Sorry Charlie Brooker, but this series seems as though written by an aging populace preaching resistance to change. The ideas portrayed are clear, but they only paint a one-sided perspective that's biased towards the negative, with scientific or moral dilemmas purposefully ignored or emitted to promote it, and doesn't hold up to further scrutiny. It is well executed visually, perfectly acted, shot and written, and episodes start from the right vantage point to yield maximum effect. It's with the message that I have the biggest contention; There have and always will be negative obstacles to any progress: Technology has revolutionised fraud and theft, provided new forms of bullying, sensationalism and public humiliation. But it has transformed the world enormously for the better, improving access to information, communication, commerce, increased globalisation and productivity. Such challenges breed discussion, promote awareness to decrease prevalence, and offer possible improvements to laws and regulations. As problems evolve with and because of technology, our ability to combat and prevent them evolves as well. Here are the issued I encountered for each episode (SPOLERS AHEAD):
1.1: This premise hinges on a man who recognises the actor brought in and posts his picture online, thus alerting the kidnapper to the deception. If such a critical and decisive operation were to take place, one would expect it would be handled with more professionalism and secrecy. The actor is walked to the entrance in the open, and the man takes the picture with no protest or rebuke before or after the incident (although the actor is 'rushed in' as if the phone was a gun. An outrageous scenario orchestrated for plot development? I think so. The Prime Minister's wife also appears to be exceedingly insecure about people's perceptions of her. One would think someone in her position would be better accustomed to sensationalism, scrutiny and disgruntled public opinion. You also wouldn't need to be in the public eye to know that comments on some websites should not be taken seriously.
1.2: I don't believe spending your life peddling for credits while living in confined cages under an advertising regime resembles a realistic premise, but perhaps it's not meant to be - the episode's sole purpose is to make an abstract comment about the nature of media, advertising and commercialism. As the world becomes more connected, the representation of an individual as a virtual caricature becomes more common, but only because of the nature and prevalence of such interaction. Technology is not responsible for this, human nature is. We have always objectified those furthest away from our grasp, and technology brings us closer to the same extent that it leaves us behind a barrier.
1.3: Is this technology wrong because of the scenario offered? Would objectifying memory cause more conflict than resolve, and signal the end of indiscretion and privacy? The answer is no, or rather no more than presently. We often recall and deliberate over our past experiences, and this technology wouldn't change that. Regarding the main story, we are presented with an impossible scenario (possibly the worst) and asked to choose between truth or privacy. If you are in a relationship where the question "Show me where you were last night?" consistently surfaces, trust issues or relationship flaws very likely exist. This is in contrast to what one would envision to be the typical application for this type of technology; Domestic disputes and crimes would be recorded just like everything else. They could be erased through force or intimidation, but it's very likely that such a system would have a backup capacity (much like Facebook does when you delete an account), so that deleting wouldn't stop the perpetrator from getting caught. This hypothetical scenario could in fact dramatically reduce the rate of crime committed, not increase it.
2.1: Be Right Back has a similar conundrum. This is a world where an artificial body can be grown and moulded from powder in hours (and stored with an infinite battery pack), but an artificial computer isn't able to properly mimic human reactions to emotions if it doesn't have 'sufficient data'. Contrary to what is stated, people have all types of online interactions these days that go far beyond pleasantries and encompass most of the emotional spectrum. For missing data, it wouldn't be hard for a system to calculate the best response specific to any individual for any given situation or emotion. By that time we would also have cars that drive themselves, avoiding accidents altogether. In fact, the Google driver-less car already exists. A better premise could focus on how surrogates would be treated and the legal implications of their existence.
2.2: If we possessed the technology to wipe away sinful memories, then this would be the most impractical use of it imaginable. Repeatedly wiping the memory of a criminal for continuous emotional torture and entertainment would be deemed highly immoral by any present or future civilisation. What would be the point of torturing someone who doesn't know what they've done wrong? The implications of memory wiping have been addressed in numerous films, notably Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. For criminals, it could offer a blank slate or a second chance at life. For others it could wipe away traumatic and debilitating experiences to improve quality of life. These are all moral and legal grey areas, but still offer more realistic scenarios than shown here.
2.3: Not much to be said here. Could the team behind a satirical blue bear ever be approved to run for public office? The answer is no.
Constructing incomplete, cynical and misleading scenarios that only work to spread fear is simply pointless and counter-productive. A superior show would examine both sides and predict the future more accurately. A more pressing threat (possibly worth being a little paranoid about) is artificial intelligence, but this far exceeds the scope of this series- clearly this isn't the programme to watch if you're looking to educate yourself about science and technology.