The first question is…is Netflix part of Hollywood? Doesn't Netflix want to eviscerate Hollywood into easily streamable pieces? Where would Netflix be without Steve Jobs? Ok, we are getting side-tracked here. It has been nine years since the first episode of Black Mirror slapped on to our screens like a piece of bacon flicked on to a wall (if you don't get the reference, watch Episode 1, and I apologise). The words "Black Mirror" have rapidly become a household description for our over-reliance on digital technology. One of the most culturally relevant television series to date, its popularity increases as it peers into the disquieting future of our technology-driven world. As we continue with these increasingly fast advancements of technology, a lot of questions can be presented about the dangerous realities that come with these new inventions and technologies. Series creator Charlie Brooke has written episode after episode never intending them to be seen as prophetic. Reflecting on the issues now, TikTok's future, Cyber Terrorism, Cambridge Analytica, Democracy, Pandemics, the list is exhaustive when comparative to Black Mirror.
Rate People App – Nosedive (Season 3, Episode 1)
The Chinese Government has recently established a social-credit system that rates people's trustworthiness based on their political beliefs, financial standing and traffic violations since it's connected to their national database. This system is scaringly similar to the 'Black Mirror' episode Nosedive. The character Lacie lives in a society that rates its interactions with others to establish each other's social status. Winning or losing points determine your access to a more privileged life. Everyone rates their work colleagues, clients, friends and even their family. Her life is totally dependent on these ratings. Hang on "trendsetters", are we already there as Uber, Tinder, Lyft, Google Reviews, TripAdvisor plus many more rate you, your business, your world. Merge all of these "ratings" together, and we have this episode of Black Mirror coming to life. I think Satan, The Illuminati or Winkle Voss Twins are already building this app.
Robotic Bees – Hated in the Nation (Season 3, Episode 6)
Melissophobia people, please skip this episode.
Bees are extinct in this episode, so mankind builds robotic bees. Brilliant, problem solved. Well not really as the bees are essentially tiny drones that a dystopian hacker uses to kill people who accumulate the most #DeathTo (insert your social handle here). Execution by popularity.
So, while we don't have bee drones flying around it doesn't mean the thought hasn't crossed scientists' minds before 'Black Mirror'. With robotics continuing to shrink every year, getting a drone to the size of an insect won't be impossible. The Black Hornet Nano is a military micro drone measuring around 10 × 2.5 cm. So on the way to drop a nano arsenal, it can pollinate the poppy fields on its day off. Problem solved…or how about we fix the bees dwindling numbers first. Otherwise, you wouldn't know a good bee from a bad one.
Robot Dogs - Metalhead (Season 4, Episode 5)
In an office that encourages bringing your pets to work, this is a little scary. In an isolated post-apocalyptic world, robot dogs are terrorising those who have managed to survive the unexplained collapse of human society. Similar to Terminator in a way, but without time travel and it's not Sarah Conner we're watching but Bella. She is attempting to flee the clutches of her inhuman pursuers; killer robotic dogs whose resourcefulness is both impressive and terrifying. This episode adds a new sense of dread to Boston Dynamics latest success in robots that maneuverer like animals, especially since the robo-dog from 'Metalhead' was influenced by BD. When most COVID restrictions were being enforced by the Singapore government, they partnered with BD for a successful two-week trial of their robo-dog 'Spot' in parks and public gathering places. Spot roamed around, politely reminding park-goers to stay 1.5 meters apart for everyone's safety. What are the military applications for this kind of technology, and could they ever be as extreme as 'Metalhead' in real life? I hope not.
Phone Obsessed – White Bear (Season 2, Episode 2)
While this isn't necessarily a technology, it is about our reliance on it. In season two's episode 'White Bear', which revolves around a population becoming obsessed with their smartphones, unable to experience anything outside of their miniature screens. Remember Pokémon Go? People couldn't be torn away from their screens, driving around at midnight, walking and running all over their town to capture Pokémon regardless of what was happening around them. I almost got mowed down by a stampede of Pokémon Go enthusiasts during its boom just because I was standing a little too close to a special type of Pokémon. I mean…really people?
You would assume that it often takes years, decades even for some of these predictions to play out like I have mentioned in previous blogs but even some of the most outlandish things from 'Black Mirror' have come true. I guess this is caused by Sci-Fi often taking place in the realm of possibility and Charlie Brooker's dark exploration into a future where we aren't using technology, technology is using us, is no different. His uncanny ability to predict future events and cultural changes are also coming to fruition much faster than any of us wanted, but I'll only mention the technology predictions for now. That's a very deep and dark rabbit hole, and this "Alice" doesn't want to go to 'Black Mirror's" version of Wonderland.