Progress Bar

By Peter McCoubrey | Sci-Fi
A woman navigates a virtual customer service call with her own digital assistant.

A woman discovers she’s still being charged for a dating service and tries to cancel it with the help of a digital assistant named Lexi. But Lexi takes things in unexpected directions, learning something about human relationships along the way.

Director Peter McCoubrey’s short sci-fi comedy is an interesting thought experiment, portraying what an ordinary life might look like as digital assistants and artificial intelligence begins to suffuse our daily lives.

The visuals possess the dark gleam of many films of the genre, but it also has a dry wit, whether it’s in the stylized framing, funny reaction shots or the way the clever editing juxtaposes the sheen of virtual realities with the griminess of physical reality.

Another notable characteristic of the film is the unusual texture of the dialogue. The film’s story and structure were created by humans but Lexi’s dialogue was writing by RivetAI, an artificial intelligence program. Clever performances bring this dialogue to life, with fascinating results, especially when placed in the traditional story structure created by humans.

As a result, the film is not only about life and encounters mediated by advancing technology, but its very existence is a comment on how far A.I. programs have come, and how much distance they will travel to resemble humans.

But there’s also the other question to consider: maybe A.I. will force humans to change and evolve in ways they haven’t yet considered, or develop new relationships with unusual dynamics. Will A.I. force us to find new stories to tell or give us new ways to make meaning? “Progress Bar” is short but sharp experiment in this new intersection of technology and storytelling.




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