Could virtual love coaches and DNA matching be the future of dating?
We increasingly live our lives in the digital world – from banking to shopping and booking a holiday. But what how will technology impact online dating in the next decade? Here Rachael Lloyd discusses a compelling new report on the future of dating by Imperial College London in collaboration with eharmony.
Picture this: it’s 2025, you’re single and you’ve been on a string of bad dates with people who don’t look like their pictures. You want to meet someone who not only shares your values, but makes your heart race. So, you join a prestigious online dating platform that specialises in compatibility.
Having filled in a detailed questionnaire to establish key personality traits, you’re then given the option to submit a quick DNA sample by gently scraping the inside of your cheek.
You pop this into a small sealed bag and post it to a special love lab. And voila! Within seconds, a series of matches are identified with whom you’re biologically destined to feel a genuine attraction.
Sounds a bit far fetched? Think again. Because, according to the latest Future of Dating report by Imperial College London in collaboration with eharmony it’s just one big breakthrough on the horizon for singles.
Love coaching with Alexa
The report also suggests that within the next three years in-home listening devices such as Alexa and Google Home could predict with 75% accuracy the health of your relationship. They could also provide relationship advice, essentially democratising counselling and making it affordable for more people.
In order to assess how you and your partner are getting along, in-home listening devices would simply process visual and audio cues as you go about your day. They could also process information tracked via wearable tech and smart phones.
And well before one of you is about to blow off steam about the kitchen being left in a mess, they could step in with appropriate advice and empathy.
Prateek Jain, SVP of technology at eharmony, said: “eharmony subscribers can already use Alexa to review their daily matches and communicate with other users on our platform. This is a perfect example of technology helping enhance human relationships in a trusted environment. “It’s also entirely possible that as technology evolves further virtual assistants combined with compatibility matching systems – such as ours – will not only help singles pinpoint their most compatible matches, but act as a therapeutic resource within a relationship.”
Love and gene codes
Few people know that beyond gender preference, genes are thought to play a significant role in determining sexual attraction.
Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, which regulate our immune systems – and process information via taste buds and smell – are thought to unconsciously influence mate choice. This is partly because, evolutionarily speaking, it is best to pair up with a partner who possesses different immune genes, to give greater protection to any offspring.
Indeed, there is some evidence that women are likely to marry partners with different immune genes from their own and be less attracted to males with similar gene codes.
By analysing MHC gene codes, online dating platforms could cross an existing boundary faced by matching through technology: predicting compatibility at a physical level.
Machine learning and the ‘perfect’ profile
Finally, the report explores the potential of so-called ‘machine learning’. Most dating services – including eharmony – look to generate increasingly accurate matches by analysing behaviour and choice made on the platform.
In the future, increasingly more information will be readily available via smart devices which will be able to feed directly into dating algorithms.
For instance, a digital analysis of 100 random pictures on your smartphone could soon be enough to give key psychological insights into who you really are. For example, someone may not think to mention they are an animal lover on their profile, but machine learning could identify this if multiple photos contained pets.
Prateek Jain, SVP of technology at eharmony, concludes: ” It’s important to remember that while the future of dating might seem intimidating to some, it’s realistically going to make online dating a more seamless and empowering experience.”
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