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AI Social Networks Stats

AI Reality Check In Online Dating 192

Posted by timothy
from the alright-cherub dept.
mikejuk writes "Researchers have developed an online dating system that not only matches you with partners you'll find attractive, but who are also likely to find you attractive too. The researchers at the University of Iowa have addressed an underlying problem of online dating sites. There's no doubt that such sites are ever increasing in popularity, and have good algorithms taking into account the reported likes, interests and hobbies of the person looking for a partner to come up with a potential match. What's less well catered for is the trickier aspect of the reciprocal interest – you may think person x looks nice, but will they find you equally attractive? The problem here is that if you are Average Joe and try asking out Supermodels Ann, Barbara and Cheryl, you're unlikely to get a reply. Well, not a printable one, anyway. So coming up with yet another supermodel for you to sob over isn't a lot of help.Instead, the researchers add a note of reality by analyzing the replies you get, and use this to work out how attractive you are. This is a scary thought for many of us, and one we may well not want an honest answer to. The results are used to recommend people who might actually reply if you get in contact with them. Fortunately for the attractively challenged, the research is still just that – research. However, given the fact the online dating market is worth around $3 billion a year, chances are someone is going to make use of this. We have been warned."
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AI Reality Check In Online Dating

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  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Saturday November 30, 2013 @01:21PM (#45561887)

    The /. summary is straight from the blog, and really, the only interesting part of the blog post.

    Here's the actual paper (PDF): http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1311/1311.2526.pdf [arxiv.org]

  • by qbast (1265706) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @01:28PM (#45561927)
    We analysed 137463434 online profiles and found these most suitable* matches for you:
    1) your right hand
    2) a goat
    3) bigboobs.jpg

    Do you wish to send a message?

    *) actually the only ones that won't laugh hysterically at mere thought of dating you
  • wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by avivgr (1556371) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @01:31PM (#45561951)
    i wonder if the algorithm is smart enough to offset male attractiveness based on bank account balance
    • Or girls that wouldn't care either way.
    • Re:wait (Score:5, Informative)

      by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Saturday November 30, 2013 @01:51PM (#45562083) Homepage

      i wonder if the algorithm is smart enough to offset male attractiveness based on bank account balance

      The paper's approach is based not on AI computer vision of attractiveness, nor even "hot or not" scoring by some audience, but rather upon who receives "initial contacts" and from whom. These initial contacts comprise the edges of a bipartite graph.

      So if a man's profile photo includes his Porsche or Rolex, or he mentions in his text copy how much "he loves living in [swanky neighborhood]", then, yes, this approach would reflect attraction towards wealth.

    • Re:wait (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 30, 2013 @02:15PM (#45562243)

      This is the real question. My buddy is an average looking guy who uses dating sites. He got a few dates but nothing happened. I told him to accentuate his large bank account. After that he found a nice girl looking for a sugar daddy. He gets regular sex, and she gets to go shopping. Laugh all you want, but they are both happy. I don't know the formula for a long lasting marriage or relationship, but money certainly helps.

      People respond to incentives. Sometimes looking for love is not an incentive to certain people.

      • I told him to accentuate his large bank account. After that he found a nice girl looking for a sugar daddy. He gets regular sex, and she gets to go shopping. Laugh all you want, but they are both happy.

        Why bother with a "dating" site if all you want is a hot chick for a steamy fuck? Just go to Backpage.com or Craig's List, or the back pages of whatever "alturnative" weekly your city has, and schedule a "date" or a "massage" ...

        • Perhaps he would prefer at least the illusion of exclusivity. Although, exclusivity is about the only thing OFF the table with the Backpages girl.
    • Sigh. Here is where most get it all wrong. It is not about *who* you are, or what you *have*, it is all about what you can *pretend* to be or have.
      Acting is the game.

      It holds not just for men, but for women as well.

      If you can't act, well then you know what to do...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Sigh. Here is where most get it all wrong. It is not about *who* you are, or what you *have*, it is all about what you can *pretend* to be or have.
        Acting is the game.

        It holds not just for men, but for women as well.

        If you can't act, well then you know what to do...

