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Xkcd dating pool equation

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But with the threat of dying alone looming so imminently, society could restructure to try to enable as much eye contact as possible.

We could put together massive conveyer belts to move lines of people past each other … but if the eye contact effect works over webcams, we could just use a modified version of Chat Roulette.

People would flock to cities and public gathering places to find love—just as they do now.

But even if a bunch of us spent years on Soul Mate Roulette, another bunch of us managed to hold jobs that offered constant eye contact with strangers, and the rest of us just hoped for luck, only a small minority of us would ever find true love. Given all the stress and pressure, some people would fake it.

What if everyone actually had only one soul mate, a random person somewhere in the world? There are a lot of problems with the concept of a single random soul mate. You know nothing about who or where they are, but—as in the romantic cliché—you’ll recognize each other the moment your eyes meet. If we’re all paired up at random, 90% of our soul mates are long dead. But wait, it gets worse: A simple argument shows we can’t just limit ourselves to past humans; we have to include an unknown number of future humans as well.

As Tim Minchin put it in his song If I Didn’t Have You: But what if we did have one randomly-assigned perfect soul mate, and we couldn’t be happy with anyone else? See, if it’s possible for your soul mate to be in the distant past, then it soul mate’s soul mate is.

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Furthermore, to keep things from getting creepy, we’ll assume they’re within a few years of your age. In our scenario, you don’t know anything about who your soul mate will be until you look into their eyes.

(This is stricter than the standard age gap creepiness formula, but if we assume a 30-year-old and a 40-year-old can be soul mates, then the creepiness rule is violated if they accidentally meet 15 years earlier.) With the same-age restriction, most of us have a pool of around half a billion potential matches. Everybody has only one orientation—toward their soul mate.

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