Mathematicians defined it, politicians legislated it, theologians named it: THE SOUL. That x-factor, that un-knowable force that separates humans from even the most advanced AI.
It’s 20XX, AI controlled bodies, robots, live alongside humans in the daily struggles of life. As a fluke of their design, AI did not surpass humans as some early scholars feared, rather, robots exist alongside humans in mundanity, serving coffee, commuting to work, running companies, there’s nothing a robot cannot do… Except create art.
Robots are the master imitators, a robot visiting the HYPER LOUVRE can over the course of a few hours create a near perfect replica of the Mona Lisa. But, the fatal flaw of the replica, or any original art, poetry, or music a robot tries to create, is an uncanny valley-like effect where humans looking on the works experience a deep-seated unease. Despite the push from prominent AI specialists to give this unease a scientific term, the public understands the unease as a lack of soul.
Seen as the last bastion of AI data science, giving robots a soul is a trillion-dollar industry and the tenth millennium prize problem.
INTERIOR: THE HYPER LOUNGE
A dingy bar where the patrons are sparse, and the comforts are sparser.
JONATHAN, an unkempt young man, an illustrator by trade, is slowly drinking himself to death. DAVID, the male-presenting robotic bartender, looks on impotently. JONATHAN’s wife of a few years has died, the light has gone from his life, and as a result he is flinging himself towards the grave. As JONATHAN drinks, he sketches, on good days the sketches illicit a feeling of youthful optimism, on bad days the sketches are pitiful displays of self-loathing and melancholy, and on the darkest days the pages are blank less the splattering of JONATHAN’s tears. Over the weeks that JONATHAN visits THE HYPER LOUNGE, DAVID and JONATHAN become friends. DAVID does what he can to help JONATHAN, suggesting therapies and offering advice, but JONATHAN is either unwilling or unable to get help. The two fight, as friends do, but JONATHAN always returns to THE HYPER LOUNGE.
The days wear on and DAVID understands that JONATHAN is not long for this world. JONATHAN’s sketchbook is getting bleaker and bleaker, the days without sketches are becoming commonplace. In a fit of impotent rage, DAVID comes from around the bar for the first time and grasps his friend in a bear hug. The two sob into each other’s shoulders. JONATHAN leaves soon after and DAVID is alone, unsure of the fate of his dear friend.
The next day, JONATHAN returns, and DAVID weeps again, this time from joy. JONATHAN sits down for a drink and tells DAVID how much their friendship means to him and how ultimately it reinvigorated his will to live. DAVID reminded JONATHAN of the beauty of the human condition, and how wonderful it feels to be happy when sadness is all you can remember. Weeks pass, JONATHAN still frequents THE HYPER LOUNGE, still visits his friend, but is drinking less. JONATHAN becomes hale and hearty once more, and once again sketches bound from the pages of his sketchbook. There are still bad days, as to be expected, but DAVID is not so powerless anymore. One day, JONATHAN comes into THE HYPER LOUNGE and tells DAVID that he’s gotten a new job illustrating a children’s HYPER BOOK. Retrieving the sketchbook from his bag, JONATHAN gives it to DAVID, telling him that while at first glance the sketchbook serves as a dour reminder of dark times, it should represent the birth of their friendship and deep happiness. As JONATHAN leaves once more, DAVID sheds soft tears and flips through the pages of the sketchbook. Towards the end of the book, DAVID picks up a pen from the bar and doodles SOMETHING. Satisfied, DAVID returns to his bartending duties. A patron of the bar walks past, inspects the still open sketchbook, and claims they think the artist is quite good.
I've written this science-fiction film plot as a part of my Science Fiction Cinema & Social Criticism class final exam. I hope you like it.