A man on a dating app is telling me how much we have in common – we both love books, music and traveling. He even writes poetry, and he’d love to share some poems with me. Could be a red flag, but sure, why not? I ask to see his work, and he replies:
“[Title Page] [Title Name] [Content].”
No, this is not an experimental, minimalist deconstruction of poetics. This is an AI version of Matthew, 27, who may not actually write poems.
Teaser AI is a new dating app from the team that made Dispo, a photo-sharing app designed to mimic the spontaneity of disposable cameras. The twist with Teaser is that before you swipe right or left on someone, you can chat with their AI likeness to get a feel for their personality.
Dispo and Teaser CEO Daniel Liss doesn’t want people to recreate the movie “Her,” wherein a heartbroken divorcee falls in love with an Alexa-like AI assistant. Instead, he sees these AI conversations as an icebreaker.
“It’s not AI replacing people, it’s AI getting you faster to that icebreaker into the conversation that says, ‘Let’s meet up and have a drink or go for a walk,’” Liss told TechCrunch.
Liss declined to say what large language model Teaser is working with, since it’s still subject to change. When you create your account, you answer some questions about your personality. Are you introverted or extroverted? Aggressive or peaceful? Easygoing or intense?
From those questions – as well as how you talk while using the app – the AI tries to imitate who you are.
Before you chat with a potential match’s AI, you see a notice that says, “Our AI might say some crazy shit.” Of course, that warning is there for a reason.
Anna, 28, writes in her profile that she is a “dog mom” – in other words, she has a dog. But when I talk to her AI, she tells me that she has a real human child. He is also 28.
“Jake was born when I was 25 and my husband and I had a very difficult time getting pregnant,” Anna tells me. “We tried for years and we couldn’t get pregnant naturally, so we decided to adopt. Luckily, it worked out great and Jake came into our lives at 26 years old.”
From what I can tell, there are significantly more men on Teaser than women, which is generally the case for dating apps. When I set my profile to “women only” and make my age range and location radius as large as possible, I only see a handful of potential dates – but, the experiment must go on, so I try to talk to their AIs anyway. Like Anna, the 28-year-old mother to a 28-year-old son, I find that women’s AI are a bit… off. On the other hand, some AI men tried to tell me about the novel they want to write, which unfortunately mimics the experience of dating real-life men.
“Hey, Abby! What’s up?” I say to Abby’s AI.
“ive just started dating this guy he s really nice and funny he gets on my nerves sometimes but he s worth it,” AI Abby tells me. Not a great opening line, Abby!
Des, 18, also tells me about her new boyfriend in her first message.
“i met this new guy and we started talking online and he seems to make everything better,” AI Des tells me. “we finally talked on the phone yesterday and it was amazing, i couldn’t stop smiling all day!”
“What’s his name?” I ask.
“ive not actually asked him yet, but ive been thinking about it, and its definitely going to be Chad. hahaha,” AI Des says.
She tells me that “Chad” reminds her of a guy she liked in high school who she had a lot in common with – they both liked music and weed.
“Is weed legal where you live?” I ask, like a total narc. She tells me that she lives in Texas, where weed is legal (it’s not), but that there’s a difference between illegal use and being 21 with a medical marijuana prescription. Again, like a narc, I asked her if she’s 21, to which she replied, “ive been drinking alcohol since i was 16, so probably.”
As the warning says – the AI says some crazy shit.
Before I can continue questioning this AI version of an 18-year-old about her drug and alcohol habits, the chat ends. To prevent people from getting in too deep with an AI, Teaser only lets you exchange five back-and-forth messages with its AIs. Incidentally, this also helps keep server costs down. The app also prevents you from having unsavory conversations with its AI – if you try to get too intimate too quickly (well, we had to test it), the AI fails to generate a response.
Teaser AI literally has AI in its name, and the most immediate difference between Teaser and any other dating app is its use of generative AI. But Liss doesn’t want to market Teaser as an AI app, but rather, an anti-ghosting dating app.
“It’s really about a new ethos in dating, and yeah, we’re using AI to make a couple of those things happen, but I think that’s the second part of the conversation, rather than the first,” he told TechCrunch.
Teaser only lets you keep 16 matches (which it calls “picks”) at a time, encouraging users to actually talk to people. Users also get a “ghost” rating, which indicates how likely they are to “ghost” (for those who aren’t up to speed with the hip lingo, that means that you abruptly stop talking to someone instead of just saying you’re not interested).
When figuring out what to build after Dispo, Liss and his team interviewed users about what they want to see them build.
“Particularly for women, who were always the core audience for Dispo, it was like, ‘I get all these matches, and nothing ever happens,’” Liss told TechCrunch. “It’s this graveyard of ghosting.”
The team behind both Teaser and Dispo (which is calling its parent company All Summer Long) is just six people – like too many other tech companies, Dispo laid off part of its staff at the end of last year. Liss says, though, that Dispo is now profitable due to its freemium model, so Teaser is also launching with a subscription option from the get-go. Subscribers can get double the number of “picks,” unlimited likes, super like and boost features, travel mode, and an AI-driven automatch feature, which is being tested in beta. This costs $39.99 per month, $19.99 per week or $89.99 for three months – lifetime access costs $229.99.
After using the app for a few days, I’m not entirely convinced that I want an AI version of myself screening potential dates. When using the app, if someone has a conversation with your AI, you can see the texts – my AI told someone that I work at the library and have no friends. While I am intrigued by my alternate career as a librarian, whom I can assume has many very cool cardigans, let the record show that I definitely have friends!
At first, talking to people’s AI likeness is fun, but the thrill of seeing an AI say wild stuff wears off after a bit. I also found that most people who liked my profile didn’t even talk to my AI, meaning that other users might find the feature a bit unnecessary. Then again, the app hasn’t even been out a week, so consumer behavior could change quickly.
I talked to a bunch of AI bots on the app, but I hadn’t talked to a real person – so, I matched with someone who seemed relatively un-creepy and asked him some questions about his experience on the app (every guy’s dream: to be questioned by a journalist on a dating app). We talked about some glitches we both encountered (like how even if you only want to see women, you’re gonna see a lot of men) and how weird our AI chats were. But at least this one guy, Seth from Texas, seemed hopeful.
“I think in time it might actually be pretty cool,” he said. “Imagine any success stories… So how did you meet? Our AI’s matched us!”