Dat­ing apps use AI to help search for true love “

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LIS­BON — For­get swip­ing through end­less pro­files. Dat­ing apps are us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to sug­gest where to go on a first date, rec­om­mend what to say and even find a part­ner who looks like your favourite celebrity.

Un­til re­cently smart­phone dat­ing apps — such as Tin­der which lets you see in real time who is avail­able and “swipe” if you wish to meet some­one — left it up to users to ask some­one out and then make the date go well.

But to fight grow­ing fa­tigue from search­ing through pro­files in vain, the on­line dat­ing sec­tor is turn­ing to ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) to help ar­range meet­ings in real life and act as a dat­ing coach.

Th­ese new uses for AI — the sci­ence of pro­gram­ming com­put­ers to re­pro­duce hu­man pro­cesses like think­ing and de­ci­sion mak­ing — by dat­ing apps were high­lighted at the four-day Web Sum­mit which wrapped on Thurs­day in Lis­bon.

On­line dat­ing pi­o­neer eHar­mony an­nounced it is de­vel­op­ing an AI-en­abled fea­ture which nudges users to sug­gest meet­ing in per­son af­ter they have been chat­ting in the app for a while.

“There is a lot of ac­tiv­ity on dat­ing apps but by and large there is not a lot of dates,” eHar­mony CEO Grant Langston told the an­nual tech gath­er­ing. “Guys don’t know how to ask, it’s as­tound­ing re­ally how many peo­ple need help and we think we can do that in an au­to­mated way.”

British dat­ing app Love­flut­ter plans to use AI to an­a­lyse chats be­tween its users to de­ter­mine their com­pat­i­bil­ity and sug­gest when they should meet. “We will ping a mes­sage say­ing ‘You are get­ting along re­ally well, why don’t you go on your first date’,” said Love­flut­ter co-founder Daigo Smith.

Love­flut­ter al­ready sug­gests places to go on a first date that are equidis­tant from both peo­ple’s homes us­ing in­for­ma­tion from Foursquare, an app that helps smart­phone users find nearby restau­rants, bars and clubs.

“It kind of takes the pres­sure off or­gan­is­ing that first date,” said Smith. Tin­der founder Sean Rad said AI will “cre­ate bet­ter user ex­pe­ri­ences” and pre­dicted iPhone’s Siri Voice as­sis­tant would in the fu­ture act as a match­maker.

An en­tirely voice op­er­ated dat­ing app called AIMM which uses AI to mir­ror a hu­man match­mak­ing ser­vice is al­ready be­ing tested in Den­ver where it has about 1,000 users.

When you open the app, a sooth­ing voice asks ques­tions about what you like to do on a date or where you would like to travel. It then sug­gests suit­able matches based on your per­son­al­ity.

Once you have picked one you would like to meet, the app tells you about them.

Af­ter sev­eral days the app will help set up a time for a phone call be­tween you and your match — and give ad­vice for your first date based on what it knows about the other per­son.

“It will say things like ‘based on her per­son­al­ity in­cli­na­tion she is a tra­di­tional per­son, I would rec­om­mend din­ner and a walk’,” said Kevin Te­man, the app’s de­vel­oper. The app also re­minds you to ask ques­tions “about the things that are im­por­tant to you” dur­ing the date, he added.

Af­ter the date, the app checks in with both peo­ple to see how it went and rec­om­mend whether they should con­tinue to see each other or keep look­ing.

Te­man hopes to make it avail­able across the United States early next year.

Badoo, a Lon­don-based dat­ing app, is now us­ing AI and fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy to let users find a match that looks like any­one at all, in­clud­ing their ex or celebrity crush.

Users can up­load a pic­ture of some­one and the app will find looka­likes among Badoo’s more than 400 mil­lion users world­wide. Re­al­ity TV star Kim Kar­dashian, Os­car-win­ning ac­tress Emma Stone and singer Bey­once are the most searched for celebri­ties glob­ally since Badoo in­tro­duced the fea­ture — dubbed Looka­likes — last year.

How­ever not ev­ery­one is con­vinced that AI can aid the search for love.

“Among the doubters at the Web Sum­mit was UN Sec­re­tary­Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res, who said he was “a lit­tle bit scep­ti­cal” it could help “peo­ple chose their soul mates”.

“I’m very happy I have cho­sen my soul­mate by tra­di­tional meth­ods,” said the for­mer Por­tuguese prime min­is­ter, who is mar­ried to a Lis­bon city coun­cil­lor, in his open­ing ad­dress to the gath­er­ing on Mon­day. — AFP

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