// Posted by Alexandra on 02/25/2014 (11:23 AM)
Amidst all of the negative conversation we have had regarding hacking, it was refreshing to read an upbeat article on some of the positive uses of hacking. In this month’s issue of Wired Magazine, an article featured a young man… Read more
Amidst all of the negative conversation we have had regarding hacking, it was refreshing to read an upbeat article on some of the positive uses of hacking. In this month’s issue of Wired Magazine, an article featured a young man who hacked the popular dating site, OKCupid, in order to find his true love.
The article, How a Math Genius Hacked OKCupid to Find True Love, by Kevin Poulsen was published in the February issue of Wired. The article tells the story of Chris McKinlay, a UCLA PhD student who after struggling with “traditional dating” for many years, hoped to find luck on the popular dating site OKCupid. This site, founded by Harvard math majors in 2004 by matching people based on which questions they answer out of a survey of almost 1,000 and how they rank those questions from most important to last. McKinlay’s original profile was not attracting very many matches with over 80 percent compatibility. So he decided to take matters into his own hands.
McKinlay hacked OKCupid’s database, figuring that if he could find out which questions mattered most to the types of women he was attracted to, then he could create multiple profiles that would be compatible with the women he was interested in. He ended up sorting women into seven different clusters of personality type, and created profiles that directly matched what these women were looking for. From these clusters he narrowed it down to two general types of women that he thought he would be most interested in. While this story seems like a nerdy hacker’s dream come true, his result show the limitations of technology in relationships.
While McKinlay had created a near perfect algorithm to find a women, he believed would be his soul mate, it wasn’t until date number 88 that he met the women whom he would marry. I think that this shows the true limits of technology in terms of relationships. Dating sites such as Match.com and Eharmony have created extensive systems for matching people based on multiple different categories of compatibility, but if McKinlay’s experiment proves anything, it shows that even when the science is tailored to meet the desires of a specific individual, that is not enough to make a true human connection. It took him nearly 100 first dates until he met a woman that he had a genuine connection with. After that many dates, a regular person who had not rigged the system most likely would have given up. There is something true and real about a physical connection between two humans that can only be experienced when meeting face to face. Technology has been used to make the searching process easier, but what truly matters with what happens after people have been paired. These sites can say you have 99.99% compatibility with a person, as it did for many people McKinlay was matched with, but it takes something more. It takes that spark that is described in movies and books, that can only be felt when people meet face to face.