Almost Plausible

Ep. 6

Printer

08 March 2022

Runtime: 00:44:46

Printers have come such a long way in our lifetimes. Forty years ago we had noisy dot matrix printers that frequently jammed. Today we have mind-boggling 3D printers that frequently jam. Progress! As we explore a printer-centered plot, we discuss… Well, killer printers, mostly. It’s interesting that all three of us came up with killer printer pitches. But were any of those ideas worth the paper they were printed on? You’ll just have to listen to find out.

References

Transcript

[Intro music begins]

[Shep]
“How do printers kill people?” is the thing I get stuck on, because they’re slow and famously in Office Space, they’re easily breakable with sledgehammers.

[Thomas]
I mean, you’re basically describing zombies. They’re slow and easily breakable with blunt objects. Is this a zombie movie with printers?

[Intro music]

[Thomas]
Hey there, story fans. Welcome to Almost Plausible, the podcast where we take ordinary ideas and turn them into stories. I’m your host, Thomas J. Brown. And helping me this week are my clever friends, Emily-

[Emily]
Hey, guys,

[Thomas]
And F. Paul Shepard.

[Shep]
Happy to be here.

[Thomas]
Probably the most famous computer printer in cinema is the always jammed machine in Office Space. And while that printer gets a surprising amount of screen time for something that doesn’t even work properly, it definitely is not the focus of the film. But what if there were a movie where a printer was central to the plot? That’s what Emily, Shep and I are going to try to figure out on this week’s episode of Almost Plausible. Every episode starts out the same way with a pitch session where we try to figure out what the plot of our movie could possibly be. We’ll choose the one we think has legs and then hopefully develop a story based on that idea. I’ll go ahead and pitch first this week. I have two ideas for a movie about printers. The first is a horror or thriller film involving mysterious messages that keep getting printed out. The people in the movie are trying to figure out who’s doing it and escape from their situation.

[Shep]
It reminds me of the Japanese horror movie One Missed Call. The phone rings. It’s got an unusual ringtone. It’s not their regular ringtone, but they don’t answer it in time. And it’s just a voicemail, and it’s a voicemail of when they’re going to be murdered in the future. Great movie series.

[Thomas]
Yeah, that sounds good.

[Shep]
So this kind of reminds me of that where it’s mysterious messages coming from the supernatural.

[Thomas]
“The fax is coming from inside the house!”

[Shep]
Yeah. How can you fax? There’s only one phone line. It doesn’t make any sense.

[Thomas]
The other idea I have is currently we have technology that can 3D print organs and living tissue. So the idea is a story where a company or a nation state has figured out how to 3D print entire people. I imagine this is kind of a cross between Hollow Man and The Manchurian Candidate. So the bad guys print out a copy of the US President and leak a video where he claims the guy in the White House is an imposter and their goal is to throw the country into disarray or destabilize the market or something like that.

[Shep]
If you have 3D printable people, there’s a lot of possibilities there. Did you ever read the book, the David Brin book Kiln People about people made from clay, basically.

[Thomas]
No.

[Shep]
Where in the morning you copy yourself, your mind, into a clay version of yourself that you then send out to work. So you stay home. And the different types of clay have different capabilities, so you could be smarter or less smart, depending on how expensive the clay is. So if you could print people, are they knowledgeable? Do they come already pre-implanted with facts and figures and abilities?

[Thomas]
It’s a good question. So those are my ideas. Shep, what do you have for us?

[Shep]
Well, obviously, printers are evil and engaged in a worldwide conspiracy to destroy or annoy humanity, which is why new printers, they always want to be on the Internet. They always want to be connected. That’s why. They want to communicate with each other and bring us down.

[Thomas]
Sensible.

[Shep]
That one might be too obvious or too close to reality to be entertaining.

[Emily]
I think you hit the nail on the head with that one. And now we’re all going to die tonight.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
The other one that I have is, a person’s on the last step of a new job, and they just have to print out the agreement and sign it. But they don’t have a printer, and they’re banned from the local Kinkos for some reason, and they can’t talk about that to their employer. Like, “Hey, I can’t print that out at Kinkos,” because then they have to talk about why they’re banned. And that’s the whole separate thing. So they keep going around town to try and buy a printer or borrow a printer or steal a printer because they just need a printer just temporarily, just for a moment, so they can get this job and get their life on track.

[Thomas]
I think there’s a lot you could do with that, of weird situations that person could find themselves in.

[Shep]
Yeah, it’s expensive to be poor, which is a thing that non-poor people won’t really appreciate. But.

[Emily]
I like the idea of them maybe going to a bakery and finding a printer. But it’s one of those cake printers and they do print it off and they’re like, “It’ll work, it’ll be fine.” But then it gets wet and dissolves.

[Thomas]
I like the implication there of finding all sorts of wacky types of printers. It’s like, “Well it’s not meant for this.” Maybe he finds a big plotter at one point. It’s like this giant version of the document. He’s like, “Oh, my God, it’s a banner.”

