By Langston Myers
At this point, most St. Mary’s girls, who have probably run out of things to watch on Netflix, have heard of, if not clicked on, the show “Black Mirror.” What they might not know, though, is how some of the technology displayed as fiction could be possible within the next couple of decades.
The Netflix series, “Black Mirror,” a British science-fiction series, is known for its dark ideas about the future of humanity. While some episodes feature technology that is used every day, other episodes feature technology that seems completely outside of the realm of possibility. But, as technology has developed with the release of the fourth season of “Black Mirror,” some of the outlandish technology used on the show is becoming less farfetched.
For example, in an episode titled “Fifteen Million Merits,” people are forced to watch various advertisements, and when they try and look away, an alarm is sounded. In another episode in season 4 called “Arkangel,” a mother is able to see what her child sees through a parental tracking implant that was placed in her daughter’s brain. It seems impossible that technology will be developed that has the ability to record what our eyes see or even display that image to someone else, but in reality, some of that technology already exists.
In fact, a Swedish technology company called Tobii is in the process of developing eye tracking technology in order to allow big business to know exactly what catches their target audience’s eye in marketing and advertising. In addition, scientists have recently been able to capture a rough sketch of people’s vision by measuring brain activity in MRIs.
Another feature in Black Mirror is the ability to store consciousnesses or memories on devices, rather than them merely remaining in the brain. At first glance, this seems impossible compared to the quite real possibility that our parents might be able to track us more intensely than they already do with parental tracking apps like Life360. But, believe it or not, this technology is also probable. In fact, Theodore Berger, a professor at University of Southern California, is working on creating a chip that can be implanted into the brain to record memories. His purpose in its development is to combat the dementia effects of Alzheimer’s, but it’s not difficult to imagine how this technology could be used — or abused.
Arabella McGowan (11) says, “this technology doesn’t seem exactly the same as the technology that was used in Black Mirror, but I am sure, at some point, something similar to ‘Arkangel’ will exist. I understand the need for parents to know that their kids are safe, but parental controls that intense cross a boundary of privacy.”
Although most of this technology is completely hypothetical, it’s important to consider that it is consumers that play the biggest role in determining not the technology that large companies release but how we choose to use it. Abbie Ryan (11) says “Black Mirror does a good job of showing us that technology is power, and, used in the wrong way, can have drastic effects on society and the way humans interact.” Even Toyota’s new driverless pizza vans that were released at the beginning of this year in Las Vegas are catering to the consumer — demonstrating a heightened, if not total, human dependence on technology.