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Opinion Editorials

The risks and rewards of dating apps using big data for predictions

(EDITORIAL) Artificial intelligence is being used in endless ways, with dating apps being no exception. Will this advance the technology or set us all up for dating failure?

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In this day and age, dating apps and websites are nothing new, and the stigma of admitting to be a part of one is becoming virtually non-existent. If anything, we’ll see more and innovative ways people are matched up. Like letting the apps do the driving and using the tech to predict our matches based on our online behaviors.

When it comes to the way we use and interact with social media, we give up a lot about ourselves without even realizing it.

Machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence have Netflix suggesting an exciting array of “TV Horror” based on shows I’ve watched previously, LinkedIn composed my bio for me, and Amazon’s front page is showing me every movie that Kristen Stewart has ever been in. You know, in case I was curious.

It sure can be convenient, but do predictive algorithms really get us?

How much can really be said about a person based on their viewing habits, website clicks, likes, and tweets? It’s no secret that there’s a common perception that people aren’t always who they present themselves to be online, but different platforms will invite varying forms of participation and thus a certain version of that person. I know I often scroll through my feed and don’t always click ‘Like’ on something I legitimately found interesting, and I don’t always share what I’m thinking or what I’m up to.

With that said, how accurate or reliable can we expect an app to be that will award you with a 28-axis breakdown of your personality based on your tweets? For some, I expect apps that do all the work of weeding out what you don’t want to see and locating more of what it thinks you do want to see would be a godsend of a timesaver. For others, it may invite more skepticism.

If we know we’re participating in a system that determines for us who we would best be paired with, does this not still influence behavior bias somehow? This could prove to be a challenge some might undertake as a sort of “borrowed ladder” just to see if they can.

After all, in a dystopian-like dating app world where one could be barred from participating because they were deemed “high risk” because the algorithm red-flagged them for depression, what’s to stop anyone from finding ways around this? Amy Webb did a TED Talk on a similar idea of how she hacked online dating.

A company that prides itself on having intuitive tech that knows us better than we know ourselves could be in hot water if people are finding ways to cheat the system. Social media profiles specifically curated to be sold to find a more idealized match doesn’t seem too far out of the realm of possibility. After all, social media influencers have been known to purchase fake followers as a way to fluff the appearance of their online fanbase.

Algorithms may be able to pick up on the fact that we may have certain types, but can it also pick up on the fact that these types may be more harmful, than helpful? We may like brunettes covered in tattoos who ride motorcycles, but they could be bad news if there are a series of exes that follow a particular type. When it comes to algorithms and dating services, it feels a lot like leaving one’s fate to percentages of probability, and this could be the future of online dating.

Machine learning algorithms are fascinating and can tell us more about ourselves than we may be aware of, but they’re far from perfect. There is still the problem of being unable to explain why certain things happen when automation is at work, like creepy bot-created content on Kid’s YouTube.

Sexy or not, online dating is taking some interesting turns. I don’t know that we should give our full trust to something automated that we’ve yet to fully understand, but that does require laying out the groundwork for testing while we’re still in the early stages of working with tech that aims to predict what we want.

It would be nice to be able to ask the AI how it came to its conclusions and why, but maybe we’re at a point where we’re more comfortable letting AI take the reigns at the sake of convenience.

Not all algorithms are created equal, so while some apps may be working toward weeding out mismatches, they could also be overlooking more favorable matches by focusing on factors that are irrelevant.

Ashe Segovia is a Staff Writer at The American Genius with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Southwestern University. A huge film nerd with a passion for acting and 80's movies and synthpop; the pop-cultural references are never-ending.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Fernando Ardenghi

    November 13, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    The 3 milestone discoveries of the 2001 – 2010 decade for Theories of Romantic Relationships Development are:
    I) Several studies showing contraceptive pills users make different mate choices, on average, compared to non-users.
    “Only short-term but not long-term partner preferences tend to vary with the menstrual cycle”
    II) People often report partner preferences that are not compatible with their choices in real life. (Behavioural recommender systems or other system that learns your preferences are useless)
    III) What is important in attracting people to one another may not be important in making couples happy.
    Compatibility is all about a high level on personality similarity between prospective mates for long term mating with commitment, and not meet other people with similar interests or political views.

    At the paper “Perceptions of Ideal and Former Partners’ Personality and Similarity”
    The authors had written
    “…. mismatches in personality are a frequently mentioned cause for relationship break-up. If former partners indeed have dissimilar personalities, our findings underline how difficult it is for many people to select a mate with a similar personality, or, alternatively, how little value individuals put on finding a similar partner in terms of personality.
    The present study’s results, as well as the results found in previous studies (e.g., Eastwick & Finkel, 2008), may be used to educate people, especially singles, about what really matters in long-term relationships, for instance, similarity in personality, instead of complementarity.”