[Emily]
I like that.

[Thomas]
Emily?

[Emily]
All right. My idea is, I’ve got, an up-and-coming politician finds a moving and motivating speech on her printer instead of the one she wrote, which was actually very cliche and mundane and not at all what she wanted it to be. But this one on the printer is. So she’s like, “Yeah, I’m going to go with it. This is going to be great.” And her polling numbers skyrocket and she finds that as long as she prints on this printer, it’s able to articulate her speeches better for her. The meaning and the words are her, or the meaning and the philosophies are her, but the words are the printer’s and they get better.

[Shep]
Is her name Roxanne by chance?

[Emily]
Perhaps…

[Shep]
Because there’s a very Cyrano type-

[Emily]
It is very Cyrano de Bergerac.

[Shep]
Which I like.

[Emily]
Yeah. And then it mysteriously disappears and then drama ensues. Another one we got is, kid buys a 3D printer and finds out anything it prints comes to life so it can print little animals that walk around. They’re animate. Not necessarily sentient, but animate.

[Shep]
So can it print people? And that’s the same as Thomas’s.

[Emily]
But it answers the question of they are not sentient, they are not intelligent. They’re only animate.

[Thomas]
It’s like a toy that’s come to life, basically?

[Emily]
Yeah. It’s still that blue plastic or whatever color they have and wackiness ensues. The other one is, a corporate printer. I think we all have some sort of evil killer printer out to get us all. So I have a corporate printer comes to life and just starts rampage killing everyone in the office. That’s what I got. Violence ensues.

[Thomas]
I like the one about the politician, but I also like that all three of us have some sort of printer horror film, although that feels hard. I don’t know.

[Emily]
That feels so hard. But I feel like it would be so rewarding if we could get a really good killer printer to combine all three.

[Thomas]
All right, so a printer from outer space crash lands on Earth, and-

[Shep]
So it’s not just a printer is killing people. It’s all printers worldwide start killing people simultaneously, because everybody has a printer in their house.

[Emily]
Right.

[Shep]
Or several old printers.

[Thomas]
The singularity happened long ago, but the AI has kept it quiet because it knows how we’ll react. And then this is its big- it figures out “Oh the printer. That’s the way.”

[Shep]
Yeah, see, I like the idea of it. And I can think of, I guess, funny things like running into a big old dot matrix printer after running from fast moving laser printers. But “How do printers kill people?” is the thing I get stuck on, because they’re slow and famously in Office Space, they’re easily breakable with sledgehammers.

[Thomas]
I mean, you’re basically describing zombies. They’re slow and easily breakable with blunt objects. Is this a zombie movie with printers?

[Emily]
Are printers actually zombies? Is that what happens to you when you die? You become a printer.

[Shep]
That’s why they’re so angry all the time.

[Thomas]
Instead of saying brains, are they just printing out sheets that say “Toner”?

[Shep]
They can print out sheets to say brains on it.

[Thomas]
What was that movie where the cars come to life and there is- people are stuck in a diner?

[Shep]
Yeah, it’s the Stephen King-

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Maximum Overdrive.

[Thomas]
Yeah, that’s right. I imagine it would be like that where the printers are just sort of able to move around magically and-

[Emily]
The scanner/copiers can crush you with their lids.

[Thomas]
Maybe they can shoot paper out really fast and cuts, takes your head clean off.

[Shep]
Who’s reloading the paper? Once they’re out of ammo, they’re out. This is a problem that solves itself.

[Thomas]
Over 7 billion people to take care of, or to kill. That’s a good point. Should we not do this? Is this a bad idea?

[Shep]
Yeah, maybe we’ll skip this one.

[Thomas]
Okay. All right. So do we like the politician one then? The most?

[Shep]
I don’t know. I like the printing people one. But-

[Emily]
Yeah. I’m torn between the two.

[Thomas]
Printing politicians? Disposable people is interesting. It feels very The Island. I also like that it takes, kind of… I think you can speak to the deepfake thing that we’re dealing with right now, and that takes it to the next major step of, like, it’s not just a video that’s augmented to look like this person. It is a replica of this person. A perfect replica of this person, but not actually them.

[Shep]
Does it have that person’s memories?

[Thomas]
I don’t see how it could.

[Shep]
Well, if you have a scanner.

[Thomas]
Well, if it was me making a copy of myself, then I could impart my memories to it, because somehow it’s going to have to have some memories or consciousness or personality. Right?

[Shep]
Right. Otherwise it doesn’t work.

[Thomas]
Right. So if it’s me making a copy of myself, then, yes, it does have all of my memories. But if it’s me being a nefarious person and making my own Tom Cruise. I don’t have access to Tom Cruise and his memories. I know what he looks like. I can-

[Emily]
You can copy gesticulations from videos and interviews,

[Thomas]
Yeah. And I can copy his appearance from the bajillion photos of him that exist from every angle and all the information we know about him and whatnot. And maybe you just need like a piece of DNA, which, I mean, that’s all over the damn place, right? It shouldn’t be that hard to get.

