This post came out of a discussion I had online with a close friend this week on a girl he likes. I’ve spent many a night helping him optimize his chances with this girl, so why not write a blog post about it?
Now, I’m not one to give sound relationship advice. In fact, most relationships are a waste of time that impairs productivity and leaves people emotionally broken. In an ideal world, I envision a dating app like that in the Black Mirror episode Hang the DJ which pairs people up in a way that optimizes compatibility and breeding. However, a legislation to encroach on citizens’ dating lives will likely not pass Congress so I believe this will be a step-by-step process. Once neural implants are common place, the dating game will change significantly (at least it should, since it’s a highly lucrative market), which thanks to technology will become more and more like the ideal world in which an optimized system matches us up with our significant other.
One of the frustrations my friend was dealing (and every guy at some point) is mixed signals. It’s already hard enough to read between the lines of implicit messages, ones that fall somewhere on the spectrum between “I like you” and “I don’t like you.” Then, add in body language, hand gestures, tone of voice, location coordinates, and seemingly infinite variables and cause-effect relationships are at play. In a society today where time and effort are the new scarcity, this leads to uncertainty of which girl to invest time in pursuing (logically, diversification of targets is better in the world today, but polygamy still has a long way to go). Uncertainty leads to the Paradox of Choice, which leads to unwillingness to act, which leads to stress, which leads to depression.
It is the problem of miscommunication in this world that is a main source of diminished productivity, which wastes precious time better spent elsewhere.
With the advent of brain-machine interfaces and digital contact lens (right now, we already have glasses), a system awaits to be implemented.
Every person wearing a brain-machine interface may register for this dating app, which requires permission to analyze specific chemical processes in your brain, especially the release of dopamine and other hormones.
Here’re two ways dating in this system may work:
At any given instant, every person can select one potential romantic candidate (who must be in this system) as a “target.” If targets match, the system automatically informs both sides (get a room already, dammit).
During every interaction with said target, the cloud will extract real-time brain activity data from the target via the cloud (if Facebook can survive the current scandal on user privacy, this system will, too). This activity will be algorithmically converted into a “liking” rating and be projected live onto your contact lenses. This displays real-time feedback to you for every joke, flirting technique, conversational topic you use.
Granted, this also opens up to a whole black market of stalking; you may pay contract intel-collectors to prey on your target of interest, collecting exp. for you. The user’s ultimate right to cancel the system will be essential here.
Once enough data is collected, the system may begin “advising” you on your next move, giving predictions it believes that’ll most optimize the target’s short-term (or long-term if you choose) liking of you. For example, the message “approach her from the left and start a conversation about wine-tasting” may appear on your lens in preparation for the next encounter.
Before you choose a target, there’s also the option for you to see others’ liking rating for you (though this may quickly get out of hand and result in social paranoia, so this must be limited to, say, one person per week).
Eventually, this system’s application will not only be limited to dating, as it may find traction in corporate arenas as well to improve relations in the work space. However, to prevent this from being seen as a tool of manipulation, it may be best if companies adopt a policy that requires all employees to use this system during working hours, hence establishing a clear company culture. This will undoubtedly eliminate the stress with building rapport with coworkers as to maximize productivity.
The final frontier would be the automation of government. At some point, master algorithms will predict how the population responds to different messages and policies, before deciding what and how to govern a public. It will understand how a certain way of urban planning affects the satisfaction of those living in it, and collect preferences from individuals in the population before deciding how to optimize happiness.
So essentially, the system learns and improves itself via the learning of preferences, which starts from individual-targeting (flirting) then moves on to group-targeting and eventually, population-targeting.
Finally, this may seem like another AI-takes-over-the-world scenario, because it is. However, we often forget all AI is developed to improve a system in a way humans can’t, and for that reason, I think the direction we’re moving in is a good one.