Black Mirror


Yes. Clearly we’re supposed to sympathize with the AI characters because they’re shown to have feelings and lives outside of his in-game time. I don’t dispute any of that.

But let’s go further with it. Is the connected MMO version populated solely by human players, or are there AI NPC’s? Are those NPC’s sentient as well? Are they subject to the unending horror of dudebro gamers killing them again and again for XP?

In the MMO connected version of the game, the characters have genitals. Why and how? Are they programmed that way by someone, or is it just something the game’s overall code came up with on the fly?

I know I’m reading into it, but that’s how I like to watch Black Mirror.


[spoilers]My take on the Callister one was that Meth Damon is kinda trapped, screaming in his ship, in complete darkness, until he dies of dehydration\starvation irl. I wouldn’t expect any help from the pizza man either.[/spoilers]


Callister is a good episode but the technology depicted is beyond ridiculous. From a bit of DNA you can reconstruct a person’s entire current state of personality, knowledge, learning, etc? That is complete horseshit.


I think good sci-fi is more concerned with presenting the questions than giving satisfying answers to them, and Black Mirror is no different. The fact that you’re asking these followup questions means that the art succeeded. Charlie Brooker is probably the only one who can answer them, but we can ponder them or debate them in the meantime.

So, I think the beings he created are unique and the only sentient ones in the universe at the time the episode ends. I don’t think there’s anything that implies that the guy’s DNA reader is a part of the game his company makes – it’s just some device he invented that builds sentient AI from a DNA sample. I also think there’s nothing (other than the platform) that implies the game is any different from the MMO’s of today – shared universe, NPC’s, quests, monsters, and so on. The NPC’s aren’t sentient because they weren’t created with the DNA reader.

This is also reinforced by the overall theme of a Star Trek-like exploration game – at the end of the episode, the crew is made up of the first sentient AI’s, striking out into the universe and embarking on a journey of discovery.

Why do they have genitals in the connected world? Because that’s how the character models were configured, I guess. I’m sure there are a lot of games (well, probably a lot more before people figured out how to datamine them) where the characters are anatomically correct under the hood. But it’s important to show that the offline characters DON’T have them because of how it recontextualizes Daly – the first place your mind goes when he gamifies the girl is that he’s going to do some pervy stuff. Except, no, he can’t, because they don’t have genitals. So it’s an important (or at least interesting) piece of characterization to show that Daly’s obsession with the show is… pure? Childlike?

They’re interesting questions either way – I think it’s a mark of good sci-fi that it keeps you interested in the world after the episode is over.


That was my beef with the original Twilight Zone, great as it was. Several episodes ended with someone getting punished way beyond the scope of his or her “crimes”.


Yeah, I saw the ending of that as, he isn’t dead or trapped forever. I don’t know how that would work. I assume those infinity control nodules run out of battery eventually.

I think it would be fairly difficult for you to be trapped in that game forever, as you can really easily pause/leave. I took it as he lost his stuff etc.

Otherwise, what was the purpose of her breaking in and stealing the DNA if he was going to be dead anyway?


They didn’t know he would wind up dead. They headed toward the update hole assuming that THEY would die and he would wake up without the DNA samples.


Black Mirror really is great. One thing about the original Twilight Zone is that it gave us many, many original stories, stories that would go in to be so famous and influential they became tropes. Rod Sterling was a genius and deserves to be up there with Bradbury and Asimov.

Black Mirror is a cultural icon, I hope they continue fir a long time with fresh and topical stories.


But if that were true, wouldn’t he just get more samples and start with a new crew of sentient AI slaves?


Maybe. But now there’s at least one person in meatspace who knows what he’s doing.

And even if real-world Cristin Milioti wasn’t clued in to the particulars of Daly’s scheme (it wasn’t explicitly stated that they told her everything), he would wake up and know that someone had gotten into his fridge while he was in his home, without his knowledge. Enough to deter him? Maybe, maybe not.


I took the Callister ending as a tech spinoff off Nightmare on Elm Street Schtick if that makes sense. The body dies without the mind I guess.


I wasn’t a fan of the Callister ending - what Robert did was creepy but ultimately not something to deserve a death penalty.

It’s not clear to me he even understands how real his AIs were given how the rest of the world doesn’t seem to have a concept of real AIs.


He clones and kills a guy’s son in front of him and threatens to do it over and over again to get him to do what he wants. I think it’s clear from that he understands the AIs have human emotions, and he’s complete scum.


They’re all AIs - people on this thread probably did worse in a game of Sims.


Sims don’t display sentience, and it’s clear Robert understands that the simulations are sentient.


My Sims loved me!

  • cries -


One thing I like about Black Mirror is that the tech is plausible. That is why the pucker factor works on the show.

The tech in Callister is NOT FUCKING REMOTELY PLAUSIBLE. You do not take someone’s DNA and magically synthesize a copy of that person at their current age with their current personality and memory. Complete and total bollocks. It will never happen. Time fucking travel is more plausible.

So even though the story was fun, all due respect, but fuck that episode.


It should have been like in Hang the DJ where the simulations didn’t have any memory of the past. Or alternatively, the callister guy could have pricked their temple with some memory sucking device to make them instead of DNA.


Callister pitch: “What if a poorly socialized tech geek invented uploading consciousness, strong AI, and digital immortality, but then kept it all secret and just used it to torment copies of his co-workers? It’s a deep meditation on how uncool nerds are.”


All they had to do was tie it into having played the game and he was able to use the game interface to grab a copy of your consciousness. Could restrict to having to have done it in the office and then have a scene with him offering to show the bosses kid some cool new thing they were working on.