The short story, “Mika Model” written by Paolo Bacigalupi, is a sci-fi story that explores the relationship between technology, artificial intelligence, and human nature. The story begins with a woman who goes to Detective Rivera to seek legal help because she had committed a murder. It turns out that this seductive young woman is a Mika Model, meaning she is a robot that was designed with men’s sexual interests in mind. The “bot”, as she is referred to, admits to killing her owner and even brings Detective Rivera to the house to show him the murder scene. Against Rivera’s own will, he has fallen subject to the bot’s ability to manipulate him. The bot does this through artificial intelligence, tracking, recording, and learning from Rivera’s every move. With Rivera’s judgment clouded by the bot’s seductive powers, he feels sorry for the murderer. A corporate lawyer for the company “Executive Pleasures” which produces the bots, comes to the house and “deactivates” the bot by stabbing her in the eye with a screwdriver. Upon the stabbing, the Mika Model bleeds, further clouding Rivera’s judgment and preception of what constitutes humanity. The short story explores the impact humans have on technology and artificial intelligence which contrasts the typical exploration of technology and artificial intelligence’s impact on humanity.
The Black Mirror episode “Nosedive”, directed by Joe Wright, places us in a dystopian society in the near future where social media has completely taken over. It’s like social media likes on steroids: life has become a social media platform. Instagram has invaded the characters’ brains. Your profile is now you and your own social interactions. The people you encounter will “like” or “dislike” your interactions with them. This feedback from others contributes to a score out of five you recieve, and every aspect of your life, including how people treat you and in how much prosperity you live, is dependant on this score. The main character, Lacie, is a young woman with a fairly high rating in the fours. She is constantly trying to up her social rating with every single action she takes. Every simple conversation is an attempt to receive five stars from her partner. She idolizes those with a higher score than her, obsessing over their profiles and posts. When Lacie gets invited to the wedding of a childhood friend, Naomi, who she grew apart from, she jumps on the opportunity to boost her score. She practices the speech she plans to deliver at the wedding, rehearsing and perfecting her fake emotions down to the tears at the end of the speech. Coincidentally, her flight is canceled. The stakes are high for Lacie, as she has a lot riding on her wedding speech, but an altercation with an airport worker results in a chain of events that cause her score to rapidly diminish. Naomi calls Lacie to tell her that she cannot deliver her speech at the wedding, but Lacie journeys to the reception anyways. Delirious, with her clothing in tatters, Lacie makes a desperate speech on the spot to Naomi’s posh and disgusted wedding guests. Lacie is arrested and ends up in jail, where she finally has a genuine interaction with a fellow incarcerated man. This Black Mirror episode is similar to others in that it resembles a dystopian, futuristic society which appears to take place not too far off from the present day. However, if we analyze details such as the social interactions, the social media aspect, and the fact that a certain online social score determines the course of your life, it is clear to see that this society is not a foreign dystopia at all: it resembles life in the modern day. This episode suggests that our investment in social media has caused it to become our lives literally. A society has arisen in which there is no difference between your “online” self and your “real life” self: an embodiment of the effects of context collapse and the complete disappearance of the right to be forgotten.
It is easy to put our own blunders off on others. It seems as though our society does not want to take responsibility for falling prey to social media and technology’s trap. This is specifically highlighted in Ken Liu’s piece “Thoughts and Prayers.” From the onset of Liu’s piece, it seems as though the short story will highlight how technology will take over our lives and is a negative aspect of our society. After Hayley, a deceased college student, is discovered to have been shot, the story follows each of her family members after the incident as trolls begin to make a production out of her death. Although this may be an accurate estimation of the story at first glance, Liu, in fact, infuses commentary through the characters of the Fort family to stress the impact that social media can have on the individual. Although this piece does not seem related to any of the other works we have discussed during class, I am planning to write about how Liu suggests that sensationalism in the media results in us becoming emotionally detached.
