At some point in our lives if we are still single, we become prey to the dating match. The almighty dating machine led us to believe that we could acquire the perfect mate online by checking the magic boxes to determine how tall, rich, beautiful, thin or smart we could design them, shell out $20 bucks and presto- instant life mate. Data Matching Although the $20 client had a little less gullibility than the $200 client did. They were generally the bip, bam thank-you mam' type and stalked the internet looking for the desolate and insecure.Perfect Mate Guaranteed.
The client who dug deeper into the pocket was guaranteed that a perfect match could be made for the right price. Thus, the hour-long personality profile was invented. So what is the personality profile? It is the newest game in town. The questions are very specific and cover personal preferences that include background, religious beliefs, income, preferred income of your match, and how far you are willing to travel to meet your perfect mate. The questions dig deep, and they are rephrased so many different ways that you cannot lie, even if you wanted to. After hours of baring your soul, the dating gurus present you with an impressive psychological profile that tells you how wonderful you are. Impressive... so impressive that you can't help believe that if the opposite sex (your dream match) was scrutinized as closely, you are sure to be rewarded with a flawless match.
In theory, that should work, however the almighty dollar rears its ugly head and the personal touch disappears into an unfeeling, unconcerned computer program that matches according to data input. So what is wrong with that?Have you ever called a company to get information and you got the automated, one-sided conversation? The voice may have been friendly and pleasant, but because the program is impersonal, you do not get your questions answered, but will get a general response. Now you get the idea. Matching data does not necessarily match two human beings.How It All Started.
Let us go a little deeper and really analyze computer matching. The very first computer-matching program was called Project Match. In 1977, it was conducted by the Department of Health Education and Welfare -HEW (now known as Department of Health & Human Services DHSS. "The first significant match of benefit programs was conducted in 1976. The Federal Bureau of Investigations matched the employee records of various governmental employers in the Chicago area with Welfare files" [Kusserow 1983, p.1].
So what does this mean? In short, personal data surveillance; in other words decisions being made about people and not made on a face to face contact basis, but instead by information stored in remote systems and interpreted by the user. Our personal image becomes a data image, which can be manipulated...scary, very scary.Children Playing with Fire Here we have a behemoth in the hands of "children", so to speak. Our psychological data is being stored by dating services and sold as a commodity, and we cover their business expense. We are allowing our precious, personal lives, possibly our future families to be governed by computer programs and their creators. We have become cattle- herded and bred for profit.On the flip side, one might feel justified in presuming that this is the only way to go according to modern times. One might even feel comfort in the hands of techies and engineers. They are the experts. Unfortunately, it is not about intelligence levels of the professionals, but about possibility of error.
According to Roger Clark in his dissertation DATAVEILLANCE BY Governments: The Technique of Computer Matching, "Computer matching is a critical test of the resolve of information technologists to accept responsibility for the impact of their body of knowledge on people. It is not, in itself, an evil; but it is capable of being used evilly, or so insensitively that it will do significant harm to individuals, to groups, and to society as a whole. It shares that feature with many other techniques which are not yet empirically researchable, such as profiling, public networking, voice recognition, virtual reality in entertainment and education, the substitution of digital simulation for physical experimentation and intelligent robotics. It is vital that research be undertaken on such topics, and that that research be reported on in journals which reach the wide spread of academics and professionals, and not just discussed among a small clique of 'socially aware' fringe-dwellers (Clarke 1988)."