AI Girlfriends Are Here. Is the Online Dating Industry Ready?

OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other generative artificial intelligence (AI) applications have raised all sorts of new issues (including some with negative implications) that industries across multiple sectors will now need to adapt to.

As just one example, AI chatbots can convincingly mimic human communication, which poses a potential threat to jobs like writing or customer service but also unleashes a world of potential that was previously unavailable. The conditions under which AI could be used proved to be a notable point of contention in the recent Hollywood writers and actors strikes, with creators wary of their voices, likenesses, and intellectual property being digitally co-opted.

There’s also potential for these AI tools to solve real problems, and developers are already working to customize them to serve specific purposes. Some see an opportunity for chatbots to be used as a tool to mitigate loneliness, providing conversation partners for people who might be in need of one, like the elderly. In this sense, generative AI serves as a natural complement for the metaverse, a concept for an immersive, persistent 3D virtual world that has yet to gain significant traction with the public.

AI has implications for dating online

Similarly, AI could also play a role in romantic relationships, and a number of chatbot apps give users the ability to have that kind of online interaction. An app called Romantic AI, for example, “helps you create the perfect girlfriend with whom you share interests and views. You can talk about everything, get support and feel needed.”

Another site, Forever Companion, offers chatbots based on popular social media influencers. The site claims to have thousands of paying users, and one AI chatbot, CarynAI, based on influencer Caryn Marjorie, had a wait list with more than 15,000 people at one point.

These developments, and generative AI more broadly, have clear implications for the online dating industry, including popular platforms like Match Group (MTCH 2.69%) and Bumble (BMBL 1.59%).

A couple out at a restaurant

Image source: Getty Images.

How Match and Bumble are adapting to AI

Online dating platforms effectively try to solve a timeless problem using technology. Matchmaking as a business has been around for millennia, and AI provides both competition and a new opportunity for online dating companies.

In September, Match announced a set of principles around how it would use generative AI, including authenticity, accountability, and safety. Some AI features that Match is testing include a photo selection tool to help users pick their best photos, and possibly using generative AI to help write their dating bios, though toeing line on authenticity might be tricky.

CEO Bernard Kim said on the August earnings call, “By the end of the year, we expect to have launched a number of initiatives that will use generative AI to eliminate awkwardness, make dating more rewarding, and surprise and delight users.”

Bumble, the female-first dating app, introduced an AI-powered lewd image detector back in 2019, and founder Whitney Wolfe Herd said she sees AI as having significant potential to improve matching algorithms. She also envisions adding a virtual assistant to help people get more out of the experience.

Will AI disrupt online dating?

Ultimately, AI girlfriends alone aren’t going to disrupt the online dating space, but AI chatbots, virtual reality, the metaverse, and other new technologies are likely to change dating and the way people search for companionship.

Online dating companies like Match and Bumble will have to continue to adapt to stay at the cutting edge of the dating industry, or they could risk getting disrupted by a company that is better able to harness the power of AI.

Clearly, there’s plenty of potential for the new AI technologies both in improving matchmaking capabilities and in providing other ways for finding connections. Whether Match and Bumble are able to navigate this brave new world will likely determine if these stocks rise or fall in the coming years.

Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Jeremy Bowman has positions in Match Group and Meta Platforms. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Match Group and Meta Platforms. The Motley Fool recommends Bumble. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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