In the movie, “Nerve” directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the main characters Vee and Ian demonstrate the lengths that teenagers nowadays are willing to reach on the basis of technology and entertainment. The film is focused around a new game which all of the teens in Staten Island are playing. This game, called “Nerve,” asks users to decide if they wish to be a “player” or a “watcher.” Players complete any dares given for money, and the watchers watch these delinquents push their own limits in order to become famous on the game. Vee and Ian find themselves in the middle of this game: forced to complete tasks such as stealing expensive clothing, riding a motorcycle, getting a tattoo, and at the end asking Ian to shoot Vee. At the start of the film, it is very clear that Vee is often in the background, hiding in the shadows of her fun-loving friend, Sydney. However, that quickly changes, for once Vee’s life and her family’s life is on the line, she begins to recognize the severity of this game and make a name for herself. The watchers of this game did not even realize how twisted this game really was because of the notion of groupthink, which discourages any individual responsibility. This reminds me of the episode from the series Black Mirror titled “Hang the DJ.” This episode sheds a new light on modern dating, for characters receive small devices which “the system” pairs them with other singles and gives each relationship an expiration date. Many of the characters in this episode do not question why they listen to this handheld device but rather they just follow whatever it says to do. Similarly, the watchers of “Nerve” are so invested in the game and the fact that everyone else is interested in it, that they do not even consider that this may be wrong. Groupthink causes people to make decisions on the basis that they do not want to disrupt the group’s harmony, and in the case of the film “Nerve” no one wants to speak out, for they say “Snitches get stitches.”
Black Mirror’s third season opens with a thought-provoking commentary on the growth of social media in our society. The episode, named “Nosedive”, follows an energetic young woman named Lacie, whose every thought revolves around raising her social media score. Although her obsession seems ridiculous to the audience, once we realize how influential one’s score is, we have no choice but to sympathize with Lacie as she struggles to please everyone she comes in contact with. We are then horrified to watch as Lacie unravels after a number of bad interactions drop her score. Her breakdown only pushes her score lower until she essentially becomes a societal pariah who, by the end of the episode, is in jail. Lacie’s fall from grace makes us question, how does a “harmless” social media ignite such strong and torturous insecurities in its users? The answer given by the episode, is unrealistic comparison. The social media depicted in “Nosedive” is made up of members whose profiles are entirely unrealistic, this includes Lacie, who frequently doctors her online look in ways that don’t reflect her true self. Yet even though she falsifies her own profile, she compares herself to others as if their profiles are completely authentic. This contradiction is what causes such unrest among social media users.
In Season 4, Episode 2 of Black Mirror titled “Arkangel” created by Charlie Brooker, mother Marie decides to try out the latest technology by getting a chip painlessly imbedded into her daughter Sara’s brain. This electronic chip has the power to track Sara, she what she is viewing, and filter things that may be dangerous, graphic, or raise her cortisol levels. The episode begins with 3-year-old Sara getting lost at the park, which prompts the mother to take advantage of the new Arkangel technology. Although this chip seems convenient for her mother while her daughter is young, it proves to do be harmful in the long run. As the episode progresses and Sara continues to grow older, the audience is introduced to more dangers of this technology on Sara’s reality. For example, since Sara was filtered from danger at a young age, she is unaware what blood, murder, fighting, or curse words are as she ages. After the dangers have become evident to her mother, she decides to tuck away the system and allow Sara to live a normal, unmonitored life. However, with this technology at her mother’s fingertips, she becomes tempted to power it back up when Sara becomes a rebellious teenager, ultimately damaging their relationship and breaking all trust. The technology Arkangel has the ability to completely distort her reality and alter what she sees and knows. This episode of Black Mirror is similar to others since it takes place in a dystopian society that revolves around a piece of technology that has yet to be invented in the real world. Similar to other episodes, the ending is rather negative and tragic, revealing the dangers of certain types of technology that seem beneficial at first, but ultimately prove to be harmful in the end. The outcome of this episode brings up concerns about the power and influence of technology in our society. With all the technological advances at our fingertips and the ability to constantly be in touch with others and aware of their whereabouts, we feel a sense of discomfort and stress when we are disconnected from others through our devices.
