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Black Mirror: White Christmas

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That was creepy, and no one had a happy ending (or a Merry Xmas).   Jon Hamm did a great job as Matt.  

 

Enslaving a software version of yourself to run your very own smart house.  Gave me the shivers.

 

But that blocking software was all kinds of wrong -- the fact that it even retroactively blocked people from old photos was harsh.

And then after all that time to discover that his girlfriend cheated on him with a co-worker -- I did not see that coming.

 

I seem to remember the accelerated virtual prison time being done on 'The Outer Limits' several years ago.

 

I like the callback to the previous episodes -- the song sung by Beth at the karaoke bar was the same song sung by Abi in the '15 Million Credits' episode at the Pop Idol style competition.  Or the fact that the username of one of the guys in the techno-Cyrano De Bergerac group that Matt was hosting for Henry was I_AM_WALDO.  

 

I'm curious why that process with Henry was an illegal service -- it's not being a peeping Tom if the person consented to the Eye-link connection (which is basically an updated version of Google Glass streaming a live feed) ?  But not reporting a murder and covering up involvement in it -- yep, still a crime.

Edited by ottoDbusdriver
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I seem to remember the accelerated virtual prison time being done on 'The Outer Limits' several years ago.

 

Star Trek DS9 did a similar thing, where Miles O'Brien spent forty years in prison with no real world time passing.

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I'm curious why that process with Henry was an illegal service -- it's not being a peeping Tom if the person consented to the Eye-link connection (which is basically an updated version of Google Glass streaming a live feed) ?  But not reporting a murder and covering up involvement in it -- yep, still a crime.

 

Watching him have sex with somebody when that somebody hasn't given their permission to be watched, that I'm guessing is the crime. 

Any interactions that happened in public, well it might be a bit skeevy to be effectively eavedropping, but it wouldn't be illegal.

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Watching him have sex with somebody when that somebody hasn't given their permission to be watched, that I'm guessing is the crime.

 

I thought he told Potter that he turned if off during sexy-time, but probably not, so yep that's a crime too.

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That was rather festive. 

 

The show caught me. I didn't think the little girl was the asian co-workers, and I didn't get what was going on until I saw the bird clock with the dad. 

 

So she obviously knew the baby wasn't his, but had he gone along with the abortion, would she not have blocked him and life goes on? I don't get why she upped and left everyone and ended up having the child. Unless she tried to run away with the asian guy and he said no?

 

Being blocked by everyone seemed a little harsh. He copped a deal to not reporting the murder, and being a peeping tom isn't a capital crime. How is he supposed to work?

 

Although, I suppose by telling the horse story to the woman who got her new cookie, he was pretty reprehensible overall. Still though. 

 

Making every minute 1000 years seems overboard too. 

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I don't know why they were torturing the copy and not the real thing. And the wife was stupid - she just did not wany to hurt him that much? And Matt's punishment did not make sense - how would he order food, for example. Otherwise, interesting. And nice how the threads in the previous stories came together, like the blocking and the cookies playing a part.

 

Oh and the female in the middle story seemed a bitch so I can buy her for going for that service.

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Jon Hamm said in the middle part of the show that you have to 'break' the 'cookie' so they'll be complaint. I think the point was, most people didn't consider the cookie to be "real"; i.e., sentient. So you can torture and enslave them with impunity. Jon Hamm said to the female cookie that "you're just a bunch of code now." They also showed that the real guy wouldn't talk, which is why they built that whole construct. So I can buy that they wouldn't torture the real person, since it's clearly less messy to construct the cookie environment.

 

I think that was the most interesting part of the show for me. I thought in the middle act that the female cookie was going to kill of her 'original self.'

 

I don't think that the whole, "you're blocked by everyone" was really thought out. I think they thought it was a cool idea and that was about it. Because, yeah, how does he do anything? Is he a ward of the State? Because if he can't get a job, then he can't pay taxes. I don't know the law in UK, but if that was in the USA he'd clearly be able to sue because the punishment didn't nearly fit the crime. 

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I liked the way the stories were all sort of interwoven together through Jon Hamm's character. The one with guy who kept trying to see his ex and the kid didn't surprise me though. I've watched enough soap operas to have known that wasn't going to be his kid.

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They actually showed that: when the guy saw his preggo gf, he got right up in her face and someone had to call the police. Plus, when he first got blocked, he threw the plant. He could have easily thrown it at her, so one could actually block someone and then they could get shot or pushed down the stairs. 

