How will technology change the way we date over the next 25 years? From full sensory virtual reality dating to DNA matching, researchers explore the possibilities.
Cross-posted from The Telegraph
Technology has already transformed the dating world, with matchmaking websites allowing people to scope out potential partners before they meet, and apps like Tinder and Happn pairing people based on location. But how will this technological intervention into our romantic affairs play out in the future?
According to a new report, full sensory virtual reality and behaviour-based matching will be among the key features of dating in the year 2040. These developments will save singles time and energy, deliver more accurate matches, and even provide insight and real-time assistance.
The report, commissioned by relationship site eHarmony and compiled by MSc Management students at Imperial College Business School, is based on analysis of more than 100 years of trend data and interviews with leading experts across the fields of anthropology, sociology, technology and biomedicine.
The findings reveal a “super-charged” continuation of today’s online dating trends. People will always want to be matched and ultimately form relationships with like-minded people in the most efficient way possible. What is different is how they will go about it.
“By 2040 we estimate that 70 per cent of couples will get together online, with technology revolutionising the way we find love and build our relationships,” said eHarmony UK country manager, Romain Bertrand.
“From making matches between singles even more accurate based on deep learning of our behaviour, to streamlining the dating process so it’s less time consuming, and even helping couples to enhance their relationships with artificial intelligence, finding the right person will be easier than ever.”
Here are some of the ways that advances in science and consumer technology will redfine the dating world over the next 25 years:
1. Full-sensory virtual dating
The report predicts that, in just 25 years, the rate at which data can be shared will be so fast that all five human senses could be digitally simulated to create a full-sensory virtual reality.
This would make dating a far more efficient and less time consuming process. A full sensory virtual date would be exactly like a real one – you could hold someone’s hand and even smell their fragrance – but all from the comfort of your own home.
It would have the benefit of opening up a global dating pool of people to meet, and redefining what people consider to be a “long distance” relationship. And with advances in wearable technology, they would be able to tap into this VR experience from wherever they wanted.
Biologically, humans are programmed to find people attractive who would be a good genetic match in order to produce the strongest possible offspring, meaning that by studying DNA we may be able to unlock the rules of attraction.
While in recent years DNA research has been cost prohibitive, the price of sequencing DNA from a cell will fall from around £52m in 2003 to £650 by 2040.
Greater affordability will enable more research, and by 2040 scientists may have a clear understanding of the role our own DNA plays in attraction, allowing it to be introduced to the “matching” process.
3. Behaviour-based matching
The growing “hyper-connectivity” between our everyday devices – known as the Internet of Things – together with the prominence of wearable technology could transform how people meet by 2040.
Rather than having to articulate what you are looking for in a partner, matching could become even more accurate through tracking people’s behaviour and how they react to different situations.
For example, smart contact lenses could track the type of people you look at most frequently when your body produces the signs of attraction (measured by hormone levels, pheromone production, etc).
On a deeper level, this technology could identify your core character traits based on physical, chemical and neural signals, such as how you react to conflict or in social situations, and find complimentary matches.
4. Artificial Intelligence
As well as enhancing the date experience, improved connectivity and artificial intelligence will allow for greater “deep learning” by processing of vast amounts of highly complex data from multiple sources.
The speed of this analysis would allow for real-time feedback and therefore dramatically improve the decision making process when it comes to finding love.
Physically, devices could track your actions and find other singles that have a similar lifestyle pattern, tracking data such as the places you go and the activities you do.
While on a date, singles would be able to receive information on their surroundings and actions, such as how well topics of conversation are being received, and an appropriate course of action.
For couples, this data could help improve their relationship by identifying issues and resolutions, and even calculating the optimum time for life milestones, such as when, or if, to get married or have children.