In the Netflix anthology series Black Mirror, technology is a reoccurring tool for evil and misfortune. IMDB writes it as “an anthology series exploring a twisted, high-tech multiverse where humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide.”
The thought-provoking plot scenarios, the believability of the sci-fi storylines, and the unexpected endings create an intriguing set of episodes.
Sci-Fi often falls into fantasy instead of believable futuristic science. Star Trek has alien species that evolved independently but still look very humanoid with human mannerisms. Back to the Future thinks fixing the future simply involves getting two people back together even though an hour’s difference could result in a totally different kid during pregnancy because of the myriad of factors that go into conception (just ignore the butterfly effect basically). And the crazy impractical metallic architecture of “futuristic” cities for visual appeal is in a myriad of sci-fi movies from the last few decades. As Spongebob satirically puts it in the episode SB-129, “Everything is chrome in the future”.
This is where Black Mirror is a refreshing change to the genre. The show has many futuristic sci-fi ideas, but within the realm of cultural believability. Several episodes highlight eye contacts that show augmented reality for the wearers. The show often deals with the political / cultural implications of this technology.
Another reoccurring theme in Black Mirror’s anthology is virtual worlds. These aren’t headset sort of worlds, but complete immersion through the mind accessed by wearing a little disc on the side of the user’s head.
Besides the discs there are also little device that can be implanted in the brain. This device can scan the user’s brain and create an artificial copy of that user’s consciousness, complete with the memories of that individual. The artificially intelligent copy believes and feels like they are the original person, but they’re not. These artificial copies can be put into virtual worlds where they can feel at home (or in prison like in Black Mirror’s White Christmas episode).
This whole concept of consciousness uploading gets confused in Black Mirror’s USS Callister episode. The episode again deals with the idea of artificial copies of people believing that they’re the real version. The difference is that these copies are produced in the virtual world by simply accessing someone’s DNA. When these digital copies appear in the USS Callister virtual world, they come complete with all the memories of the original individuals.
This suggests that our DNA also conveniently holds our memories as well, which we know isn’t accurate. Suspension of belief is broken hence the enjoyability of an otherwise well-thought out show. Some can choose to believe there’s an off-script brain data cloud in this episode that holds their memories and links it to their DNA but it seems more likely the writers simply overlooked a crucial aspect of the show.