Creepy Catfish or Useful Co-Pilot: Can AI Help Dating Apps Succeed? | Science and technology news


A flashy profile picture, music taste that matches your own and no opinion on whether pineapple should go on the pizza.

As far as Dating App Profiles Go, it doesn’t get much better. You swipe right or like and put away your phone, hoping the interest will be mutual.

Lo and behold, it’s barely an hour and you’ve made it. The excitement is matched only by the overwhelming fear of what’s next: starting a conversation.

The need to dream up a flirty, fun chat can feel like constant pressure. “I’ve been thinking too much about what the opening sentence should be,” says Neo Cheng, a healthcare worker and vlogger. “The more you think, the more you get into this downward spiral.”

I’ve seen how it works speeches of politiciansSchool heyI work and even some journalismthe 33-year-old Canadian decided to see if ChatGPT could be his digital wingman.

Back in February, Sky News asked the chatbot for tips ahead of Valentine’s Day. But the cheesy chat lines (“If you were a vegetable, you would be a sweet cucumber.”) and creepy photo comments (“Your smile is so warm and inviting!” I got a “thumbs down” from our dating expert.

Things have changed since then though: AI is evolving faster than people swipe left on my Tinder profile and ChatGPT Enjoy a significant upgrade.

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The experiment

Neo commissioned ChatGPT to write a 100-word Tinder bio based on some information about him.

“An introvert with a good heart,” it said, who “loves trying new foods” and is “looking for someone to share laughs and adventures with.” It was about how much Neo loved everything from summer to helping others. The tone sounded more like a sloppy romance novel than a scathing dating profile.

When asked for something more succinct, the answer was, “Health professional, Aquarius introvert, and amateur YouTuber. Summer loving meat eater with a weird sense of humor. Likes Radiohead, Coldplay and Justin Bieber. I am looking for an accomplice to laughter and adventure.”

Neo’s “well-lit headshot” as recommended by ChatGPT

Then on to the photos. The AI ​​suggested using a “clear, well-lit portrait photo,” an action photo, and finally a candid photo. Neo went to his Instagram page to find photos that matched his ideas.

Once the profile was complete, each match received a ChatGPT-authored response based on Neo’s prompts on each person’s profile.

Talking with matches

Anyone who has used chatbots knows that they often sound a bit formal and use flowery language.

However, politeness can go a long way, and AI delivers it in abundance.

“I can only imagine how tiring it can be learning so much new information, but at least you’re making progress!” was ChatGPT’s response when one of Neo’s matches revealed they had started a new job.

The chatbot also pays attention to correct grammar, punctuation, and capitalization — quite unlike most people who write online. It might look good, says Neo, but it sounds a little inauthentic.

The pick-up lines remained cheesy: “Excuse me, but I think you dropped something. My jaw.”

Upon learning that the match had responded with a “lol,” ChatGPT suggested, “Glad to see I can still make someone laugh! Would you like a drink and see if we can keep the laughter going?”

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Tinder dating app.  file image
Neo used Tinder for his experiment – with “Search for” set to “New friends only”.

Stand out from the crowd

ChatGPT might have been ecstatic, but Neo’s experiment was just that: an experiment.

The “What I’m looking for” section of his profile was set to “New friends only” and matches were informed of the true nature of his answers before the conversation led to a possible meeting.

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AI is now fluent in human language

However, a recent survey by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky and dating app Inner Circle found that more than half of single men would actually consider using a chatbot to strike up a conversation with partners. And 51% of women said they would use it to keep multiple conversations going, like University Lecturer Owen does.

He leaves most of the work to ChatGPT and adds “personal details”.

“I hadn’t used dating apps for a while,” explains the 44-year-old. “It was harder to find time for multiple conversations than going on a face-to-face date.

“It can be exhausting coming up with new lines to open the door to potential dates,” he says. “The use of AI has helped eliminate the ‘writer’s block’ that accompanies app dating.”

A new era of catfish fishing?

But for Jay Dodds, co-founder of dating app Bonkers, which focuses on user safety, even AI-generated chat lines are a step too far.

Left - Emma Kay, Founder of WalkSafe, Right - Jay Dodds, Co-Founder of BONKERS.
Jay Dodds with Emma Kay, founder of WalkSafe, a safety app that has been integrated with Bonkers so users can let loved ones on a date track their location

“I hate the idea” of using AI to find or talk to a mate, says Dodds. “I’m a tech enthusiast and there’s a place for AI, but when it comes to dating apps, it’s the worst idea.”

“Even if you create a chat hotline, you’re already conveying a false sense of self if that’s not what you naturally do.

“We’re all about promoting safety, and catfish fishing isn’t one of them.”

The Kaspersky and Inner Circle survey also raised concerns about a new era of AI-powered catfishing: 57% of respondents felt its use in an online dating environment was dishonest.

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AI is “getting crazier”

“Take a mind test”

Dating coach Hayley Quinn is similarly wary of AI’s role in finding love. She encourages people to do a “sense check” before putting generated lines into practice to ensure they are appropriate.

And for those who are afraid of being on the receiving end, there are things to watch out for.

Neo says from his experience that signs contain full-sentence answers “where everything is perfect.” “If people answered in full sentences, with periods and properly abbreviated, it would make me a little paranoid,” he adds.

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In fact, his experiment has made him less convinced of the role of AI in a real experiment.

“When you’re using AI, it’s to your detriment if you actually go on a date,” he says. “There is no help, you are on your own: what are you going to say?”

As if dating apps weren’t already full of red flags, from suspiciously low-resolution photos to dodging questions, this bold — or terrifying — new era of AI might have spawned another: Who writes these messages anyway?

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