The popular Netflix series, Black Mirror is a twisted Twilight Zone of the future, melding advanced AI products with harsh realities that could be faced as we further advance ourselves technologically. Over the course of the four seasons so far, we have seen many products that seem whimsical in how cutting-edge they are. The pieces of technology that are seen in this show, although very advanced versions, mostly come from existing ideas already in base-level production. Don’t worry, if you haven’t watched the series, this will be spoiler free.

Smart Contact Lenses

The Entire History of You features everyone using smart contact lenses that can record everything that happens in your day to day life. Take pictures, recounting previous events, zoom in on precise moments, everything you would expect out of most cameras these days. Although this is a far-off example, many companies are racing to make these a reality.

As smart eyewear is getting closer to being ready for the mass consumer market, contacts are the only logical next step. Everything from augmented reality to health monitoring capabilities, the possibilities for this kind of tech are limitless and could be considered the ultimate wearable tech.

Augmented Reality Gaming

Video games are continually making strides regarding graphics, and recently VR is becoming the next significant trend for gaming, especially in the horror space. Playtest has a young man involved in testing an augmented reality horror based game that uses AI to learn about a players fears and adapt as the game progresses.

The first round of mass VR game sets hit consumer market only in 2016. Cinematic choice-based survival game ‘Until Dawn’ learns how the player reacts to scares in the game based on reaction responses and choices made in dialog sequences to up the scare factor as the game progresses.

Autonomous Vehicles 

The episode Crocodile features a few pieces of technology that we haven’t seen yet. The first being an autonomous pizza delivery truck. Just this year at the CES convention, Toyota revealed it’s plan for autonomous vehicles that could be used for anything from group transportation to pizza delivery. The models even look similar; creepy!

Mind Reading Headsets

The second piece of tech in Crocodile features a device that replays a person’s memories into video format from a node that they place on someone’s temple. One Japanese company is currently working on a device that transmits thoughts into images. However, current testing has only been able to create a blurry outline image for a photo shown to someone wearing the device.

AI Dating Apps

Imagine Alexa telling you who to swipe left and swipe right on? The characters in Hang the DJ all own a small device that sets you up with another person, and you are required to stay with that person anywhere from 12 hours to 5 years to ultimately lead you to your soul mate.

The AI device essentially uses machine learning to listen to the characters interactions with each match overtime to form the user profile that will create a match with 99.9% accuracy. Requiring the user to stay with someone, even if they hate them, allows the AI to create a  dating profile more accurately.  The device also reconfigures the time frame if individual choices are made that could potentially damage the initially estimated timeline.

Although no products are directly attempting this currently, with the number of dating apps available on the market today and the way we see AI assistants like Alexa and Google Home becoming more and more advanced, this idea doesn’t seem too farfetched.

What’s next?

Black Mirror does a spectacular job of giving us a taste of what future technology could do for us and to us. At face-value, the show seems to bend reality regarding what is possible for us, but what makes it truly terrifying is that these concepts could be our future. Personally, I find that to be more concerning than being the only human person in a world of pig people like the famous Twilight Zone episode ‘The Eye of the Beholder.’

Future tech like this all based on AI, IoT, machine learning, and data analytics. Creating these technologies comes from learning how to build sensors, devices, implementing deep learning into the AI and more. Acquiring those skills will help set you up for an exploding job market you can play a role in creating the world of tomorrow.

Joseph Aoun, President of Northeastern, notes in his book, Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, how higher education has to take the initiative in making young minds ‘robot proof’. It is estimated that close to 50% of the jobs we know today will be replaced in the next 20 year years by automated machines. This world of machines will undoubtedly create new jobs, but people have to become more adept in the tech space to survive.