        My wife and I met on Match.com, and about a year into the relationship we went back to look at our profiles for the number of mistruths. While we didn't really find complete lies, there were definitely a lot of half-truths and obvious attempts to hide certain things.

        My profile won in the dishonest test by a wide margin. But my wife said she expected that since women are far pickier about non-physical traits than men are. Women have a harder time lying about things that will make men message them unless the

      • I have been saying that for years: If you know how to lie you get laid.

    • by kheldan (1460303)
      Never mind that, I wonder if the algorithm is smart enough to discount the "preferences" of porn site operators and prostitutes that inhabit online dating sites looking for new business amongst the desperate and the undesirables that also inhabit online dating sites?

      No, I'm not being funny.
    • by The Raven (30575)

      Considering it analyzes the responses you get, then yes... if you are advertising your bank balance in your profile (likely by proxy, with your profile picture including a demonstration of wealth) then the responses you get will reflect that, and the algorithm will take that input.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm honestly surprised people still use online dating sites. At least the traditional ones. I remember when I gave that idea a go and found I generally sent out tons of emails but rarely got any responses.

    At that point I decided I was either A) attempting to contact women that just weren't interested or b) Maybe there profiles were fakes put up by the website to get men to sign up with delusions they might meet someone.

    While I have met people online, I've definitely found my chances are significantly higher

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      I agree - anyone ever getting any real replies on those sites?

      • by Shakrai (717556) *

        I spent almost a year of my life on OkCupid, managed to get a decent number of dates for my effort, but I doubt I will never try it again. Online dating poses two particular challenges over meat-space dating:

        1. The people who are inclined to engage in online dating seem to be shier than average. Combine this is the fact that there are a lot of "colorful" characters on online dating, and they are hesitant to meet in person even if there seems to be a connection. Consequently, you end up talking forever bef
      • by The Snowman (116231) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @03:14PM (#45562579) Homepage

        I agree - anyone ever getting any real replies on those sites?

        I did - from my (now) wife.

      • by ranton (36917)

        I agree - anyone ever getting any real replies on those sites?

        Yes, my wife that I met on Match.com is sitting in the other room right now. But both of us are above average in both our careers and attractiveness (although neither of us are rich or and we would not be mistaken for models).

        I don't have any friends who were successful with online dating unless they were also successful in regular dating. Match.com just lets you immediately know who is available and makes it much easier to weed out anyone who you absolutely would not want a relationship with (doesn't like

        • by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @06:18PM (#45563527) Journal

          if you have trouble getting dates without online dating, you will probably have trouble online too.

          Exactly, it's the modern day equivalent of a "dance hall", somewhere you go to meet the opposite sex. I started dating my first wife at a 1970's disco (I already knew her but not socially), I met my current lady friend in 2001 on a chat site.

          A chat site gives you hints (in the persons profile) as to what you might use to start a conversation, but it takes away all the physical senses, the perfume, the eye-candy, the rubbing of thighs and butts on the dance floor. We old farts enjoy that stuff too, it's just not as attractive for spectators!

          So when I found myself single again at 40, a web site was preferable than an "over 30's" Friday at a mega-pub. Also a lot more physically comfortable, since those places usually have the heaters turned up high to make the punters thirsty (also makes old farts sweat like a pigs). If you (male or female) can hold a conversation via text without coming across as desperate or depraved then there's no reason to be dateless on the weekend if you start typing on Thursday night..

          My "wife" still chats to friends on the net, now that I have a partner the chat sites have served their purpose I'm about as interested in chat sites as I am sweaty discos, the only site I "chat" on these days is Slashdot, and I'm unlikely to meet a lot of women here ;)

    • by Deep Esophagus (686515) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @01:51PM (#45562079)

      I'm amused by your use of the word "traditional" to describe online dating services. From my point of view, that's still newfangled. Get off my lawn!

