Black Mirror 1.3 “The entire History of YOU”

Values: Transparency – Curse or Blessing?

Whenever corrupt events occur in the public administration, at least the political opposition demands “full transparency” and education. In Austria, a parliamentary committee of inquiry is set up. Like the examples of Finance Minister K.H. Grasser, the purchase of the interceptor or the BUWOG affair show, this institution has contributed to any clarification. In fact, transparency should have a very high priority. But can also cause the absolute opposite, such as Black Mirror 1.3. “The transparent I” Shows.

In this episode, humanity has already made a significant step towards transhumanism. For those who can or want to afford it, there is a “Memory Enhancer” available. This is a small chip that is implanted under the ear and perfect the memory. People who have installed such a device can remember all situations. Experienced can then be retrieved using a remote control. The display is either on a screen for others or via a biotechnology eye for themselves.

In the first scene, Liam Foxwell is seen in a job interview. He applies for the position of a lawyer for “retroactive educational lawsuits”. For example, someone could sue their parents for making mistakes in their education. For too little self-confidence then the legal way against his own parents would be possible. With the “Memory Enhancer” suitable evidence from childhood could be reconstructed. All past situations are retrievable and nothing is forgotten. Humanity has become so used to this technology that it is completely absorbed in everyday life. At the airport, Liam Foxwell does not need to show a pass, but only has to play a fast run of his last 14 days to the customs officer. Terrorist activities, crimes and minor offenses would be detected immediately. There is full transparency.

Transparency is embedded in the field of tension of available / unavailable and understandable / incomprehensible. Being transparent would mean something that is clear and open.


From these two polarities “comprehensibility and availability” four dimensions can be derived. These are:

  • the banner
  • the covert
  • the secret
  • the encrypted

In the quadrant “hidden” the information or the situation would be understandable, but it is not available. Historically, this includes Gnostics. Ancient wisdom teachings such as the Kybalion (as above so below) or the Kabbalah (Tree of Life) were understandable, the access however very limited. You had to belong to a certain social class (priest) or at least be a member of a sect (order). A modern gnostic would be stock trading. Information about the growth potential of a company is easy to understand. If you have access to this data, you will earn easy and big money. Insider trading is punished just as the church pursued the Gnostics in the Middle Ages.

In modern times, one would classify the conspiracy theories as understandable but unavailable. That the first moon landing was staged in a film studio is understandable but undetectable. Nor is it provable that the Jews take over world domination, that refugees were set in motion by Erdogan and the Bilderbergers take over world trade. But understandably, these theories would be for a vast majority. There are also digital conspiracy theories. The Intel x86 processors are said to turn on automatically at night, connect and perform secret computing operations.

Secret is something when it is both incomprehensible and unavailable. Of religious people, God is called the greatest mystery. However, modern theologians increasingly recognize in God the “unavailability for purpose”. She / He does not intervene in the event. Even if it sounds atheistic, God is not influenced by vows, supplications or oaths – remains unavailable and incomprehensible. In real life there is also secret – so far. With the “Memory Enhancer” in Episode 1.3, people can no longer have secrets. You can then no longer lie, hide something, portray something a little different or exaggerate. All this makes life human and has its value. So it is very important for children to have secrets with their parents or friends. Love relationships can reach a special intensity if they have to remain secret.

Social and cultural processes often elude state power. This is remedied by intelligence services, spies, espionage, etc. In particular, absolutist societies need this kind of information gathering. In the past century, it was the Stasi, the Gestapo, the KGB. Today, they use state-of-the-art technologies such as satellites, drones and artificial intelligence and are called NSA, Homeland Security and Mossad. The “memory enhancer” from the episode would be optimal for such institutions. Unreliable lie detectors would be a thing of the past. But then there would be no more secrets.

Situations that are considered available but incomprehensible would be described as encrypted. Here too, was the 20th century formative. Many historians believe that the outcome of World War II was largely determined by the decryption of the Enigma code. For a long time the encryption machine (ENIGMA) of the Nazis was not to be deciphered. When Alan Turing finally succeeded, cryptology became a science. In general, science treats incomprehensible though available. If you are dealing today with gravitational waves, quantum entanglement and black holes, they are available but still completely incomprehensible. On the other hand, knowledge about electromagnetic waves, bacteria and evolution is available to everyone and, if wanted, understandable. Science is characterized by objectifiable methods – these are then measurable and comprehensible experiments. If the whole thing is not so precise and goal-oriented (CERN), it would be called “hacking”. If the term hacker was almost a dirty word in the past, today it is already a demanded skill. The hackathon method has already found its way into highly reputable companies. If you’re up to something, install a hackathon to solve intangible problems. Here you can see a significant shift in value from the original cause / effect linearity to the effectiveness. It does not need everything to be understandable but it must be action – available. Completely incomprehensible is the performance of cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin) but it exists and works. Less emphasis is placed on transparency, more on output. Does transparency lose its value?

Yes – as episode 1.3 shows, transparency can very quickly lead from love to terror. Liam Foxwell comes to the most unpleasant job interview at a party where his wife is already present. Liam senses that his wife and one of the guests (Jones) have a particularly intimate relationship – he is suspicious. At home there is a first argument, whereby Liam asks his wife to play him the former relationship with Jones on screen from their “Memory Enhancer”. The suspicion is confirmed. In a violent scene, Liam also forces his opponent to reveal his love life on screen. With this knowledge begins the terror. Jones asks his wife, “I want you to show me that, I have to see that.” There’s nothing she can do but play that night of love she spent with Jones 18 months ago. Liam realizes that he is not the father of the common child. Finally, and to forget, he cuts out his memory chip.

“I want to know what you are thinking right now”. It is a wish that is known from every love relationship. Knowing what the other thinks and keeping it as a shared secret is also part of love. In the case of a separation (Rose War) this knowledge is then used to make terror. Nowhere else are love and terror so close together. Having a secret and keeping it to yourself can be a great asset.

The value of transparency is very critical in times of social media. AI is and will be much more able to analyze our personality in the future. Even very intimate settings are suddenly transparent. There are hardly any secrets left. Therefore:

Non-transparency develops into a personal value.

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