“Black Mirror” a warning message about the future of the ICTs

The internet and ICT have affected many aspects of life in the 21st century, and new developments in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Internet of Things, Internet of Everything, etc. promise an even greater role for state of the art ICT in human life. These technologies and the (speculated) ways in which they affect our lives have been represented in different TV and cinema productions, with different perspectives. “Black Mirror”, is one of the TV series that specifically reflect on this issue, with many examples of how the already established or (far) future ICT services can change human life, behaviours and habits, social practices, and even values and beliefs.

The series, which consist of 3 seasons (3 episodes in season 1, 3 episodes in season 2, a special episode after season 2 and 6 episodes in season 3) was broadcast from 4 December 2011 to 21 October 2016 by Channel 4 (United Kingdom) and Netflix (season 3). While the series try to show how the new technologies can, in positive or negative ways, affect human life, the question is how this set of standalone episodes frame new technologies, whether it is considering them as positive improvements in human life or it has a critical view of their side effects; whether it portrays application of the new ICT services as appropriate or it is over pessimistic about the improper and violent use of them by political powers, or if it worries about how misuse of such technologies can lead to chaotic situations in different societies.

This research tries to answer these questions by performing content analysis on all 13 episodes. The results reveal that the series is depicting new technologies as rather harmful or uncontrollable phenomena, mostly misused, and causing human beings more trouble than good. This seems to convey a warning message, as to how dangerous such technologies could be for human kind.

Hamid Reza Akrami