If you’re a ‘Netflix and Chill’ kinda person, you’ve probably already watched all seasons of Black Mirror, a Netflix original series that explores technological advancements and takes you to a dystopian futuristic world. While, we dread the world portrayed in this series, according to Business Insider, a research by Dylan Hendricks, Program Director at the Institute for the Future states that there are chances that a few Black Mirror episodes will actually turn into reality. Here are the names of nine episodes where life and art were difficult to tell apart! Also, warning – spoilers ahead, proceed with caution.
1. The National Anthem
In the pilot episode of Black Mirror, Prime Minister, Michael Callow faces a shocking dilemma when a much-loved member of the royal family is kidnapped. The twist is when he’s asked to have sex with a pig on National TV as ransom.
Hendricks told Business Insider, “I can’t think of anything that wasn’t realistic. At least from a technology perspective, it’s totally possible.” Speculations are that it may also have actually happened, if the stories about former Prime Minister David Cameron’s university antics are true.
2. Fifteen Million Merits
In the second episode of season one, a technological habitat is set up where people work as slaves and ride stationary bicycles to produce energy to earn merits. It gets ugly when a woman with million merits fails to impress judges on a talent show and is asked to perform degrading acts or return to slavery.
According to Business Insider, Hendricks said, “The entire episode rethinks the nature of society based on the trend of “freemium” mobile games, and creates feedback loops of desire that keep people coming back for more.” He said that this episode is the one his fellow researchers most love to watch because it takes a real-world situation to its most extreme. “This is a very different alien society than the one we live in,” he said, “and one that has taken our phones and turned them into the built environment.”
3. The Entire History of You
This episode shows a world in the near future, where people can access a memory implant in their bodies that lets them record everything they do, see and hear. It also lets them replay those memories. The story revolves around a husband who suspects that his wife is having an affair, and actually finds it to be true after replaying her memories.
According to research, there is no such technology, which can tap into people’s memories directly, but what we do seem to be heading towards is a future with devices like Snap Inc.’s Spectacles – a camera, which is equipped with sunglasses that can record up to 10 seconds of video. Hendricks told Business Insider that the only leap the episode makes is saying the technology will get cheaper, better, and more widespread.
4. Be Right Back
In one of the scariest episodes of Black Mirror, a woman learns about a new service, which allows people to stay in touch with the deceased based on their social media history. She then uses that service, first to chat with her late husband online, then to talk to him over phone and then finally, she gets home a robotic version of him which has been created with the help of artificial intelligence.
As per Hendricks, the first two forms of communication already exist in the world. There are chatbots running artificial intelligence and personality detection services like Crystal, which pulls online data about people so users can tailor emails and messages to their personality, and reveal the steps we’re taking to make AI as smart as humans someday.
5. The Waldo Moment
In this episode, a failed comedian who voices a popular cartoon called Waldo finds himself involved in Politics when TV journalists want him to run for office.
Hendricks says, this is similar to ‘The National Anthem’ episode in which the social commentary on politics often favoring entertainment over substance is much stronger than technology predictions. However, it is a fairly common technique to map human behaviors to an avatar. Most recently, Facebook demonstrated its plans to create avatars of people using Oculus Rift virtual reality.
6. White Christmas
The last episode of season two, this one is set in future where two men are stationed at a remote area during Christmas time and are sharing stories of their past. The episode narrates three different stories that are ultimately connected and brought to the present.
Hendricks told Business Insider, the first two ideas in the episode are reasonable, while the third is just fantasy. There are consumer apps that enable live streaming like Periscope, while artificial eyeballs already have some footing in research that gives retinas to blind mice. “Assuming some kind of augmented reality technology as a given, the actual ‘blocking’ of people in real life also doesn’t seem that far-fetched,” he said.
Nosedive is probably the closest (and most scary) episode to reality. It’s set in the future where people are giving social media ratings which ultimately impacts their socio-economic stability. The woman in this episode on getting high ratings, is invited to a swanky wedding but by the time she reaches the wedding, things take an ugly turn and her rating goes low.
According to Hendricks, Microsoft’s Hololens is the closest device in today’s technology, although it is a little clunkier. He also pointed at the system of social credit scores in China, where citizens of the country can earn specific scores for how often they default on loan payments, get traffic tickets, and break other forms of “social trust.”
8. Shut Up And Dance
This episode talks about cybersecurity and also, how screwed up it is. It begins with spying on people through webcams and carrying out risky, life threatening crimes. If done otherwise, the dark, intimate secrets of people will be revealed.
“I would say ‘Shut Up and Dance’ is more of a terrifying PSA (Professional Service Automation) than anything else,” Hendricks said. The hackers of this world are already taking over webcams and leaking sensitive personal information. This episode explores the unusual things that might happen if hackers take a decision to have fun with the information they have about people.
Arkangel is an episode in the most recent season of Black Mirror. It’s a story of a mother, who’s extremely cautious about her daughter’s safety and so she installs a device, which enables for her to see, hear and even track her daughter and blur out the negative bits of life.
Researchers can create a rough sketch of people’s vision which is based on the patterns they find in MRI scans and there’s a reasonable chance that they can create an image of what the person might actually be looking at.
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