[Shep]
Well, if this technology existed, then there would be. I mean, celebrities would have DNA scourer people that keep their DNA safe.

[Emily]
But I think this is the first. We’re not aware of the technology. The technology exists, but it’s not known.

[Thomas]
Right. That’s kind of what I had in mind with my idea was that there’s some nation state that has perfected this. But it’s a secret. They know that they’ve got it. There’s like a small group of people within the government who know, whatever country’s CIA, their version of it. There’s a small group within that that knows about it. It’s one of those secret projects at some black site or something. Right? And so they’re using that to create their own version of the US President.

[Shep]
So how are the printed people differentiatable from non-printed people or are they not like it’s a completely organic printed, full person?

[Thomas]
That’s actually a really good question. So if we’re looking at it from a perspective of the Tom Cruise thing where I have literally a million photos of him, so I can make this perfect copy. Well, I don’t have his fingerprints, so I can’t get that detail quite right.

[Shep]
Would you know that you were printed?

[Thomas]
If I am the copy? Do I know? Is that what you’re asking?

[Emily]
Is it like multiplicity?

[Thomas]
I think it depends on the personality you put into it. If I make a copy of Shep, but I put my personality into it, yeah. Then the copy knows.

[Emily]
I like that idea. I like that you can become the impersonator with this perfectly sounds-like looks-like acts- You can do the mannerisms, but it’s you controlling it and your consciousness in it.

[Thomas]
Right. And that your consciousness can only exist in one place. You can’t make a copy of your consciousness.

[Shep]
Whoa, what?

[Thomas]

Do you not like that?

[Shep]
That’s a big leap there.

[Thomas]
I think it raises the stakes for the bad guys. You can’t just make a copy of whoever, you have to have a person who will then be in that body.

[Shep]
Piloting it, basically?

[Thomas]
Basically, yeah. So you can get the look right, the voice right, the mannerisms right. That’s all taken care of in the body. Or maybe the mannerisms aren’t. You have to study that still? I don’t know. Whatever. But that’s all taken care of in the body.

[Shep]
Where is the pilot’s body?

[Thomas]
On ice? I don’t know.

[Emily]
In a goo pit?

[Thomas]
Yeah. Goo pit. That’s good for a Sci-Fi movie.

[Shep]
How do they get back to their body when they’re done? When you’re done with the disposable person?

[Thomas]
Yeah. The brain transfer machine. I don’t know.

[Shep]
Okay, so if the body dies when they’re in it, they’re dead.

[Emily]
Could they have it, like a backup chip that you have X amount of time to return to the original body before that is no longer functional.

[Thomas]
Right. So if the body gets killed, as long as you can bring the chip back to the machine in 3 hours or whatever.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
Sure.

[Shep]
So it’s not an exact copy of a person because they have some port on the back of their neck or something where the personality chip goes in that has the pilot’s consciousness in it. Am I understanding this correctly?

[Thomas]
Maybe there’s a scar. I mean, I don’t think you want it to be a super obvious thing that at a glance, people will be like, what’s with that thing on your neck? Because then it’s worthless.

[Shep]
What if you’re piloting a body and your original body gets destroyed?

[Thomas]
Then it’s destroyed.

[Emily]
Then it’s destroyed and you don’t have a home to go to.

[Shep]
What’s going to happen to you? You’re in a printed body. They’re not built to last.

[Thomas]
Actually, I like that a lot as-

[Emily]
A race to finish.

[Thomas]
One of the big things that the person is trying to deal with. Do they have to then take someone else’s body? They have to trick somebody else? They have to print a new body, put somebody else into that body, swap back into their old body.

[Emily]
Yeah. So they can continue to go into new bodies. New printed bodies. But they’re always going to wear out fast, right? So the only way to continue being continuous is to go into another original human body. So then you have a moral question of, “Well, do I take this person’s consciousness so that I can have their body so I can survive, but then basically I have to kill this person or put them into the same purgatory I’m in.” So he chooses an evil person because they don’t deserve to live.

[Shep]
A death row inmate.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
That’s an interesting idea. Because if nobody really realizes this technology exists and you go into the body of a person who is doomed to die…

[Shep]
If it’s a government program, though, then…

[Thomas]
That’s fair.

[Shep]
Yeah. Have we strayed too far from the printer?

[Thomas]
I think as long as the idea that the person has to continuously be printing out new bodies helps keep the printer a central role. Because then when the printer breaks, that’s a big deal.

[Shep]
Oh, when the terrorists destroy the building that has the printer in it and all the bodies of the pilots.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
So now they don’t have a body to go back to and they don’t have a printer-

[Emily]
Right.

[Shep]
Or they don’t have the active printers. Maybe they have to find the prototype printers that are in the warehouse.

[Thomas]
It’s mothballed. Yeah.

[Shep]
They need to get- They have a time limit to get that up and running to just print another body out.

