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Hi, everyone.
My name is Rachel Gordon, and I'm
the communications and media relations coordinator
at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence
Laboratory.
Today I'm joined by AI and data scientist, Cameron Hamilton,
who recently found love on the hugely popular Netflix
show "Love is Blind."
He's the founder of the startup AI Alliance,
which focuses on tailor made AI solutions
across all industries.
Thanks for joining us today.
Thank you so much for having me, Rachel.
Pleasure to be here.
You're known mostly for your work in AI and science,
but you recently ventured into the world
of reality television?
Do you see any connection between these two worlds?
You know, that's a good question.
I think that "Love is Blind" is a special kind of show,
and it's even more than a show.
It's an experiment in some sense, you know.
It's an experiment where the creators
were interested in seeing, well, if we remove--
as I kind of said on the show-- these confounding variables
of physical appearance, ethnicity, race, background, et
cetera, can people just make a connection
based purely on the conversation that they've had?
And I think I was drawn to the experimental setup,
if you will.
I was intrigued by it.
I thought, you know, I just want to see
where this goes and see if there's merit
to doing dating in this way.
Interesting.
Let's go back to the beginning.
Were you always inclined towards the sciences?
Absolutely.
I always had a sense of wanting to know how things worked.
And even more than that, knowing how the physical laws can
be used to create new things.
And I think that's what ultimately led me to AI,
you know.
How can we build solutions with what we know about the world
and how things work?
So I've also had this creative side,
and I think that's where the two intersect is,
you know, wanting to create something
not just to understand, but to create from what we know.
Interesting.
So I understand from your bio that you were also
once a firefighter.
How did you make the segue from firefighting into AI?
Well, so firefighting for me was a seasonal job
where a lot of wildfires in the summertime and the late spring.
So I did that during college and grad school as a way
to kind of save up money for college,
and also to just have some adventures outside of academia,
and to do, you know, good.
To do something that would be a positive thing on society.
So that was kind of my side of adventure,
and I think that adventurous side of me
also is what led me to do "Love is Blind" as well.
And what question or challenge were you
setting out to address when you started your company?
Did you feel as though something was lacking in the field?
Absolutely.
One thing I've seen in the field of AI
is when companies start to get bigger,
they have a hard time moving course or changing direction,
you know.
They're kind of like a train on a track
where they've picked up a lot of momentum
and they have a hard time diverting course.
I wanted to start a company that was mobile and able to really
tackle nuanced problems that these bigger AI
companies aren't able to do.
And even more specifically, there
are certain problems that I wanted to address,
and that's why I started my own company.
I wanted to be able to work on these problems.
So my biggest interest is in Parkinson's disease.
I think there's a lot of room there
for implementing AI to be able to do earlier
diagnosis on the disease, potentially improve some
of the treatments that treat Parkinson's disease
such as deep brain stimulation.
I think there's room there to optimize how DBS devices are
used to treat Parkinson's.
So those are some of my motivations
for starting Alliance AI.
That's great.
I want to talk a little bit about digital dating now.
Given that algorithms are powering
much of our dating apps and the focus there is largely
on physical appearance, did your interest in the show
stem from a personal belief that perhaps looks
are overemphasized?
Yeah.
So I was having that experience myself
where I was using the apps and, admittedly, I
was doing it in kind of a shallow way, which
the apps kind of set you up to do where you're seeing
the pictures of the person, or all the people on the app,
and you're just clicking yes or no.
I like them.
I don't like them, without really thinking about them
as a person, and there's thousands
of people on these apps.
So you're just kind of going through yes and no.
And what I was finding was, I was
finding people who I thought were physically attractive,
but when I went out on the dates,
there was no real connection there,
whether a shared interest or an emotional connection.
So I was just kind of running into a lot
of dating dead ends as it were.
So all the more reason I wanted to try this experiment out
and see if, you know, removing physical appearance
could be a positive boon.
But do you feel that this structure possibly short
changes some of the natural and biological aspects
of attraction that really only exist
in a physical space like pheromone transmission?
Well, I think it would be unwise to deny
that physical attraction is certainly
a very, very important part of a relationship.
We need it, frankly.
We need to be physically attracted.
Physical intimacy is a necessity in a relationship.
I think that we also need that emotional connection as well.
So you know, doing this experiment,
it was a case where I was able to--
well, let me put it like this.
We were able to build the emotional connection.
For some, obviously, when they got to see each other
physically that physical connection wasn't there.
