Black Mirror

Courtesy of Netflix

Black Mirror

January 15, 2018

Black Mirror: What Would Wilbert Do

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I believe that we (“we” being those who watched the show, so yes, there will be spoilers) can all agree that “USS Callister” is the best installment on this season of Black Mirror. It had terrifying technology, surprising humor, an introspective meaning and plot twists that make M. Night Shyamalan gasp. But, it’s really the technology that I am concerned with. Since we are on the same page, here is the question: What will we do if the Black Mirror world arrives?

Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror paints a universe that takes place in the future. The near future. A future near enough that makes me worried about Google Glass and the Amazon Echo. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to imagine myself, a nerdy Asian Cornell engineer student, in the scenarios Brooker presents the audience in this most recent season as practice to see if I will survive.

“USS Callister”

Black Mirror

Courtesy of Netflix

Main cast of Black Mirror: USS Callister.

The technology: A videogame simulation of a Star Trek-esque world where digital clones of people in the real world are stuck as slaves, forced to follow the orders of the game’s player.

Initially, I think I would be fine in this world. I had two different sets of Star Trek Halloween costumes growing up, so yes, I am a fan. However, like most other students here at Cornell, I have pondered the question of existence, and would probably go to supreme stages of shock if I was told point black that my life is nothing more than a bunch of digital code. There would be no way where I could have the willpower to fight off the dread of living forever in a space environment.

“Arkangel”

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The technology: A Big Brother version of parental monitoring software, where mothers can observe every single action of their children, including watching them make love for the first time and snorting lines of coke with their dropout boyfriends.

I have a tiger mom who calls me every three days. In high school, she honestly considered the possibility of having me not sign up for driver’s education courses so that she can transport me everywhere and observe my every move. Needless to say, I would not be a fan if my mom was there with me during my first kiss, let alone sex. It might be enough for me to be like Brenna Harding in this episode and hitchhike out of town, considering I barely survived high school in the first place.

“Crocodile”

Black Mirror

Courtesy of Netflix

Black Mirror

The technology: A memory recall device used by the police and insurance agencies that can record on video the emotions and visual images seen by the witness.

In “Crocodile,” the whole mess got started when Mia and Rob, driving back from the club, accidently hit a cycler and killed him. Then, instead of calling the cops, the paranoid couple decide to dispense the body in a lake. Fifteen years later, Mia decides to kill Rob for being a blabbermouth, gets investigated by an insurance agent, displays her memory of killing Rob and the bicyclist on the screen, decides to kill the insurance agent, goes the insurance agent’s home and kills her husband and baby child, and then attends her child’s school musical. This was all because of the recaller. If I was in this situation, I would be wishing that my mother went through on her decision on driver’s ed. It wasn’t me behind the wheel.

“Hang the DJ”

The technology: Tinder meets teenage fiction dystopian society, where the dating algorithm determines if you and the person you swiped right on are compatible based on how many simulations the two of you rebelled against men with tasers.

Initially, I was a fan of this. My dating life right now is like the real-life version of any Kidz Bop song: it’s a sad joke. An app that sorts out the mess of “is she the one” for me by seeing if my potential date and I work well together without getting my hands dirty seems great. But the idea of me fighting a simulated totalitarian society along with a stranger seems too much. I honestly do not think there is anyone who can escape buff bodyguards while I complain the whole time.

“Metalhead”

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The technology: Super killer robot dogs.

You can be racist and say, “Hey, aren’t you Asian? Shouldn’t YOU be eating the dogs, not the other way around?” But no, there is no way in hell I can survive against metallic war canines that can use kitchen knives better than me.

“Black Museum”

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The technology: In this episode, there are multiple devices, but they all revolve around the idea that one can transfer conscious from one body to another body or inanimate object.

I honestly am not worried that much about this technology. Ethical arguments aside, I do not think that anyone would ever want to keep my conscious after my death. My parents would be happy for a finally quiet house, my friends would be glad to get rid of an obnoxious man-child, and I probably wouldn’t have a girlfriend (still).

Wilbert Ren is a sophomore in the College of Engineering. He can be reached at wr62@cornell.edu.