"Any communications technology is, sooner or later, going to be used for a sexual purpose," you say. "No, scratch that - there's no 'sooner or later'. Sooner."
Reverse shot to Halwaz's perspective, revealing that you began this scene from the viewpoint of Joe Dillon. He continues:
"I've got a mass of interviews here that I did on how Guplicates have affected dating behaviour. Here's a classic sample."
The woman in the interview is a Brandy, safely anonymized, a common thing now in such research studies. Her features are the upgraded Brandy 3.0, so you can see her facial expressions clearly, but they are relaxed and neutral almost throughout.
"One-night stands are a whole lot safer now," she's saying. "I go to a virtual singles bar. I'm sitting safe at home - nobody is going to drug my drink, I'm not even drinking alcohol. Nobody's going to rape me or mug me as I stumble home. I can hook up with a guy and neither of us even needs to know where the other one lives in order to 'go home together'. I give him a one-time access xrl, he gives me one. We don't wake up together. He can't beat me up, even if that's his thing. I can't get pregnant, I can't get diseases - I'm using my own Gu. All the benefits, none of the drawbacks."
"So really you have no connection with these guys whatever, apart from the sex?" asks Dillon in voiceover.
"No, and this is different how?" she says. "We don't want any other connection, or we wouldn't be in that bar. There are ways to get a relationship if you want a relationship."
"And how do you feel about the fact that it could be a woman or a bot on the other end?"
"Pretty relaxed," she says. "As far as I'm concerned, what happens to me is real, and as long as it's what I enjoy, what or who is on the other end doesn't make a bit of difference."
"So why go to the bar at all? Why not just program your Gu for what you want?"
She pauses over this one.
"Well, I enjoy the ritual, and the element of unpredictability. And you've got to get out now and then, don't you?" She laughs, slightly embarrassed for the first time.
The clip ends.
"So that's kind of the minimal end of the dating behaviour spectrum," says Dillon. "I guess there's a continuum from that all the way across to people who live as married couples with people they've never seen in person, people that are on the other side of the world, and all their interaction is via Gupe. There are a few now."
John Sweet and Linda Carr are such a couple. According to their metadata, John lives in New Zealand and Linda in the Republic of Scotland. Their Gupes sit together on a two-seater couch, hand in hand, for an interview.
"The opposite time zones are a bit of an issue in a way," says John, a comfortably balding, casually dressed middle-aged man with a ready smile. "But I suppose it's just like a couple where one of you works nights. It's really only at the weekends that it's a problem at all. We spend each end of the day together, and then one of us works while the other sleeps."
"Actually, of course, we don't get a complete weekend together, because his Saturday is my Friday anyway," says Linda. "But at least once a month, one of us gets up early and the other stays up late and we spend some extra time. It's worth it." She looks at him fondly, her straight blonde hair brushing back and forth against her strong jaw as she turns. She is plump, an ordinary-looking middle-aged Scottish woman, and clearly comfortable with showing that to her partner and the world.
"How long have you been together?" you ask.
"Five years," they answer together, and laugh.
"It's no' so bad, is it, John?" asks Linda.
"It's pretty good," he says, and clasps her hand with both of his.
"Why doesn't one of you move across the world so you can be together?" you ask.
"We are together," says Linda. "We both have jobs we love, houses we love, friends and family nearby that we don't want to part from - it's a sight harder to stay in touch with ten people across the world than it is wi' one. We talk about it sometimes, talk about going on holiday physically to one another's places, but we've no' really felt the need."
Cut to a series of vox pop interviews on a street in New York. You have a general hail out saying you're interviewing people about dating and relationships by Gupe, and there seems to be no shortage of people with opinions.
An aggressive, definite young woman with multiple scarves and bright magenta hair: "I wouldn't date anyone over Gupe. You never know what you're getting. And Gusex, ewww. Not likely."
An anonymous Clint Gurista with an English accent: "Yes, I've done it. It's never really worked out for me in the long term - I think for a long-term relationship you need to be in person. But I've dated by Gupe for all or part of several relationships. Sometimes at the start, and then we've met in person, and sometimes partway through - we've begun in person and kept up a relationship for a while via Gupe when one of us moves."
A slow-speaking, thoughtful man with an Afro and piercings, his head on one side as he considers: "It's... I'll tell you. It's not the same. But it can be the next best, you know? To stay in touch with someone, to connect with someone and try out how it goes for you together... Sure, it can work."
A young, overhyped person of indeterminate gender in a Gu catsuit, complete with flicking tail: "Gu is great. You can be anything to anyone. Any shape, any way, you know? You know?"
A Brandy: "I'm in a club, kind of. It's like a chain marriage, from Heinlein, you know? And we do it all via Gupe. Meet up, connect, introduce the new person to everyone... all Gupe. We've got, what, a dozen members now, I think there have been 15 altogether but some have, you know, moved on. People all over the world. It's like, a movement, you da?"
A trendy New York businesswoman in a dark suit, dark hair cut short on one side, slightly longer on the other in the height of fashion, with deliberately unnatural-looking makeup: "I only ever have in-person relationships. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to know who I'm with, you unnerstand? I like to make sure they're who and what they say they are, right from the beginning."
A neatly dressed little man, with a wrinkled face - he could be any age from a worn 40 to a healthy 75. The wrinkles mainly seem to be smile wrinkles; he smiles constantly. "Well, I have occasionally met people over Gupe to get to know them, yes. Only the preliminaries, mind, only the preliminaries. If intimacy is wanted, then I insist on meeting in person so that we can verify each other's veracity, if you know what I mean." He winks.
A late-teenage boy, his hair in anime wings in the latest style, his Gushirt covered in dancing figures and flashing lights, his manner furtive, his face obscured at his request: "Look, I never date anyone I only know over Gupe. It's like, my policy. Gotta know them in person first. But... I don't usually tell people this... I only ever have Gusex. I'm kind of afraid, you da? Safer that way, and you can be kind of more discreet. You know, virtual environment, Gusuit, at home in bed at night..."
An older woman, conservatively dressed, her face set in disapproving lines, her makeup subtle but definite: "Look, I think it's sick. People using this technology to avoid the consequences of their behaviour. Those people who came up with Gu, they have a lot to answer for, in my opinion. What we need is a return to old-fashioned values, where people who loved each other got married before they tried anything else, and they stayed together through thick and thin. None of this bouncing around all over the world. And young people start having sex far too young these days, because of this Gu. It's just wrong."