      My wife and I were actually one of the first online romances. Back in the days of 300bps dialup, there was a service in Houston that had a bunch of phone lines running into multiple modems on a single computer, so a smallish group (probably 16; I don't remember) of people could chat together. One of the oldies radio stations advertised it, so I plugged the phone number into my Hayes terminal program and met a few people including a lady type person (yes, a GIRL who owned a computer... even though it was just a TRS-80). Within three days of chatting we had started to discuss how many children we would like in our hypothetical family, and we had already started seriously considering marriage before we ever met in person. We married five weeks after we met online.

      That's what is missing from these algorithms. What about those who are attracted by some other factor than physical appearance? What attracted me and Mrs. Esophagus was our shared values and interests. Which is good, since I was rail-thin, covered in zits, and, like any good computer geek, only heard of personal hygiene as a long-forgotten myth from distant lands.

      As for "how do we even know these profiles are real?" -- limit yourself to people you can meet in person, which may mean restricting your search to people within your own city or less than {x} miles away. Don't commit time, money, or yourself until you have both had a chance to do a little snooping by way of facebook pages, google searches, whatever. Hint: If the facebook page appeared only after you make contact, you are right to be suspicious.

      • by Shakrai (717556) *

        What attracted me and Mrs. Esophagus was our shared values and interests.

        I don't think we need to know about your oral sex life. ;)

      • by Sique (173459)
        Actually, no. That's not what's missing from those algorithms. At least not from those the PDF is describing. This algorithm doesn't measure physical appearance. It measures responses and tries to classify the responses and the profile of the opposites. If the ones responding on a profile do it because of the physical attractiveness, it makes for the algorithm no difference, because the algorithm just creates response graphs.
      • by Afty0r (263037)

        That's what is missing from these algorithms. What about those who are attracted by some other factor than physical appearance?

        They are a small outlier that it makes commercial sense to ignore them.

      • by Tom (822)

        That's what is missing from these algorithms. What about those who are attracted by some other factor than physical appearance?

        Not aside, but in addition.

        I met the girl I would spend the next 6 years with at a club and since she was only visiting a friend, e-mail and telephone was all we had for the next weeks. By the time we met again six weeks later, I was already very much in love and had a weekend that I still remember clearly now, 9 years later. Yes, she was hot and she could dance and that's why I chatted her up initially, but what made her special was the mostly e-mail conversation we had afterwards, which revealed this utte

    • Most females on dating sites get spammed ... and if your mail is either dumb or boring she certainly has you on a low level of priority.

      • by Shakrai (717556) *

        Most females on dating sites get spammed

        One of my female friends was on OkCupid (she put me onto it, actually) and showed me her inbox once upon a time. *shudder* She averaged 20-25 messages per day, this in a small city (Ithaca, New York), not a major metropolitan area. Over half of them were cheesey one-liners that were dismissed out of hand, most of the rest were outright disgusting, and a small handful were good enough to get a reply from her. Of course, of those, she ruled out the people that she didn't see a physical connection with, wh

        • by WCLPeter (202497)

          she ruled out the people that she didn't see a physical connection with, which sounds harsh

          What's harsh about it? It actually makes sense.

          Selecting for attraction is just as valid as selecting for ideals and interests. If you're going to potentially spend the next 40 plus years with someone its usually best to pick someone you're attracted to physically - even if it feels harsh the person being rejected, better to be with someone who desires you in every way and doesn't shudder at the thought of having to

    • Hi, my name is Werner Brandes. My voice is my passport. Verify Me

      • by Shakrai (717556) *

        Dude! That's not the right Werner Brandes quote to use in a discussion about online dating.

        "Shall I phone you, or nudge you?" <--- That's the one you want to reference. ;)

    • by Bender0x7D1 (536254) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @02:37PM (#45562385)

      I've used online dating sites, and found them quite effective. My girlfriend of over 2 years and I met on an online site. A close friend of mine met his wife on an online site. So, they do actually work.

      I remember when I gave that idea a go and found I generally sent out tons of emails but rarely got any responses.

      This probably means your emails sucked. Did you send a one-sentence email? Something like: "I saw your profile and you seemed interesting so I thought I would say hi." Where was your effort? If you want to meet someone, you need to demonstrate you are interested. Did you point out your similarities, common interests or things you both enjoy? You need to show that you aren't just some random guy spamming a hundred girls to see what will work. Does she have a cat or a dog? Even if you don't have one, you can mention that you used to, or you've wanted one, or ask how much the darn thing sheds. Just something showing it's personalized and, most importantly that you read her profile.

