The British anthology series, Black Mirror, shines a light on our paranoia surrounding technology and the dangers it presents. Throughout nineteen episodes and one film, Black Mirror has used suspense and satire to offer up a possible future if society continues down this path of technological advancement, through showcasing the many unexpected effects it can have on individuals and the world as a whole.
Each episode centers on a unique imagined technology and how its creation changes the world and affects people's lives. While some inventions are simplistic and easily understood, other technologies are so complex that they just don't make any sense.
10 The Experiencer Disk
In series 3, episode 5, viewers are transported to the fictional town of San Junipero, along with first-time visitor Yorkie. She quickly meets Kelly at a local club and it's revealed that the two young women are in a virtual reality world as their physical bodies lie in a nursing home.
The women are using the Experiencer Disk, which is a virtual reality device that people use to upload their consciousness into the fictional town of San Junipero. What makes this device so confusing is that once people are about to die, they can choose to live in San Junipero permanently instead of passing in the traditional way.
In episode 2, series 4, Jodie Foster takes the concept of helicopter parenting and pushes it to the extreme. After Marie loses her young daughter, Sara, for a brief moment, she decides to implant the Arkangel system into her head. This implant gives Marie the ability to track her daughter's location as well as see her health, emotional state, and even censor out things she doesn't want her daughter to be able to see.
Once Marie realizes that the implant is hurting Sara much more than its "helping" her, she realizes that she can't remove it but can only turn it off. This leaves viewers wondering if this seemingly harmless parental monitoring device was invented so that people could be tracked for their whole lives.
In series 3, episode 2, an American man named Cooper is trapped in England due to a banking error. While there, he agrees to test out a new augmented reality video game for a girl he just slept with. The game is played by inserting an implant into the back of his neck so that it can scan the player's brain for his deepest fears to simulate them.
Oddly, while the implant was being installed in Cooper's head, there was an interference caused by his phone receiving a call. Due to this interference, the game spirals out of control and results in Cooper's death. It's hard to imagine a world where someone can create an implant that can scan your brain for your deepest fears and recreate them, yet it can be so easily short-circuited by a telephone call.
7 The System
In series 4's "Hang the DJ," people participate in The System, which is essentially a futuristic dating app that is intended to determine users’ perfect partners. The system has access to all of the users’ data and uses it to dictate how people date and who they end up with. The dates are between simulated versions of real-life people.
The weirdest part about the system is that the people involved in it never actually go on dates. Instead, The System uses its algorithm to run 2000 different dating simulations to determine a person's ideal partner.
The second episode of series 1 presents a dystopian society, where people are forced to pedal stationary bikes that keep the lights on in exchange for coins that can be used as currency.
It's very unclear as to how the leaders of this society were able to trick people into becoming essentially indentured servants. How did they manage to convince them to pedal their lives away for a tiny amount of money that can only be spent on things they don't even really want.
5 Artificial People
In the series 2 premiere, Martha loses her husband in a traffic accident. To ease her pain, she decides to test out a new technology that can simulate his voice and personality. After agreeing to that, she quickly agrees to have this simulated version of Ash transferred into a synthetic body that looks just like him.
While it already seems impossible to create this lifelike synthetic body that can perfectly match what someone looked like, it seems impossible that this company would be able to create a consciousness that could replicate Ash's personality - just based on his social media history.
In a special Christmas episode, Jon Hamm plays a man who is living in a snow cabin with another person that he barely knows. Hamm’s character, Matt, tells his cabin-mate about this online group he was in charge of that used to allow others to watch men seduce women using this technology called “Z-Eyes”.
The capabilities of "Z-Eyes" doesn't make a lot of sense. This permanent implant that one installs in their eye is supposedly able to take photos, make phone calls, read text messages, and even block other people from your perception. It's quite hard to imagine a world where you can make a phone call using your eyes.
"The Entire History of You" is widely considered to be one of the best episodes the show has ever aired. It takes place in a future where people can use Grain technology to record everything that they see and later re-watch their memories. This technology causes trouble for a couple because of how accessible all of their memories are and how limited the viewers' perspectives are in regards to reality.
In watching the chaos caused by Grain unfold, it becomes unclear as to how people could ever live in a world where their every move was recorded and they could always look back on every memory they have ever had. It's also hard to understand how the people living in this futuristic society couldn't understand that just because they see something doesn't mean it had a meaning behind it.
In "Men Against Fire," a neural implant device called MASS is used to alter the perception of soldiers on the battlefield. This device is intended to help soldiers communicate on the battlefield and make their efforts more effective. However, it actually ends up being used to change what they see. The controllers of MASS make it so that the soldiers see the enemy as actual monsters.
Throughout the episode, fans can see the technology in action. But it's still unclear as to how the military and the government were able to convince an entire population that these monsters existed.
1 Autonomous Drone Insects
"Hated in the Nation" introduces viewers to Autonomous Drone Insects that are tiny robots, created to replace the dying bee population. These robotic bees can pollinate flowers just like real bees. However, unlike the bees of nature, they are used for surveillance by the British Government.
Out of all of the technology the viewers have seen on this show, this is certainly one of the most confusing. Somehow these bees are able to create their own hives and repopulate themselves. Then, once all of these mechanical bees are hacked, they kill people in the highly unconventional way of flying into their ears.
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