Jersey City — If you have been looking for anything to confirm dystopian theories against AI, look no further than the latest season of “Black Mirror.”
The techno-paranoia series returned to Netflix last week with episode one exploring the unintended consequences of generative AI and the effect it has on society.
The episode focuses on a day in the life of Joan Tait, a woman struggling to fuel her passion at work and in her lovelife. In a short time, the audience witnesses her deal with a bunch of unfortunate situations in life like laying off a coworker and receiving a text message from her ex, which (spoiler alert) she ultimately feeds into.
These are clear low-moments for Joan that she takes into a therapy session. After going through therapy and meeting up with her ex, she heads home to her fiance, where the two have dinner and watch a new show named Joan is Awful on “Streamberry” (Black Mirror’s version of Netflix).
This is where the horrors of AI enter the chat.
To Joan’s surprise, the show features Salma Hayek, who plays as a character who looks exactly like Joan, has the same job and same personality. As Joan is Awful goes on, Joan realizes that the show is mirroring her entire day and making her actions look a lot worse than what they were in reality.
Every low movement. Her therapy session. Her meet up with her ex – was broadcasted for the entire world to see.
Needless to say, this shook her world. As she worked through defending herself against her coworkers and friends, Joan went on a mission to figure out how Streamberry could do this to her.
Turns out, Streamberry (Black Mirror’s version of Netflix) had the rights to use Joan’s likeness embedded in their terms and conditions for the app. Streamberry creates Joan’s likeness using generative AI, which allows Salma Hyaek to play out her life in the Joan is Awful series.
And as it turns out (spoiler alert), Streamberry has the same plan in mind for all of its subscribers. The platform has the rights to create individual shows for its subscribers portraying awful events in their lives.
This, according to the leads at Streamberry is because previously-piloted positive versions of the AI show did not perform well. It turns out that its subscribers were stuck on tuning in negative portrayals of themselves and others. It was at this point in the show that I realized Black Mirror was hitting on a huge lesson about media consumption and what type of content gets the most attention.
Joan however, doesn’t know that this is Streamberry’s plan, but spends the rest of the episode figuring it out.
Keeping it gee, seeing a pop culture take on the horrors of AI was pleasantly surprising. It felt so current, fresh and eerily realistic for where technology is at right now.
Miranda Perez (she/her/hers) is a Jersey City, NJ-based journalist who covers the tech industry. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @mimithegee.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett