Can AI improve your pickup lines?

GPT-3 slides into your DMs thanks to new research on AI and dating.

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Can AI help people enhance their online dating game? Would you trust a computer with your digital pickup lines?

A team at Medzino, a digital health and wellness clinic, had some fun prompting OpenAI's GPT-3 language prediction model to generate dating advice for different situations. For good or ill, we're seeing a lot of these "research" applications of GPT-3, which are decidedly unscientific but do gesture at some of novel uses of AI waiting for us just down the road. it's also a good illustration of the severe limitations of a context-based text predictor that scrapes the internet to come up with the most probable answer.  

The team surveyed over 700 singles to see how well the AI did with pickup lines and general dating tactics and decorum. The results were ... interesting. 

One takeaway: Coffee is still king when asking someone out. A study of 5.5 million dating app users confirmed coffee is the most popular first date option. In the Medzino research, both women and men found lines generated by GPT-3 asking a prospective romantic interest out for coffee to be effective. Even with the safe bet of a house brew, however, the more presumptuous of the lines scored poorly.

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Things get a little more complex when relying on GPT-3 for advice on post hookup tactics. One of the AI's suggestions for your post hookup text was a message indicating how much you want to see your partner again. That suggestion ranked low with surveyed female respondents, with only 25% of women thinking it was a good move. By contrast, 40% of men thought it was a good tactic. OpenAI has been careful to root out bias in its public-facing app, but it's entirely possible the data set, which is essentially all the text on the internet, makes bias inevitable, as this disparity seems to indicate.

The possibility that AI will help humans find new entry points into the philosophical questions that have long vexed us has long intrigued futurists. Whether soulmates exist or not rise to the level of Cartesian dualism, but the GPT-3's answer is still interesting:

"In my opinion, it is a myth that the right person will come along at the right time. You have to create the right situation for you and your partner. It may not be the same situation as your friends and your family, but it is what works for you. If you are happy, then you can be a better parent or friend to others."

Notably, only 8% of women and 10% of men agreed with all of that statement, though the majority of respondents agreed with most or some of it.

And that, in a nutshell, is why these research projects, however entertaining they may be, probably aren't all that illuminating. GPT-3 plays it right down the middle, prioritizing the most probable answer to given questions. The responses, therefore, should fall into the sweet spot of the bell curve for any survey. 

In other words, there's little chance of a surprise when you ask GPT-3 a question. That consistency may be helpful for some, but as in all things, mastery in love ought to come with a flare for the unexpected.