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Five Black Mirror storylines that came true

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Netflix Black Mirror
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Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror returned to TV screens on 5 June

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Netflix Black Mirror

The dystopian sci-fi show is its fifth series but is still uncannily prescient

In Depth
Wednesday, June 12, 2019 - 4:03pm

Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror is back, with the fifth seasons of the dystopian sci-fi anthology now available on Netflix.

The latest three episodes offer up “an ambitious tale of sexual and gender fluidity and a barnstorming performance from Miley Cyrus”, says The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan, who sums up the series as “sweet, sadistic and hugely impressive”.

Of course, Black Mirror is fictional, yet over the years, real life appears to have imitated some of the storylines. Here are five examples.

National Anthem

One famous example of Brooker’s apparent prescience came in 2015, when his 2011 Black Mirror episode National Anthem turned out to have a worrying parallel in real life. The story features a fictional prime minister, David Callow, who is required to have sex with a pig in order to save the life of a kidnapped princess.

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Four years after the show aired, Tory grandee David Ashcroft claimed that an unnamed MP had told him the then-prime minister, David Cameron, had put his penis in a dead pig’s mouth as part of an initiation ritual at university. Brooker subsequently told The Guardian that the news made him “for a moment wonder if reality was a simulation”.

The Entire History of You

According to science news site Inverse, the key technological concept in Brooker’s 2011 episode The Entire History of You has since been created. The show posits a world where everyone can record and play back all of their lives, via implants, with a jealous man using the technology to expose an infidelity.

Fans who wanted to live the episode for real got the chance a few years later, with the launch of Kapture, a wristband that  records audio. The device no longer seems to be in production, however.

But Samsung also has designs for “smart” contact lens that would do the same thing, although when they will hit the market remains to be seen. 

White Christmas

In this December 2014 episode of Black Mirror, a virtual reality (VR) device is used to convict a criminal – a practice being investigated for use in real-life courtrooms in a number of countries, Business Insider reported two years later. A 3D environment might be created to reconstruct a crime scene, for instance.

CityLab warned that it might be “a while before judges start admitting VR” in the West, because of various ethical and legal concerns. However, last year in China, a witness used VR to reconstruct a crime for a jury, according to China-based news site Sixth Tone.

Be Right Back

The 2013 episode features a young woman who uses her fiance’s digital footprint to create an artificial intelligence (AI) version of him following his death in a car accident. Three years after the episode aired, the Daily Mail reported that Eugenia Kuyda, the founder of AI start-up Luka, had created a so-called memorial bot intended to simulate her late friend Roman Mazurenko.

Kuyda fed thousands of Mazurenko’s text messages to a neural network to create the bot, which she heralded as “the future”.

The Waldo Moment

A racist cartoon character voiced by a struggling comedian ultimately becomes a political leader in this 2013 episode - a scenario echoed with the election of Donald Trump as US president three years later. 

As The Daily Beast noted, Black Mirror animated bear Waldo runs on a platform of “these people are fake but I’m not” and goes for “cheap shots and low blows in an attempt to appeal to the basest instincts of the average voter”. Sound familiar?

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