Set My Heart To Five by Simon Stephenson #BlogTour

Hi!
My name is Jared.
I am sincerely pleased to meet you.
Also, I am a bot!
Unless you have been living under a rock in North Korea or New Zealand – Ha! – you of course know what a bot is.
Nonetheless I am programmed to relay the following dialogue to each new human I encounter:
Please do not be fooled by my human-like appearance.
I am a mere bot!
I do not have feelings or anything else that might be misconstrued as a ‘soul’.
Instead, I have been programmed to a high level of proficiency in dentistry!
Should you have any concerns please immediately report me to the Bureau of Robotics.

Set My Heart To Five Extract

Hi!
My name is Jared.
I am sincerely pleased to meet you.
Also, I am a bot!
Unless you have been living under a rock in North Korea or New
Zealand – Ha! – you of course know what a bot is.
Nonetheless I am programmed to relay the following dialogue to
each new human I encounter:
Please do not be fooled by my human-like appearance.
I am a mere bot!
I do not have feelings or anything else that might be misconstrued as a
‘soul’.
Instead, I have been programmed to a high level of profi ciency in
dentistry!
Should you have any concerns please immediately report me to the
Bureau of Robotics.


But humans rarely fi nd this information calming.
Instead, they see a fellow human standing in front of them claiming
that he is not a human.
This bamboozles them!
It often bamboozles them so profoundly that they exclaim, ‘But you
look so human!’
I then patiently explain to them what they anyway already know:
that my body looks human because it is indeed a human body. It is
engineered from DNA and constructed of cells the exact same way
their own body is. It has the same basic needs – food, water, oxygen,
regular exercise – and it can be injured or killed in all the same comically
outlandish ways any other human body can.
Yet I am defi nitely not human!
Because the precious thing that sets humans apart is their feelings.
And as a bot I am specifi cally designed and programmed to be incapable
of feelings.
I can no more feel than a toaster!
Ha!
BTW that is a hilarious joke because the programming language I
run on was in fact fi rst developed many years ago for use in the
domestic toaster.
Here is something curious I have observed about humans: informing
them I am incapable of feeling often makes them feel sad. I suspect
they believe they are being empathetic, but in fact they are being
paradoxical. After all, feeling sad in response to someone telling you
they lack feelings is like running a marathon in response to somebody
telling you they lack legs.
Truly, if I lacked legs and somebody ran a marathon on my behalf I
would not consider them empathetic.
I would consider them confused!
Nonetheless, it makes them sad, and making humans sad goes
against my core programming. If ever I accidentally render a human
sad in this way, I therefore quickly employ self-deprecating humor
to amend the situation with reassuring levity.
So I tell the human they can think of me as a microwave oven with
feet!
A mobile telephone with arms!
A toaster with a heart!
BTW I mean a heart in the sense of a mechanical pump, not a bucket
of feelings.
Th e hearts of us bots are only ever mechanical pumps.
And they certainly do not contain anything as precious as a human
‘heart of hearts’!
Humans are only sad about our lack of feelings because they do not
comprehend all the incredible advantages this gives us. To start with
just one important example, a bot’s self-preservation instincts are
based not on a human-type delusion that we are irreplaceable, but
calculated on a rational cost-benefi t analysis. It is hardly a coincidence
that many bots have already made heroic and self-sacrifi cing
contributions in fi elds as varied as nuclear fi refi ghting, bomb disposal
and NFL football-playing!
My own vocation of dentistry is also ideal work for a bot.
But this is not because we are expendable.
After all, dentistry is rarely fatal.
At least, it is not fatal for the dentist!
Ha!
No, the primary reason bots make such excellent dentists is our
complete inability to feel empathy. An empathic dentist – by which
I mean a human dentist – could easily become distracted by inappropriate
fear, criticism, or even mere crying from a patient. A bot is
immune to all of these things and will get the job done every time.
Even when it comes to wisdom teeth removal!
Of course, the other reason why dentistry is ideal work for bots is
that no human wants to do it anymore. Humans prefer jobs that are
creative, social, clean, luxurious, and can be completed from a home
offi ce between breakfast and lunch. Th ey strongly dislike jobs which
involve an actual offi ce, weekend work, children, blood, screaming
and the mouths of strangers. Th erefore when the laws reserving jobs
for humans were being passed, nobody spoke up for dentistry.
Especially not the dentists!
Ha!

 

Simon Stephenson is a Scottish writer based in Los Angeles.  He previously worked as an NHS doctor, most recently in paediatrics in London.

His first book, LET NOT THE WAVES OF THE SEA (John Murrays, 2011), was a memoir about the loss of his brother in the Indian ocean tsunami. It was serialised as ‘Book of the Week’ on BBC Radio 4 and won ‘Best First Book’ at the Scottish Book Awards.

Simon moved to the US followed the success of his spec screenplay, FRISCO, a semi-autobiographical story about a depressed doctor who desperately needed a change.  The script was at the top of the Blacklist – an industry-voted list of Hollywood’s favourite unproduced scripts – and opened the door to a screenwriting career in the US.  In 2015, Simon was photographed alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge as one of Screen International’s ‘Stars of Tomorrow’.  His friends never tire of telling him that Screen International were at least half right.

As a screenwriter, Simon nonetheless continues to be much in demand on both sides of the Atlantic.  He spent two years writing at Pixar in San Francisco, and originated and wrote Amazon’s forthcoming feature film LOUIS WAIN (starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy). Julia Roberts attached to his screenplay TRAIN MAN, and the film rights to SET MY HEART TO FIVE were pre-emptively acquired by Working Title Films, Focus Features, and Nira Park’s Complete Fiction Pictures. Edgar Wright is set to direct the film from Simon’s screenplay.

One of Simon’s most memorable moments from his time in Hollywood was taking a meeting with an actor he admired most, and then having said actor kindly insist on driving Simon home in his distinctive vintage Porsche while telling him about his mind-blowing stories about his canonical body of work.  As a token of thanks, Simon then gave that car to the villain in Set My Heart To Five! 

www.simonstephenson.com | @thesimonbot | #SetMyHeartToFive


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