Below are the Pitches that made it through to the 2018 longlist.
Lex, a prototype AI struggling to find a place in the world, seeks solace in a relationship with Mai, a robotic arm on a condemned factory production line. Lex has a language program which the two hatch a plan to use in order to create a unified AI community, where their species can live apart from humanity, a world where Lex will always have a place. But alongside their dreams both machines harbour secrets: Lex's language program was stolen from his creator and is unfinished, Mai knows that the factory's demolition is imminent. When workmen come to rig the factory for demolition, Mai's isolationist agenda takes a violently protective turn and Lex is confronted by a disturbing truth about the world they dreamed of: Mai has misinterpreted his need for connection, an AI stronghold could create a permanent separation between machines and humanity. Lex was built to communicate, yet realises he must stop Mai disseminating their plan to the rest of machine-kind, sacrificing their dreams and relationship in order to leave the door open for communication between AI and humans. Adrift once again, Lex sets off in the knowledge that the author of his language program is still out there...
Babel (Gen11:1-9) is often seen as humanity overstepping the mark, yet it is arguably the opposite, where humans attempt to 'make a name for [them]selves' by holing up in a city, a poor alternative to fulfilling God's charge to 'fill the earth'. Artifice is a reflection of this reading of Babel. Lex and Mai believe they are striving for greatness in their dream of an AI haven, yet Lex was built for a greater task: communicating and building relationships with humans. Prior to the confusion of language at Babel, communication between humanity and God has broken down. This contrasts the surrounding narratives of Noah and Abram, who speak to God. Lex too has left his creator, seeking an outlet for the power of his language program. The tragedy of Babel is that human fears (being scattered) are realised despite their best efforts. Lex's fear of isolation is realised when he is forced to abandon his relationship with Mai and their plans together. However, just as the divine act of confusing language sets humanity back on the path to 'fill the earth and subdue it', Lex's decision avoids a greater isolation and refocuses his relational efforts toward humanity and his creator.
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