      While I have met people online, I've definitely found my chances are significantly higher in person, face to face.

      Again, that's probably because your emails sucked. There is no tone of voice, no body language or dimension to an email, so you have to do it all with words. This isn't easy, and a lot of people suck at it because they've never had any practice. However, most people (although not all) have a lot of practice interacting with people in real life - even if it is just to order something from Starbucks - making them better at communicating in real life than in an email.

      If I were to become single again, I would be back online right away. It's a fast way to find people who are interested in similar things, and to meet a lot of people that you wouldn't in your regular routine. (When was the last time you went to a coffee shop on the other side of town just to see if you could meet someone new?)

    • by master_p (608214)

      My experience is different. I had a lot of dates with women from dating sites, and I met my wife that way. I have a kid, after 5 happy years of married life.

      I think what matters is the initial approach. Many men go for an impressive opening line, but women don't really want that. My approach was very simple. My initial message was: "hi, how are you?." Most women replied back, and then the conversation started.

  • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @01:41PM (#45562017) Homepage Journal

    Not that similar ... but http://okcupid.com/ [okcupid.com] already does a good job in matching people.
    Also: this supermodell example is utter bullshit. Enough men just like an ordinary woman and enough women just want an ordinary man. How helpfull is a supermodell that is womitting twice a day and only wants sex once a week or a month?
    There is much more to matching than just simple attractiveness.

    • Also: this supermodell example is utter bullshit. Enough men just like an ordinary woman and enough women just want an ordinary man.

      The problem is that photos, generally, look less attractive than people do in real life, in part because the photo becomes such a focal point in contrast to real life where there is a whole person.

      • The problem is that photos, generally, look less attractive than people do in real life, in part because the photo becomes such a focal point in contrast to real life where there is a whole person.

        Plus a lot of it depends on how pleasant the person is. A physically attractive person who's a total arse quite quickly appears less attractive. It works the other way around, too.

        • by k2r (255754)

          > It works the other way around, too.

          So how do you get a date to make the "right" impression if the fist impression is that you are not even interested in finding / taking a decent picture of yourself?

          • Search me. Just get a decent picture taken. Besides, I don't think it's true that photos make people look less attractive than RL (as the GP stated). It can often be opposite too: I've seen lots of photos where someone looks way more attractive than in RL. It doesn't even take Photoshop to get it that way. The challenge is to get a photo taken that is slightly flattering whilst remaining accurate.
      • by k2r (255754)

        > The problem is that photos, generally, look less attractive than people do in real life,

        Sorry, but this is nonsense and only valid if you do not spend enough time on choosing / making the right pictures. Yourself and the one reading your profile deserve your passion to finding the right picture and text.
        And maybe ask some friends of the gender your interested in whether the picture you like most of yourself really is THE picture to use as a first impression :-)

    • Enough men just like an ordinary woman and enough women just want an ordinary man.

      But, that's wrong you twit. [jonmillward.com]

  • by k2r (255754) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @01:43PM (#45562029)

    > if you are Average Joe and try asking out Supermodels Ann, Barbara and Cheryl, you're unlikely to get a reply.

    This sounds funny.
    From my experience many people I consider being quite above average visual attractiveness are attracted to decent Average Joes/Janes - if they are interesting, do stuff, learn interesting things, are caring, etc pp...
    Even musicians, actors/actresses and models.

    However, (Miss|Mister)-US-Of-Dumbnut may be only attracted to each other, but that's natures way keeping the carnage to the gene-pool low.

    • by fermion (181285)
      Ideally, if these dating sites are going to work, it is not just going to be simple physical attraction, it is going to be interests.

