Questions to ask a guy when you first meet

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Steffie

How old am I: I am 33
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Perhaps New Scientist can help. The rest is up to you…. University trained chemist, into science communication, sport and music.

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By Aviva Rutkin. Likes walks on the beach, and stats.

ONE Saturday night last year, 11 people went looking for love. Like countless speed daters before them, they met in a room draped with curtains, the lights on low. In one hand they held traditional glasses of bubblybut in the other were sheets of paper they had filled with their personal data.

This twist on speed-dating was part of an experiment run by a scientist at Newcastle University in the UK. They dating to know what would happen in a world where instead of vetting potential dates by their artfully posed selfies or carefully crafted dating-site profiles, we looked at data gathered by new computers and phones. Elsden and his colleagues want to explore other ways we can use data that gets collected as we go about our modern lives.

The team recruited their speed daters on social media and via posters around their university campus.

A week before the event, the participants were sent a form to fill out. It asked for a host of specific s: shoe size, the farthest distance they had travelled from home, the earliest and latest times of day they had sent an in the past month, their heart rate as they filled out the form. It also left blank spaces for people to add whatever data they wanted.

Seven men and four women took part. The event then took the form of traditional speed-dating, with four minutes for pairs to get to know each other. They read out their s, compared stats and even complimented one another on their data. Where people had been allowed to list whatever they liked, they had picked very different types of information to portray themselves.

Darwinian dating: baby, i’m your natural selection

One scrupulously graphed their Fitbit steps. Another recorded what they ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Others chose to be playful. One drew a pie chart of the different types of furniture in their house. The team will present a review of the project next month at the Computer-Human Interaction conference in San Jose, California.

So much of our data is in the hands of large companies that it can make people feel powerless, says Jessa Lingel at the University of Pennsylvania. She also thinks metadating plays with an idea we have about what romance in the future might be like.

Data-driven algorithms already match people on dating sites like OkCupid. Other dating start-ups like Genepartner try to push the envelope by matching people according to genetics. Still, at least one couple hit it off swapping stats that Saturday in Newcastle.

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