Friday Essentials: Black Mirror Technology: An Eventual Reality?

With mere 19 episodes over the last 7 years, Black Mirror is one amazing TV show. With new stories every episode, this show offers the viewers a different view on how our lives would be if we grew on to be more and more dependent on technology.

In this blog, we don’t just talk about the various aspects of this series, but also question the daunting reality that depicted technology in the episodes are on the brink of becoming reality!

This show foreshadowed that there is an urgent need for some serious self-reflection. Astounding as it may seem, one can’t ignore that a dystopian society is just on the horizon. The decisions we make today shall inversely affect us and our future generations to come.

Here are the few technologies that were shown in Black Mirror episodes that soon may just become our reality.

  • Fifteen Million Merits:

    Fifteen Million Merits

The Fiction: Cycle and earn ‘merits’. They are the currency that is needed to survive in this futuristic city. In this episode, the lead cast named ‘Bing’ uses up all his merits to get ‘Ani’ into a singing competition. Only, that empties his merit accounts and results in him living a sparse life in a small cubicle cycling to earn back his merits. What seems like an easy entry into the competition, robs him empty of all his merits!

The Reality: Black Mirror has an in your face approach towards ‘Freemium’. We are currently being enticed by all things that seem to be free by at the cost of us compromising our cyber security While this may seem too extreme and unbelievable to you, decentralized cryptocurrencies are one such reality. ZCash in particular is very similar to ‘merits’. There is no way to acquire it except for mining them. They can’t be purchased and can’t be randomly transferred to another person. This makes them extremely rare and difficult to acquire. In a dystopian angle, ZCash or similar mode of difficult to acquire currency can very well make our lives difficult.

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  • Be Right Back:
    Be Right Back

The Fiction: Upon the death of her spouse, Martha is signed up for a service which uses the deceased Ash’s social media portals and messaging portals to communicate with her. Over time, she prefers the company of the Android over her living sister!

The Reality: Chatbots! They aren’t just mere question/answer playing wizards. They data mine and slowly and steady are becoming more aware. To top it all, there are many developers who are currently working on adding ‘personality’ on them. With the rate at which these Chatbots are developing, it won’t be long, when we as users would prefer these drama-free bots over our real friends. With communications occurring over social media platforms, internet friends are a whole new category in which virtual strangers know more about each other’s lives than what happens next-door!

  • Nosedive:

The Fiction: This particular episode starts with Lacie, who has a 4.2-star rating. The epitome being anything above 4.5 stars. In a desperate pursuit for achieving the same, Lacie takes a nosedive in ratings and reaches a profound realization.

The Reality: Ratings matter. Ask any Uber driver. When it is late in the night, or one is stranded in a sparsely crowded area, the ratings of the driver either helps decrease our worry or simply increases it. Similarly, Yelp ratings make or break a restaurant. If this protocol becomes a reality with each and every human, all our actions and interactions shall be judged and rated. Unfortunately, this protocol is already being implemented in China. Their Social Credit System, which is supposed to begin testing in 2020 aims at giving credit discount to its citizens based on their ratings. In it, the higher the individual rates of a particular citizen, the more perks they get. Which include the best schools for their children, exemption on high interest rates on personal loans etc. this initiative has met with a lot of backlash globally, but needless to say, its citizens are keeping mum on it. After all, criticizing their ruling government may cause their future ratings to be affected. 

  • San Junipero:

San Junipero

The Fiction: What seems like a small beach town, is the stuff of dreams for Kelly and Yorkie.

The Reality: This particular episode has won 2 Emmy awards and gathered a whole load of kudos and critical acclaim. Not just for the complex characters, but also for the technology that was depicted in it. It features a seemingly hypothetical reality in which one’s memories could be uploaded on to the cloud with one’s consciousness. Thus, reliving memories and accessing sections from our lives over and over again. While one can think that it’s next to impossible for this technology to become the norm, but, we are super close. Specially in the gaming sector. Video games have come a long way from the beloved Pacman and become more advanced. They are enabled with 3D Simulators, Real time reaction and with the help of Oculus, the players have motion control in both hands. All that remains is ensuring the same can be applied to our consciousness before our body dies.

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In conclusion:

Black Mirror by Netflix is a must watch show. Not only for those that love the genre of Sci-Fi but also for those that wish to get a peek into the dystopian world that is just around the corner. After all, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”–Albert Einstein.

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