 

I suppose if Jon Hamm wasn't fired from his job; I would think peeping tom would be a minor offense, and they wiped out the not reporting the murder, then he'd have a a real case. 

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"that bitch." "oh what a bitch..." "that BITCH!"  <--my reaction as show progressed. Seriously, what a bitch.

I really like this show because it raises so many questions! But in a good discussion-y way! I felt the "blocked by everyone" punishment was an extreme version of the scarlet letter; everyone sees him as red so they know he did something really bad, what's to stop someone from killing him out of disgust? Do medics have special eye wear so they can treat permanently blocked people? And I know this is based in the UK, but how is this not "cruel and unusual punishment"? I feel like the way the govt/police treat people could really create some crazies. I mean, having a loud argument in public means he's a stalker and can never have access to his own child?! (did the police know it wasn't his?)

I also was just WAITING for the new house-AI to have her revenge. I thought she would try to do something to hurt or entrap her owner, like burn the toast so bad the house catches fire, turn off the sprinklers, lock the doors, etc. Or maybe just be a pita and wake her up late or mess up an appointment...  if we are to believe that she is an exact copy of her owner's mind, that means the AI needs some form of mental stimulation or entertainment. No human (copy) can be a robot. I'd still think the copy would go crazy no matter what.

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'Cruel and unusual punishment' has some basis in common law, so I would assume that the amendment was probably based on English law at the time and there must be something like that still.

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I felt the "blocked by everyone" punishment was an extreme version of the scarlet letter; everyone sees him as red so they know he did something really bad, what's to stop someone from killing him out of disgust?

I actually thought this was going to happen, when they showed a person hefting a snowglobe like it was a weapon and giving the red fuzzy blocked guy the dirty look.

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I just don't think they could have done it because they'd be effectively killing him. So that took me out right at the end. 

 

Jon Hamm said in the middle part of the show that you have to 'break' the 'cookie' so they'll be complaint. I think the point was, most people didn't consider the cookie to be "real"; i.e., sentient. So you can torture and enslave them with impunity. Jon Hamm said to the female cookie that "you're just a bunch of code now." They also showed that the real guy wouldn't talk, which is why they built that whole construct. So I can buy that they wouldn't torture the real person, since it's clearly less messy to construct the cookie environment.

Oh, I get why they had Jon Hamm go in to extract the confession form the cookie. I meant at the end. The officers were taking such pleasure in torturing the cookie with the radio and everything = that was absurd to me because it's just software, as far as they are concerned. Why should they care either way?

 

And about the cookie killing the owner of the house, I think the cookie had been cowed to the extent that it wouldn't even think about rebelling, for fear of a return to solitary. It's basically extreme sensory depravation, correct?

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I think the point of the "blocked by everyone" is that eventually the person either just leaves (to a non-blockable place, if one even exists) or kills themselves- it's like being shunned in one of those isolated religious communities. It's completely de-humanizing.

I don't think the officers care that it's "just a cookie", it's a sentient being and that one officer seems to really enjoy the power over it. Hamm, with the toast stuff, seemed to enjoy it, too. Plus- I think downloading the person's consciousness onto the "cookie" makes the cookie the person. Like, Hamm says that "cookie Greta" isn't the real Greta, but what is a person if not their consciousness? Cookie Greta is making all the decisions, all the plans...

Again, with the dark humour- a radio that plays the same Christmas song over and over and over again is something, especially to those of us who have worked retail, is truly torturous.

Edited by Pogojoco
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That's too simplistic. If you're blocked by everyone, where do you go that's non blockable? You need income. You need a job. Jon Hamm didn't strike me as suicidal. He got the guy to give up the murder and was virtually prancing all over the place. They showed in the middle act that he's great at breaking in the cookies. If I'm his company, do I really want to let him go? His not reporting the murder was wiped out, so he's not guilty of anything except being a "peeping tom". He basically got capital punishment for being a wing man. I enjoyed the episode, but this doesn't hold up. I think the writer had a cool concept but didn't think it through all the way.

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If you're blocked by everyone, where do you go that's non blockable?

Same place folks on sex registries today go - internet porn.  But only with pornstars who're dead. How's that for dark?

 

I too saw the whole 'kid wasn't his' thing coming but 'blocked by everyone' - that one rattled me.  Mostly cuz this will happen, especially in Britain.  Once the technology is available the argument will become 'how can we not use this?'  And the process that enacts the law will be exactly what they showed - some minor level bureaucrat will almost absent-mindedly flip the switch on this without considering the consequences.  If you don't think this could happen in modern England, I'll provide examples. 

