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November 20, 2018

Dating apps use artificial intelligence to help search for love

Dating apps use artificial intelligence to help search for love
'Tinder founder Sean Rad told the Web Summit in Lisbon that AI will "create better user experiences" ' - By: AFP FRANCISCO LEONG

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 wraps up 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."

- 'Takes pressure off' -

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.

- Voice activated -

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.

- Celebrity lookalikes -

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 Secretary-General 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.

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