I have had many articles published about dating, and a topic that seems to reboot quite frequently is the frustration with technology and its growing consequences on our lives and in our relationships. While there are many upsides to our accessibility for instant news, communication, and gratification, there is always a flip side.
How often do we see people interacting more with their electronic devices than those they're with? We seem to be growing more and more comfortable communicating via our not-so-social media: texting, e-mailing, or using Emoticons to express how we feel vs. looking at one another.
This can be especially true when it comes to courting or dating online. We get to be the great and powerful Oz hiding behind the screen, which makes us more comfortable to be who we are, or perhaps even who we'd like to be. The reality is that there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction.
Back in the day, there was a TV show called The Dating Game. Little did we know just how big of a game dating would become. We're now overwhelmed with thousands of pictures to look through with new faces popping up every day. It is a virtual buffet of possibilities and with so many choices it is tiring, overwhelming, and elicits the fear that we might miss out on Mr. or Ms. Right if we jump off the search-mobile too soon.
Is there a way for technology to undo the solitary monsters it has created and get us out from behind our phones/computers to meet a potential partner sooner rather than later?
Justin Long, a Vancouver based computer researcher and developer, founded Bernie A.I. believing that technology got us in this mess and it can get us out.
Bernie is a personal assistant Long designed to "become an extension of you, to handle the time consuming part of online dating." It all started in a bar when he got tired of watching his friends swiping away the evening with faces buried in their phones. He felt that way too much time was being wasted immersed in technology, virtually slowing the process of getting out into the real world on an actual date; so he decided to automate the matchmaking process.
Using artificial intelligence, Bernie learns who you find physically attractive, connects to your favorite dating sites, and matches with people who meet your criteria. After striking a conversation, Bernie determines mutual interest and notifies you when someone is ready to chat.
Long strongly feels that A.I. will continue to improve the quality of our daily lives. Although Bernie is specialized in expediting real-world intimacy, Long has no shortage of examples of how he feels A.I. will solve personal pains of everyday life. "Finding a job and learning more about others around you are two prime examples of what A.I. has to offer. Too many people have been fed this vision that A.I. will take our jobs. I believe it's going to help us get back into the human experience in real life."
For me, the most touching part of the story is how Bernie got its name. The app is named after Long's dear friend Bernie, who kept pushing him to venture out into the dating world, and it was because of Bernie's encouragement, Justin found his first long-term girlfriend. Bernie passed away not long after, and in a strange twist of irony, the cause of his death was an enlarged heart.
Bernie A.I.'s debut is just around the corner. If using Bernie as an online wingman can get singles out from behind the screen sooner, overcome dating fatigue, return them to the human experience of dating and bring the one person to their inbox who is genuinely interested; he might just become the first techie super hero.
Perhaps A.I. will be the "hair of the dog" --the best cure for what ails us is having more of it...? I suppose time and technology will tell us--literally.
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