Dating a computer

Brilliant young men of privileged backgrounds taking a risk by applying machines to a realm about as far away from cold, hard, technological logic as you could get—this makes for a good story, and one which we are primed to hear, because it plays to our cultural expectations.Yet the real story, warts and all, is much more interesting.Although a typical handsome hunk may look pretty, he won't give you anywhere near the kind of conversational stimulation as a geeky boyfriend who wants to tell you about some code he's working on in a program to make a text-based adventure game.Let him tell you all about his D&D group and his computer setup. So your fantasy man probably isn't sporting Google Glasses or a keychain of bootable USBs when you picture him. Those Hollywood movies promised you a handsome hunk on a horse, not a dork.But here's the thing: Those dorky boys are often way better boyfriends than any hunk you'll meet.And it helps us understand why computer dating is what it is today—why we love it, loathe it, need it, and fear it in nearly equal measure.

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The first computer dating systems looked something like this: Your preferences were written down, usually in questionnaire form. You received a printout with addresses, so you could write to your matches. No pictures, and no information about their preferences, were included.

The standard history of computer dating claims that it was invented, like so many other things, at Harvard University.

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Scrolling through pictures, swiping right or left on a touchscreen, effortless and nearly instant contact in the event of a match…

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