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One thread that has run fairly consistently throughout this series (I assume, there's still an episode I haven't watched yet) is the idea of technology not only making our lives easier and more convenient, but making our darker urges easier and more convenient to satisfy. Not "what can technology do for us?" so much as "What can technology help us do to others?" It's like the joke that anything new that is ever invented will eventually be used for porn, only Black Mirror seems to take it seriously, saying that all new technology will eventually lead to corruption, as it facilitates our petty cruelties.

 

The Cookie, for example, is an intelligent being. Yes, it's just code, but it can't be programmed to obey, it must be "broken," indicating that it has free will and can make decisions for itself. If it can be driven mad by isolation, then it experiences emotion. The idea that it is "not real" or "just code" is something comforting that people tell themselves so they don't have to acknowledge the horror of what they are inflicting on another being. The cops at the end couldn't do anything to the guy in the real world, due to professional ethics, but they could torture his cookie for fun, and that was the next best thing. Because that is just a feature of the human condition: When we casually inflict suffering on others from a distance, and don't have to face the effects of it or see the reality of what we're doing, then it often doesn't sink in that we are doing something wrong. It's why many of us still buy products we KNOW were made with child slave labour, because when we don't actually see it or experience it for ourselves, it's all abstract, and that suffering becomes negligible compared to our convenience.

 

The blocking is the same issue. It's a really horrific punishment (not practical at all, no one could survive that way - what if there was an emergency and they couldn't get help?), but it's as easy to inflict on someone as pushing a button, and then you never have to see or hear from them again, making whatever suffering they experience as a result completely abstract and no longer your problem. How can the costly, complex, ugly prison system in place today possibly compete with that?

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What if he does commit a crime? How could he be IDed or arrested?

How could he not be?  Any witness will know it's somebody on the list who did it, and if he's geotagged at all, he's cooked.

 

You could live like that but it'd be hell on earth.  Communicating through notes, watching old movies since the only folks he can see have to be dead IRL.  He might have to get one of those fake people from 'Be Right Back' just to have 'meaningful' contact with anyone.  A completely horrifying punishment, a real living death, all the more because it's cowardly and endlessly, mindlessly cruel.

Edited by henripootel
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The 'blocked by everyone' twist reminded me of a wonderful Robert Silverberg story - and the equally wonderful 80s Twilight Zone episode adapted from it - called "To See the Invisible Man", in which a man is convicted of the crime of 'coldness' and sentenced to a year of virtual invisibility - he has a particular insignia fastened to his forehead that warns people of his sentence, and when he nearly achieves conversation with a blind man, the latter is alerted by a seeing person.  At one point the main character becomes seriously ill and can't get medical treatment because of his invisibility. He nearly dies.(The resolution of the story is beautiful and drives home its main themes).  I suspect that would be the fate of Hamm's character here, especially since it seems to be a 'life' (or living death) sentence. I agree that the punishment here is far greater than the 'crime', but isn't that often the case in our own world?

 

Although I agree with many of the criticisms here, I did think the acting was wonderful

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How could he not be?  Any witness will know it's somebody on the list who did it, and if he's geotagged at all, he's cooked.

 

But no one else can see him either. How many people are blocked? How do they know it's him?

 

A completely horrifying punishment, a real living death, all the more because it's cowardly and endlessly, mindlessly cruel.

 

That's my main point. How does this punishment fit his crime? His actual crime was being a "peeping tom" [used by the show]. The entire motivation for Jon Hamm 'in the cabin' was to extract the confession in exchange for not reporting the guy being killed by the Game of Thrones woman. He achieved that. The cops said that it was wiped out. They still blocked him from the rest of the world forever. It was fine up until that point. That's ridiculous to consider because in any civilized society this would be thrown out in 5 seconds.

 

I suppose the gist of it is that law enforcement are going to use technology to steamroll the general public, as they showed at the end where the cookie was trapped for 1000 years. It was so egregious though that what was shaping up to be a cool episode ended flat. I mean, this was an xmas feature. You have to make it a classic.

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Communicating through notes, watching old movies since the only folks he can see have to be dead IRL.  He might have to get one of those fake people from 'Be Right Back' just to have 'meaningful' contact with anyone.  A completely horrifying punishment, a real living death, all the more because it's cowardly and endlessly, mindlessly cruel.
Communicating through notes might not work either - because the block worked on people's brains it seemed. So the wife was removed from the photographs as well, meaning that anything Hamm's character wrote down, including a request for food and water could not be seen by anyone. So yeah, logic fails for me there. 

