The mobile "dating" app Tinder is not without its drawbacks. You could get "honeypotted" by a cyber criminal, be outed against your will on Facebook or accidentally swipe on a real-life friend. There's also a high probability that at some point, without encouragement, you're going to have to feast your eyes on a dick pic. But when you get down to it, the main hassle is having to sift through hundreds of potential partners with your thumb: ain't nobody got time for that.
For those at risk of sustaining an RSI to go with their STI, Tinderbox is a free bot that takes care of the thumb-work for you. Somewhat ingeniously, it automates the entire process by building a facial model based on your prior swiping history. This means it will instantly swipe right (to signify interest) on faces that you are likely to find attractive.
"Using the facial recognition algorithm Eigenfaces, I built a bot that learns when to swipe right (like a person) AND swipe left (dislike a person) AND start your conversations," explains the bot's creator Justin Long (not the actor, probably.)
"It uses an existing Tinder account and taps into Tinder APIs, which is nice so you don't have to create an entirely new account. Tinderbox recreates the Tinder app in your browser, including the inbox and discovery preferences."
The bot crops faces from Tinder profile images and converts them to grayscale. These are then merged into slightly-creepy looking models that represent your most and least favourite facial types. The bot requires the user to make 60 yes/no manual swipes to collate the necessary data. After that, the whole process runs in the background like a clipped and manacled Cupid.
For the farcically lazy, Tinderbox also boasts an automated messaging system that starts conversations with potential mates on your behalf. The script is capable of analysing the text in a chat response and classifying it as positive or negative.
"Using a message tree, the bot selects from pre-programmed chat messages as a response based on the sender's sentiment," Long explains. "This continues up to three replies until the user is notified that a chat is ready to enter. The advantage of this? It removes the time involved in filtering new Tinder matches since a lot of people tend to drop off and "go dark" early in the process. Extended conversation is a strong indicator of interest."
If Long can be believed, the bot has a success rate of up to 70% in its selections:
Using a brand new account, I did a quick test to see how quickly the bot could get results. In 48 hours, the bot registered 21 matches (starting all of those conversations), made 4 extended conversations, and the bot itself made over 300 moves. A "move" is any step the bot makes in either sending a message or making a swipe. And in that time I barely needed to touch the app.
Long has since stopped using Tinderbox as it apparently started to conflict with his work. The Tinder dates he showed the bot to did not find it creepy, although a few of them felt it was pretty borderline.
We can't help but wonder whether all this courtship automation is detrimental to the species. If things continue at their current rate, we'll soon be letting apps take care of everything right until the moment of bumping uglies. To check out the full code online, head to Tinderbox GitHub page.