Black mirror, a popular netflix show, is a science fiction series that discusses exaggerated consequences of technology. One episode titled, Arkangel, shows the effect an implanted surveillance system has on a child and her mother. The story begins when a concerned mother puts an implant in her daughter, Sarah’s,brain. This allows the mom to see and hear everything that sarah does. She can even censor things that sarah perceives that may cause her stress and anxiety. At first, this seems like a great invention for the mom. No more worrying about where her daughter is and or being concerned that something bad might happen because. However, as Sarah grows up , the censoring has a negative impact on her and her social development. This is because she can’t process social cues such as anger or fear and doesn’t even know what blood looks like. She’s so sheltered from reality that she doesn’t even know what’s real anymore. Although it seemed like a great concept to be sheltered from everything that can it hurt you, pain is necessary for us to develop our own identity.
This concept of technology sheltering us from reality is similar to another black mirror episode titled Nosedive. In this episodes, the main character goes her whole life being fake for the sake of “likes” from other people. The entire society avoids the issue of pain and rejection, and instead chooses to pretend like they are happy all the time. As a result, they lose sight of who they are. And the only people with a strong sense of identity are those we reject that status quo and embrace all of the pain and hardships of life. This is the main topic I want to focus on in my paper, the pain. The facts that although we try to avoid it and shield ourselves from the tragedies that come with life. We need paint to know who we are. And with the ever growing use of technology we turn away from reality and in the process lose the pain.
“The Entire History of You”, the season one episode of Netflix original Black Mirror, created by Charlie Brooker, encapsulates the near-future possibility of memory-capturing technology. However, the episode focuses on the negative side of how this sort of technology can drive a person nearly crazy and ruin their lives as they know it. The main character, Liam, goes to a dinner party that his wife’s friend group threw. Throughout the night, Liam noticed his wife Fi, acting suspicious around a loud-mouth friend Jonas. Afterwards, Liam watches these memories over and over again on a chip, called a grain, in his neck, analyzing Fi’s every move. Eventually, we find out that Fi had an affair with Jonas around the same time that she and Liam conceived their daughter; Liam forcefully acquire this information from both Jonas and Fi. At the end of the episode. Liam is all alone in his family’s house and he uses a shaving razor to cut the grain out from behind his ear. This episode shows how technology can drive a person mad, essentially changing who they are. Although the grain allowed Liam to reveal the truth about Fi and Jonas, it caused him to destroy his family and turn into a violent person that he didn’t seem to be before this happened. At the end of the episode, it seems he realizes how his actions weren’t worth the cost, and this is shown in him cutting out the grain. This compares to other Black Mirror episodes because, on a large scale, the show illustrates the dangers associated with our society advancing our technological capabilities, destroying a level of intimacy that we currently have on a dwindling scale in our lives today.
Imagine a world where every relationship you were engaged in was controlled by a Siri-like machine. You would know exactly how long they would last and exactly what activities you’d have to be engaged in. In the Black Mirror episode “Hang the Dj”, main characters Frank and Amy are in the dating world, using the system to help them navigate through their relationships. Despite the multiple relationships that they have throughout the episode, they ultimately choose that no emotional connection compared to the one that they shared so they decided to rebel against the system. After, we are taken to the real world only to learn that Frank and Amy were only online simulations to predict their compatibilities in “real life”. If forming relationships was as simple as having a system or taking some sort of compatibility test, much of the authenticity of the process would be removed. The rise of the internet has an influential impact on society, but if it keeps expanding, it might actually compromise our ability to form genuine relationships and make decisions for ourselves. Even though the internet has many benefits towards the enhancement of efficiency and communication, it can easily be taken too far which can take away many of the freedoms that we enjoy. When we lose the ability to be able to think and make decisions for ourselves, one can only wonder if our identities and even our ability to be human is being taken away.
