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“Black Mirror” isn’t just predicting the future—it’s causing it

By Quartz

Black Mirror, the TV series written by the smart and gloomy Charlie Brooker, appears to routinely predict and dramatize world news and policies. But insteadRead full story

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  • Beth Comstock
    Beth Comstock proAuthor

    Not just fiction: In our digital age, every area of activity is now subject to many possible futures emerging, including data surveillance. Black Mirror’s near future keeps getting nearer and darker, which is why the show is scary & clever.

  • John Oswald
    John OswaldManaging Director at Method

    Not a new phenomenon - more benignly, many many clients have said about design briefs over the years that it ‘should be like Minority Report’, you remember the interactive displays etc etc... oh, and the fact we have beacons and ultra personalised ads in retail environments. Commerce has been tracking dystopian sci-fi for years, conveniently forgetting it’s meant to be dystopian...

  • Kwabena Akuamoah-Boateng
    Kwabena Akuamoah-Boateng

    Yeah, I can see how interactive movies could be the future, two things worry me about them. The obvious being the data collected. A couple of interactive episodes and they know what ads or suggestions to serve you.

    I also worry about the ethics of it. I don’t want to be making the decision to kill or chop up someone in a movie. In Bandersnatch, I chose not to fight and it rewinds and tells me it’s a fight scene, I’m supposed to fight. Weird.

  • Even with all that, the main problem with analyzing data and targeting based on the results is still very much alive and kicking:

    We may have the “what”, we haven’t created a single form of tech to help us with the “why”. Not yet, anyways. Am I choosing a violent narrative on the show because I’m violent? Or because a friend at work told me to give it a try and be amazed? Am I liking someone’s post about a vegan restaurant because I am vegan myself, or because I have a crush on them and want them

    Even with all that, the main problem with analyzing data and targeting based on the results is still very much alive and kicking:

    We may have the “what”, we haven’t created a single form of tech to help us with the “why”. Not yet, anyways. Am I choosing a violent narrative on the show because I’m violent? Or because a friend at work told me to give it a try and be amazed? Am I liking someone’s post about a vegan restaurant because I am vegan myself, or because I have a crush on them and want them to notice me? Am I searching for a vacation because I want to go, or because I had a bet with a friend that it won’t cost less than $5k?

    With all these predictions of a sad future, we’re still no way near a solution to this question, it seems. The “why” remains hidden. And until we solve the riddle of how to insert word-of-mouth into the equation, I’m not falling for these targeted dystopian nightmares.

    Don’t believe me? Look at the average Click Through Rate we consider successful, review how much these companies already know about us, and then, let’s talk...

  • Erin Rey
    Erin ReySchool Counselor

    The entire series is maddeningly brilliant, creative and original, but mind blowingly terrifying in its insinuations of where we are headed. Any time a story comes up like this I always think of the brilliant line Jeff Goldum says in Jurassic Park when discussing the ethics behind recreating dinosaurs, “YEAH, BUT YOUR SCIENTISTS WERE SO PREOCCUPIED WITH WHETHER OR NOT THEY COULD THAT THEY DIDN’T STOP TO THINK IF THEY SHOULD.”

    Sorry for the all caps. Copy pasted the quote.

  • Marc P.
    Marc P.product marketing

    IMO, technology is causing more problems than it cures. It has definitely assisted medicine and the disabled, but society as a whole has lost millions of people because of technical advances in warfare. We also are loosing our sovereignty, privacy and freedom since the economy and social services are now binary and controlled by systems and services. Those services are owned by entities that have and will cooperate with governments. We already witness a trend of this behavior and the effect is citizens

    IMO, technology is causing more problems than it cures. It has definitely assisted medicine and the disabled, but society as a whole has lost millions of people because of technical advances in warfare. We also are loosing our sovereignty, privacy and freedom since the economy and social services are now binary and controlled by systems and services. Those services are owned by entities that have and will cooperate with governments. We already witness a trend of this behavior and the effect is citizens loosing access to services and economic participation if they don’t conform or are only suspected of breaking a law. On related note, two superficial words in the realm of technology will also create more problems than they solve: Artificial, and Virtual. The real world and successful relationships are dependent on the experience of Tangible, Empirical and Real.

  • Sutjahjo Ngaserin
    Sutjahjo Ngaserin

    While data collection has big ramifications, I doubt Netflix can collect anything meaningful from Bandersnatch. Expecially not from Black Mirror fans. Most are likeky to watch it multiple times with every possible choice of different paths. If Netflix tries to analyse these data, their algorithm will go mad and none wiser 🤣

  • Elle O
    Elle O

    I found it to be annoying and I wanted it to end. I do love the series.

  • Thom Schram
    Thom SchramStrategist

    Must admit that I'm a bit surprised that neither the article nor the comments I read touched on the most notable affect of Black Mirror: it's shaping our collective imagination on topics and ideas that are on the horizon of reality. The fact that the show is focused on negative variants of these eventualities means that this entire audience now has these negative stigmas burned into its subconscious.

  • William Wood
    William WoodOwner at William Wood

    I’m still waiting for Brave New World, and 1984...

  • Cynthia Cynthia
    Cynthia Cynthia

    Conspiracy theory?

  • Glenn S.
    Glenn S.

    How about just don’t play? I won’t, problem solved.

  • Manit Bhandari
    Manit Bhandari

    Killing piracy enroute

  • Amar Saluja
    Amar Saluja

    Its worth following!!!

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