The Terminator was written to frighten us; WALL-E was written to make us cry. Robots can’t do the terrifying or heartbreaking things we see in movies, but still the question lingers: What if they could?

Granted, the technology we have today isn’t anywhere near sophisticated enough to do any of that. But people keep asking. At the heart of those discussions lies the question: can machines become conscious? Could they even develop—or be programmed to contain—a soul? At the very least, could an algorithm contain something resembling a soul?

The answers to these questions depend entirely on how you define these things.

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