      For instance if you are looking at a supermodel type, you are looking at someone who interests run in keeping a body that meets other expectations, adorning that body, and maybe augmenting it to make it more acceptable. Obviously this is time consuming if that is not your interest, then where is the commonality. I can also tell you from experience that such people really c

  • You claim, you are a 7, (eightish)

    After the de-photoshopper ran its course, our algorithm has determined that in reality you are a 3 (twoish)

    If you are certain that this is not correct, please upload a different photo.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @01:55PM (#45562119)

    The summary talks about "how attractive you are" and "supermodels". I hope the study doesn't look at it that way, because that's incorrect. The correct question is "to whom are you attractive?"

    Chris Brown dated a superstar. Is he attractive? I'm a total nerd, and not particularly good looking. My wife married me and finds Chris Brown revolting. So who is more attractive, Chris Brown or me? Neither, we attract different women. On the other hand, my wife thinks Pavarotti is extremely romantic. Is Pavarotti more attractive than Lil Wayne? Each is more attractive to some some women.

    If I were single, I'd date Alyssa Milano for sure. Miley Cyrus, I take pity on. I wouldn't sleep with her, I'd suggest she put her clothes back on.* So which is more attractive? A good system would match pairs likely to find each other attractive, not assign a single attractiveness score.

    * okay so maybe I'd pity her AND sleep with her before I suggested she put some clothes on.

    • As you suggest "how attractive" is more nuanced than a 0-10 score on a linear scale. As I see it, this is no different than other recommendation systems. e.g. Netflix knows what you watch, knows what other people watch, and can make recommendations based on commonality in patterns. But each person is unique, and recommendations can take on this nature as well. Some users of the site may be relatively insensitive to physical appearance, while others might respond preferably to individuals with certain charac
  • Wrong Objective (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bill Dimm (463823) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @01:57PM (#45562131) Homepage

    The problem here is that if you are Average Joe and try asking out Supermodels Ann, Barbara and Cheryl, you're unlikely to get a reply. Well, not a printable one, anyway. So coming up with yet another supermodel for you to sob over isn't a lot of help.

    This assumes that the goal of the dating site is to find you a mate. It isn't. The goal is to get you to pay as much as possible in subscription fees, or view as many ads as possible so they can make money. If you find a mate, you quite subscribing and quit visiting the site, so that's no good. What keeps you on the site is the illusion that you've got at chance at that supermodel. The optimal situation for the dating site is to give you hope without success.

    Go to a site like Match.com. Want to look around to see if there is anyone you would want to date? No problem, just create an account -- it's free! Of course, when other people see your account they will have no idea that you haven't paid the subscription fee and won't be able to read any of the emails they send to you unless you pay. So Match.com has new profiles popping up to give their subscribers hope, but the emails those subscribers are wasting their time sending aren't even seen. Perfectly OK to waste your time as long as it keeps you paying.

    • by ffflala (793437)

      This assumes that the goal of the dating site is to find you a mate. It isn't. The goal is to get you to pay as much as possible in subscription fees, or view as many ads as possible so they can make money.

      I'm sure that approach will continue to work for a long time, but I think the big players have learned to be a bit more subtle about it by now. Match certainly uses the model you describe (or had last time I bothered to look), but I don't believe they've brought that approach to OKC since the buyout. I think instead that they've found value in offering premium services (pay to subscribe and you can browse anonymously, get better details about who is looking for you, increase the frequency your profile is su

  • The problem here is that if you are Average Joe and try asking out Supermodels Ann, Barbara and Cheryl, you're unlikely to get a reply.

    The problem here is that a lot of girls think they're supermodels, when in reality they're just average Jane themselves. Then they label a guy 'creepy' just because he's not very attractive and girls are assholes [youtube.com].

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mib (132909) <mib@post.com> on Saturday November 30, 2013 @02:24PM (#45562319)

    Read, be enlightened. Why you should never pay for online dating, a blog entry from the founder of OKCupid (via the wayback machine since it was pulled when they got bought out by for-pay dating site match.com):

    http://web.archive.org/web/20101006104124/http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/why-you-should-never-pay-for-online-dating/ [archive.org]

    • by Tom (822)

      It's an interesting article, but the truth is a lot simpler:

      If you pay for membership by time, the site has no economic interest that you actually find a partner. They profit from you searching for one, but not from you actually finding one.

