We live in an era of interesting and innovative technological advances. Some of which, would make great fodder for a new season of our favorite dystopian anthology series, Black Mirror. From self-driving semis to paying for goods with your face, here are 10 technological advances that sound like we are living in an episode of Black Mirror.
10. Self Driving Semi-Trucks
With auto-pilot coming standard in Elon Musk's new Tesla semi-trucks, one can't help but wonder what type of autonomous vehicle science fiction-esque stories could be produced. A battle between Tesla semi and the Model X, Transformers style? A coming-of-age love story between an escalator and Model S? A run-of-the-mill 'the cars are taking over' storyline? The possibilities are endless.
9. Reinforcement Learning
Much like scientists rewarding mice for eating out of the blue bowl, instead of the red, reinforcement learning does something similar but WITH MACHINES. If this doesn't scream AI take over, I don't know what does. I know what does, the machines in Black Mirror.
8. Paying with Your Face
Imagine being able to make payments for things with just an image of your face? That technology is already available in China today. The company Face++, located in Beijing, already has the more advanced facial recognition technologies within apps like Alipay (a mobile payment app) among others. It's not inconceivable to think that, before long, we could see this technology used in banks and criminal investigation instances. Will the writers at Black Mirror please get to work on a plot centered around a band of baddies using other people's faces for their crimes? Preferably with Bryan Cranston in the cast?
7. Tracking Hundreds of People at Once
Recently developed technology allows for the tracking of hundreds of people at once. This seems like a development that could go both ways. On one hand, it could be a useful tool in terms of national security. In the other hand, it's practically the definition of "invasion of privacy." In terms of storytelling, this is a stalking crime drama waiting to happen.
6. Cloaking Technology
Yes, like Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility, a new study's researchers from the Technical University of Vienna have developed strategy that would use light beams as a mechanism to render objects "invisible" to the naked eye. Combine this tech with number 7 on our list, we have a seriously intriguing episode of Black Mirror in the making. Title idea? Blindspot. Don't @ me on this.
5. Augmented and Virtual Reality
This technology wasn't exclusive to 2017 but it's advancement was certainly notable. These techs work with a screen of some kind, either sending you into a three-dimensional landscape or generating animations into the real world. With gear like the Oculus Rift being in the forefront when talking about VR, it's safe to say that tech like this is one of the most innovative things to come out of gaming. Games like Pokémon Go, that came out of 2017, have launched us into a whole new era. What's next? A company that implants devices into your brain and—wait.
In 2009, a new online currency launched that was called "Bitcoin". This "peer-to-peer electronic cash system," as described by Bitcoin creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, would dominate the digital cash industry. In 2017, cryptocurrency saw a surge in popularity, with the prices of just some skyrocketing to the cost of your mortgage payment. Since this realm of technology seems to be reserved to the well-versed in complicated tech jargon, I can expect a script to be written about the nerds dominating the world.
3. Personal Assistant Devices
Gadgets like the Amazon Echo and Google Home have made our lives just a slightly easier over the last couple of years. These little Wi-Fi enabled virtual personal assistant gadgets come equipped with the ability to recognize your voice to do things like, play music order things off the web with only a verbal command. The problem? These seemingly innocuous devices are always listening to you inside your home. This technology is reminiscent of a scene in the episode entitled, "White Christmas," in which a copy of a human being is trapped inside a similar device, forced to perform mundane tasks for all of eternity.
2. Paralysis Reversal
Using electronic interfaces to bypass the nervous system of a macaque monkey, a group of French researchers were able to use a brain implant to read the monkey's intent to move and subsequently reverse its right leg paralysis to make it move again. This type of revolutionary research is still in its early stages and won't be expected to available for another 10 to 15 years but just the thought of this type of medical breakthrough could be life-changing for the thousands that suffer paralyzing injuries each year. Could this lead to a heart-warming tale of life after tragedy? I'd say, absolutely.
Neuralink, a neurotechnology company founded by Elon Musk and eight others, is developing ultra-high bandwidth brain-to-computer interfaces to connect humans to computers. The short-term goal of Neuralink was reported to be the treatment of serious brain diseases while its long-term objective is human enhancement. Musk's outspoken aversion to artificial intelligence may have motivated him to launch Neuralink with the reasoning that it is better for humanity if we could think with a brain implanted interface instead of creating one that can think for itself. Thus, advancing the human condition with less risk of the robots taking over.
This idea of a third layer of our brain can be seen, one way or another, in every episode of Black Mirror. Which is why it has made number one on our list. Now if they would only film an Elon cameo...