Black Mirror

Black Mirror

Two weeks ago my roommate told me to watch a show called Black Mirror. Black Mirror is an anthology series about the unanticipated consequences of new technology that is developed sometime in the future. Every episode includes a different cast, a different setting, and a different reality. I have watched three episodes now, and they have been terrifying. Each episode in the series looks at the way we use technology now and the direction that we may be headed in if we are not careful. Some of the episodes are about technology that may be developed far in the future, and others are about things that could Charlie_Brooker_s_Black_Mirror_series_two___plot_details_and_casting_revealed.jpghappen with the technology that we are developing and using today. Each episode has such an intensely negative outlook that appears to be very close to reality.  I decided to look into three episodes that have the highest chance of coming true, and one episode that already has.

 

“The Entire History of You”

This episode is about a scenario where everyone has a small device placed behind their ear. This device records every single moment of a person’s life. People are able to re watch the imgres-1.jpgrecordings, and the recordings can be placed up on a screen for other people to watch. If this device was offered today, without having seen the episode, I would probably say it would be fantastic. Imagine being able to playback the night to find a lost phone, or being able to re watch the best moments from a weekend or a trip. Or being able to playback conversations to remember people’s names. There are endless useful possibilities for this technology, but its also important to consider the negative side of the technology.

In the episode people replay important life moments and live in the past. During arguments, past conversations are projected on the television. When people go to airports they upload their recent history before going through security. There is no longer any way to lie about past actions or experiences because everything is backeimgres.jpgd up with proof. All of your worst moments are recorded and there is no escaping them. If you delete your past you are assumed to have a lot to hide. As Snap, Inc. develops Spectacles (sunglasses with a camera that can record up to 10 seconds of video) we are moving closer to this reality. Business Insider posted that “the only leap the episode makes is saying the technology will get cheaper, better, and more widespread.”

“Be Right Back”

This episode is about a machine learning service that takes all of the content that a person generates in their lifetime to create a something that can imitate their personality. There are online chat bots, voice imitation phone calls and even robots that look very similar to actual people.

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The episode does a good job of pointing out the dangers of this technology. It shows that the target market for this product would be people who have recently lost a loved one. “Bringing back” a loved one to interact with, knowing that they are not actually present and the things they are saying are the result of a decision a programmer made is very bizarre. The argument the episode makes is that once the service is used, an emotional connection is established and it feels real. It makes people want to bring back more of the same connection that they miss. Chat bots using artificial intelligence and personality detection services like Crystal already exist today. In the future, it is possible people will want to recreate personalities.

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“Nosedive”

This episode is a satire on the ways that we use social media, and on the direction that social media is headed in. In this world everyone judges interactions with each other and posts made by each other based on a 1-5 scale, very similar to the Uber rating system. People wear a contact lens that reveals each person’s score when you are interacting with them. People with higher scores are treated better and get more perks, those with lower scores are judged accordingly.

The irony in this is that the people with the highest scores also go through life walking on egg shells, never doing anything that might lower their score. They also constantly look for opportunities to do tBlack-Mirror-Nosedive.jpghings or post things that will raise their score. This will hopefully never happen, but the episode is saying that we are headed in this direction with the way that we use social media currently. Right now everything you text, email, or post online stays with you. Having every interaction offline also graded and scrutinized would result in a calculated and miserable world.

“The Waldo Moment”

black mirror the waldo moment.pngThis episode was released in 2013, and it received a lot of criticism for being unrealistic. It was about a truth telling, anti political cartoon character running for president. It is now credited for predicting the current state of election and the attitude that lead to the Brexit vote.

 

 

 

11 comments

  1. skuchma215 · ·

    I LOVE BLACK MIRROR! My friend got me into it the other week and I flew through all 3 seasons. The Entire History of You is definitely my favorite episode, I think that kind of technology would lead people to obsess over minor past moments as the main character did in the episode. I think the show does a really great job of taking people’s concerns and fears about technology and amplifying it into a dystopian nightmare. Some of them can obviously be really unrealistic, but they all touch on some realistic topic at their core, like Nosedive does with people’s obsession over social media. Watch San Junipero if you get the chance, most of it is depressing like the other episodes but this one actually has a positive ending.

    1. adawsisys · ·

      I will check that episode out next!

  2. gabcandelieri · ·

    I just watched “Nosedive” last night! It was my first time watching the show and it definitely gave me second-hand anxiety for the main character, Lacy, who goes through the episode desperately trying to increase her social score. The show seamlessly connects Lacy’s plight to that of today’s social media influencer–ultimately Lacy wants to reach a score of 4.5 so that she can buy a house in an affluent community. The parallel is not too far off from the idea that Instagram influencers/bloggers must constantly increase their follower base and garner thousands of likes to make a tangible income. These people in particular are actually being paid to play the self-obsessed number game. This behavior pattern trickles down to their followers, using their posts as inspiration for our own in the hopes that their own personal social scores will be raised by association.
    Another scary truth within the episode is that I have observed firsthand countless “fake” interactions among people who genuinely do not like each other just to maintain “friendly” reputations or personas. Also, multiple people, including myself, feel self-conscious if their Instagram, Facebook post, tweet, or blog posts in this class, do not receive an adequate number of comments or likes. Like Black Mirror, members of our society are somewhat entrenched in the idea of measuring their self-worth in likes. Accumulating a certain number of likes or followers translates into high social clout or societal acceptance. Hopefully, we do not begin systemically penalizing those who are unable to maintain a high score…