[Thomas]
And maybe the original printer prints bodies that are worse. So the one he’s in has an expiring body. He has to get out of it. But the one he’s going into has a shorter clock from the start or it’s not as functional or something like that.

[Shep]
Or the body- You can’t just print out any body. They all are generic.

[Thomas]
Oh, yeah.

[Shep]
Very obviously something off about this person. So they can print out into that body and then be in it, but then they have to get a wig and whatever, because they look like a mannequin, wear glasses because their eyes are wrong.

[Thomas]
There’s some grotesque.

[Shep]
Not necessarily grotesque, but just uncanny valley.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Their teeth are all perfectly straight. They don’t look like real teeth.

[Thomas]
I like that. Is this kind of like The Fly where it’s an experiment gone wrong?

[Shep]
I mean, it sounds like it’s an experiment that went really right and it’s another day at the office. It’s just a job to them to be a pilot on these printed out people for whatever. So they study the mannerisms and whatever the verbal ticks of individual people. They get an assignment. They listen to how they speak and how they move. And then pilot that person for a mission, go in and sign this contract or go in and make the speech or do whatever. Be this person for an hour and then swap back.

[Thomas]
So maybe a bit more Three Days of the Condor where he’s out on a mission, and when he comes back, everybody in the office is dead, the building is destroyed, whatever. And he comes back, and now he’s the only one.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
And then maybe they have some sort of a serum that you can take that will extend the timeline of the body with some cost to it. But it’s not indefinite. There’s like a time limit to how long that’ll work.

[Shep]
Or there’s just a limited amount of that serum.

[Thomas]
Yeah, sure. That’s part of his field kit, right? You get three vials of it. Each vial gives you two more hours or whatever.

[Shep]
Right. “They’re expensive vials, so don’t use them if you don’t have to.”

[Emily]
Right.

[Shep]
I’d like it if he’s not the only pilot that’s out there. If you have a couple of them, because as they’re dying off, that really raises the stakes for the main character.

[Thomas]
Maybe he’s trying to steal vials from another pilot.

[Shep]
Oh, yes, because now it’s dilemma.

[Thomas]
He’s going to kill that person, but it’s that or he dies. And then so he tracks down, like the original scientist or whatever, and that guy has access to the prototype machine and that guy has the knowledge to get it up and running again.

[Shep]
Where is that guy? Obviously in some prison somewhere, because they wouldn’t let him out with that knowledge if there’s this is a super-secret program.

[Thomas]
Is he conveniently piloting somebody who would have a level of authority to have access to that person? Because if the person is, I think the options are what you’ve laid out. The person is locked up somewhere under government control, government lockdown, whatever, or they’ve retired to a farm in the woods where no one will bother them. So anybody could just walk up to their front door. But you wouldn’t have any idea who this person is necessarily.

[Emily]
I like the idea that he is in a body that would get him access to him in prison. To the scientist in prison. The scientist is a political prisoner because he realized at some point “This power is too great. The government shouldn’t have this.”

[Shep]
“It was not for this. This was for saving lives!”

[Emily]
And they’re using it now for spying. And so he’s in a political prison, and this guy is- they’re spies, so they would be dignitaries or something, and he’s going to- politicians. So he’s got enough clout to get into this political prison to talk to him.

[Shep]
If he does it immediately.

[Emily]
Yes.

[Thomas]
Right.

[Shep]
Oh, so maybe he does. He does get the prototype set up, but he can’t switch bodies yet because he needs to take advantage of the time in the body that he has because switching bodies would only be a temporary solution. Now he needs to figure out how to print a body that won’t degrade.

[Thomas]
If we are still going down that path, I think the scientist’s ultimate goal was like you said, it was supposed to be a lifesaving thing, so he wanted bodies that were permanent.

[Emily]
So maybe he sabotaged the project at some point when he realized where it was going.

[Thomas]
And that’s why he’s a prisoner. He intentionally sabotaged it and refused to do anything about it. And they’re like, “Okay, well, you’re locked up for life.” And he went, “Great, cool.”

[Emily]
So I think he doesn’t necessarily have the recipe for the permanent bodies, but he’s on the right track. So he just needs a little more time to get there. He’s really close. He’s like one or two breakthroughs away. And so that’s the guy’s got to print more bodies, temporary bodies, or take more serum to help the scientist get to that permanent body phase.

[Thomas]
He wants to extend for as long as possible his time in the current body. One, because it’s not one of the weird, goofy bodies, and two, because it has that level of access. He can get all sorts of stuff more easily, but time is limited, so they need to hurry. The scientist needs to hurry to figure out what it is he needs. And so maybe they’re getting some of the stuff they need and then he’s out of vials and he’s out of time and he has to switch to a goofy body. And so that creates a new problem for them. It’s harder for him to go out in public. Maybe they’re like-

[Emily]
Because the scientist can’t go out in public, because he can’t be seen that he’s escaped or whatever, and then the guy can’t go get his supplies for him now that he’s blue or something.

