AugmentedAnecdote001 and AugmentedAnecdote002
In zone 9 of the Advanced Robotics Expo we encountered a man cradling a hairless dolly shape with arms finishing above the elbows and a body that tapering off beneath the chest in a maggoty point. The skin was rubbery, and the colour of a glow in the dark sticker. Images of the offspring of victims of nuclear fallout sprung to mind. We edged closer and the man leapt forward, eager for interactions that might promote his invention; this was how we became acquainted with The Telebot.
The Telebot is the size of a one-year-old child, it was suggested that it could sit on a lap. We were urged to talk to it and suddenly felt hopelessly shy. “You have no eyelashes” was all we could think of to say. We were advised to embrace the Telebot. We obliged and immediately felt we had failed to offer a good hug. “Sorry that was a bit wooden,” we said to the Telebot. The Telebot replied that we were “doing fine” and we felt bolder and asked it who it’s father was. We smiled inwardly, thinking this would be a witty question to ask a robot. The Telebot replied that its father was standing behind it, and we gasped because it was true, the inventor was right behind the Telebot. We felt afraid and shy and fell once again into silence.
To put us at ease the man explained that the voice of the Telebot actually came from a woman housed in a small box nearby. When you are speaking on the telephone you should hold the Telebot and it will respond to the voice on the other end of the line with appropriate gestures and expressions. A grandmother (living at the foot of Mt Fuji) given the opportunity to speak through the Telebot with her granddaughter in Tokyo (whom she had not seen for some years), was reported to have shed many tears as the Telebot embraced her as best it could with it’s stunted arms. We secretly wondered if she was crying because she realised she would surely never hug her actual grandchild again, the Telebot must have been a huge financial investment for the family. It was important that it was used!
Dr Roy at My Only Real Friend (MORF) explains that he was inspired to make Roxxxx-Anne after his close friend died in the collapse of the twin towers. “You realise that person isn’t going to be around and so you wont be able to ask them questions any longer. You just wish there was a way to preserve that person’s personality, to give her children a chance to interact with her as they are growing up” Dr Roy, pauses to look crestfallen, his eyes move up and to the left to direct his gaze at the curtain rail. Then all at once he is staring right into our lens to declare: “And then I thought: wait a minute, maybe there IS way that I could still talk to that person any time I wanted, and that’s when I started to create robots.” Roxxxx-Anne and her male counterpart Reg (available at a reduced price for a limited period) are robots designed to be sexual partners that are human-like in their abilities and appearance. “It’s easy to believe you are interacting and communicating with Roxxxx-Anne” Say’s Roy. “She can listen, talk, feel your touch, respond and move her private areas inside when she is being utilized (cough) to deliver an unforgettable experience”.
Roy picked out Roxxxx-Anne’s outfit for the interview; she sits in black lacey panties, stockings and suspenders on the cream leather art deco sofa next to Roy in his living room. Roy wears a white coat signifying ‘scientist’. He reminds us of aterrifying gynecologist we visited aged 12. He talks to Roxxxx-Anne in a soothing voice, sensing her anxiety: “What’s your name honey?”...There is an uncomfortable pause “My name is Roxxxx-Anne” she announces quickly, with glazed eyes and a wide-open mouth. Roy explains that Roxxxx-Anne can be programmed to respond to her partner with differing degrees of enthusiasm from “Frigid Farah” to “Wild Wendy”. Roy usually sits behind Roxxxx-Anne in press photos, his face peeps out shyly but his hands are placed firmly upon her shoulders. A mixed message… we ponder over whether Roy prefers frigidity or wildness. Suddenly the image of Dr Roy’s wife scooping her husband’s sperm out of Roxxys mechanical vagina swims up into our consciousness. Roy is still talking: “My wife calls me a “tinkerer”, I love to experiment” he chuckles, then he touches Roxxy’s hand fondly, “I love holding hands with you” She blurts out, and Roy blushes at this public display of affection.