Artificial Intimacy: The Dating Industry’s AI Challenge – GDI New York 2024 Roundup

At GDI New York 2024, the Online Dating & Discovery Association led an industry panel discussion that focused on how Generative AI is shaping the future of the industry by posing both a threat to user trust, but also providing opportunities for an enhanced user experience.

The Online Dating Association recently rebranded and added Discovery to its title, reflecting changes across the industry. What hasn’t changed is the (now) ODDA’s commitment to set standards and promote safety across the industry.

Leading the conversation in New York was Dr. Hannah Shimko, the Association’s CEO. She explained that the use of AI had been common in the industry for at least ten years but until the advent of Generative AI, using the technology required a degree of coding language knowledge that kept it very much in the background.

The ability of generative AI to understand and interpret ordinary language was empowering users and also potential bad actors and fraudsters. 

Her panel consisted of Alexandra Popken, VP of Trust and Safety at WebPurify, Michael Dworsky, Co-Founder of Cove, and Dr Tahlia Hart, lecturer and lawyer at Flinders University.

New technology creates new opportunities for both good and bad, said Alexandra, but companies should not underestimate the power of AI to effectively police itself – by harnessing AI techniques to identify and highlight where AI has been used to create material. 

She felt the industry needed to embrace Generative AI, recognise that users are taking advantage of its good side but remain constantly watchful for those bad actors who will use this technology to proliferate fraud and scams.

Michael shared some of the technological capabilities and pitfalls of utilising GenAI, and in particular gave his viewpoint on the difficulties of detecting AI-generated content. The conclusion was that sometimes human moderators are better at picking up AI, than AI is! He also walked through some of the positive potential use cases of GenAI, including improving recommendation algorithms, content moderation, and enabling new kinds of feature development.

Tahlia discussed existing research around AI technology and its ethical use. She told conference attendees that broad-based legislation across the whole spectrum of AI usage would be difficult and that more research is needed to understand the impacts of GenAI.

“The issues with AI in Healthcare circles are very different to those in dating,” she said.

Nevertheless, Drs. Hart and Shimko agreed that many legislators around the world are watching the progress in the EU of the implementation of the broad-brush AI Act which was on course to be the first legislation looking to regulate the use of AI. Many other jurisdictions might look to use the EU act as a blueprint for their own measures.

Politics always has a role to play in these international developments and the conference heard that competition between nations to ‘lead’ in AI might see some countries look to adopt looser regulation in order to attract more developers. The ODDA will look to ensure standards and best practice in the dating industry stays one step ahead of the fraudsters.

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