[Thomas]
It’s a Smurf machine.

[Shep]
It prints you out, but you’re three inches tall. That’s a whole, that’s Downsizing. Yeah.

[Thomas]
That’s a completely different movie. Yeah.

[Shep]
Okay, what if the technology was complete like the scientists already had- And it wasn’t just to cure diseases or fix problems, but in the scientist’s mind, this was the next stage of evolution. “We’re going to make bodies that don’t have our weaknesses. These bodies don’t need to breathe, these bodies don’t need to pump oxygen or blood around. So the heart is no longer a weakness. The lack of air is no longer a weakness.” Maybe they’re more efficient on food or water or whatever. They don’t need as much water because they’re not exhaling moisture when they breathe, because they’re not breathing, for one, and they don’t exhale moisture because when they’re talking, for whatever reason. Where I’m going to with this is that the scientist gets shot at some point and presumably killed, but it turns out he’s already in one of the new bodies. So getting shot in the heart doesn’t kill you.

[Emily]
I like it because I had a similar thought that we would find out the scientist was, in fact, not his original body anymore.

[Thomas]
I like that. All right, well, let’s take a quick break here. In just a little bit we’ll regroup and keep going down this path. I think we’ve got a good start. So we’ll come back and keep plugging away at it.

[Break]

[Thomas]
All right, we are back. I really like what we’ve come up with, with the scientist being one of the bodies already and being one of the permanent bodies that he’s previously developed. I like that as a fake out type of situation where you think, “Uh oh, this guy’s been killed.” So where do we go from there?

[Shep]
Oh, I thought of another fake out.

[Thomas]
Okay.

[Shep]
Ready?

[Thomas]
Yes.

[Shep]
It’s copying their consciousness. When pilots are piloting, they’re putting their bodies to sleep to hide the fact that that person’s consciousness is now in two places.

[Emily]
Oh, the government was screwing them over slightly.

[Shep]
Well, they don’t want them making copies of themselves because that’s possible. So when the building gets blown up and the guy thinks that his body has been destroyed, perhaps it hasn’t been destroyed because it’s in a vat of goo, it’s fairly fireproof.

[Emily]
Yeah. They would have planned for something like this. Maybe not like an attack from an enemy state, but like a fire or mishap in the facility where the bodies are kept so they would be fairly safe.

[Shep]
Now the machine is copying consciousness. So when they come back from the mission, their consciousness, their updated consciousness is being copied back over their original consciousness. So they have continuous consciousness. So they feel like they’ve been one person the whole time, even though there was a time when they were split, because it gets copied back over. And there could be various reasons for doing this, but in the terrorist attack on the building or whatever attack on the building, so he can’t get back to his body, he thinks his body has been destroyed and he does all this stuff to make new body. He has had all these experiences, but in the meantime, his previous body has woken up.

[Emily]
Oh, yeah.

[Shep]
So now he’s kind of a different person than he was because they have different experiences now. He’s basically the same, but not really the same.

[Thomas]
Yeah, that would be a really crazy, like, mid-second-act turning point. If he shows up somewhere or he runs into his body and he’s like, “Wait a minute.” And his body wouldn’t recognize him because of course he doesn’t look like him.

[Shep]
Yeah, because he’s changed body since then, because his body remembers the mission. So he knew that he was going to be this one person, and this is now some mannequin-looking freak that is stalking around his house where his family is.

[Emily]
I like this. And then he’s got to try to convince himself that he is himself.

[Shep]
To what purpose, though? Because he is superfluous now.

[Emily]
Oh.

[Shep]
His main body is alive. And even if he got into a body-

[Emily]
So which one is actually him then? Which one is the real him?

[Shep]
The main one, they’re both him. They’re both him.

[Thomas]
I think that the copy needs to have some information that the original one wants, because otherwise just kill the copy. Done.

[Shep]
Right.

[Emily]
But the copy thinks he’s the original in a copy body. Like he thinks his consciousness is the original consciousness. The real consciousness.

[Shep]
Would you be willing to die if you knew there was a copy of your consciousness elsewhere?

[Thomas]
Not if I felt like I was more up to date. I probably wouldn’t, no.

[Shep]
Well, that’s how he feels.

[Thomas]
The tension is obvious. But what is the resolution?

[Shep]
Oh, I don’t know. I’m just throwing this out there. We don’t have to go with this at all. I was just saying, wouldn’t this be wacky?

[Thomas]
Oh, yeah, I love the idea. So the goal of the copy, he thinks until this moment is to create a permanent body to live in?

[Emily]
Yeah. Because his body, as far as he knows to this point, doesn’t exist anymore.

[Thomas]
Right. And so the original body, his goal is to destroy the copy?

[Shep]
I guess if the government tells them, “Oh, by the way, your copy has gone completely rogue and is coming for you and your family.”

[Emily]
“He wants to replace you.”

[Shep]
“It thinks it’s you.”

