Prologue to Black Mirror

black mirror

The Netflix TV series Black Mirror deals with the consequences of digitization in a critical and satirical way. Already at the beginning of the first season in 2014, various everyday topics were examined against the background of digitization. The conclusions drawn from this always led to a dystopian world. The plot is always created the same. It is a critical / criminal everyday situation, such as blackmail, murder, relationship problem, populism, etc. used. These are situations that occur again and again without digitization. Throughout the episode, a disastrous situation develops through the influence of Infotech and Biotech. This usually has far-reaching social or profound personal effects. Very often combinations of Infotech and Biotech are shown, so in many episodes a brain probe is used to read and manipulate the consciousness. For example, these would be:

Men Against Fire                                 MASS

The Entire Hisstory of You                   Memory Presenter

Be Rigth Back                                      Awareness Upload

White Christmas                                 Z – Eye Implants

Playtest                                               Mushroom

Arkangel                                             Filter

In general, it can be said that the technological influence in this anthology always ends in a dystopian society. A thematic series (anthology) deals with a guiding idea during all episodes. These are the values ​​at Black Mirror. There is talk in many discussions about the change in values. This has been around for ages, but we’ve never been faced with such a sudden and rapid change. One could say that digitization has so far only led to an improvement in the quality of life. With the car in the car we get everywhere, with MRI we can detect early diseases, with smartphones we can always be reached and self-driving cars are likely to produce hardly more accidents. All in all, it can now be said that the previous digitization has contributed to the well-being of humanity. We are healthier, live longer and have peace. This is true for at least a large part of the world’s population with rising curves. From these considerations, it is critical for Black Mirror that this is black-and-white. Nevertheless, such series as Black Mirror or Sense8 are necessary to leave the field not only to the big corporations and the powerful of the world. In the negative, the charities cited above would lead to local surveillance by the sat nav, to more elitist society by body mind tuning, and awareness control through the smartphone.

Prolog 1_EN

Values are hardly objective to describe. A “something” is the more valuable the rarer it is and the more urgently it is needed. Gold is definitely rare, is often needed urgently – therefore valuable. The bitcoins are also becoming more difficult to produce. Nevertheless, they lost a lot of value in recent months because nobody wanted to buy them. Intangible assets are the same. In those regions where war prevails, peace is almost the highest value. Many of us in Austria do not even know what that is. When everything is there (peace) there is no demand. In Black Mirror, there are often values such as trust, security, empathy, etc. that are urgently needed, but are no longer available through digitization. In the episode “Arkangel” Marie Sabrell wishes for her daughter the greatest possible security. A digital device delivers that for the time being. In the end, however, she experiences complete reversal. The daughter breaks out and gets into a truck.
The definition “rarely there – urgently needed” is no guarantee that “something” is valuable or not. This also depends on the amplifiers and attenuators. Both can occur both individually and collectively. If I suspect that an expensive car leads to a better social status, its value will be inflated by me personally. Many of these amplifiers and attenuators we took with us from childhood. As the episode “The Waldo Moment” shows, with Populism the value of an Animo can be higher than that of a real politician.

If there is no awareness of “something” then it has no value. A magnetic resonance tomograph has its value not only in the fixed assets of a hospital, but also in the consciousness of the patients. Only those who know that a cancer indication can definitely be ruled out, are aware of the value of this machine. Mia from the episode “Crocodile” is a very career oriented woman. Only when her family is in danger, you become aware of its value. The awareness itself is determined to a considerable degree by the environment. One of the major changes over the last 300 years has been technological. From machines to machines for artificial intelligence, people have become accustomed to technology faster and faster. An expression of this is the unconscious handling of it. Hardly anyone knows a telephone number today. You have contacts and the Siri. The connection between context and consciousness is recursive and therefore complex.
Marriage brokers have been around for a long time and dating sites as well. A consciousness is thus created. This also opened the door for online dating. A new environment was created. In “Hang the DJ” couples then find about matching, run by one, AI together and find it quite normal. Is just cool (culture)

Culture could also be called a container for collective values. By the large majority accepted norms and behavior which are sanctioned in case of non-compliance. Culture is the glue of a society and therefore very tough and durable. Cultural changes take time and depend on power relations in a society. Egyptian pharaonic dynasties survived millennia. About their artifacts that are in the museums until today. In the episode “Black Museum” also Black Mirror has exhibited its artifacts and thus reflects on itself. The series leaves its content linearity. The next episodes are thus becoming increasingly difficult to predict. Especially when from Season 5 the audience create their own path through the episode.

One should now bring order into the diversity of the value concept. For this I propose a field with the contexts on the x-axis and the domains on the y-axis.

Prolog 2_EN

Values – Domains: The differentiation between material and spiritual values ​​is known. Unfortunately, not everything is covered. Is health now a material value? YES, because cells are damaged and they obviously belong to the physical world. NO, because we are in pain and that is mental. Therefore, as the third domain of values, we introduce the psychosocial form. The values ​​of relationships, personal beliefs or security fall into it. The Black Mirror episodes usually start at this level. Something personal / social / everyday happens. A child runs at the playground (Arkangel). As a remedy, a digital device (material) is used, which then also provides very good services. Over the years, it is therefore increasingly common to disputes (social) and ultimately to a separation. Now the problem has shifted to the mental level. Mother and daughter have to process what happened.

Values – Contexts: Contexts are very many (probably infinitely many) To structure values ​​I propose three main frameworks. These are the neural, the digital and the transal context. In the neural, all values ​​are to be subsumed which express the nature of man (anthropologically). In the digital context, those values ​​can be found that result from the application of the technique. This in turn can make something completely new. Black Mirror episodes almost always begin with the human. Mr. Stripe applies to the Danish Army (episode “Men Against Fire”) and receives a MASS as equipment. This is a digital extension of his sensory systems. He sees the enemy in disgusting form. So he has no inhibitions to shoot the “cockroaches”, even only humans. But with this digital expansion he has also transgressed humanity (Transal). Unlike in this episode, transcendence is usually seen as something positive. The various domains include wisdom, love, God, gravity, and more. to the transalen. Everything that is not recognizable on the individual part and is present in its entirety. In the episode “Hated in the Nation” micro drones take over the pollination work from the bees. These have not survived the biotech of humanity. Clearly the task of the drones, they pollinate flowers. Not recognizable is their central remote control and killing device. They can be organized into swarming to fly attacks against humans. Again, the whole thing is much more than its parts.

The Black Mirror Anthology is a good stage to reflect on values ​​and their future development. In the following blogs, each episode is assigned to a topic, analyzed and derived possible recommendations for action. Here is the topic in the overview:

Prolog 3_EN

Many roads lead to Rome AND that is one!

Manfred Litzlbauer

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