The Soulmate Equation

Page 8

Swiping forward, she lifted her chin to the screen, where a woman stood alone against a stark white backdrop. “Here’s how it works. We’ve developed a kit like many genetic profiling companies, which, very soon, customers will be able to order by mail. We have kits here for purchase, if you’re interested.”

Jess could sense Fizzy itching to pull out her credit card. Lisa picked up a small box on the table; it was white, the simple DNADuo logo printed in rainbow colors. “Once we fully launch, clients will send in their sample for analysis by our DNADuo algorithm, which now combines findings from over thirty-five hundred genes. Once received, analysis takes only about three days for the results to load into your DNADuo app. While you wait, you can enter information about yourself in your profile—the same way that you would on other dating sites. Information about your age, location, profession—whatever you want people to know about you. Once your results are in, we’ll share with you the compatibility scores based on the criteria you’ve chosen.”

Jess swallowed audibly. All of this sounded so … thorough.

The slide now showed two people standing side by side before the same empty backdrop. “Through rigorous analysis, we’ve created scoring bins. That is, we group the scores based on how tightly they correlate to relationship success. If you pull two random people off the street to see whether they’re compatible, you’re looking at a score on average between seven and twenty-four on our DNADuo algorithm. These scores are out of one hundred, so twenty-four isn’t ideal, but it’s not zero, either. We call these scores Base Matches.”

“Are there a lot of those?” Fizzy asked.

“Oh, yes,” Lisa said. “A large majority of random pairings tested against each other are Base Matches. Now”—she swiped forward, and the two people turned toward each other, smiling—“attraction is frequently reported between couples with scores of twenty-five to fifty, but when we follow them long-term, these individuals rarely find lasting emotional compatibility. We call these Silver Matches, and some of the individuals in our beta testing have chosen to explore these relationships.” Lisa shrugged, grinning, clearly breaking from script. “Good sex is good sex, right?”

Fizzy nodded enthusiastically, but Jess only gave a vague shrug. “What’s your threshold for ‘rarely,’ when you say they rarely find lasting compatibility?”

Lisa smiled. “Based on our initial studies, only one Silver Match in every three hundred lasts beyond the two-year threshold we consider long-term. But here’s where it gets fun,” she said, straightening. A new couple appeared on the screen, holding hands as they walked forward together. “Gold Matches are couples with a score of fifty to sixty-five. A third of Gold Matches will find a lasting relationship together. That number shoots up to two-thirds with a score of sixty-six to eighty—what we call a Platinum Match.”

“Wow,” Fizzy whispered, staring at the new couple laughing together over an intimate candlelit dinner. “That’s a huge jump.”

Lisa nodded. “But three out of four couples find long-term love with scores of eighty to ninety,” she said. “And those are the matches we hope to eventually find for everyone in our database.” She swiped ahead to a couple getting married under a broad arch of flowers. “We call them Titanium.”

Admittedly, Jess had to hide her shock over that statistic. It was impressive. She still had about a million questions, though, and gestured to the couple in the wedding scenario; the woman was Asian, the man of Middle Eastern descent. “It seems from your marketing tools that DNADuo doesn’t have an ethnicity bias.”

“Correct. It’s about finding a soulmate based on a set of biological markers. While there are some genetic variants found across different ethnicities, this technology is about DNA-level compatibility, not symmetry. Not to put too technical a point on it, but in many cases, compatibility is stronger when the two individuals have different genetic markers, rather than the same. And keep in mind, the DNADuo can’t take cultural influences into account, so the importance of all of this information has to be weighed by the client personally. Clients can indicate any and all desired criteria in their intake form—cultural background, religion, et cetera. The algorithm discounts any compatibility findings that don’t fall within their prescribed criteria.”

“So if I’m gay?”

“Sure.” Lisa didn’t hesitate. “On your intake form, you can select to see female matches, male matches, nonbinary matches, or all of the above. As a company, we don’t discriminate based on race, cultural identity, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, and the DNADuo doesn’t, either. Only a handful of the compatibility sequence signatures are located on the X or Y chromosomes; certainly not enough to nullify the data set if a particular sexual genotype is excluded.”

Jess leaned back in her chair, admittedly—and unexpectedly—impressed.

“Sorry, one more question,” Fizzy said. “You said to consider the compatibility scores as one to one hundred … Have you ever seen a score higher than ninety?”

Lisa smiled genuinely. “Only three times.”

“And?” Jess’s heart started slamming against her breastbone. Her brain imagined a different slot machine now, one with 3,500 rows, and a single pull that lined up nearly every single cherry.

For the first time since she walked into the room, Lisa let the hypercompetent surfer-executive façade drop. She looked young, and hopeful, and awestruck: “That’s what gives me the most confidence in this company. Yes, three is a low number, but the couples who’ve tested above ninety are the three couples who’ve scored the highest on emotional stability, communication and collaboration, and sexual satisfaction. They’re Diamond Matches. Do we want more of those? Of course. I mean, the DNADuo has been tested on one hundred and forty thousand people and fully validated in nearly twenty thousand couples. That is an enormous study for a start-up of this size, but there are at least five million people on Hinge and an estimated fifty million people on Tinder. Until we can get the whole world of data in our server, we won’t know how many Diamond Matches are really out there.”



Fizzy never called.

So even though it was 8:13, and Jess was supposed to have Juno at school in two minutes, and had yet to feed her child or have a single sip of coffee, and had a meeting downtown at 9:30, and was barely dressed, she answered.

“You never call,” Jess said.

“This app is insane,” Fizzy said.

Juno ran out, still in her pajamas. “I’m ready for breakfast!”

Tilting her phone away from her mouth, Jess whispered, “You need to wear actual clothing, my love.”

Her daughter groaned as she stomped back to her bedroom.

“I’m—” Fizzy said, and then paused. “Okay, good point. This shirt is pretty transparent.” Another pause. “Wait, how did you know what I’m wearing?”

“I was talking to my kid,” Jess said, laughing. “What is this about the app being insane? What app?”

“I’ve gotten twenty-three matches since my DNADuo results came in this morning.”

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