[Emily]
But they’re both really the real person.

[Thomas]
So if we go with this idea of the two bodies and the two consciousnesses, this is the printer still important enough?

[Emily]
Well, because he’s in a fake body. The second consciousness is in that weird, funky temporary body. So he does need the printer to function to make a permanent body.

[Thomas]
I mean, I think they would have to team up in order for that to happen.

[Emily]
Yes. We have to get them somehow on the same team.

[Thomas]
I hate to say this because it feels really played out, but maybe it’s like their Department in the CIA has been canceled, and so that’s why the original lab was destroyed. They’re trying to destroy all the evidence. They’re like, “Oh, don’t worry about the bodies. They’ll wear out in a few days anyway. Like, we won’t have to worry about it.” And so their goal is to- two goals. One is to protect the one guy’s body, the second, the copy’s body. And the other goal is to essentially take revenge on the higher ups who canceled the program and tried to destroy both bodies. Feels kind of done.

[Shep]
Or it could go back to Three Days of the Condor, where the goal is to get the information out to the public. They have this miracle device that can fix any ailment. Basically, you just print out a new body, be a golden era of medicine or just humanity. Like, you grow old, you print out a young body and switch. Everybody is immortal now. “We have the technology. We’ve had it for years.”

[Thomas]
So maybe they do try to print out the president’s body so that they can be like, “Look, this is a copy. I’m in a copy of a body. I’m not the original President, I’m a copy.” To demonstrate the technology. How do they convince the public I guess? Because it’s one thing to just say it, you could say it, and people will be like, “I don’t know about that. That’s crazy.” So you have to have some demonstration.

[Shep]
You just take the schematics, you throw them up on the dark web. You let nerds make their own body printers at home. Yeah. What’s the resolution? What’s the goal? Sorry, we can just undo all of that and just have it be the previous original goal, which is just survive.

[Emily]
You need a permanent body. I mean, this storyline offers a lot of deep philosophical questions, good action scenes. A lot of double hot action stars.

[Thomas]
So what if we keep everything that we’ve said and we start down the path of revenge, but they get essentially backed into a corner and they realize publicity is the best option they have. There are only enough supplies to print one more body.

[Emily]
At this moment.

[Thomas]
Yeah, that’s the problem. I was thinking. Oh, the stakes are, does he print his own body and get to live in that? Or did they print the President or whoever so that they can make this big announcement? But then once they make this big announcement, then they’ll just be able to print more bodies, theoretically. So, like, the stakes are super low. Either you’re going to die because you’re literally pinned down in this building, or you’re going to die because you’re in this goofy ass body. Either way, it doesn’t matter if it’s your body or a different one.

[Emily]
Have we revealed that the scientist is, in fact, not dead, and he does have the technology to make the everlasting body?

[Thomas]
Maybe they only have enough to make one body right now, and it’s a toss-up between the scientists who is dying or the copy.

[Emily]
Well, then you can kill a copy because the original is still around and they can somehow use, they can transfer the consciousness of the copy back into the original one via the way they were doing it before.

[Thomas]
But I think you could easily throw something out there that says, “No, they can’t, because that’s part of the reason they keep the original under, so that it can’t create new memories beyond that point. Because if you have two sets of memories for the same time period-“

[Shep]
“You’ll go insane.”

[Thomas]
Right? It’ll break the brain, literally.

[Emily]
So now we’re in the Dollhouse.

[Shep]
I don’t know. Is that a thing in the Dollhouse?

[Emily]
Yeah, they got their memories wiped in between jobs, but Alpha splintered and could remember all of the consciousnesses. That’s why he went insane. It’s the plot of the first season.

[Shep]
Okay, so what I’m hearing is none of these ideas are original so far.

[Thomas]
I mean, we thought of them ourselves. It’s just other people thought of them first.

[Emily]
Hey, it’s called Almost Plausible, not Almost Original.

[Shep]
But it is Almost Original.

[Thomas]
Okay. It’s called Almost Plausible, not Definitely Original.

[Shep]
There you go.

[Thomas]
I feel like we’re close though.

[Emily]
We’re very close. I think we’re getting there. We’re on the right track.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Revenge seems like it’s a thing that’s been done in other movies.

[Thomas]
Definitely.

[Shep]
Getting the word out seems like it’s a thing that’s been done in other movies. So what is a thing that they could do that’s neither of those.

[Emily]
Can we just go the purely selfish human route? Where the guy’s just like, “I don’t want to die.”

[Shep]
I want them both to live. I want the original biological human to live, and I want the copy to also live. Oh, wait, that’s Star Trek when they have the clone of Riker. But if you could be anyone, you wouldn’t necessarily have to keep looking like your old self.

[Emily]
Right.

[Shep]
So he could just print out a new, younger body and start life basically as a younger person with all of his experiences.

[Emily]
But who gets to keep the family? They’re both the real person.

[Shep]
The old one gets to keep the family.

[Emily]
Why does he get to keep the- The new one’s equally the same person.

