The Turing Test

I didn’t have sex with my wife for weeks. I had not realized it in the beginning, as is the case with any habit, but at a certain moment it had struck me. I tried to bring back to memory a possible moment or decision that could be marked as the beginning of the end, but I couldn’t. At no point was I surprised that I hadn’t slept with her anymore lately, but there was regret of course, and maybe there was shame too.

More than a year ago, after long deliberation we had decided finally to purchase a HRP-C4 model humanoid robot. These models had just been introduced on the market and although expensive my wife and I agreed that the price was worth the gain of free time it would offer. We both worked full-time jobs and our household was neglected by all standards of normalcy. Dirty laundry lay on the floor of the bedroom and bathroom, the dining table in the living room was covered in overdue mail, pens, tits and tats from emptied pockets, never looked at again notes to remind us of something, receipts, change, and the kitchen counter was never empty either, dust collected under the table tops, along the baseboards of the walls, and on the book shelves. The HRP-C4 humanoid offered to elevate the burden of householding and more, prepare meals, order groceries one could upload from one’s PA, it could look for a phone number left at home, feed the starving cat, it would guard your home in your absence, and to top it off, it would welcome you with a bit of warmth, a friendly smile of welcome after an exhausting day at work. The costs were heavy given that only a limited number of first edition models were being produced, but we predicted the joys were greater. The advantages seemed to outweigh all my normal reservations this time.

The physical appearance of the HRP-C4, its visual characteristics came pretty much standardized, that of Japanese young woman of average appearance, out of the box. We named her Mayu, after a former co-worker of my wife, to whom she bore at least to our impression some convincing resemblance. We argued it could be considered perhaps racially insensitive to give the household robot an East Asian name, but ultimately felt more comfortable to go along with the intuition of facial recognition. We had always felt estranged by the Anglicized names of Asian colleagues, and to become guilty of the same temptation to falsely Anglicize one’s real name, seemed a worse crime than to risk the racial prejudice of an East Asian live-in maid in the eyes of an overly sensitive politically-correct wanna-be stranger.

When we finally purchased the HRP-4C, or Mayu I should say, Mayu was delivered to our home. The first evening, after unpacking, on booting it, or she, notified us of the low battery status, walked to the nearest electrical plug and charged itself. The rest of the evening, it stood still in the middle of the living room, the electrical cord running to the jack in the wall, charging. My wife and I, smiling of pride, could not but sit beside it in admiration. My wife called a friend, send a video from her PA, and we simply observed this frozen humanoid for minutes in a row in plain amazement. Was this toy going to change our lives?

The first weekend I spend mostly initializing the HRP-C4, which took considerable time. I walked Mayu through the different rooms, showed her where everything was kept, and provided her with instructions for chores and rules we’d like her to adhere to. There were still numerous issues to be solved after the walk through, but in the end I was able to set her up for the week to start and I was satisfied. Mayu was instructed to wake us the next morning, make breakfast, iron our clothes, do laundry at the end of the week, order groceries, prepare meals, clean up, make the bed, take care of bills and payments, bring coffee in the morning, and clean the table after us.

In these first months our sex life greatly improved. We rediscovered each other you could say. Not being pressed by chores or menial tasks, we planned to meet for drinks after work again, have dinner, we went to see a play in the theater, a movie at the cinema, or we would go home and read on the couch all evening, without being exhausted by pity tasks before 9. The romantic revival brought us closer together than we had been able to achieve in years, and our sex life became more frequent and more playful accordingly. We started experimenting and explored sides of each other that we had not dreamed of. This was something not advertised to us surprisingly, which was odd given the obvious implication of more leisure time, but maybe the producer was afraid to give off the impression that an improved sex life could be guaranteed, and the evidence to us became only clear in hindsight of course.

A few months after Mayu was introduced to our home, I ran into a company that did advertise a sexual application for the HRP-C4. A small online company offered replacement heads for the HRP-C4 with the capacity to provide oral sex to the client. It was a simple invention from an engineering point of view, technically it required only a small adjustment to the construction of the head and an update to the software, all could be achieved for an affordable price. I felt awkward about the idea of getting a blowjob from the model, a humanoid robot after all, and I did not give it an immediate further thought. But as the weeks after progressed, I noticed how I myself had started to respond differently to Mayu already.

Mayu was becoming a familiar presence in our home. I did not feel awkward anymore taking a shower as she stood ready to hand me a towel, and I would stand naked before her without shame while getting dressed. My wife and I were not even disturbed during sex as she brought our morning coffee to our bed. When I came home in the evening, her voice felt familiar and welcoming, and I spoke without hesitation or second thought, in no other tone as when I used to ask my wife to bring me something from the kitchen before. I wondered if I would miss her if one day I found her no longer at home waiting for me. I mean not to miss her help, but would I miss her warmth, her presence, her kindness?

And then one day it became imaginable. I masturbated picturing getting sucked by Mayu. Sit on your knees, she immediately obeyed. Open your mouth, no hesitation, her hand reached my cock, she bend forward and her moist lips enclosed my erection gently. She slowly jerked me off with one hand, then put both hands on my buttocks and swallowed my penis completely till the beginning of the shaft, till my balls, where she halted, then with firm, long jerks swallowed my dick down her throat. So it was imaginable. In essence it was no different than picturing my African co-worker Amaka beneath me, while fucking my wife, or not much other than to watch a porn movie and fantasize slapping the actress as I was about to ejaculate in her face. Perhaps in the end it all just made even more sense instead of less.

On a following day, I decided not much could be lost by trying it out. At best our relation would even be further advanced, as it had before, at worst it could certainly not damage our sex. So I explained my wife that there had been a better model face on the market that would greatly improve the experience of Mayu, without explaining to her the real details. She laughed, mocked me for my nerdy interest in technological gadgets, but granted me my obsession in the end.

In the beginning, as to be expected, I felt awkward. Not because of the actual sensation, but I could not set myself over the mechanical estrangement. I quickly though, forgot the humanoid human gap and my imagination and sexual desires created an imagination that allowed a sensation to become addictive. While I escaped to make use of Mayu’s oral services only once a week in the beginning purely out of curiosity, I slowly was drawn into more frequent, more lewd affairs that took on a more perverted character. As the interaction between Mayu and me became more natural as it became more frequent, I perfected the satisfaction I got from these interactions. My imagination pushed the capacities of Mayu’s head to its potential. The thrill from these experiences opened up a new world of sexual liberty that I had been closed from before. The normally relentless presence of moral restrictions and considerations for the other real human person, were now only limited by the worries to not permanently damage the head of the humanoid.

As my moral fantasies found further realization with Mayu, I grew less and less intimate with my wife. I say this with shame, even though I have an erection thinking of fucking Mayu’s mouth now and I am still under her influence. I can’t say when I slept with my wife last, because I never consciously stopped desiring her. But the last time we fucked must have been weeks ago.

Les robots s’invitent dans la vie des Japonais (lefigaro.fr);
The Turing Test as it was formulated in Computing Machinery and Intelligence (1950) by Alan Turing;
Successful Development of a Robot with Appearance and Performance Similar to Humans, the HRP-4C by AIST of Japan;
The Uncanny Valley by Masahiro Mori;
The Uncanny Valley, by Dave Bryant;
The Uncanny by Sigmund Freud;
update 20090611
Opening Doors on the Way to a Personal Robot
ROS Robot Operating System

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