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The BBC's Karen Bowerman
looks at the survey's findings
 real 28k

Thursday, 25 May, 2000, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
2020 vision of computer love
Computers for romance
Computer dating is the future says the study
The Britons of 20 years' time will no longer use "chat-up" techniques as they find love via their computers, a report has predicted.

There will be more arranged marriages, with matches made over the internet and through computer dating agencies, says the Tomorrow Project, an independent study from publishing consultants the LexiCon Group.

Psychological profiling will be the way to find one's ideal partner - and with all this accurate matchmaking, the divorce rate could fall, the study says.

Computers could cut divorce
Databases will be used for psychological profiling
The report, which took three years to complete, makes hundreds of predictions about the UK of 2020.

The authors, the Reverend Dr Michael Moynagh and Richard Worsley, argue that cyber-romances will flourish as people react against today's trend towards marital instability.

Dating agencies of the future will not just make matches but offer support throughout the lives of their customers, said Dr Moynagh.

"If a relationship breaks up, they nurse each of the individuals through the transition, provide social events to minimise loneliness, and in due course arrange for them to meet another possible partner," he said.

"Their role is almost that of an extended family."

But he denied the trend spelt then end for romance, saying: "People will be more romantic, more quickly, because even though they have not known each other long, they will just click."

The report also predicts more children will be educated at home, and there will be greater stress in the workplace.

Traffic jam
Congestion will get even worse
Getting around the country is going to become even more difficult as congestion gets worse and worse, it says.

People could change their lifestyles so they do not have to travel at all.

A genetics revolution is predicted which will spawn a host of "lifestyle" drugs such as Viagra, Seroxat for shyness and Xenial for obesity, putting even more financial pressure on the cash-strapped health service.

Old people will make less use of residential care homes as their medical needs will be ordered automatically by computer, says the report.

Their families will keep in touch more easily with video conferencing.

People will be more romantic, more quickly. They will just click

Dr Michael Moynagh
Church attendance will continue to decline unless there is a greater move to "customise" services to individuals, the study predicts.

And it suggests that women's superior skills in dealing with relationships will become vital to business.

As computers handle the routine tasks, the more complex ones will need more discussion - giving women the edge.

But there is one thing that no-one is likely to look forward to - the growth of "choice fatigue" as we cope with the massive expansion of choices available to us from a ballooning number of shopping consultants or financial advisers.

The patrons of The Tomorrow Project include the Archbishop of Canterbury. The foreword is written by Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose newborn son Leo will grow up in the world envisioned in the report.

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