After four years, the British anthology, Black Mirror is set to return for its much-awaited new season this Summer. For those who are not familiar with Black Mirror, it is a show set in the near future, often dystopic in nature with stories tackling different themes. While it tackles many issues such as the blurring of ethics and morality, often it shows it through the advancement of technology.
For those who have been traumatized by the show for years, we have seen how disturbing these out-of-the-world technological advances are. From Virtual Reality (VR) to Artificial Intelligence (AI), the show does not feel so far-fetched at times. Here are some cases that show how we could possibly be inching towards becoming an episode of Black Mirror day by day.
The afterlife in VR
Grief is a strong emotion that can lead people to seek even the smallest solace, even if it means through the digital world. Black Mirror also explores this possibility with its episode “Be Right Back“, albeit in a darker way. The protagonist signs up for a service to recreate her boyfriend through AI after his death. While the imitation takes in the digital data that the protagonist had to offer, such as his social media accounts, the result is still a shallow one.
The Black Mirror may sound farfetched, but actually, we’re already living in a reality where technology allows people to talk to their deceased loved ones. Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) released documentaries about people being ‘reunited’ with their dead loved ones with the help of VR. In one season, MBC showed a mother talking to her daughter who passed away in 2016. Another is about a husband and a wife reuniting. The body language and voice are studied and incorporated with a model and topped off with the use of VR.
Social credit score impacts life
As social beings, we’re so much in tune with our social media as it adds to how people perceive us and our lifestyle. From liking a post to rating a service provided to us, we get recognition from other people. In turn, it also adds to our credibility in the eyes of the public. In Black Mirror‘s “Nosedive” episode, a person’s social score is a basic commodity that can open or close doors, such as getting a plane ticket to landing a job. It also explores how people can lead a fake life just to get those likes on their social media posts.
Not so far off from this Black Mirror episode is China’s plan for a social credit system that rates “citizens’ behavior and trustworthiness”. The idea is to have a credit code that can be inputted into a database to pull up an individual’s records based on the unique code assigned to each one.
Building merits with tasks
From Sims to Bondee, people have flocked to these apps to recreate a virtual version of themselves. To get more out of the app such as changing their avatar’s clothes, the player would perform certain tasks to gain currency in the game. Some games even put in-game ads that players are either forced to watch for a certain duration to get currency or simply pay real money for the ads to stop.
Black Mirror‘s “Fifteen Million Merits” takes that avatar lifestyle further. Here, the people live just like how avatars do: in a confined space and doing menial tasks to gain currency. Here, the protagonist helps his love interest get a chance for a better life by paying most of his savings for her to join a contest. She does but gains it in a way that’s arguably much more than what money can buy. The protagonist, horrified by the turn of events, tries to look away from an ad that showcases his love interest, but is unable to because he lacks the merits to pay so it can stop.
At times, watching Black Mirror may feel like looking at an actual mirror of what we’re experiencing today. However, we can still mark ourselves as safe from that dystopia. Even though technology might have been used for some nefarious dealings, it still proves to be a strong ally, especially because it helps us today, such as the advancement of medicine and our standard of living. Let’s just hope that people learn from the show so it would remain a work of fiction.