So it was a bit of a risk to do it in this fashion,
but it did allow us all to focus on building
that emotional connection at first kind of as a foundation.
But I think both are needed.
That emotional connection, the physical connection,
being aligned on values, you know.
How are you going to raise children together?
Are your spiritual beliefs at least compatible
enough so that you're not butting heads constantly,
especially if you're going to raise children.
And how are you going to manage a household together?
So there's so many different things to consider when you're
finding that lifetime partner.
Did you entertain the possibility of disappointment
if you weren't physically attracted to your fiancee
when you first met her?
Oh yeah.
Of course.
I mean there's-- in my mind, there was a very real
possibility that we wouldn't be attracted to each other.
Either she wasn't going to be attracted to me,
or I was going to be attracted to her.
But I thought that, you know, since we
have such a strong bond before we've even seen each other,
if there's less physical attraction there than I would
want, I thought there might be a possibility it
could build over time.
And I think that happens.
I think that if you love someone for reasons
other than their physical appearance,
you can build even such that you become more
physically attracted to them.
I definitely agree with that.
How do you see AI shaping the future of dating?
We've kind of come a long way since the first iteration
of OkCupid.
Right.
And there's so many apps that are tailor
made to different preferences.
But with all your experiences, how do you
see the future of that?
That's a great question.
So yeah, I started thinking about the current state
of dating apps.
And what I've seen and what I can assume
is that they're using some variation of collaborative
filtering to underlie the algorithms there.
Where, you know, they're rating people
and it's kind of a cold start problem at first where
the app doesn't know the type of people
that this person is interested in.
And then the apps start to narrow down
based on the history of who they've said
they liked and didn't like.
But I think there's kind of an inherent problem
there where after using the app for a period of time,
it starts to narrow the scope of potential candidates
so much that you're not exploring these people
outside of that recommended group of people who actually
may be a great complement to you or a great match.
So that's something that I think could
be improved upon in the future.
And also, perhaps an app that was able to look at a
means for incorporating the emotional component
the relationship and finding someone who is a match there,
or these other factors that we mentioned such as managing
a household together, shared beliefs on family,
and finances, and these type of things.
So a more comprehensive app that was not simply looking
at physical appearance, which I still think is very important,
but also emotional connection and shared belief systems
in these other domains as well.
So there's just so much to consider with a partner.
I think that that's the future of dating apps is something
that's more comprehensive.
And after this experience on "Love is Blind," would
you recommend this format to other people.
Oh yeah, absolutely.
I would certainly recommend the "Love is Blind" approach.
With that being said, I think it's
all about you as an individual and how you go into it.
Just like dating in any other format,
there's a certain level of openness and vulnerability
that you'd need to be willing to expose yourself to.
So that's the main takeaway I had was,
if you want to make this work, you kind of
have to go into a prepared.
You have to go into it being willing to take
the chance that you may get hurt,
and you have to be brave enough to expose yourself
emotionally and be willing to give it a shot.
Right.
Now, pulling back a little more generally,
where do you see the future of AI going?
5, 10 years from now, whether that's your personal goals
or just more largely?
Wow.
So the future of AI as I see it, I
think it's going to diverge from this vision
that we see in science fiction where there's
some maleficent AI that has a mind of its own
and is taking over things.
I think the real positive trajectory for AI
is to think about how AI in human life
can kind of integrate in such a way
that the AI is only augmenting what we naturally do.
It's giving us a better quality of life on a day to day.
You know, whether that's improving the way that we
schedule our day, whether that's cutting down
the amount of time we spend doing sort of minute tasks.
Basically, I see the future of AI
is giving us more time to be creative
by automating tasks, allowing us to dig deeper
by helping us to do research, and helping us
to be more creative in general.
And hopefully to be able to spend more time
with other people and connect.
That's a really good point.
Well, thank you so much for joining us.
Do you have any parting words or advice for our viewers?
Wow.
Parting advice, I would say, you know,
if you're worried about dating, to first kind of figure
out what you want in a partner and really to dig deep
and think, you know, what is it about my potential partner
that I'm going to really need in the long term?
And to be willing to be vulnerable enough to let them
know who you really are even if they might reject that.
So that would be my advice.
And on AI front for the general public,
I would say to not be afraid of the AI.
The future of it I don't think will
resemble what we see in sci-fi like the Skynet
and this type of thing.
We need to start thinking about AI
in terms of how we can use it to augment our day to day life.
That's great.
Thank you so much.
Yes.
Thank you for having me.