What technologies are depicted in the show?
In season 1, episode 3 of The Black Mirror, there was this tiny USB-looking device with a scroll button on it that was called a grain, which essentially stored all of the users memories. People with grains were able to keep visuals of their memories on them at all times, and were able to re-watch them through what they called “re-do’s” at any point, either through their eyes where only they could see, or projected on a screen for others to view too. They were also able to delete certain “footage” of memories so long as they chose to. If someone had a memory on their grain with no full audio but complete visuals, the grain could use its lip-reading technology to fill in the blanks. It would essentially be the most advanced Snapchat you could think of, given the fact that the grain contained memories that could be rewatched so long as they were saved. The only difference would be though, is that this device knows no limits. It was on at all times and aside from the complete removal of it, there was no way to change what it did and how it did it.
Briefly, how have the technologies changed people/business/society/government choices and behaviours?
The grain influenced every aspect of the main characters life, in that he constantly felt dependent on the piece of technology to take him through his everyday life. He used it all the time, whether it was just to look back at a good memory, or to re-analyze a situation all in all. Whenever he got into a fight with his wife, he would look to the grain to prove his point rather than just communicating through it like healthy couples do. His first and only resort was to lean on the grain, and doing so only brought him to a complete state of sadness and loneliness.
Overall, are the technologies portrayed in a positive, negative or neutral fashion? What evidence do you have to support this?
There is good enough reason to believe that the grain was portrayed in a very negative fashion. With the grain, trust was no longer important in any relationship. Every minute detail had to be proved, just based on the mere fact that they could. For example, in the episode, Liam did not believe that his wife was telling the truth about using protection after cheating on him, and so instead of “taking her word”, he asked her to show him the grain from that exact night. It ruined their relationship in unimaginable ways, as it broke the trust they once had for each other. Additionally, users became addicted to the tiniest of details. Since they had the ability to look back at every interaction they had ever had, they felt the need to re-watch an event that they were likely feeling nervous about, so that they could analyze body language, facial expressions, and word-for-word dialogue. Contemplation and obsession around the events remained consistent throughout the entirety of the episode, and resulted in very unhealthy dependencies.
Would you want to live in this future? Why or why not?
I personally would not want to live in this future, mainly due to the fact that it would be an invasion of not only my privacy, but everyone else’s around me as well. It scares me to think that every person I have ever made even the slightest bit of eye contact with could have the ability to carry my face in their memories and the ability to see me again, without me knowing. Also, as someone who is big on trust, I would not want a tiny piece of metal to have complete control over all of my relationships and memories. Technology should not “advance” to the point where we use its abilities to win an argument and become the referee in our personal lives and relationships. With that being said, if someone offered me a grain, I would decline it in a heartbeat.