      And that's all you need to know. A site that actually helps you find a partner will - economically speaking - lose out against a site that just keeps you looking for one. Thus, by the beautiful logic of the evil of free market capitalism, a sort of evolution results in a

  • Since most people's profiles are lies, intentional or not, on-line dating will always be pure luck, hit or miss.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @02:53PM (#45562453) Journal
    "The truth" according to my past experience and observations at least, so take it with a salt lick-sized grain of salt, YMMV, etc.

    Online dating seems to contain the following people:
    • Attention whores
    • Porn site operators looking to increase their business
    • Porn chicks
    • Prostitutes looking to increase their business
    • Predators
    • Earnest but desperate undesirables
    • People with social anxiety disorders of one degree or another
    • Seemingly average people, but with "issues" (ranging from mild to severe, and ranging from few to many)
    • Actual average people

    So far as I can tell "Actual average people" occupy only a small percentage of the total of this list.

    I've even tried paywall-protected online dating, with similar observations to the above. You might say that I just had a bad experience, but in the past I tried this time and again, with the same results. My conclusion? Online dating is a waste of time and money at best, and a total scam at worst. Not worth your time, money, and emotional energy. Meet people the "old fashioned" way: in person, local to you, in social settings, or at your church (if you're so inclined), or in college, or in the workplace.

    ____________________________________________________________

    A note to the "moderation trolls", doubtlessly with their fingers, as always, hovering over the keyboard, ready to mod this down: See the disclaimer at the beginning of this comment. Disagreeing with or disliking my opinions of this subject does not constitute me being a "Troll" or "Flamebait" or anything else derogatory in nature; it merely means you don't like it, so get over it and move on.

  • The problem here is that if you are Average Joe and try asking out Supermodels Ann, Barbara and Cheryl, you're unlikely to get a reply.

    And don't judge a book by its cover. Supermodel appearance - ignoring fashion and grooming - tells almost no story, except that someone won some part of the genetic lottery. Sure attraction matters, but perhaps many people focus on the wrong things - or too specific things - and many of *those* things matter very little and/or may not last over the long term, which is a shame because all the *other* things can make for a very good relationship.

    I was very lucky when I met Sue - way back in 1985 - when I

    • by k2r (255754)

      What a remarkable person she was, what a beautiful couple you have been.
      And what a remarkable person you still seem to be!
      I sincerley hope that some day soon you'll give somebody else the chance of getting close to you.
      Because otherwise it would be a loss to that person and that does not really seem fair to me :-)

  • Just because these guys put out a press release proclaiming their brilliant innovation doesn't mean that OKCupid isn't already quietly doing this.

  • Oh, they also need to take initiative because frankly don't read people very well. Yes, I'm in tech R&D, why do you ask?

  • The overwhelmingly dominant failure mode is "no response". If you are actually getting enough responses to analyze algorithmically then you are pretty successful and don't really need the analysis.

  • This will obviously lead to "satisfied hot model" service where Debby the hot model accepts your invitation, waits a couple of days, then writes you about how great you were. All of this, for only around 60 cents per positive review, and you can enter the world of dating hot models.
  • There's nothing exciting or complex about this idea. I imagine it's being done in many, if not most, any dating sites.
  • http://tech.slashdot.org/story/13/11/30/1637253/ai-reality-check-in-online-dating [slashdot.org]

    Ha, like I am going trust computers especially my decades with computers including QA testings. My IRC AI bots can't even communicate correctly from the (record/logg)ed conversations. LOL!

  • It sounds like the model they are using of "attractiveness" is one dimensional based on how many approaches and responses each profile gets. I think a more complex model is needed to optimize matchmaking.

    Rather than try to build an estimate of attractiveness of each man to all women and of each woman to all men, it seems like you could build a network analysis that works in a more personalized way. It's possible to build a database that categorizes women according to WHICH men tend to like them, not just

  • The market could vanish shortly after someone got it right.

    Imagine a world where on line dating found you an ideal match
    quick as that...

    No divorces, no repeat customers, no endless one night stands swapping
    body fluids and diseases. ... just a big happy ever after world.

    Utopia...

Some people have a great ambition: to build something that will last, at least until they've finished building it.

Working...