Browsing online dating profiles on your own is one thing, but some services (such as eHarmony and Yoke.me) claim to mash up your personality with those you might be suited for before you even log on — based on things like which bands you listen to, your answers to specific questions about values, etc. A new New York Times story by Jenna Wortham delves into why these algorithms are inherently flawed:
Overall, the story finds, there are several reasons why these complicated-sounding methods don’t work (yet, anyway).
“Technology is not the way to figure out who is compatible and will never be,” he said. “At the end of the day, the human algorithm — neural tissue in our cranium called a brain — has evolved over a long period of time to size up people efficiently. On a blind date, a person arrives and in that instant I can say I’m glad I did this or regret it.”
And even sites based around more-than-a-profile gimmicks (myMatchmaker entrusts real people to set others up; HowAboutWe has users come up with a plan for the date before the online connection is made) aren’t going to work quite as well as they (or we!) want them to:
…Kevin Slavin, a game developer who studies algorithms, says those sites are already starting from a flawed base.
The digital personas we cultivate on Facebook are often not very indicative of who we are, he said. “A first date is the most tangible instance of you being the best possible version of yourself, the version you think will be the most attractive to someone else,” he said. “It is impossible for that to be the same person on Facebook.”
True, perhaps there’s no beeping, blooping computer that will spit out Mr. Right, but isn’t it nice that someone is working to make it so? Until we can build a match out of 1′s and 0′s, keep on keepin’ on, baby — your man (or woman) is out there.
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