“Can technology be a perfect matchmaker?”

Can algorithms completely determine our lives and choices with a formula for success? Should we let them? Are feelings and emotions worth listening to when making decisions? Today, an awful lot is dependent on compatibility and similarity, both intra-human relations and those of humans with other things. Using advanced technology, sites such as dating apps pair people up based on what they have “in common”, trampling on vital human behaviour such as gut instinct or the fight-or-flight response - foundations that clearly worked for our ancestors as we, homo sapiens, are still living and thriving into the twenty-first century. I hesitate when calling this technology “advanced”; technical though it is, it has its drawbacks. Though dating sites aim to bring people together through shared interests, and can sometimes achieve this, there is always the risk of us being dehumanised and turned into statistics. When we meet people for the first time, there are some people with whom we just click, without any obvious reason why. We may not have anything in common with them, we may not have the same hobbies or music taste, but we feel completely comfortable with them. Algorithms cannot, in my opinion, completely replicate the necessary human emotions to allow two people to get on like a house on fire. Because as nice as it is to have things in common, sometimes people who are too similar can get on each other’s nerves. There are only so many conversations one can have about a certain topic before it gets dull, and so it is usually more fun to hear somebody talk passionately about a topic mostly unknown to the listener. It is not, however, only dating sites that use these algorithms. Websites with built-in cookies track our searches and send us targeted adverts based on other people’s activity. Messages like “based on your recent purchase, we think you’ll like this” clutter our inboxes, and make unwanted assumptions about us as people. A site like Amazon might suggest fancy trainers to me because I bought wireless earphones, which are often used for exercising, even though I much prefer reading to sports and simply got sick of tangled cables. Clever as these technologies are, the drive to keep everyone connected to like-minded people may ultimately cause the downfall of society. The desire to meet people like us and to fit in with the crowd could be detrimental to us with obscure interests becoming ever more obscured and originality becoming overlooked or shunned. The weird, wonderful and quirky could disappear completely, leaving life to become mundane. If we’re not careful then we will become as lifeless as the algorithms perceive us to be, and this would remove the joys of being our own person and there would certainly be some people that would get lost in a system that doesn’t support them. Algorithms of commonality cannot completely determine our lives. Let humans choose their own perfect match; it may not be obvious enough for an algorithm to spot.

by Angela Ede, Age 16


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