Of all the many examples of technology being harnessed to enhance social and leisure activities across the globe, online dating is surely one of the most obvious. Millions of potential partners regularly scour these websites, poring over profiles and connecting with complete strangers. The fact that so many people are choosing to engage in this activity is a clear indicator that successful and meaningful relationships can be forged in this way.
The benefits to adopting the internet are self-evident. What could be a more convenient way of interacting with individuals you might date than browsing through lists of profiles from the convenience of your own home or favorite coffee house? There is also a diverse range of different sites to choose from, depending on the fine-tuning required to your particular dating preferences. Privacy is guaranteed, and the nature of the turnover of potential partners means that users do not have to settle for a narrow array of candidates. They can have the flexibility to sift through any number of possibilities, and the technology behind these dating sites caters for swift decisions. Some of the key dating sites allow their members to glance at profiles and then swipe past them until they arrive at one that particularly attracts their attention.
But is there more to their success than members interacting with any one of a random series of willing partners? Of course, there is. And the matchmaking functionality built into these sites guarantees a high chance that people will only be paired with someone who is compatible. So what’s the technology behind the complex algorithms these sites deploy? Firstly, a degree of science is involved. In fact, dating algorithms can be traced back to an American student who was competing for his dissertation at the University of California while simultaneously trawling dating sites into the small hours. On one hand, he was running calculations through a large-scale computer; on the other, he was completing online members’ questionnaires consisting of long lists of preferences and tastes relating to his ideal partner. He suddenly noticed the clear connection linking the two activities. Answering detailed questions about relationships produced a complex dataset equivalent to the programs he was running in the academic world.
He began crafting imaginary profiles on dating sites then constructing computer programs to reply to questions posed by compatible users. In this way, he worked out how a typical system created matches. There followed an in-depth analysis of thousands of users, who he categorized into like-minded groups depending on how they answered the set questions posed by the site administration. After he adjusted his online profile according to the optimum matchmaking criteria he found he was inundated with messages.
This young Californian proved that while the process of putting strangers together according to similar tastes was a fairly complicated undertaking, computer programming allowed fine tuning. A dating service was no different to other web platforms who utilized technology to break down their potential customers, such as those operating in the financial industry.
The increase in dating apps and websites has led to a corresponding rise in the complex mathematical algorithms. But some popular sites still cut to the chase rather than rely on these painstaking matchmaking techniques. Tinder introduces systems that simply display where other users are geographical. That way people who aren’t so interested in small talk can keep proactive with meeting potential partners. The onus is placed on the user to decide whether they like or dislike whoever they are being introduced to, rather than a computer program having made this suggestion for them.