Black Mirror is show that presents a near future where some sort of technology has radically changed society. They are often small, plausible technological leaps that provides the show with a sense of realness. Traditionally, the show ends on some sort of bleak note, providing a warning to viewers about their impending future. However, the episode entitled Hang the DJ breaks away from this model. The episode is making a commentary on dating, and more specifically dating technology. What differentiates this episode is that there is a happy ending, as the two characters end up successfully in love.
Paolo Bacigalupi explores the idea of AI and robots through his short story Mika Model. The story begins with Mika, a female android who replicates intimacy, going to the police for a lawyer after she decapitates her owner. Detective Rivera is conflicted about charging her because of his attraction to her. At the end of the story Mika is deactivated by Holly Simms and Detective Rivera is left distraught and confused about whether Mika was a real person. This piece is particularly interesting for the way it conveys AI. In most pieces that deal with robots, the technology is portrayed very negatively with the robots threatening to rule over humanity. In Mika Model, however, the story paints AI in a very sympathetic light; Mika appears to be very sympathetic while the humans seem cruel in comparison. This short story reveals a prevalent identity issue today with technology. Humans are becoming cruel through their interactions with technology.
Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror explores a myriad of contemporary issues, typically pertaining to the increased prevalence of technology and what exactly that means for the future of our society. In the episode “Nosedive”, Brooker explores the effects that society’s obsession with peer acceptance on social media has on our daily interactions and the authenticity of self-presentation. The characters of this society are superficial in their interactions, and their overly polite attitude lacks authenticity, and is typically used only to get positive rankings on one’s online profile. Over the course of the story, the main character, Lacey, attempts to improve her ranking on her social media account in order to receive special perks that accompany being of a higher status. She is delighted when she is invited to be the maid of honor at her childhood best friend’s wedding, who has a very elite standing, meaning that her participation in the wedding ceremony would undoubtedly give her a much desired social media boost. Due to a series of unfortunate events, Lacey has a challenging time getting to the wedding, meaning her social media score plummets as the people that she interacts with continue to give her dismal ratings. This eventually leads to Lacey finally giving this oppressive and superficial world a piece of her mind when she finally reaches the wedding, landing herself in jail due to her true expression of her emotions. At a first glance, one might see this episode as simply demonstrating how an obsession with social media leads to inauthenticity, however, throughout this episode, it becomes clear that the superficial appearance any individual characters speak large volumes to their internal state. One’s external appearance typically does not perfectly reflect who they are, but in order to speak to the superficiality of social media, one’s appearances is directly correlated to who they are in this society, so as Lacey’s appearance becomes more disheveled, she begins to approach a more liberated attitude, and can therefore express emotions in a genuine manner.
The Black Mirror episode, Hang the DJ, directed by Tim Van Patten, follows Frank and Amy, two individuals using a dating service, which promises to find a user’s “perfect match” with 99.8% accuracy. In the beginning of the episode, the situation seems quite familiar: a young couple set up on a date by a digital dating device, which viewers can easily see as the future of dating technologies like Tinder. Frank and Amy meet at a restaurant, where the setting becomes increasingly unfamiliar. The couple touches their devices to reveal their relationship’s expiration date: 12 hours. When Amy gives a bite of her meal, which was chosen based on the device’s knowledge of her palate, the couple appears to be surrounded by shadowy individuals who watch their every move, ensuring that they comply with the dating service’s instructions. The later revelation that the couple lives in a walled-in society further increases the viewer’s uncertainty about the world in which Frank and Amy live. The end of the story reveals that the viewer’s trepidation is warranted, with Frank and Amy’s world exposed as a simulation for a dating service, that will help real-world Frank and Amy find their “perfect match”. Hang the DJ is often noted as diverging from other episodes of Black Mirror, because of its seemingly happy ending. The ending may inspire hope for real-world Frank and Amy, however, it puts into question the rights of their simulations, which appeared to possess emotionality and desires for a future. Hang the DJ fits into the genre of futuristic literature and films that ask its viewers if machines created for human use are deserving of rights. As technology becomes increasingly intelligent, mirroring humanity, it becomes ever more evident that the rights of artificial intelligence must be addressed.
