Cars & Tech

8 Pieces Of 'Black Mirror' Tech That Already Exist In Real Life

Should we ask Charlie Brooker for the lottery numbers?
IMAGE Christos Kalohoridis / Netflix
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Black Mirror may generally be set in an alternative present or near future, but it has echoed real life on a surprising amount of occasions.

Who can forget the infamous #piggate of 2015, which centred around remarkable allegations that the then-PM David Cameron once "put his private parts in a dead pig's mouth"? (This followed the Black Mirror episode 'The National Anthem' in which the prime minister was forced to have sex with a pig on live TV.)

And, sadly, there has been an increasing number of incidents where hackers have tried to use information illegally obtained to their own benefit, even if none have fortunately proved to be as dark as season three's 'Shut Up and Dance'.

Here are eight other instances of Black Mirror things that do exist – or will soon – in real life.

1. Self-driving pizza vans

In season four's 'Crocodile', a self-driving pizza van hits a pedestrian and sets in motion a series of bleak and violent events, so naturally it's perfect timing for Pizza Hut to introduce their first "fully autonomous delivery concept vehicle".

It's in partnership with Toyota, which unveiled its e-Palette, an automated vehicle that can suit a variety of needs, at the Consumer Electronics Show. Fortunately, we don't have to keep a wary eye out for them until 2020 at the earliest.

2. Recording memories

Black Mirror's best episode to date, 'The Entire History of You', is set in a world where people can record every aspect of their life and instantly play it back, spelling trouble for Toby Kebbell and Jodie Whittaker's doomed couple.

While we're not quite at that stage yet, there are a few wearable devices that allow you to record snippets of your life, such as Snap Inc's Spectacles that can record 10 seconds of video, or Samsung's contact lenses that take a photo every time you blink, which the technology giant patented in 2016.

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3. Bringing back a loved one

Season two's heartbreaking 'Be Right Back' sees Martha (Hayley Atwell) replace her late boyfriend (Domhnall Gleeson) with a synthetic substitute, using his online history, photos and videos to effectively bring him back to 'life', only to realise that the android can only ever be a replica.

We already have chatbots who can mimic a real person, but Hanson Robotics went one step further and created a social robot in 2010. BINA48 (Breakthrough Intelligence via Neural Architecture 48) was modelled after owner Martine Rothblatt's (still alive) wife Bina Aspen, using her memories and feelings, and is able to interact with people.

4. Virtual characters

Black Mirror's weakest outing to date was season two's 'The Waldo Moment', which saw a failed comic (Daniel Rigby) voice a cartoon bear who becomes a key figure in the British political scene.

Even if we haven't got as far as a virtual politician, there is plenty of scope to create your own virtual avatar. You don't need to be able to afford your own motion-capture technology like they use in Hollywood, as Apple's Animojis use the iPhone X's TrueDepth camera to map an emoji of your choice to your face, enabling it to move and express itself like you do.

Needless to say, it didn't go unnoticed by Black Mirror's social-media person. Spot the Waldo.

5. Rating people

Season three's opener 'Nosedive' is set in a world where everyone can rate the interactions they have with their fellow humans, centring on Lacey's (Bryce Dallas Howard) rapid decline from her previous high standing in society.

We may not have an overall app that does such a thing, but there's no end to the ways you can rate your life or the lives of others with Uber, Peeple, Tinder or the various other dating apps. Going one step further, the Chinese government is planning to create a 'social credit' system that rates everyone's trustworthiness based on things like financial ratings and political beliefs.

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6. Robot bees

An investigation into a string of mysterious deaths linked to social media leads to drone bees in season three closer 'Hated in the Nation'. These bees are hacked and told to kill someone who has been singled out by a hashtag on Twitter.

Fortunately, we're not at the killer robot bees phase just yet, but Harvard has had robot bees since 2013. The RoboBee has developed over the years from only being able to fly to being able to dive in and out of water, although they can't yet pollinate crops like the ones in Black Mirror can.

7. Robot dog

Talking of robot animals, season four's 'Metalhead' sees a lone survivor (Maxine Peake) pursued through an apocalyptic landscape by a relentless robot guard-dog which, originally, was going to be operated by a human from across the ocean at his house.

There's a whole host of robot dogs – other animals are available – out there that you can have in your own house, with arguably the most common being Sony's AIBO series which has just been rebooted and is set for release this year. Hopefully no-one will train them up to chase people.

8. Smart houses

Black Mirror's final episode on Channel 4, before its move to Netflix, was the three-part festive special 'White Christmas', with one of the stories focusing on a "cookie" that uses a person's consciousness to control a house and act as a personal assistant.

We might not be at the level of literally putting ourselves into a device to run our house, but there are intelligent personal assistants, like Amazon's Alexa, that can control elements of houses, and, if you're wealthy enough, smart houses that see all elements of a building controlled automatically.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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