Thursday, May 23Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Can our technology be predicted?

One thing is clear in the society that we live in, and that is technology is increasingly pervading our everyday lives. Seemingly everywhere you go, you will witness people of all ages in public, blank-faced and glued to their phone screens (and I can’t say that I’m not guilty of this). The television show Black Mirror somewhat prophetically explores the intricate ways in which technology affects human relationships and interaction. Every single episode has its own individual story line and they seem to be at different points of technological progress. Some display the technology that is very similar to what we currently have, but other episodes provide a bleak view of what our future has to offer.

*Spoiler alert* In episode one of the newest series, people give each other ratings in their everyday lives which then goes on to dictate how well they do in society. Their access to better housing, whether people will opt to help them out in their time of need and their own personal friendships and relationships are completely dependent upon this idea of ratings. The need for validation from others is depicted as completely shallow, and the system itself is strangely reminiscent of the Instagram app that is in use today.

The very first episode of the first season, one of the most controversial, depicted the prime minister based on David Cameron performing a sex act with a pig on television which was broadcasted live to the nation as the result of a blackmailing scheme. A long time after this episode was aired, it came out that this may have actually happened, albeit not live on air. The rumours that David Cameron actually did perform a sexual act on a pig whilst a member of the controversial elitist Bullingdon club at Oxford came out almost 4 years after the episode had aired. That’s not the only thing that Black Mirror has predicted; similar memory implants that were featured in the third episode of the first season have had their first human tests in 2015 for people who have medical issues that affect their memories, such as Alzheimer’s disease and brain injuries. Currently there are also crime rings that are blackmailing people through their own webcams as featured in the newest season. These crime rings run from places such as Morocco and the Philippines and they work by targeting victims and persuading them to perform sexual acts, which they record and threaten to share the footage unless the victims pay money.

Clearly many of the plot lines of this show have their basis in reality and the direction in which technology takes us. Due to the nature of the way in which Charlie Brooker has seemingly predicted many of the things which have developed after the time of the show, this leads to the question what other aspects of the show will have their basis in reality in the future? To what extent will technology be used to further alienate us from other humans, and used as a weapon to create soldiers who don’t have a conscience about those they are killing? Black Mirror is truly an unmissable show, if you haven’t seen it yet it’s available on Netflix and it’s definitely worth the watch.