This article contains spoilers.
Does Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tinder and the like coupled with an online virtual experience sound fun? Well Black Mirror, is the show that does just that. It delves into the social, political and internal issues humans have and the potential dangers that would be inflicted on society should advance technology be within our grasp. The show is not explicitly anti-technology – as the writer Charlie Brooker explains, however, it shows how dangerous technology can be when coupled with human flaws. There will be a few spoilers, so be warned.
The technology used is a vehicle for the thoughts and characteristics of the people in the show. In the season 4 episode USS Callister, a socially-awkward but gifted computer programmer (Robert Daly) is the creator of a ground-breaking online game named ‘Infinity’. Despite being the pioneer of this virtual game, he is not respected amongst his co-workers and is resentful: taking out his revenge on his workmates by uploading their DNA onto his own personal offline game. Initially, empathetic feelings are developed towards Daly because, having been bullied, he tries to retaliate via the technology on coded replicas of those who have mistreated him.
However, this episode poses the questions about what we would do if placed in a similar situation and whether AI be treated as self-aware entities with human rights, despite only being code. The episode explores the idea of self-gratification and the fact that technology that can expose the true nature of human beings if placed in non-reprimandable situations.
Similarly Hang the Dj, is a take on online dating where people using a replica of a phone named ‘coach’ are subjected to many dates with different people until they are matched with their ‘ideal’ partner. Sound familiar? The story focuses on two people – Amy and Jack who seemingly are ideal for one another but only have 12 hours on their date. They are then placed on several dates with many other people. During this time, they both become despondent given the basic sexual-no-substance dates they’re subjected to. This episode seems to be a jab at modern day relationship apps such as Tinder whereby dates are chosen purely based on superficial means – looks and if someone does not fulfil your expectation, you swipe left! It is the less bleak episode of the series with a positive ending note.
The episode Black Museum ties in the theme social justice and morality. A museum of ‘criminal technological artefacts’ is owned by a crook salesman who previously was involved with medical technology. A black female, ‘Nish’ has a tour of the museum with many disturbing artefacts such as the consciousness of a woman once in a coma was placed into a toy monkey with only two binary responses. A digitally uploaded consciousness of a former death-row candidate where he is subjected to electrical shocks by white supremacists is also included. The question posed is now whether it is ethical to digitalise consciousness. Should we have this power in our hands, would we use it to carry out our own selfish desires and it also refers to the social issues of ‘black Lives matter’. Hashtags on twitter seemingly bring the messages across to mass media and people; however, does it bring about real social and political change or is it merely a means of expression for SJW’s (Social Justice Warriors)?
The online world has been going crazy over the the new Black Mirror episodes with theories and speculation about our world being thrown into the mix aswell.
1700s Black Mirror: we all like to ride horses so much, what if the HORSES RIDE US
— chip malfunction (@online_shawn) December 31, 2017
Black Mirror season 4 is currently on Netflix.