The British television series Black Mirror can very well be considered one of the most relevant programs of our time.
Genius episode after genius episode showcases petrifying scenarios that are just ahead of its time. Rather than following the traditional anticipation of the future being a massive alien invasion, Black Mirror takes an alternative approach that surrounds the near future of technology.
Creator Charlie Brooker approaches a society that is very familiar with having everything at the tips of their fingers and entertains the idea of taking today’s technology just one step further.
Each episode showcases a very possible reality and that is what makes for a series that you cannot pull your eyes away from.
We identify today’s technological society as one where cell phones are an extension of a person’s body. takes this concept to new levels, as seen in season one.
Demonstrated in this episode, a device called a “grain” is injected into the back of someone’s head and this allows for them to record every moment of their lives. The grain also enables a person to watch over any memories that date years back, as long as they’ve had the grain.
This episode showcases a concept that we are currently experiencing today. Although there is no physical “grain” injected in us to record and recall memories, recording those same memories on a cell phone and replaying them later on plays on that same idea.
This concept, as seen in the episode, can very well be dangerous. Nobody is able to live in the moment and just enjoy what is being shown in front of them. With this technology, it is more enjoyable to watch it back later in order to appreciate that memory. Often times, this is where memories haunt a person- as they tortured the main character in this episode.
In another early episode, a widow learns about a service that allows for her to speak to her dead husband. This services takes a person’s social media accounts including any photos, videos and updates in order to understand how that person used to be. The widow is able to speak to her deceased husband online, talk to him on the phone and eventually see him in real life.
Although physically spending time with a person who has passed is not yet introduced in today’s society, online bots that run off of artificial intelligence and personality detection services do exist. For example, cites like Crystal grabs online data about a person in order to create messages that match their personality. Who knows? At the rate technology is growing, there might actually be real-life versions of deceased loved ones walking around.
In the season three premiere, a person’s “rating” is what determines how good or bad of a person they are. After each and every interaction, they rate and are rated. Their rating also determines what they can or cannot do as it takes on the form of currency. For example, if your rating is too low, you cannot purchase a particular vehicle or purchase certain services.
Dylan Hendricks is the director of the Ten-Year-Forecast at the Institute for the Future which is a research organization dedicated to providing insight about the future of society. He comments on this episode and points out that this system of social credit scores initially took off in China. Citizens earn scores based on how often they pay off loans, get traffic tickets or break any social trust. Hendricks says that people who often break trust have a significantly more difficult time accessing certain services.
However, this is also existent in Western culture as social media is extremely important to today’s society. How many likes a person gets on their Instagram picture or how many views they get on a YouTube video is crucial to social media users. A reality where a rating is what determines a person’s worth is not stretching from the reality we are currently experiencing.
Each episode throughout the series demonstrates a very possible downfall that technology can introduce. The show touches on very real themes such as blocking a person completely out of their lives or falling into the horrors of being prey to online predators.
Referring to the glass screens of computers and tablets, Black Mirror ensures that the true danger is not the machine itself but the human beings who control it.
By: Julia Colavecchia