Gay apps such as Grindr, Jack’d, and GROWLr don’t yet utilize AI in their matchmaking services.

Finding your “gayromeo” (something people actually search for) for life or just for the night is fairly simple these days. But, with the help of AI, the matchmaking services in all dating apps could stand to be revised.

In what ways could a neural network improve the connection of humans to each other?

This article will spoil the episode “Hang the DJ” in Season 4 of Black Mirror. You’ve been warned.

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image of gay app Grindr logo for article Can AI Gaydar Improve Matchmaking Services?
Grindr Logo | Wiki Commons

Identifying How the AI Could Help: Gaydar, Insights, and Beyond

Before we begin, I do want to state that I am a heterosexual, cisgendered female. So I am VERY FAR from a reputable source or font of information on the gay community. With that in mind, for research in this article, I read a great deal about people’s experiences on Grindr, Jack’d, and GROWLr.

My own friends shared their experiences, too, though many of them felt these dating apps didn’t fit their lifestyles anymore. Many of the people on these apps are looking for one thing: a hookup. Could an AI with gaydar better match people based on what they want?

Or, is the fault simply in the design of the app regarding questions and personality profiles?

Two men talking after meeting on Grindr
ProStockStudio

AI Can Determine Sexuality; Can It Determine Compatibility?

We previously covered a new AI that can determine a person’s sexuality. Some connections made by others such as gay men being more “feminine” seem far-fetched given that gender roles are societal, not biological.

However, the study did find biological similarities in the faces of men identifying as gay. Using this model, the AI predicted a man’s sexuality correctly in 81% of cases. If AI can further breakdown likes, dislikes, biological proclivities, etc, then perhaps apps like Grindr, Jack’d, and GROWLr could be improved.

Again, this ties in with the overall purpose of the apps. Two men might be physically compatible, but not necessarily mentally compatible. How could an AI on a gay app determine compatibility? Modern sci-fi shows might have an answer.

image of "Hang the DJ" episode of Black Mirror for article Can AI Gaydar Improve Matchmaking Services?
“Hang the DJ” Black Mirror | Charlie Brooker and Endemol UK via Nerdist

Black Mirror Showcases an Important Facet of IoT Dating Apps

“Hang the DJ” starts out innocuously enough in that we discover two individuals on some kind of blind date. Of course, there is tech involved. They refer to a tiny black mirror disc as “Coach” and it tells you how long you will spend with this person. It feels strange and artificially produced, but for good reason.

Through the course of the episode, we begin to unravel the yarn of this digital sweater. By the end of the episode, your suspicions of it all being an elaborate simulation are confirmed. The two characters meet for the first time, the entire episode having been 1000 digital simulations. The episode refers to them as “rebellions”, so there may be some subtext here or commentary, but that is another article.

This fictional depiction of future dating apps may indeed be the future. You offer up data about yourself as you do now, but the system runs compatibility tests before matching you. While it sucks for your digital selves, the real world you will benefit immensely theoretically.

Grindr, Jack’d, and GROWLr could use tech like “Coach” to cut down on dissatisfied users. Even apps like OkCupid or eHarmony could benefit from this kind of predictive AI. The question is, will it be just as biased as the humans who use it?

AI being used on Grindr, Jack'd, and other sites
Chombosan

The Biggest Issue With Employing AIs with Gaydar

As we have stated a few times on Edgy Labs, predictive AI can be highly effective and useful. But they do come with biases because we, as humans, have biases. If the AI is trained on human input, then naturally, our own prejudices, predilections, or biases will transfer.

When it comes gay apps or dating apps, a predictive AI matching you with someone who reinforces negative stereotypes you hold could be detrimental. Either in terms of the society-at-large or by pairing you with people who don’t challenge you to grow in a relationship.

Of course, long-term relationships aren’t for everybody, just like monogamy. Before we can utilize gaydar or AI to improve matchmaking services, we will have to figure out a way to develop AI who don’t inherit human biases or limiting societal patterns.

What other approaches could researchers take to using AI to improve apps like Grindr, Jack’d, and GROWLr? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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