Netflix recently announced it would renew every technophobe’s favorite show, Black Mirror, for a fifth season. The dystopian sci-fi show typically investigates how technology has creeped into our modern society and the effects it has. With Black Mirror showrunner Charlie Brooker about to hit the drawing board for new storylines, we’d like to offer five potential technologies the show could tackle next season.
You either have experienced or personally know someone who has experienced a rideshare horror story, whether it be unwanted sexual approaches, bad services or the litany of drunk passengers who type in “home” and incur a thousand-dollar Uber ride. When you consider the formula of rideshare technology—unregulated, freelancing stranger picks you up and drives you somewhere—it isn’t surprising that the end result sometimes ends poorly.
If tech billionaires running these rideshare companies have any say, soon that formula will change. Strangers will be replaced by machines and self-driving cars will become the standard. Autonomous transportation will become a thing of the past and the road will fill with empty vehicles. Here’s how Black Mirror might envision our not-so-distant future.
A radical fact about living in a hyper-accelerated media and technology culture is how quickly new ideas and gadgets become accepted into existence; like, we’re all just cool with drones now. While there isn’t anything immediately distressing about drones, South Australian researchers did just develop “drone technology which can measure a person’s breathing and heart rate from 60 metres in the air.”
That’s kind of weird, right? I guess I’m just worried all drones will become sentient Terminator-style and attack us like the crows got those schoolchildren in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Can you make my mental image become reality, Charlie Brooker?
Facial-recognition Machine Learning
Motherboard broke the single most disturbing tech story of 2018. It’s called deepfakes, which is essentially AI-generated pornography that face-swaps celebrity faces onto adult actresses. Weird programmers are using machine learning to produce Daisy Ridley and Jessica Alba pornos. Some were using the tech to create pornography with the faces of their classmates while others were taking requests for personalized deepfakes videos. It’s nonconsensual and wrong, straight up.
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Equally troubling is a story from Buzzfeed’s Charlie Warzel, which detailed an impending Infopocalypse. His piece details how those same technologies could be used to fabricate speeches from politicians and world leaders. Just watch people recreate Barack Obama’s dialogue from scratch.
Now, Black Mirror already parodied a cartoon character literally winning public office by being an asshole—sound familiar?—but this technology is vastly more nefarious.
3D-Printing Suicide Machines
Think of Dr. Philip Nitschke as the Australian Jack Kevorkian. Both are huge euthanasia advocates and have overseen assisted patient suicides. Nitscke made headlines recently for producing a blueprint for a personal suicide machine that could be reproduced via 3D printing. For Futurama fans, this technology might sound eerily familiar.
3D Printing in general deserves a Black Mirror treatment, but this seems ripe for Brooker to tackle dramatically.
Yeah, this is one technology rampantly out of control and not going away anytime soon. We got this weird Japanese sex doll that dispenses cocktails and the UK just opened the first sex doll brothel. When an AI sex doll was put on display at last year’s Arts Electronica Festival in Austria, some nerds couldn’t resist the silicone charm and left her “heavily soiled.”
You know what? Maybe we don’t need a Black Mirror episode on this one.