Shane Mac
Gray Matters

The Dating Bot is Born

Entrepreneur Shane Mac opens up about controversial tech he’s built: a bot to date on the dating apps. It can start conversations, flirt, and even set up dates. Here’s why he’s afraid to release it publicly. 

Read an edited transcript below, or listen to the full interview on the First Contact podcast.

That was how I felt when I used it. I was like, oh wow…this works…


Shane Mac: There’s always moments of technology where you use something and you’re like, holy shit. And that was how I felt when I used it. I was like, oh wow…this works… 

Laurie Segall: Do you remember what you said? Or what your bot said?

Shane Mac: The bot probably said something very specific about…’What’s your favorite dish in the world, may I take you there if we can make it past 17 and a half dates?’ Or something funny like that.

Laurie Segall: And the girl responded?

Shane Mac: Or, “where’s the photo of that hike?” literally gets a response every time, and it’s like so simple and dumb, but…it’s programmed in the bot for any hiking photo. And…this was the terrible one, I literally came back to my inbox one day, and there was like 15 response of…”Yosemite.” It was just like all the hikes, and I was like, “Oh my God I feel terrible.” Like that’s when I felt, I was like, I don’t know if this is good or bad, I don’t know, I don’t know what this is gonna do, like, uh, I just was like, this works so well, and it saves a lot of time, and everyone I show it to is like, I really want that keyboard. So we didn’t actually put it out in the public, because I didn’t know what was going to happen with it.

Laurie: And so you have like this whole keyboard that has, it has categories cause, um, I know because you installed it for me, and we’ll get into that, I have so many feelings about it. But, it has categories like banter, opening lines and, and, and you actually have to go in and press them, so eventually the idea would be like, the bot just does it for you?

Shane Mac: Totally. Actually, the whole idea started, an idea I had called Witty Bot. So I wanted to build a bot platform that…for dating apps, but both sides were bots, and everyone knew it and you would watch your bots communicate. So you would watch my bot go against Laurie’s bot, and we would see if it got passed each others witty banter, or whatever, cause it knows based on past conversations what you like and what you respond to and what you don’t. And so, if you think of eHarmony as 80 steps to get matching, so you go through 80 steps so they can match you. Well now you’re matched instantly, because the dating apps have made that a commodity. So now it’s, why doesn’t the 25 conversations, be able to just talk to each other and see if you’d be a good match based on how you communicate.

Shane Mac: And that’s actually where the idea came from, and I was like, but it’s too early for that, it’s too creepy whatever, I’ll just build it for one side of it, so I built it so someone could use the bot and the other side doesn’t know. And that’s where I think it’s another scary part, is that the other side doesn’t know that its automated and doesn’t know its a bot.

Laurie Segall: So what does the future look like? You talk about bots, you talk about, like having these bots that date for us. What is that like?

Shane Mac: Hey Laurie, who do you like, you know, what type of, uh, guy do you like to go on a date with, uh, height wise?

Laurie Segall: I mean like, I’d say like, tall-ish?

Shane Mac: Fancy dinners or dive bar?

Laurie Segall: I mean like, more dive bar.

Shane Mac: Great.

Laurie Segall: With the idea that fancy dinner we could do every once and a while, but let’s not do it all the time.

Shane Mac: That will be the bot of the future. And it’ll just keep talking to you and then that will be, it’ll go find that type of person. And the other, um, you won’t have to install anything. It’ll happen within your text message, and just like a friend texting you; “Hey you should go on a date with this person” it’ll be an automated bot saying “Date’s tomorrow night at 7 o’clock. I have a date for you. You wanted three dates this month. Perfect.”

I think the endless choice is like one of the worst problems of the internet right now.

Laurie Segall: Interesting.

Shane Mac: All of it is friction. It’s like so much friction and it causes anxiety. Not the bot, but like the endless inbox. I think the endless choice is like one of the worst problems of the internet right now. Uh, and you have this like endless feed. This endless list.