Based on what the app can glean about the user, it acts as a kind of A.I. assistant, offering in-the-moment advice on texts: “you are more adventurous than this person, respect their cautiousness,” for example.
“Machines and computers are great at counting things,” said Mei’s founder, Es Lee, who previously ran another chatbot-based dating advice service called Crushh. “Why not use the technology that’s available to help with something like this?”
The counting Mr. Lee is referring to is more of a pattern analysis. He said Mei’s algorithm scores each participant on personality traits like “openness” and “artistic interest,” then offers a comparison — a “similarity score” — of the two parties who are communicating. It then issues little statements (“You are more emotionally attuned than this contact, don’t feel bad if they don’t open up”) and questions (“It seems like you’re more easily stressed than calm under pressure, right?”) that pop up at the top of the screen.
In theory, Mei could give users insight into questions that plague modern dating: Why isn’t my partner texting back? What does this emoji mean? In practice, the potential ways for it to backfire seem limitless. But the idea, Mr. Lee said, is to prompt users to think about nuance in their digital communication.
Ghostbot, another app, eschews communication entirely. Instead, it is used to ghost, or quietly dump, aggressive dates on a user’s behalf. It is a collaboration between Burner, a temporary phone number app, and Voxable, a company that develops conversational A.I. The app is meant to give people greater control, said Greg Cohn, a co-founder and the chief executive of Burner, by letting them opt out of abusive or inappropriate interactions.
“I think that sometimes people don’t quite realize the emotional burden that can come with dealing with all that,” said Lauren Golembiewski, Voxable’s C.E.O.