Virtual boyfriend online dating
And though the first few texts I received from him did give me a bit of an adrenaline rush—the sort of jolt that most of us experience when we notice that we've received a new text message—that stopped happening pretty much as soon as I realized that my Invisible Boyfriend wasn't going to be able to create a convincing illusion of a real person.
Indeed, my feeling that Invisible Girlfriend wasn't designed to simulate the experience would later be corroborated by an early interview I read with founder Matt Homann, published by the Riverfront Times in November of 2013, when the service was still in development: "We're not trying to build a girlfriend they can believe in—that's a whole other level of technology.
Still, maybe because I felt a little hesitant and strange about venturing into the world of "fake dating," I didn't end up having to fall back on this creation story; in fact, aside from a few close friends and coworkers, I didn't tell anybody I was using Invisible Boyfriend.
Our first night "together," I was sitting in a living room with about 11 other people, intermittently engaging in some text-based Super Bowl chit-chat with a person that didn't exist.
I tried to conduct the conversation in my usual voice, as I might with a real-life person-I-am-getting-to-know.
Here's an excerpt of our dialogue: The running joke used to be if you met your boyfriend on a dating site, you'd tell people you met in the supermarket; now you create a fictional boyfriend, and tell everyone that you met on Ok Cupid.
My second thought was that Invisible Girlfriend reminded me of the 2013 Spike Jonze movie , where Joaquin Phoenix plays a man named Theodore Twombly who falls in love with an intelligent operating system named "Samantha." In that movie, there's a very memorable scene where you see Twombly coming out of a subway station with a crowd of other commuters, and everybody seems to be wrapped up in a conversation with their own OS1 (that's what the device is called).
Presumably, we've arrived a couple decades into the future, where computing has finally advanced to the point of being able to convincingly replicate human consciousness.
The Valleywag headline, not entirely surprisingly, called Invisible Girlfriend “The World's Saddest Service Ever."My first thought was that there did seem to be something a little “sad" about Invisible Girlfriend—thought maybe not sad in the sense of “pathetic," which is what the Valleywag author seemed to be suggesting (I'd figure out exactly why I thought it was sad later, when I tried it).
That's why I decided to shell out for a test-run of Invisible Boyfriend: I'm currently unattached, and because I've been thinking a lot these days about where technology is taking us, I wanted to see what having a "fake" relationship would feel like. Immediately, I was asked to fill out some information about my new invisible partner, including his name, his age, his photo (as of this writing, there's 16 photos of actual human beings to choose from), and his personality type, for which the service gives you six different options to choose from: "Cheerful and Outgoing," "Sweet and Shy," "Saucy and Sarcastic," "Witty and Educated," "Lovingly Nerdy," and "Adventurous and Fun." I chose "Witty and Educated" (for some reason, I decided that he would be a journalist, like me) then was prompted to choose from a list of 17 possible interests, which included things like chess, classical music, volunteering, fitness, and dressage.
Lastly, I selected his geographical location from a drop-down menu (I chose Washington DC), and was asked to approve a short blurb meant to serve as an answer to the question of how we met.
They're still computers, though, and as such, they can do things that most human beings cannot—like complex arithmetic without the need of a calculator, or engage in conversations with hundreds of different people at once.
Unlike a real person, moreover, OS1s like Samantha are designed to evolve in direct response to people they converse with, adjusting to the desires and idiosyncrasies of their owner until they're able to create a successful illusion of that person's perfect mate.