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Opinion Editorials

If you’re not constantly hustling, are you even living?

(EDITORIAL) If you aren’t hustling on the side, at night, while you eat, and in your sleep, are you really even a person in 2018?

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Back in the day, the idea of “hustling” was something of a negative concept (think Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy). Now, if you’re not constantly hustling, and living that hustle life are you even living? If you don’t Rise and Grind, are you even a real person?

In this fast-paced, “I want it now” society, the assumption is that because we have 24 hours in a day, we must use every second of that time on one side hustle or another to make a few extra bucks, otherwise we’re not being productive. As Guru JP explains below, “being busy means you’re being productive. You do your best work when you’re always working. More quantity equals better quality.”

This has become one of the beliefs of entrepreneurialism: if you’re not working on your startup while Uber-ing at night and walking dogs via Wag on your lunchbreak, you’re not hustling and you’ll never be successful.

One important key of the hustle is to document how busy you are on social media, or else it’s not actually happening. Sharing a daily “rise and grind” pic on Instagram is the only way to appropriately start a manic day of hustle.

Despite what research would say, face-to-face communication is ineffective and computer mediated communication, or communication through text with no context or nonverbal cues, is the best way to relay messages. Also, if you’re hustling 24/7, there’s no way you have time for an in-person meeting when you’re on a FaceTime meeting while hosting a G-Chat team meeting simultaneously. I mean, come on.

The way that you know this is legit is that the hustle is referred to as a “game” which is how you should always describe your career path. Pople like volunteers in impoverished countries, single parents working ONLY two jobs, and people who built a business from the ground up and decided to only stay with that business, have no idea what hustling truly is (especially since none of it was documented on Snapchat).

And, the benefits of constant hustling are immense! You have unlimited time off and can take an unpaid vacation to anywhere in the world – just as long as there’s WiFi.

With hustling, you have so many options on how to make some extra scratch and start six different podcasts that all have a listener of one. Why wouldn’t you want to join this amazing idealism of entrepreneurship? Also, if you’re still reading, you’ve lost the game. Shouldn’t you be on to something else by now?!

Author’s note: In case you couldn’t tell, this entire article is incredibly facetious. Our COO wrote a popular editorial, rejecting the idea of hustling, and I completely agree with her on that. Constantly working to the point of exhaustion is, well, inefficient. Work on one thing, succeed, and then go from there. Ugh.

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Opinion Editorials

The strong case for Texas being technology’s next frontier

(EDITORIAL) Everyone loves Tacos and tech in Austin, but Texas has far more to offer – here’s how the various cities will create the next mecca for the tech world.

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Despite what the movies have told you, Texas is not the place you think it is. Sure, we’ve got cowboys, brisket, and a lot of BBQ, but the Lone Star State is much, much more than clichés. Over the last few decades, Texas has been gaining steam as one of the premier places to live in the country.

While yes, people love a good chicken fried steak or are always looking for an excuse to sneak over to their favorite grocery store, HEB, Texans aren’t sitting idly by when it comes to tech – they’re grabbing the industry by the horns.

Thanks to the state’s business-friendly tax breaks, a year-round predominantly warm weather climate, and a strong state culture, the popularity of Texas makes a lot of sense: Houston, which was once considered a third tier city is about to overthrow Chicago as the third largest in the nation, while also being lauded as our most diverse city.

Let’s repeat it, for all the people in the back: Houston, Texas is more diverse than Los Angeles, or New York.

Affordable neighborhoods are popping up across Houston, which are attracting immigrants from every culture looking for their slice of the American Dream. Houston is seeing explosive growth and a cultural shift away from being a town built on strictly fossil fuels, but now, startups, tech, and umbrella industries are finding their niche in the state’s biggest urban area. Only New York is home to more public companies.

Houston’s medical sector ranks with some of the top care in the world. And with those elite doctors, come the innovative pharmaceutical and medical companies, and the tech that supports them.

When you look at the top twenty metro areas to live right now in the country, four of those cities are in Texas. While some of those reasons are affordability and the signature Texas heat, the state is seeing new residents thanks also to a healthy job market. Since 2010, Texas has added 12.6% more residents, double lapping California’s growth of 6.1%.

Texas’ workforce is bigger than 46 states in the union total population and has doubled in job growth, productivity, and new deals are being struck daily. Texas’ impact on the tech sector is indisputable: Texas has exported more technology than California, again.