  3. wfbagleyiii · ·

    Great post! I jumped on the bandwagon and watched most of the current season – I’d agree, it’s dark to say the very least. But it absolutely gives you some idea of what is possible with tech, if not what’s already being developed. I think if anything it shows how at the outset, certain platforms or ideas can be created with the assumption that everyone will use it for ‘good’! Nosedive is a terrific example – shining a light on how Instagram can make people hyper self conscious. I haven’t seen the first few seasons but I’m wondering if there are some predictions that are coming true today?

  4. Big Black Mirror guy here, just started watching season 3 and whipped through it in like 2 days. At first I wasn’t convinced of the Black Mirror phenomena, but now it’s a show that I can’t live with out and am constantly recommending to my friends. A sure must watch for sure. I’m especially fond of the “Waldo Moment” episode, as it ties so perfectly into this years election. It’s crazy how Black Mirror managed to plan that out years ago, and have it work so seamlessly today. Also, I love how each Black Mirror episode is independent of the last, so you don’t have to watch the episodes in order in order to feel like your caught up. You can sit down and start watching away, and pick up wherever you want in the series. Cool post!

  5. I have NEVER heard of this show! But based on your post and the comments I might be putting aside my other binge’s of this! It actually sounds insanely fascinating. I am not gonna lie… these are things that haunt me every day… whenever we talk about all these technologies, when will this all go too far? As much as we think this may be a “fictional” show, some of the capabilities aren’t and that is where we as humans must draw a line. You demonstrated just how “non-fiction” some of this may be by including real-life examples that resemble each episode. Overall such a great post and I CANNOT WAIT TO START WATCHING!!

  6. Nice post. I watched all of the early Black Mirrors, and found them both disturbing and interesting (which I think is the point). While I was down last week, I caught up on nose dive (before I read your post). I don’t find the newer ones as edgy as the older ones. Of course, I don’t think any can be as edgy as the first episode of the series…

  7. mashamydear · ·

    Really happy you wrote about this! Of the episodes you mentioned, I’ve only seen “Nose Dive,” and I thought the same exact thing about Uber. Apparently you can see your own Uber score as well, which correlates well with the premise of the episode. I also thought of apps like Yelp or Tinder, where we constantly rate or choose who we want to do business with or converse with based on reviews/pictures. I loved the ending of the episode when she meets the woman in the truck who gave up on the system completely–I guess that would be the equivalent of people who don’t really care about how they’re perceived and just live freely in our world (not social media obsessed, either). Overall, I thought the new episodes were a bit more awkward than the earlier seasons, but I did really enjoy the episode “Playtest.” Seeing as how gaming is increasingly interactive and high-tech, I think this episode did a good job of zoning in on the way too real and way too gratuitous violence in video games.

  8. I have never heard of this show but I really want to check it out now! I feel like this show is scripted off of my mindset, I am constantly paranoid about technology and when they are going to take it too far. I saw on Twitter this week about the alarm companies wanting to start a Beta Test for drones being alarm systems. While this is amazing it is also terrifying. What if something goes wrong? When will tech go too far? I also find it intriguing how the waldo episode from 2013 they say predicts Brexit.

  9. Black mirror is an incredible series. The dystopias that are created in every episode are frightening and possible. Actually in a way the history if Waldo resemblances the presidential elections of this year, a funny character that ends up being a serious alternative.
    In a way, black mirror is not a series about technology only, it has and questions many aspects of society in various ways. It is true that there is chapters like white bear were the content has no debate, but there are others were there is a continuous questioning about important aspects of human life.
    In this line my favorite would be the very first episode, The National Anthem . It is not only a questioning of modern media and the pressure that it creates but great theoretical challenge of human rationale and society in general, giving a very harsh and in a way believable view on human nature. I haven’t started the new season, but i’ll bet they will continue with this line of thematic.
    PD: I tried not to spoil, if i did spoil anything i apologize for it.

  10. Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to start this show now. It’s been a long time since I’ve started a show, but I like the idea of these interesting stand alone episodes. “The Entire History of You” … what a hyper-Orwellian concept. Love the idea of being able to look over my own personal history – it’s always bothered me that I can forget little pieces of my own life (I wonder if one day I will even remember typing the very words that seem so clear to me now). But the thought that TSA could review my past!
    We mentioned “nosedive” in class. Being a social media skeptic, the idea of social media integrating so closely with real life is terrifying to me. I used to have a 5,0 Uber rating (you can check). Every time I entered a car I felt this anxiety which pressured me to talk to Uber drivers and be interesting. It was incredibly free-ing when I dropped all of that. I’m now a 4.7 or 4.8. Truth is I couldn’t care less. – so, I imagine “nosedive” will be a relatable episode.

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