Black Mirror is one of the most intriguing TV shows we’ve seen lately. In a world inspired by science fiction, stand-alone episodes are presented like short films that touch upon different subjects. The main theme, however, is about the way technology dominates every aspect of people’s lives. Artificial intelligence, social media, and other systems and devices are showcased in a dramatic setting.

Could our technology-driven world really get this far?

That’s the most common question that comes to a viewer’s mind. However, many other issues arise as well. How private is our privacy? Will technology affect humanity’s equal rights and opportunities? Blackmailing is already a part of our social media presence, but how far will it get? In essence, Black Mirror showcases the legal world of a tech-driven future.

What Justice Means for Humanity

If you try to find a clear definition of justice, you’ll encounter a problem. This is a complex concept that’s turned into the focus of different disciplines: ethics, political philosophy, and legal philosophy. It’s applied to public policies, laws, and individual actions. Justice takes various forms in different contexts.

Aristotle made a distinction between the narrow scope of particular justice and a universal concept of virtue as a whole. So we can look at justice at the level of individual ethics or public policy. College students are often required to write essays on the concept of justice, since it cannot be viewed from a single angle. It requires a lot of research and contemplation, so students often get UK help with law by First, the concept of justice has to do with the way individual people are treated in society. However, there’s another aspect to justice: it needs agents of execution.

That’s exactly what Black Mirror explores: how will the overuse of technology affect different aspects of justice, such as cybersecurity, consent, and data privacy? Then, it expands from the individual to the universal level, tackling issues like community, power, and authority.

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The “White Christmas” Episode: Technology Used for Blackmail and Punishment

“White Christmas” was a special episode that blended multiple stories to tackle different moral issues: misconduct, dishonesty, and crime. In a post-apocalyptic setting, humanity is trying to solve these problems through technology. So-called cookies store people’s copies of consciousness. Whenever individuals do something that’s against the universal understanding of justice, society uses these cookies to punish them.

That doesn’t sound so bad? The problem is that the cookies are used to manipulate people to confess. Technology becomes more than a tool for surveillance; it’s twisted into a destructive tool of manipulation that ruins people’s lives. It takes the most selfish nature out of people. They become willing to do anything to get what they want from others.

The episode has a clear goal to make us think: what would happen with our society if we allow technology to dominate it? Moreover, have we already gotten that far?

The “White Bear” Episode: The Idea of Proportionate Punishment

“White Bear” (episode 2, series 2), is one of the most popular episodes of the show. It starts with a woman waking up with no memory of how she got in a strange house, set in a post-apocalyptic future. She doesn’t know who she is. People record her all the time, without acknowledging her struggle and pleas for help. Wherever she goes, masked people hunt her down. As the episode evolves, we realize that this is the woman’s punishment for being an accomplice in a child’s murder. The sentence is executed in a world of simulation.

On first thought, it seems like a creative way to practice the concept of justice. But the more we think about it, the more we’re convinced that psychological torture cannot be presented as justice. This approach violates the idea that the punishment has to fit the crime. The most disturbing part is that the people around Victoria enjoyed seeing her pain. This system deprives people from all their emotions of empathy and sympathy. It justifies cruelty as part of justice, and it imposes the idea that not everyone deserves basic human rights.  

The Complex Show Expresses the Complexity of Our Justice System

All episodes of the shows depict a possible reality that would strike us in the future. However, since most of the technology presented in the episodes is present among us, we can’t help but wonder: are we already exceeding the limits of its ethical use? If we go any further, the consequences will be unthinkable. The biggest problem is that everything might seem normal from that aspect.

We’re already dealing with issues of cybersecurity, design ethics, consent, data privacy, surveillance, and autonomous weapons. Somehow, we’ve grown to see those aspects of technology as a normal part of our lives. When you start watching the show, you’re convinced it’s someone’s imagination of a post-apocalyptic future. The more you get into it, you start wondering: is this where humanity is going?

How far are we willing to allow the use of technology as means of practicing justice and punishment?


AUTHOR BIO: Judy Nelson is a professional TV-show addict. She spends at least three hours a day watching the latest shows and thinking about them. Judy writes reviews and blog posts, and she’s always willing to discuss her impressions in length. She’s flexible in her stance, so she welcomes comments and different points of view.