In Part 1 we reviewed the recent introduction (in Dortmund, Barcelona, Paris, Gateshead, with planned expansion into London & New York) of 'brothels' populated by sex dolls. The shortcomings of a dumb, passive and inert RealDoll (wikipedia) are fairly well-known. It turns out to be very difficult to add limb mobility, subtly-choreographed movements and intimate vocal interactivity (a la chatbot) to the basic product - although of course people are working on it.
There is a halfway house.
Klara used to work the sex lines. She'd lounge in her recliner in her shellsuit in her living room, headset on, daytime TV on mute. Her callers would describe their fantasies, ask intimate questions, pay premium rates. She would string them along, imagination no longer needed, brain in neutral, hackneyed words spilling out.
But now .. her employer had brought her a new business venture. She faced a computer screen, her hand around a joystick. Only the headset was familiar. On screen the life-sized doll lounged provocatively on a king size bed. There were several cameras high on the walls - she could view and zoom from any angle.
The doll was certainly inert although its silicone body, she had been told, would be warm to the touch. More relevantly, the doll had inconspicuous microphones in its ears and a small speaker hidden behind its nose. These were connected to Klara's headset.
Klara would never see the patron's face - some clever AI fuzzed it out - but she could see his body, the patterns of movement, hear what he said. Some of the punters had a fantasy in mind: all Klara had to do was play along, provide audible accompaniment. She was used to to that. In other cases the punters were naive and confused, or positively wanted suggestions. Here Klara was in charge and she enjoyed playing the dominatrix.
And then there were the cases where the customer wanted to play a little rough. Klara wasn't keen on those but she did have a panic button. The sound of the guard's voice interrupting over the internal speakers was a joy. Possibly followed by the guard himself. Other girls were not so queasy; there was some preselection, Klara knew.
Klara was quite aware that the dolls would get better. In future years she could imagine herself as the remote human driver of a self-driving car, there to handle what the onboard systems couldn't yet do. But redundancy wouldn't be an issue for a long time yet.
One day, Klara was well into her shift when a new punter entered the room. She couldn't see his face of course but that body, those lithe movements .. were all too familiar.
He had said he would be away at a conference, but there, right in front of her eyes, ... !
More: [Endgadget article (NSFW)]: RealDoll's first sex robot took me to the uncanny valley.