So many people LOVE the Black Mirror! The critically-acclaimed and internationally-adored Netflix original series Black Mirror studies the “what-ifs’ of advancing tech, and features science fiction that isfast becoming more factual than it is futuristic.
Case in point: Last week, we told you about the episode “Shut up and Dance”, featuring a teen webcam hacking/extortion victim. Honestly, hacking is scary-real–which is why Safertech developed Creep Blockers.
Black Mirror’s tech paranoia vibe goes deep… personally, I can’t and don’t watch negativity. My belief is Garbage In- Garbage Out so I purposefully surround myself and subject my senses to positive messages and media. BUT, so many friends asked us if we’ve seen the Black Mirror that we felt Safertech should weigh in. If you love the show–you’ll find the real-life connections we’ve discovered, super interesting!
Below we connect the futuristic tech featured on the show to real-world-happening-NOW tech.
Familiar War Games: Men Against Fire
The “Men Against Fire” episodes illustrates military technology that alters what soldiers can see, smell, and hear to make the atrocities of war more bearable. This is kind of like the drone technology our military already has today, which takes the soldier out of horrors of the war zone altogether. Some people feel this is unethical, inhuman and too much like a video game, as drone operators can vaporize the enemy from thousands of miles away by the push of the button. Others say it’s efficient warfare that minimizes the number of PTSD cases and keeps soldiers close to home.
Speaking of drone technology, the “Hated in the Nation” episode features sci-fi homicidal bee-like drones that go after targets of social media hate campaigns who’ve committed egregious acts (think: Casey Anthony or Anthony Weiner). This episode drives home the mob mentality of social media in “trial by media” cases. These “bees” go about murdering the outcasts one by one, injecting their tiny robot bodies in the skulls of their victims.
Incredibly, these tiny hovering robots drones actually exist in real life! Well, sort of. A Georgia college student has invented a bee-drone prototype that can mimic pollination, as the vitally important insect population is dwindling. (1)
Advertising Advances: Merits
The “Merits” episode features a civilization that consumes media, mostly audacious & dehumanizing reality TV a la The Bachelor. Watchers pay for media with digital currency they earn through cycling, powering the world around them. Everyday activities are always being interrupted by ads that cannot be ignored nor skipped- except for by the main character, who has earned enough “merits” or digital currency.
This makes us ponder how much intelligent advertising has evolved so much in such a short amount of time! Marketing is getting more and more pervasive; There aren’t too many people out there who haven’t noticed how creepy and informed your personal Facebook ads are…almost like your computer/phone is listening to you. (plot twist: It is!)
Just recently, I marveled when I went to move my cursor to leave a website when a roll-over ad to sign up for email flashed at me. Another time, I was playing around with an app on my phone when it offered me extra pretty filters – if only I watched three short commercials. Often, advertisers now let you choose which commercials you want to watch, and eye-tracking software is going in some creepy places!
Social Media Rules: Nosedive
Taking a nod from both ridesharing/food delivery services & social media ranking, “Nosedive” features a world where social status and privilege is dictated by the ratings people give each other that appears above their heads. In this episode though, the main character becomes derailed as her ratings fall. For instance, she loses her bridesmaid’s privilege of giving a speech at her best friend’s wedding. As the character starts losing more privileges, furthering her into coalescing, destructive tailspin.
Well, social media is pretty much already like that, no? It’s maddening how much of social media is a numbers game combined with a ton of smoke & mirrors, all to give the illusion of beauty & success. Our number of followers on Instagram and Twitter means more and more, and can dictate so much of a brand or individual’s worth, pay and opportunity.
To take it a step further, China is trying out a system where “social trust” is rated, allowing or prohibiting opportunity. For instance, if you have too many speeding tickets or have defaulted on personal loans, it may make it harder for you to get certain social services. (2)
Digital Memories: Be Right Back
But perhaps the creepiest episode of all is called “Be Right Back”. This episode which features a woman who finds a service that provides a digital replacement of her dead boyfriend by studying his social media, photos, and videos. First, she just talks with him on the phone, but soon she is living with him, in the form of fleshy robot-humanoid. Yikes.
Not to that extent, but a kind of legacy preservation service actually already exists! If you happen to pass on, these services basically cull all of your social media and electronic records to replicate your essence and send your loved ones email from “you.” Kind of touching and creepy at the same time.
Similarly, I was recently watching an episode of Morgan Freeman’s Story of God that featured tech empress Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics Corp. She’s is one of the most successful tech bosses ever and she has actually commissioned a robotic mannequin of her beloved wife, Bina (who is still alive, by the way!)(3)
Martine & Bina are the founders of Terasem, a religion that promotes “digital cloning”. Hundreds and hundreds of hours of conversation with real-life Bina were recorded to simulate a “mind file” to create Bina’s robotic talking head. You’d have to see it to believe it.
The Safertech takeaway
Well, that concludes our Safertech/Black Mirror series. We hope it made you think about the present state of affairs in tech, and inspired you to be mindful about not letting our devices take over our lives. The best moments in life are cherishing each other, not staring mindlessly into the “black mirror” abyss of our gadgets.
We can’t wait to see more tech predictions season 4 brings, and we will keep you posted. Stay safe out there in our wireless world!