Is technological development a blessing or a curse? If you've seen any of Charlie Brooker's science-fiction show Black Mirror, you'd probably be inclined towards the latter. The first season of three episodes, shown in December 2011, portrayed a population enthralled by technology through must-have gadgets, social media and, most of all, television.
It's ironic to watch a television drama preaching about the dangers of the small screen. Yes, the concepts were exaggerated and absurd, as in the first episode of The National Anthem when the British prime minister was made to have sex with a pig on live television, but like any good dystopian science-fiction, the lens looking off into the future reflected back on the current problems we face in contemporary society.
With the first episode, that act of bestiality highlighted the dangers of social media sites such as Twitter and YouTube, and of the decisions of political figures being coerced by the emotional whims of the masses. Second episode, 15 Million Merits, showed a 1984-esque world where when people aren't forced to exercise at the gym they're laughing at desperate candidates trying to succeed on reality TV.
The most unnerving and devastating episode was arguably The Entire History of You in which everybody was equipped with a device that recorded and catalogued everything they have seen to be played back whenever they wanted.
The fact that this was broadcast only three days after Facebook's timeline feature was introduced proves how on-the-button the show was in predicting how technology is changing the way we live and interact with one another. Even our memories now appear to be claimed by technology.
The mirthless march towards merging with machines has showed no sign of abating since. Consumer electronics giants Apple and Samsung are more similar to religions than companies with their cult-like following and frenzied fans' attention to the latest iPhone or Galaxy smartphone release.
Facebook floated on the stock market in May and recently announced a new search engine called Graph Search that provides answers to your queries based on the recommendations of your friends.
And all the while there has been the inexorable rise of the tablet, to the extent where one cannot avoid noticing on the morning commute the amount of people robotically blinking with stupefied expressions as they stare into their small screens.
So what three barmy ideas have fallen out of Brooker's brain this time? The first episode, Be Right Back, shows a frightening future in which it seems that even when we die we can communicate beyond the grave. When a tragic accident happens to Ash (Domhnall Gleeson), his partner Martha (Hayley Atwell) desperately clings to her past love through a radical new technology that uses all the media content of a beloved such as emails, photos, social media profiles to "resurrect" them.
Episode 2, White Bear, presents a Day of the Triffids dystopia in which Victoria (Lenora Crichow) awakes with no memory to find that a strange signal has turned most of the population into brainless voyeurs who amble about filming everything on their phones.
The final episode, The Waldo Moment, is a scathing critique on the mingling of entertainment with politics as a television bear (Daniel Rigby) contests a constituency by-election to find the candidates he is competing against even more artificial than he is.
The new episodes are set to once again explore where all these technological developments are taking us, and whether it's for better or worse.
Black Mirror begins on Channel 4 at 10pm, Monday 11 February
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