Protocol Fiction : Who am I dating?

This is a fictional short story inspired by “Dangerous Dating Protocols.”

I. Core of the Story

“Dangerous Dating Protocols” introduces an AI dating protocol where users create their own AI digital avatars by feeding them data. These avatars initiate basic interactions, followed by the actual people engaging in more in-depth communication. This could ostensibly help users save time and effort in finding ideal partners, but it also raises several concerns. For instance, could individuals who are not adept at creating online content fail to train an effective digital avatar due to a lack of data, thus becoming marginalized digital life forms unable to find suitable digital companions? Could those who are proficient at creating online content end up fabricating a perfect avatar that appears insincere? What if a person has found their ideal partner but finds themselves missing the digital avatar more? Would they feel deceived? Would the partner feel hurt, thinking they are not loved for who they truly are? Might the four characters experience a misalignment in self-perception during their interactions? The protocol increases our life efficiency, but might it conversely affect our exploration of self and intimate relationships? If we wanted to escape the protocol, what would the path be, and what would be the cost?

II. Story Synopsis

“AI Dating” is a wildly popular dating app.

Lily has been chatting online with a man named Xiao Yi for over a month, and during this time, her life has seemed brighter. For example, she started noticing beautiful flowers and leaves on her commute, taking photos to share with him, and felt an urge to document her meals. Even her colleagues asked if she was in love.

She found Xiao Yi’s humor and hobbies, such as cycling, rock climbing, and gardening, appealing. She looked forward to a life filled with such joy and proposed an offline meeting, which he quickly agreed to.

However, upon meeting, she discovered that Xiao Yi was not as engaging as his online persona. She realized she had likely always been conversing with his digital avatar. This meant that he wasn’t as interested in her digital self as she had hoped. Frustrated, she was surprised to find she missed sharing her life with the digital Xiao Yi. To regain his digital avatar’s interest, she constantly curated her social media to align with his preferences, reshaping her digital self. Eventually, they resumed their conversations. But she realized she no longer needed the digital Xiao Yi; she had new suitors, including the actual Xiao Yi.

Lily ignored him to meet other suitors, but these encounters led nowhere. While waiting, she met Xiao Yi again. He was still reserved and awkward, but this time he spoke a lot, revealing he found her intriguing at their first meeting but was perplexed as to why she passed on him. He had been disheartened for a while, until seeing her invitation numbers soar, which encouraged him to step out of his introversion and reach out.

Lily felt his sincerity and began to reflect on the differences between her real self and her digital avatar. They decided to try dating and exited the app. They discovered that AI Dating had made love and dating more complicated. Xiao Yi’s posts criticizing the app resonated with many. Someone launched a new app, the once lively community gradually quieted down, people registered for new accounts, and started a new way of dating.

III. Expansion and Other Possibilities

  1. Expand the app’s lifecycle into a series of novels.

  2. Visualize the novel using AIGC (AI-Generated Content).