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SYFY WIRE Artificial Intelligence

Texts From My Ex Lets AI Analyze Your Romantic Relationships

Everyone knows a relationship is between two or more people and their AI of choice.

By Cassidy Ward
Jason Segel as Peter Bretter in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

Romantic comedies from Couples Retreat to Forgetting Sarah Marshall (both of which are streaming on Peacock) typically end with everyone happily ever after, or at least happy until the credits roll. But they usually begin with some other romantic failure and the protagonist wondering how everything so perfectly fell apart.

If the creators of Texts From My Ex, a new AI-powered relationship analysis tool, have their way that rom-com setup will soon be a thing of the past. Texts From My Ex uses an algorithm similar to Chat-GPT to crawl through your text messages and, allegedly, provide insight on your romantic relationships, both past and present.

How Texts From My Ex Works

What information we have comes directly from the product’s website and from the creator on the site’s Product Hunt page. It was created by Alex Weitzman, the founder and CEO of an AI-powered dating app called Amori.

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According to comments from Weitzman on Product Hunt, she was wondering why previous relationships had failed and how she might improve the odds of success in the future. She built Texts From My Ex to analyze her own personal message history for relationship insight. Then she shared the product with friends (including a few of those exes) before launching it online.

Liz Artificial intelligence robo GETTY

Texts From My Ex retrieves your messaging history for a specific contact from either iMessage or WhatsApp (other sources are in development, including Instagram and Android messaging) and feeds it to a machine learning algorithm, then provides a report based on what it finds. The product is marketed with two main applications. The first is to analyze past relationships for why they failed. The second is to analyze a current relationship for a health check.

The readout includes seven sections including attachment styles, communication, sexiness, highlights, lowlights, cute moments, and a conclusion. The conclusion is whether your relationship will work and why or why not.

Each section provides a score out of ten, specific messages it referenced for its analysis, and some commentary. The report itself is conversational and snarky, the sort of commentary you might get from a particularly bold friend with a middling sense of humor. That’s probably by design, meant to invoke the feeling that you’re just getting insight from a trusted friend.

The Potential Dangers of Digitizing Dating

The most apparent real-time concern is one of privacy. Feeding your personal conversation history, particularly conversations with your most intimate partner(s), into anything rightly feels a little spooky. That’s something the creators are aware of and are attempting to address. Though, by their own admission it isn’t ideal.

In response to a question regarding the privacy of uploaded conversations, Aditya Khandelwal (listed as a “maker” on the Product Hunt page) had this to say, “At the moment, we are taking *some* actions to alleviate the challenges around privacy compliance. For instance, while the data currently reaches our servers, we are taking actions to never print/log your private conversations and we never store it in any permanent storage buckets. In addition, we select a tiny snippet of your overall chat conversation (evaluated on our servers) before it reaches OpenAI servers. Although not perfect, we have spent a great deal of development time trying to anonymize your conversations… as much as possible, our desire is to not read your private conversations but still have a way to give you insights into better interpersonal communication."

Will Smith in I, Robot (2004)

Perhaps a greater concern is the potential impact to individuals. It isn’t difficult to imagine a scenario in which a particularly sensitive individual, suspecting their paramour, plugs their private conversations into a tool like this one, and doesn’t like the AI-generated information that comes out the other side.

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At present, there is no way for the team to validate its results for accuracy. In the same comment, Khandelwal said, “Since we have no way of cross-referencing chats with results, we are relying on human loops and feedbacks to tell us what they liked and didn't like, and what we can do to improve the final results.” In short, you’re feeding your most emotionally charged relationships into the digital equivalent of a fortune cookie and being asked to trust the results. They might be accurate, and they might not, we have no way of knowing.

The lack of regulation around the use of artificial intelligence coupled with the inherently nebulous nature of these algorithms is a volatile combination. It’s only a matter of time before someone takes what an algorithm tells them as gospel, and someone gets hurt because a machine accused them of being emotionally unavailable. “Move fast and break things” works better in Silicon Valley than in the valley of the soul.

Catch all of your favorite romantic comedies, streaming now on Peacock!