Deep in the heart

Startup culture is alive and well in Austin, but while some of our startups are finally beginning to draw VC attention away from Silicon Valley, we know how to slug it out in the land of the bootstrapped beginnings. If your company can thrive in Austin, with so many talented people, and a lot of great ideas, you can make it anywhere (sorry New York, for stealing your platitude).

Austin is still a developing story. As enterprises are opening offices in the capital city, this is helping VCs along the coasts see Austin’s potential as a hub of ideas. The city is still behind the bay area for risk-taking ventures, but given the current climate of investors, there’s a sea change happening.

Giants like Apple, Atlassian, Oracle, Dell, Amazon, Samsung, Facebook, and Google are all occupying space in buildings across the Austin skyline. Enterprise companies are investing heavily into the Austin market, and there are zero signs of a slow down. If you need further proof, just look at the traffic on any of the city’s major highways during rush hour.

Dallas is making a hard play at attracting the top-tiered companies as well. When Amazon head honcho Jeff Bezos announced put out a call for bids for Amazon’s HQ2, many cities made a play for the site, but now that the final cities have been chosen, both Austin and Dallas both stand to score the shopping monolith.

Oculus, TopGolf, and startups like Veryable, Dead Soxy, and Artist Uprising are attracting some of the brightest minds to the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area.

South Texas joins the party

San Antonio is quietly building a case for a burgeoning tech scene, too. It’s not quite there yet on the enterprise or startup level, but the city is widely known for one thing – cybersecurity. Outside of Washington D.C., San Antonio is known as “Cyber Security City USA” to folks in the black hat scene.

San Antonio logged the most substantial growth of all of the Texas cities, adding over 250,000 new residents in 2017 alone. Thanks to a robust military presence, San Antonio is quietly attracting more and more security-minded firms, a feat that’s unique in comparison to what the rest of the state is offering. Military-friendly banking institution USAA is headquartered in San Antonio, as is grocery chain HEB, and Whataburger, with all three companies investing heavily into user experience and mobile applications (aka technology).

If Amazon decides on HQ2 in either Dallas or Austin, that will signal a 200,000+ person addition to the state’s population and economy. That’s a lifetime investment into either city, wherever Bezos, and his board chooses. Coupling that possibility with the already strong presence of Southwest Airlines, Texas Instruments, and just about every major gas corporation, it’s easy to see why these moves are a huge deal. For the latter, it’s also important to note that every sector is bolstering their websites, their social media footprint, everything that can be done on a laptop is happening – one new job at a time.

As the tech scene develops and changes from a strong west coast-driven model, Texas is benefiting from the change. Many Californians are moving to Texas, which is an article to itself, but one thing remains: the Texas economy has never been stronger, and it’s only improving. The story of tech in Texas is a continual work in progress.

We’re not going to overtake California next year, but we’re making a stand, and people are noticing. If the current economic growth is an indicator, the famous Dairy Queen saying is potent with it’s accuracy: “That’s What I Like About Texas.”

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Opinion Editorials

How one podcast is giving a voice to veterans everywhere

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Veteran and former Paralympic skier begins volunteer podcast as a way to give voice to fellow veterans.

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“Tough times don’t last, tough people do,” is the mantra that Joel Hunt lives his life by. As an Army veteran, who was injured during his third deployment, Hunt has seen his fair share of tough times.

After suffering a traumatic brain injury and partial paralyzation in his left leg, Hunt left the army and was in the care of his parents. They encouraged him to try Paralympic skiing as part of his rehabilitation.

While he was initially against the idea, he eventually warmed to it and wound up skiing in the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. This accomplishment helped lead him to the path he’s on now, which is dedicated to helping fellow veterans.

Hunt is now the host of The H-Train Show, a podcast he produces in his Denver, Colorado home. His work on the podcast is done strictly through volunteering, and is dedicated to giving veterans a place to communicate.

“It’s something that helps keep me busy and makes me feel good,” says Hunt. “[It helps] to erase the past.” The podcast airs on Military Brotherhood Radio and has had a variety of guests – all dedicated to the significance of veterans.

In addition to the podcast, Hunt also assists veterans through organizations such as Project Sanctuary.

Hunt recently co-hosted an event with former Denver Broncos wide receiver, Brandon Stokley, that brought ten injured veterans to the Broncos training camp for a meet and greet. Accompanying Hunt at this event was his service dog, Barrett, who Hunt has taught to fold and do laundry.

Hunt explains that all of his efforts are dedicated to helping fellow veterans recover from the tragedies of war. While he says that, due to his brain injury, he does not recall deployment, he still carries the tragedies of losing fellow Army members.

Now, being retired both from combat and skiing, Hunt states, “My heart is to help other veterans avoid the fights for life I did. Not everyone can enjoy all the success I achieved, but at least I can help make the journey less of a struggle.”

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