The Black Mirror episode “Arkangel,” directed by Jodie Foster, is an episode that is part of a Sci-Fi series that explores the possible downfalls and transitions that come along with the advancement of modern-day technology. After single mother Marie loses her young daughter Sara at the playground, she becomes fearful of the well-being of her daughter when she is not around her. Marie learns about Arkangel, a tech-operated child monitoring system that allows Marie to never go without the full supervision of her daughter. Arkangel allows Marie to filter out the negative stimuli in Sara’s vision, GPS track her, and even gets to see Sara’s every move. Due to this new technology, Sara has not been allowed to develop regularly. Without being able to see any of the negative stimuli, Sara has no clue what happens behind the filtered picture her vision sees. Sara eventually gets fed up with this censoring because she wants to see the contents behind them. She becomes curious and decides to prick her finger producing blood. After this incident, the psychologist tells Marie it is best to turn off the Arkangel tablet so that Sara could develop regularly. Sara starts to develop normally until one day she lies to Marie about watching a movie with her friends. After a few missed phone calls, Marie decides to use the Arkangel once again. She sees Sara having sex with a classmate and later on catches her snorting cocaine. Sara eventually finds out about her mother overseeing her again after finding an emergency contraception package in the trash can. Sara hits her mother brutally and runs away. This episode can be seen as an extreme of what Michael P. Lynch talks about in his article “Privacy and the Threat to the Self,” where excessive supervision hurts one’s freedom and development. Throughout Arkangel, the idea of personal privacy is examined from both ends. One from the viewpoint of Marie, who is trying to be a good mother and be confident in the wellbeing of her daughter through monitoring and filtering. On the other hand, Sara is personally affected by the unnecessary supervision and filtering that hinders her social life, emotional wellbeing, and privacy. In “Arkangel,” Jodie Foster examines the ultimate downfalls of excessive supervision on privacy through the monitoring system Arkangel.
A society that revolves around finding your near perfect significant other through artificial intelligence. The Black Mirror episode “Hang the DJ” directed by Tim Van Patten seems to portray this idea. The protagonists, Frank and Amy, seem to be trying to find their almost perfect match by following directions from an AI called “Coach” in a city that was blocked off from the rest of the world by massive walls. If they found their ideal matches then the city would allow them to leave; however, Amy and Frank begin to question the system because they think that they are perfect for one another. Eventually, the two rebel against the AI and the city in light of figuring out that the entire city and program was a test made specifically for them. However, the twist ending was figuring out that the two characters that the viewers have been following were actually just simulations themselves for a dating app in the real world. At the very end of the episode, the real Frank and Amy are revealed and they seem to be looking at each other because Amy used a the dating app that depicted Frank to be her 99.8% match, but is this really a happy ending? The Frank and Amy the viewers see at the end did not go through anything that the other Frank and Amy have gone through so that the two can realize that they are ideal for each other without going through a “process.” This idea of skipping the struggles of finding the “one” is a strange because that means the real Franks and Amy are relying on an algorithm when the other Frank and Amy proved their love to be true by refuting the algorithm. So, will the real Frank and Amy truly end up as happy as their simulated selves by following the AI?
In Paolo Bacigalupi’s short story, “Mika Model”, technology and humanity come to a head in the form of a titular Mika Model, an android designed as a pleasure robot that wanders into a police station one day. She seems normal enough at first, if not innocent; right from the start, her ever-learning algorithms do what they are programmed to do best, and she toys with detective Rivera constantly. She insists upon needing a lawyer, and is met with cynicism until she produces the still-dripping head of her former owner from a bag, and confesses the murder on the spot. Throughout the ride to the scene of the crime in Rivera’s cruiser, the conversation at her former owner’s home, and the arrival of a representative of Mika’s producers to ‘deactivate’ her in a brutally homicide-like way, Mika is presented in a series of contrasts and, more sparingly, similarities to the ‘human’ world around her. In this way, she is symbolic of the dissonance between the rapid pace of technological advancement in our society and our ability to adapt to, and react to, these changes.
