‘Black Mirror’ Creator Had ChatGPT Write an Episode. The Results Will Not Surprise You
Black Mirror creator and writer Charlie Brooker utilized ChatGPT to write an episode of the series, and the result was not very surprising. The anthology series, which has gained critical acclaim since it first debuted in 2011, now spans five seasons—with a sixth just around the corner. One of the reasons Black Mirror has garnered so much attention is because of its focus on technology. While each episode is a standalone story, many of them feature recurring themes on the dangers of powerful technology. With scenarios from artificial intelligence (A.I.) dolls gaining consciousness to society’s socioeconomic status being determined by how they rate one another to the creation of sentient clones, the show depicts many haunting dystopian realities that result from unchecked technological advancement.
In fact, several of Black Mirror’s episodes eerily parallel real-life technology developments so closely that some viewers believe it has predicted the future on multiple occasions. As a result, it isn’t surprising that Brooker would be intrigued by the release of ChatGPT. The A.I. chatbot and its more advanced successor, ChatGPT-4, has raised many concerns, including the threat of A.I. taking over human jobs. It isn’t an unfounded fear: recently, the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) fired its helpline staff and replaced them with a chatbot. Notably, one of the reasons the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is on strike is because the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) refuses to agree to regulate the use of A.I. in TV/film writing.
However, Brooker’s little test shows once again why A.I. is not an adequate replacement for human workers.
What the A.I.-written Black Mirror episode looked like
In an interview with Empire, Brooker detailed his experience with ChatGPT. As a writer of a technology-focused speculative fiction series, Brooker’s first move was to see how well ChatGPT could write a Black Mirror episode. In the end, he had a few choice words to describe the unoriginal mess that the A.I. produced:
The first thing I did was type ‘generate Black Mirror episode’ and it comes up with something that, at first glance, reads plausibly, but on second glance, is shit. Because all it’s done is look up all the synopses of Black Mirror episodes, and sort of mush them together. Then if you dig a bit more deeply you go, ‘Oh, there’s not actually any real original thought here.’ It’s [1970s impressionist] Mike Yarwood — there’s a topical reference.”
Essentially, the A.I. took available information about Black Mirror from the internet and created an episode that was a jumbled mess of the major plot points of other episodes. The only useful thing that Brooker found from the experiment was that it allowed him to pinpoint some phrases and plot points he’s overused, since the A.I. rehashed all of the show’s major tropes. So, instead of writing a plausible episode, the A.I. wrote an episode that illustrated how one should not write a TV episode. For companies who are thinking of replacing workers with A.I.—or for individuals who are trying to use A.I.-generated content to make a quick buck—Brooker’s experience is an important reminder that A.I. still can’t yet compete with the value of human creativity.
(feature image: Netflix)
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