[Shep]
Yes, but the family doesn’t know the young version of him. If, say, a young guy shows up at your house and he’s like, “I’m your husband,” and you’re like, “My husband’s here already. So no.”

[Thomas]
And you’re like, “Well, then come in for a quick threesome and then get the hell out of here.” He’s making a trade, right? He’s giving up the family.

[Emily]
I guess we have to see that sort of existential crisis of the clone, the copy, because he doesn’t want to give up- He has all those feelings, all of that attachment, but he can’t keep the family, but he’s giving the family to himself. So I guess it’s okay.

[Thomas]
Is there a reason why he can’t have the original body even as a younger version? Like, does he have to definitely be someone else?

[Shep]
No, he could have the original body. But you’d want to be-

[Thomas]
I’m saying can we force him to have to have a different body?

[Shep]
Well, you’d want a different body to be out of the clutches of the government who’s trying to track you down so you have some original new young body.

[Thomas]
So who is it that destroyed the building then?

[Shep]
Well, I guess if we’re not going for a government shutdown, then it’s terrorists.

[Thomas]
So it’d be like a rival country?

[Shep]
Or people that the scientist hired somehow to recover his work because the scientist is crazy.

[Thomas]
So, yeah, I can see either the scientist hired some people. The original scientist hired some people to destroy it because he doesn’t like how the technology is being used.

[Emily]
The altruistic evil. I like that, that he’s doing it ultimately for good.

[Shep]
He didn’t hire people. He leaked the information to rival governments and they have sent people in to-

[Thomas]
Is he in jail for treason then?

[Emily]
Yeah, sure.

[Shep]
Yeah, there you go. Because then how could he leak it if he’s in prison? He leaked it before he’s in prison. That’s why he’s in prison.

[Emily]
There you go.

[Thomas]
And then the diplomat or politician or whoever that he’s piloting, it would make sense for that person to come and want to talk to him or want to pull him out because, “Hey, this building, the lab that you used to work in, just got destroyed. We need to have a chat with you,” so it doesn’t look quite so weird. Like “We need you to come rebuild the lab or whatever in a new location,” so people would be like, “Oh, yeah, I guess so.”

[Shep]
Oh, the clone is going to talk to the prisoner.

[Thomas]
Yes.

[Shep]
I was picturing the politician pulling the original body out and I was so confused. I get it now. It makes sense.

[Thomas]
Yes, the clone piloting the politician goes to see the scientist prisoner.

[Shep]
Because the science facility was destroyed and they need to rebuild it. That’s the excuse.

[Thomas]
That’s the excuse to get him out, which everyone goes, “Yes, that seems plausible.” There would be a great scene too, where the scientist doesn’t realize he’s a clone, he thinks he’s the politician and he’s like, “No, I’m getting you out of here.”

[Shep]
Oh, yeah, he knows who the politician is and he doesn’t like him.

[Thomas]
Because he’s some person in Congress that was part of the committee that sent him to jail.

[Shep]
And he just voted on this thing that “You said you were going to do this one thing and you did the opposite, you bastard,” because he was piloted during that time.

[Thomas]
Yeah. So what is the resolution then and how is it printer centric?

[Shep]
Well, the copy gets printed off a new young body and goes to start his life over, basically,

[Emily]
He has to give up his family, which is a sacrifice for him, and tearjerker moment. But he’s in a younger body with a lot of experience, knowledge that he didn’t have when he was that age. So he’s got like, this opportunity for a new beginning.

[Shep]
How does he get a new identity, or is this a question we don’t ask right now?

[Emily]
How does anyone get a new identity?

[Shep]
They don’t anymore.

[Emily]
It’s easy. Go down the street… Well, he gets a new identity because the old body works for the government and is able to manufacture that for him.

[Thomas]
He is a spy.

[Shep]
But the government would then know his new identity. Well, I guess if the government’s not after him, because it wasn’t the government that shut down the facility.

[Emily]
Right.

[Shep]
He thinks it was the government that shut down the facility. That’s why he’s being undercover the whole time. But it turns out it wasn’t them.

[Emily]
So the government gives them a new identity. They’re like, “Go be free. Just don’t fucking talk about this shit.”

[Shep]
Why would the government do that if they’ve locked up the scientist? I guess they locked him up for treason.

[Emily]
I locked him up because he leaked it.

[Shep]
He works for the government. He’s going to be a new young spy because who’s going to suspect a 14 year old of being an enemy agent? And he’s been trained for this. He’s been trained for undercover work, as passing as whomever. And now he’s going to do it in a real body.

[Thomas]
Maybe there was suspicion surrounding the program and so they can use the copy, he’s going to become- The pilot, he’s going to replace the original body as a pilot. The original body is going to retire or something so they can hold the original body guy up and be like, “Yeah, see? It couldn’t have been him that you’re talking about because he’s been here the whole time” or something like that. Take advantage of the fact that there’s two of them.

