“Dating Apps Will Not Just Work Well Until Fundamental Biases Are Eliminated” – Dwayne Foreman

“Dating Apps Will Not Just Work Well Until Fundamental Biases Are Eliminated” – Dwayne Foreman

Here we are in a world where everything and everyone are connected. We are all part of one living together on mother earth. Humans are social animals that are meant to live and experience love. Love in this age is elusive. This is why folks go out all the way to find a date which everybody knows is one of the sweetest things to find if the one that is found is the right one.

Due to this fact and the fact that the world is changing with the fast rise in the usage and engagement of the internet, the use of dating apps have emerged and interestingly witnessed a surged in membership. This buttresses the earlier point that people are looking for love and said love they are willing to engage with even if it’s employing the usage of the dating apps. Dwayne Foreman, Founder of the Shoot Your Shot dating app has strong words for the dating industry as was summarized in the title of this article.

“For example” he begins “let’s say a certain guy, Randal, creates an app which is internet based and helps to connect persons for romantic or platonic relationships.

These dating apps are internet-powered applications, which enables a person create an application and hook up with another person of his/her/their choice if the feeling is mutual. In essence, dating apps helps a person find another who shares the same emotional feeling and possible lead to a long-term romantic relationship or short-term hookup. However, these apps are developed based on algorithms which enable to work well as designed by the owners. Imagine this app now created by Randal requires you to fill out a space known as profile stating race, age, religion and other preferences and Stan or Lucy innocently fill out the space. Significant drama is likely to follow”

“A 2014 study by OkCupid shows that datings apps rank black women and Asian men pretty low in the totem pole of education. If Stan is seeking an educated woman, he is probably not going to shoot his shot at Lucy if she has black heritage. And it is visible on her profile, Stan is probably not going to shot a shot at her as he would assume she may not be that educated. What do we call this? Bias. Stereotype”

It makes sense to agree with Dwayne at this point. For instance, in a study published in 2018, the researchers from the Cornell University examined the racial bias on some dating apps in the United States, discovering in the process that race played a very elaborate role on how matches are formed in the dating apps. They gathered that 19 of those apps requested users to input their own race. 11 collected users preferred race while anoother 17 allowed filtering based on race. Jevan Huston the lead author on the Cornell paper is quoted to have said that because so many intimate relationships now start on dating apps, these apps wield structural power to shape who you meet and how.

To further buttress this point, in 2016, an international beauty pageant (Beauty.AI) was judged using an artificial intelligence. 6000 photos from 100 countries were submitted wherein most of the winners were white with one black. This was because the algorithm had determined from the numerous white photos and very little black photos submitted to it that beauty is associated to white skin. Tell that to Beyonce! The programmers of that algorithm did not mean for it to be racist. However, from the information it was fed, it turned out to be so. That is how the algorithm of these dating apps also incurs its own racial bias and in the words of Matt Kusner, a professor of Computer Science at the University of oxford. He said that people accept and reject profile based on preference and if you have your algorithm take those preference and predict with it, it will form bias.

Imagine Stan and Lucy who came to the dating app without any race in mind but just to find intimate relationship or a long-term life partner. Now they are being served profiles on a daily basis by the app which has been biased by ethnicity perhaps inadvertently. Imagine their frustration at the working of the application to which they have come to take solace and possibly solve their loneliness problem.

That is how bad the biases on the dating apps is affecting the chances of getting a good date from these apps. People are not allowed to make a choice of their own from a pool of people without having the algorithm select for them the type of person they should date just matching the data they put in while registering. This means that both Stan and Lucy have had their choice of date limited by the dating app which should have provided them greater options which is what they sought when they signed up on the app.

“Dating apps do not work well if it does not give the satisfaction, which is sought, from it – a wide range of actionable options. To make dating apps work well, the programmers and owners of the apps must ensure that the algorithm is not tailored towards building a biases, and by eliminating this factor, more long-lasting romantic relationships can be built. This means that Stan and Lucy will enjoy the online dating if deep-seated biases are no more” concluded Dwayne Foreman

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