The author, Lawrence Biemiller, also notes two benefits to doppelbotting that I didn’t address. First, about the American travel experience:
[H]e didn’t have to pack so much as a toothbrush, much less subject himself to airport security or airline surcharges…
This is important for travelers in the US, as our flying tends to be awkward if not heinous. Air travel’s glamour belongs to the far-off mid-20th-century, and its efficiencies do not often pan out. (I may write about my recent and comparatively utopian Amtrak experience)
Second, on the cost factor:
Has your budget for attending conferences been slashed again? Here’s an idea: Send a remote-controlled robot instead.
This makes all kinds of sense, especially as the technology improves, as using the Web or mobile app interface costs nothing, beyond already purchased hardware and bandwidth. Now, the doppelbots are quite expensive, so perhaps we’ll see conference venues or organizers providing one or several as a service.
Alastair Reynolds writes about something like this in his recent sf novel Blue Remembered Earth (2012). In the future many homes and public facilities provide “claybots”, doppelbots for people to dial into. Now, it’s the future, so these devices are fully featured androids. But a) it’s the future, and b) perhaps we’re headed that way.