In the fourth season of Black Mirror, episode four, titled “Hang the DJ,” takes place in a forested and isolated area where “The System” determines peoples’ relationships based on data from their past ones. The director, Charlie Brooker, devises The System as a dating platform meant to guide individuals to their true love, using trial and error through temporary relationships to create perfect matches. Frank and Amy are the protagonists of the episode and are trapped within the physical and mental barriers of The System. They developed an emotional bond through their twelve-hour relationship. This almost-immediate separation prompted Frank and Amy to drain themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally due to the constant loop of short-term relationships, until they met again once more. This time, however, they decided to revolt against the limitations of The System and climb the surrounding wall, which surrounded all they knew. Upon climbing, they realized that their world was a simulation meant to determine the real-life matching percentage of Frank and Amy’s real-life personalities. One thousand simulations were ran and Frank and Amy revolted against The System in all but two trials, making them a 99.8% match. However, over the course of the episode, Frank and Amy’s awareness of their present condition exponentially increases. They view this cycle of sex and relationships as finite and without meaning since their attention is driven towards each other rather than The System’s trust. Furthermore, the dating platform utilized in this episode of Black Mirror is a hyperbolized version of the contemporary state of Tinder. Tinder and The System are alike due to their attempts to match people with others through the listing of personal interests, mannerisms, and hobbies on both platforms. In light of technology and its relation to identity, Tinder and The System have one fundamental difference that drives everything, which is how The System matches people for them, using a compilation of personal data from everyday experiences to drive such a match. Here is the distinctive factor of “Hang the DJ,” for it explores the curiosity surrounding online dating and its constituents, illustrating one of the possible dystopias that may come alive from humanity’s growing dependence on technology.
The Netflix series “Black Mirror” is known for its disturbing episodes, placing the settings for each episode in a not so distant future dystopia. Unlike most episodes, “San Junipero” is seen by most to end in a happy ending. However from a certain perspective, particularly the Catholic perspective, I believe the episode is the most disturbing of them all. “San Junipero” starts with the interactions between two young women, in the town “San Junipero”, both of whom start to fall in love with one another. The episode progresses, and the viewer learns that their lives in “San Junipero” are lived out in a computer, and in real life they are old and dying. They decide that when they die, they will put their consciousness into the system forever. The final scene of the episode shows the two characters after they have died, living happily ever after. I argue,however, that ending is not a happy ending.
Charlie Booker’s Black Mirror episode “Arkangel” shows the complex relationship between mother, Marie, and daughter Sara, after a mother’s worst nightmare has occurred- losing her daughter. Finding a misleading relief of microchipping her daughter, Marie has more than just access to her location. Able to see, feel, and control Sara’s engagement with the outside world through the Arkangel device, Marie finds this a solution to all of her worries. However, the lack of parental guidance and exposure to stressful stimulation Marie thinks she is protecting her from taints the two’s relationship over time by the way the technology alters the growth and development of Sara from living a trauma-free life. This episode is distinctive by the way it emphasizes the phenomenon of paranoid, helicopter parents through elements such as parental controls and microchipping. In discreet ways or not, this concept of technology altering our everyday behavior long term is similar to “The Circle” by Dave Eggers. Although the use of microchipping is not present in this story, being under constant surveillance forces changes in human behavior and impacts the relationships you have that are closest to you. This theme shows the underlying threat to our humanity that our relationships will become toxic and ingenuine the more we look to technology to strengthen them and use it to do the jobs people, by nature, were made to do.
In the Netflix series Black Mirror, many intrusive potentials are shown in relation to futuristic technologies. These technologies usually show storage of identity and invasion of privacy in some manner. In “Hang the DJ” directed by Tim Van Patten, this idea is taken further, as the episode explores what can happen when a tablet decides all of your personal relationships. The story follows Frank and Amy, two young individuals being lead through relationships by this tablet, called “Coach”. The story unfolds as they are paired with numerous individual hoping to find their “ultimate match”, all the while realizing that they themselves are meant to be together. This episode shows the viewers what can happen when technology takes over your life. Because relationships are a big part of who we identify as, this episode (unlike the others) taps into a very key idea. If these relationships determine our identity, and this technology is determining our relationships, is it essentially creating an identity for us?
