of potential dates and present you with a whittled down list of potential matches, wouldn't that take the pain out of all of that swiping and chatting we currently do on our dating apps?

“This is actually not the worst idea. I'm not mad at it. Let your AI weed out all the duds and only leave you with the good candidates to personally interact with. Would've saved me some time dating for sure,” one tweet read.

So — does AI have any place in the dating world? It's certainly an interesting question — and it's one we're willing to bet will keep coming up in the years to come. We spoke to Jessica Alderson, a relationship expert at So Synced, to find out exactly what "AI dating concierges" might mean for the future of love.

In the modern world, an AI dating concierge may have a practical use

While many people might initially be repelled by the futuristic idea of an “AI dating concierge” who weeds potential matches, it may actually have its uses in a world where online dating takes — well — a lot of energy and time. In fact, 79% of Gen Z report experiences “dating app fatigue” after trying to filter through all of the potential matches on their dating apps.

“There are potential positives within the use cases described by Bumble's founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd,” says Alderson cautiously. In fact, she notes, the system that Herd proposes actually isn't all that different from some of the algorithms we use already in our dating apps. “The use of AI in dating algorithms isn't new, the advancements we are seeing do have the potential to allow dating apps to present more personalised matches,” she says.

"Love and compatibility can't be determined solely by data and statistics.”

AI could also help people feel more confident while communicating with new matches online.

“Using AI for tips around communication, ideas for messages, or date ideas are all examples of how AI could potentially help in the dating world,” she says. “You still need to filter all of the suggestions through your own values and judgment, but AI can provide a starting point and inspiration. Not everyone can afford therapists or dating coaches, so AI could help to fill that gap, at least to some extent, by providing guidance. But it shouldn't be relied upon as the gospel truth because it doesn't have the same level of understanding as a human being, and relationships are nuanced.”

But using AI in dating comes with its downsides, too

While Alderson believes that AI might offer some benefits to online dating, she warns that it's a slippery slope.

“Relying solely on AI to weed out bad matches can limit our dating pool,” she says. “By setting strict criteria for what is considered a ‘good' or 'bad' match, we may miss out on potential connections with people who don't fit into those parameters but could be great partners. Whether it's filters we have input ourselves or the matching algorithms innately used by dating apps, they are based on data and patterns. But love and compatibility can't be determined solely by data and statistics.”

Alderson goes on to explain that this concept of a “dating concierge” might remove all sense of humanity from dating — and it's unlikely to find you your perfect match.

“Taking the human element out of dating could have significant consequences for our relationships and society as a whole."

“I don't think that having a dating concierge who dates for you is the answer to finding true love,” she says. “It takes away the natural human element of dating, and it goes against the purpose of dating, which is to get to know and connect with someone on a personal level. While having a dating concierge may seem like the ultimate convenience, it eliminates the human aspect of dating.”

Are we in danger of losing the human element of dating?

The danger of adding even more AI into our dating apps is that we lose the human element of dating altogether — and Alderson thinks this could prove to be disastrous.

“Taking the human element out of dating could have significant consequences for our relationships and society as a whole,” she warns. “We have to insert ourselves into the dating process at some point — that's the only way we can build a connection with someone. AI doesn't have true empathy in the way humans do. It can mimic empathy based on a data set, but it can't truly feel, and that's an essential component of building genuine relationships.”

No matter how advanced AI technology may be, it will never be able to understand who we truly are as people. “AI doesn't have the context of our lives and experiences,” says Alderson. “The journeys that make the people we are today are deeply complex, as are our values and beliefs. We sometimes can't understand our emotions ourselves, let alone expect a machine to understand and respond to them.”

Plus, we need to rely on our own instincts. “Our intuition and instincts are powerful tools when it comes to dating, and AI can't replicate that,” she says. “By taking the human element out of dating, we lose the authenticity that forms the basis of any real connection.”

Ultimately, love requires effort — it cannot be automated. As Alderson puts it, “There are more and more hacks to help us 'optimise' our lives, but you can't expect a machine to do the work for you when it comes to forming genuine connections with other human beings. It defeats the purpose of relationships.”