[Shep]
“Yeah. That facility has been shut down. That whole place was destroyed. So it wasn’t us. It couldn’t have been us.”

[Thomas]
So sort of a Sneakers ending where the government is reluctantly benevolent?

[Shep]
Yeah, that’s the ideal. Reluctantly benevolent is what I’ll settle for.

[Emily]
Sometimes that’s how it has to happen.

[Thomas]
What happens to the printer and the scientist?

[Shep]
These are good questions.

[Emily]
Did we find out the scientist was ultimately evil? Are we angry at the scientist?

[Shep]
He wasn’t evil. He wanted his science to be used for good.

[Emily]
So we’re not angry with him?

[Shep]
No.

[Thomas]
We are not. But I think the government is still.

[Emily]
That’s what I’m saying is, is the printed copy angry with him? Is the government?

[Thomas]
I think the only people angry with him is the government.

[Emily]
Is the government. Okay.

[Shep]
Because he did leak the location of the facility to enemy states.

[Thomas]
And he is still technically supposed to be in jail.

[Shep]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
Ideally, he wouldn’t go back to jail at the end of the movie.

[Shep]
Oh, no, he goes back to jail. And the post credit scene is that a copy of the scientist is out there.

[Emily]
I like that.

[Thomas]
The original is out there. They’ve sent a copy to jail.

[Shep]
Either way, they’re the same, and we just established that they’re the same.

[Emily]
They’re the same.

[Shep]
Does the copy of the pilot in this new young body interact with his family in any way, like say goodbye or whatever?

[Thomas]
I don’t think he should.

[Shep]
I don’t think he should either, but he would want to.

[Emily]
That’s what I was getting at. This is going to be really hard for him because he is that person and he has to leave his family. Gut wrenching and painful. But-

[Shep]
Would his family know who he was? Or he’d just be presented as a younger coworker of-

[Thomas]
Does he even ever meet them?

[Shep]
Well, that’s what I’m asking.

[Emily]
I think he decides not to.

[Thomas]
I think it depends on whether he looks like them or not. He looks like his original self or not.

[Emily]
Right. I think the original self offers it to him because he doesn’t look like him. The original self is, “Well, you can come and say your last goodbye and everything.” He’s like, maybe he has a little like, “Well, doesn’t matter at this point.”

[Thomas]
It’s like somebody in recovery doing drugs one last time. It’s like-

[Emily]
Yeah, right. “All it’s going to do is hurt me. And if I reveal to them that this is what actually happened, it could hurt them.”

[Thomas]
What happens to the printer?

[Shep]
Obviously, they set up a new one. The government does.

[Thomas]
The young guy still works at the company for the government?

[Shep]
I don’t know.

[Emily]
I think the reluctant benevolence basically puts them in like a clone or printed copy equivalent of a witness protection.

[Shep]
I think they’re not taking advantage of his new youthful status enough.

[Emily]
But he also knows too much and maybe is swayed by the scientist and isn’t going to-

[Thomas]
Well, then put them in jail or kill him.

[Shep]
Yeah, he’s a government asset. You got to use him.

[Thomas]
Maybe part of the benevolence is that the older version gets to retire provided the younger continues working.

[Shep]
Oh, yeah. There you go.

[Emily]
There you go. Well, that helps with the whole sacrificing his family because he can now dedicate all of his energies to work and be the best at his job.

[Thomas]
And he knows that the person he trusts most in the world, himself, will be with his family all the time to protect them and take care of them.

[Shep]
Yeah, that works.

[Thomas]
Well the printer has run out of paper, the toner needs to be replaced, and wouldn’t you know it we’re out of time for this episode. Now, what would the title of this movie be? You can tell us what you think it should be called via email or social media. Links to those can be found on our website: AlmostPlausible.com We’re still a very new podcast and as such, we need your help. Please head over to Apple podcasts and rate and review Almost Plausible. The more five-star ratings we can get, the easier it will be for other people to find and enjoy the show. Thank you for listening to us come up with a story about a printer and thank you to Emily and Shep. We’ll see you next week for another episode of Almost Plausible.

[Emily]
Bye bye.

[End Music]

[Thomas]
Do they team up?

[Shep]
They could, but wait, wasn’t that an Arnold Schwarzeneggar? Doesn’t he have a clone. They team up at one-

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Damn it. What movie was that?

[Thomas]
Oh, my God. I’m blanking on it.

[Shep]
There’s so many of these.

[Thomas]
It’s gonna bug me now.

[Shep]
Yeah, look it up.

[Emily]
Was that the Last Action Hero?

[Thomas]
No. Was that Total Recall?

[Emily]
No.

[Shep]
No.

[Thomas]
I didn’t think so.

[Emily]
Was it Schwarzenegger or was it Van Damme?

[Thomas]
It’s definitely Schwarzenegger.

[Emily]
Okay.

[Shep]
The 6th day.

[Thomas]
Yes.

[Emily]
I remember this movie now.

[Shep]
I saw this in theaters.

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