For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated with science fiction. The way technology influences our daily lives is captivating to me, which is a good thing seeing as I deal with technology on a daily basis in my job.† I am also constantly feeding my brain with movies, books or TV series about speculative fictions.
Talking of TV series, let me tell you about a great one Iíve been watching; Black Mirror. In this series, each episode is a stand-alone story, just like Tales from the Crypt, and the cast is different for each episode as well. However, thatís not why I like it. Black Mirror is also a futuristic and dystopian TV series featuring real-life technologies, how we use and abuse them in our lives, and what happens as a result of that (warning, itís not possible to remain impassive watching this show).†
The technologies in Black Mirror already exist, or are very close to existing, which may make people feel uncomfortable as it deals with how things can go wrong.† Like, very wrong. However, itís not because these technologies are badly designed, itís because of what we do with them. And, oh boy, what mean people we can be!
To give you an idea of what Black Mirror is all about, Iíll give you an example of a few episodes:
In the second season, people can contact a company and ask for an artificial intelligence (AI) to be developed that will match the personality of a deceased relative. AI is a particularly hot topic right now in the media for its growing use by companies, especially through bots. So imagine my surprise when I recently found out that a real-life company, Replika, is actually developing an AI for people to ďtalkĒ to the deceased. In Black Mirror, the AI was designed using data that the now-deceased person had put online when they were alive, for example, through phone calls and text messages. According to Replika, its AI allows people to grieve at their own pace. Personally, I donít think I could cope with that, and Black Mirror seems to agree with me. AI is addressed several times throughout the three seasons of Black Mirror and it also deals with social media.
In the third season of Black Mirror, a (not-so-nice) person decides to set up a ďgameĒ on Twitter. Essentially, people can post the picture and name of someone they dislike, along with the hashtag #DeathTo. You can probably imagine what happens next. Black Mirror seems to be jumping on the case of cyber bullying, where the anonymity of social profiles allow people to show the worst of them. In the same season, another side of social media is also explored.
In one episode, you can mark people out of zero to five with your phone according to their behavior and likeliness. If you want a good rating, you need to be nice, hang out with the right people (such as those with a high rating themselves) and be sure to give people good ratings wherever you go. This episode made me realise that weíre already doing this. Think about it, you can rate your Uber driver out of five stars and vice versa.† And letís be honest, we all enjoy receiving as many likes as possible on Instagram! In this episode, certain ratings were required for buying a house, eating in certain restaurants and even jobs were available to people with a certain rating. As you can imagine, people with fewer points are then despised.
After binge-watching this series, itís clear that technology can make our lives easier in some ways and more complicated in others. Black Mirror is definitely worth watching, as it makes you realise how people could use and abuse IT. Ultimately, we need to ensure that fiction and reality are kept as two separate things.