Friday, December 23, 2011

Computer Calculated Couple Compatibility

Amazon has had amazing success marketing the kindle reader online. The emergence of the e-reader is having profound effects on the book publishing industry. This process will likely turn the entire publishing industry from a large brick and mortar concern into a cottage industry of authors self publishing electronically and mass marketing via Amazon, Barns and Noble Online, and other online media distribution sites. Beyond that, there is also a strong possibility that every emerging author will just self publish and sell from their own website using canned ecommerce technology.

Well so much for speculations about the publishing business. Something that most readers should be concerned about is the types and amounts of information that companies like Amazon are finding out about you from your reading habits.  Likely you already know that they use the titles that you purchase to figure out what to recommend to you. Most people would just consider this to be good merchandising. Did you know that Amazon tracks everything that you read, to see how much a book engages you, and how far into the book you are? Probably you do not. The creepy thing is that they also track anything that you highlight as well. They are also sharing this information with publishers so that publishers know what it is that people like within each publishing genre. How scary is that?

So welcome to the age of electronics!

Media has been tossing around the phrase electronic age for about 20 years now, but it is only more recently that we are seeing the types of privacy intrusions that were discussed by George Orwell in his book nineteen eighty four. Sorry George, society was a bit slow off the mark living up to your poor expectations of us.

You may wonder what it is that these companies are doing with all of this personal data.

So far, the publishing companies are focusing on choosing plot scenarios that are sure to sell well. In some cases, they have co-opted well-known writers into putting their name to material produced by ghost writers. They are able to use all the information at their disposal to validate story line consistency as well. Think about what the Star Trek series of books might have been if fed by e-reader information? Niche writers have ups and downs as they publish various books. Can you imagine how much better the work of authors like Steven King, Michael Crichton or Janet Evanovich could be with such feedback?

So take it a step further. Why have a real author at all? Why not have an author team and create an artificial persona to front them. They can be cagey and invent a fictitious person by doctoring a photograph, create a website with a blog, have a bunch of social media profiles, and hire a PR team to look after that persona. They can even hype the fact that the author is reclusive, never grants interviews, and thus add to the mystery. The next step is to hire a team of writers to produce novels under the fake name. Each of the plot outlines are based on research as to what things appeal to most readers of books in this genre. Now you hire yet another team of people to respond to email, post blogs, etc. as this person. Most people would just assume there is a living, breathing person on the other end. This might very well be the future of publishing!

There is another industry that would benefit from applying similar information and tactics. That industry is Web Dating Services!

The work that Microsoft is currently doing with computer interaction is truly impressive, but likely the gaming industry will be the only near-term beneficiary. Apple has deployed SIRI on it's iphones, and is likely to use it as the main input technology for all of it's devices, including the Televisions.  Voice technology is most critical on small mobile devices, but will find their way into most computer based systems.  Imagine what it would be like when this technology is widely deployed on other appliances. Ask you clothes washer how to remove specific stains, or have your refrigerator report that the temperature is too warm to preserve food properly, and would you like it to adjust to the optimal settings.

What would interfacing with computers be like if all technologies were combined? What if your computer could greet you as you enter the room? Be able to tell if you are tired, or angry, or sad? What could it do to lift your spirits?

Most dating sites already have ways to initiate contact with new members to get them used to interacting with other people on the site. After all, a site full of lurkers who just watch what is going on and never participate is pretty useless. But their real motive is not so altruistic. They are really trying to get you to pay for an upgraded membership and then stay on the site for several months. When the people reply to these opening gambits, they have teams of people responding to them, keeping them engaged on the dating site so they can make more money from you.  So that hot chick that seems to be so enamored with you seems too good to be true, and probably is. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, and dating sites have to make money to stay in operation. It is not all fake, but some of it is.

Their main intent is to keep you coming back until you can find a real person that you like. It can take a long time to find the ideal person. If you quit too soon, they will get a bad reputation, and you will not get what you wanted in the first place.

Likely the next step for the dating industry would be to manufacture ideal profiles for you based on what you are looking for. You are looking for a 5 foot 5 inch brunette with a trim figure, a steady job, who does not smoke and is not interested in having children. Well amazingly enough, there are a few that have joined up in the last few weeks when you log in and search. In the couple of moments that it takes you to complete a profile, and log in, they could have a bunch of perfect profiles created for you to interact with, and they can keep creating a few more every day for you to find.

What is the next step? In a few years it may be entirely possible to have a computer generated personality that can chat with you. Even now, research into artificial intelligence has computer programs that can interact with people well enough that most people will think that they are talking to a real person. Where the media focuses on the more mechanical aspects of artificial intelligence, like walking and running robots, the true breakthroughs that need to be made are on the intelligence side of the equation.  At the time of this writing, there are no artificial intelligent systems that are capable of independent thought and action.

From your perspective, if you are on a dating site and you are interacting with someone who seems too good to be true, then just try to initiate a live video chat session with them. If they are never available, or if they have 'technical problems' with their computer, then it is really suspicious. If for some reason,  you can never manage to get them to chat, then close down your communications with them and try someone else. They are either totally fake, or else they are lying about who they are.

So although it may be possible at some point in the future for dating sites to manufacture a playmate for you to chat with, that is not currently possible.  In the mean time, a video chat test will pretty much allow you to rule out any shenanigans on their part.

So with all that negative information, why would you use an online dating site? Well, believe it or not, they work. Just be aware that you might be emailing a fake entity sometimes. If you are a man, to minimize the artificial contacts, just upgrade to a paying membership as soon as you join. That will pretty much ensure that you ware always interacting with real people. For women, join a site you do not have to pay at but men do. These sites never annoy women with fake profiles. Some words of caution though, stay clear of sites where men do not have to pay. These sites tend to have some really low life guys hanging around on them. If they cannot afford to pay for a membership, how good of a provider will they be. Join a site where men have to pay. It is in your best interest.

Hopefully this all helps you understand the more negative side of online dating sites. These sites still provide a useful service, and are still worth joining. Just do so with your eyes open.  For a list of some of the better sites, click the link below:

Online Dating Sites

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