In Paolo Bacigalupi’s short story Mika Model, Officer Rodriguez quarrels with how to deal with a crime committed by artificial intelligence. At the police station, a seductive woman comes to his desk asking for a lawyer. When she first approaches him, Rodriguez cannot figure out where he has seen this woman before. Then he remembers. This is no person, this is a Mika Model, a sex robot programmed to seduce and please. He seems confused. Then the Mika Model plops a head and a bloody knife on his desk, she giggles. For the remainder of the story Rodriguez is constantly reminding himself that the AI is not a person, it does not have feelings. Yet, he struggles to recognize this and experiences emotions such as guilt and arousal. The story ends with a company lawyer coming to the house of the Mika Model’s owner and deactivating it by stabbing it. The lawyer reminds Rodriguez that it is not living so end the story. This story presents the question and idea of can people and AI coexist? The story presents AI that acts just like a human and “learns” just like a person. Is there room in the world for AI to live alongside us? Are they actually “just like us”?
Have you ever wished you could replay a memory for others to experience? Netflix’s Black Mirror episode, “The Entire History of You” envisions a future where everyone has a powerful memory implant in their heads that records every detail of people’s experiences. This enables individuals to play back memories from any moment for others to view, referred to as a “redo” on the show. The protagonist, Liam, questions his wife’s faithfulness after he plays back memories of her interacting with a seductive friend named Jonas. As Liam continues searching for the truth, he becomes obsessive over small behaviors and interactions between his wife, Fi, and Liam. Piecing together the pieces, Liam compulsively redoes only questionable memories of Fi, blinding him to the most pleasant and intimate ones. He ultimately discovers that Fi cheated on him with Jonas and is their child’s true father. Similar to most Black Mirror episodes, “The Entire History of You” predicts the downfalls of technological advancements. Although, unlike other dystopian technological stories, this episode suggests that knowledge is dangerous and ignorance is bliss.
Paolo Bacigalupi’s “Mika Model” has it all: a gritty noir setting, deep philosophical questions, murder, and sex robots. Set in the near future, this short story features Detective Rivera, an investigator whose worldview is shaken when he meets Mika, an advanced AI designed for erotic activities, who admits to killing her abusive owner. After surveying the crime scene, Rivera is faced with an existential question: can he even consider an AI a sentient being capable of murder? Before he can reach an answer, a corporate lawyer from the Mika company arrives and “deactivates” Mika with a screwdriver to the eye socket. Rivera is left shocked, wondering if he just witnessed a murder or not, despite the lawyer’s insistence that Mika was, at her core, just code. Bacigalupi leaves the reader pondering a philosophical question: at what point can an advanced artificial intelligence be considered sentient, if ever? The lawyer and Mika herself are the mouthpieces of the two schools of thought; one argues that a robot can never transcend its man-made origin, the other that the complexity of AI can rival the biological code innate in humankind. Despite the cut-and-dry finale, spoken by the lawyer, Bacigalupi subtly gives credence to Mika’s argument, that despite her origin, she is sentient.
Netflix’s Black Mirror is a science fiction series that illustrates consequences of exaggerated technological advancements. The final episode of season one, “The Entire History of You”, features memory capturing implant, the grain, that can replay any past experience. Although such technology may be helpful in remembering countless events, names, and important details, the episode instead focuses on how a memory capturing device can prevent an individual from enjoying life. Over the course of the episode, the main character, Liam, investigates the possibility of his wife’s infidelity. Liam’s wife, Fi, continually denies the claim. She insists that the other man, Jonas, is an old friend from a short relationship. As a lawyer, Liam pays particular attention to small details in his evidence and he is eventually able to illicit a confession, despite Fi’s attempts to profess her love to him. The grain enables Liam to discover the truth of Fi’s infidelity, but it also destroys relationships and causes extreme violence in the process. By the end of the episode, Liam realizes that his highly detailed memory has lowered his quality of life, which leads him to cut the grain out of his head.
The first episode in the third season of Black Mirror, “Nosedive,” it exactly as the title states. Lacie Pound’s life is dictated by her ranking on social media. In a dystopian society, the higher the ranking, the better the quality of life and the higher they are on the social hierarchy. Lacie tries immensely to raise her score, faking smiles, offering croissants and constantly giving out five-star ratings to other people. But when Lacie finds out that her score is not high enough to afford her dream home, her attempts escalate. Her last hope is to deliver a speech at Naomi’s wedding, her high ranking childhood friend. Before the event, Lacie has an argument with her brother who ends up lowering her rank, creating a snowball effect. Lacie then receives multiple down votes by every person she interacts with until her life is in complete shambles in a tattered dirty dress in front of Naomi’s high ranking friends, against Naomi’s wishes. Lacie’s score plummets, and she is sent to jail during her speech. Sitting in jail, with the company of one other inmate, Lacie is finally free to share whatever she wants. Unlike most Black Mirror episodes, none of the technology is set into the future. Lacie’s obsession with her social media scores caused her to completely disassociate herself from reality. She and other people of the society become transfixed in effortless perfection. The more Lacie’s score drops, the more authentic interaction she has with other people. This episode on Black Mirror points out the irony of social media. Although it was made to share people’s experiences, it creates a false reality. In the end, when Lacie is physically taken away from social media, it is the happiest and most authentic the audience has ever seen her.
With the constant increase in technological advancements have come an increase in the ways in which people are able to communicate. Text messaging, Instagram, Snapchat, or… online dating all take on prevalent roles in modern society. Many would likely agree online dating carries a certain stigma. For a series of different reasons, public opinion can lead some to believe some sense of dishonor should be associated with finding a potential partner through this newly created technology. The Black Mirror episode “Hang the DJ” contradicts this claim of what some people view as unconventional dating. The episode revolves around two young people named Amy and Frank. Amy and Frank are set up through a compatibility algorithm known as the “System”. In taking part in the System, participants are provided with a small device that provides the user with advice and an expiration date on the participants’ relationship. Though Frank and Amy seem to hit it off, the System only allots them with 12 hours. After both being matched repeatedly with other people, they find they are meant for each other. Ultimately, they rebel against the entire System in order to be together. Through subtle hints embedded throughout different scenes in “Hang the DJ”, the show is able to display the message that sometimes in order to obtain true love you have to go against conventional norms, especially those pertaining to technology.
As the show progresses, there are different actions that prevail Amy and Frank’s discontent with the System. After the initial 12 hours between the two are over, both Amy and Frank are reassigned to new matches. The second Frank meets his new match Nicola, it is clear Frank and Nicola are both rather unhappy with the circumstances they are under. Shortly after Frank and Nicola introduce themselves, they checked the expiry date on their relationship. To both of their surprise, they find they were going to be together for an entire year. Immediately following, Nicola asked her device “Coach, is this a mistake?” (Hang the DJ 12:40). When she found out it was not she responded with “Jesus fucking Christ” (Hang the DJ 12:50). These sort of mannerisms and reactions continue through the show. Rather than persevering through the downfalls they find in the system, they maintain a sense of hostility and disinterest towards their partners.
Neither Amy or Frank can seem to find any sort of happiness with any other partner. Random and unexpected encounters between the two really drive the audience towards believing they are truly destined for each other. Yet, as many other media entertainment’s do, there seems to be something holding them back from being together.
After some time the System rematches Amy and Frank. The audience is led to believe they will finally be able to be together. They agree to put off checking their expiry date. Amongst all the good times they are sharing, Amy seems to become particularly apprehensive of the validity of the algorithm. She questions, “What if there is no scrutiny, it’s just putting us together in any old order, and we all go along with it ‘cause they’re always telling us how clever it is?” (Hang the DJ 30:09). There is a part of her that believes the System is intentionally working against them, though she has no real way of validating this. At this point, it becomes more apparent that maybe Amy and Frank will find a way to be together.
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