 

The other piece is about the cookie. The police and we can't have it both ways. We saw in the middle story that the copy was treated basically as code - if the copy was believed to be sentient then there'd be laws preventing it's being broken and basically enslaved. The only way to enslave the copy, which is what we saw, really, is to convince and be convinced that the copy is not sentient or has free well - it's just a really really clever piece of code. Now, if you believe that (as the people in universe seem to do), torturing the cookie doesn't make sense to be, because I don't see how the police officers get any satisfaction out of it. It's like kicking the stone you tripped over. I don't think smashing it to bits is going to give you that much satisfaction, will it? It's just code, why would even bother torturing it?

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I finally got a chance to see this on Netflix and very much enjoyed it.  It's definitely Black Mirror alright!

 

Terrific performances by the cast.  When I looked at Rafe Spall, I kept thinking he was a slightly older version of Iain De Casetecker from Agents of Shield.  It was a little distracting.  He turned in a strong performance and so did Jon Hamm.  Loved seeing Oona Chaplin and Natalia Tena too.

 

The technology here fascinates me and the Z-Eye segment was very entertaining until the end.  The blocking technology is intriguing but absolutely horrifying and creepy.  I suspect that would result in the person who is blocked committing acts of violence to get their points across.  There's no way that wouldn't have happened.  I agree the logistics of Hamm's character's fate doesn't make sense although it certainly is memorable.

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The 'blocked by everyone' twist reminded me of a wonderful Robert Silverberg story - and the equally wonderful 80s Twilight Zone episode adapted from it - called "To See the Invisible Man", in which a man is convicted of the crime of 'coldness' and sentenced to a year of virtual invisibility -

 

 

I was thinking of that episode of the Twilight Zone too,   I am not sure the punishment isn't practical or something that can't happen.  That is the scary thing.  Then again I don't think the "system" cares about someone who has been blocked by everyone.   There would probably be an exception for police but beside that I don't think it matters.  

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I don't quite understand how the "cookie" knew about the murder. Are we to assume that the cookie learns everything its owner learns after the initial creation? I guess there would have to be some sort of permanent "link" between the person and the cookie, like how a phone updates new info to the cloud. Maybe I missed that when I watched. 

 

I really liked the ep (and series) overall. The concept of having technology implanted inside us is slightly terrifying, but I know it's coming.

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I don't quite understand how the "cookie" knew about the murder. Are we to assume that the cookie learns everything its owner learns after the initial creation?

Yes, I think the cookie is essentially initialized with all the owner's thoughts and memories when it is implanted, and learns throughout its time in the owner how the owner will think.  So, if he was forced to have a cookie after he was arrested, the cookie would know the events from the owner's original memories AND what he was told had happened after he was arrested.

 

I don't think there is a permanent link between the person and the cookie, though.  My guess is: once it's taken out, it probably develops independently on its own, and the interesting unanswered question is whether it gets very far and/or will it develop along an identical line as the original.  

 

The blocking is the same issue. It's a really horrific punishment (not practical at all, no one could survive that way - what if there was an emergency and they couldn't get help?), but it's as easy to inflict on someone as pushing a button, and then you never have to see or hear from them again, making whatever suffering they experience as a result completely abstract and no longer your problem. How can the costly, complex, ugly prison system in place today possibly compete with that?
it's like being shunned in one of those isolated religious communities.

These are the themes I got from that punishment as well.  Being able to say you solved the problem without having to go through the mess of having to confront the issue (unless you think about it at all).  It's like the question posed in the first Game of Thrones book: if you have the power to sentence someone to death, are you or are you not capable of doing the deed while looking that person in the eye?

 

Terrific performances by the cast.

I may have to try to watch Mad Men again, on the basis of Jon Hamm's performance here.  I didn't even recognize him - I kept thinking, wow, this unknown is really good!  I also thought the woman who played the cookie was excellent.

 

Overall, though, I was disappointed by this episode.  I thought it was slow and overindulgent, especially compared to the starkness of the first season, which I loved.  I had to watch it twice through to make sure I hadn't missed something because I zoned out somewhat the first time through.  It was more interesting than The Waldo Moment, but neither of them have come close to the first 5 episodes of the show.  (That may be an impossibly high standard, but still.)

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I realize no one has posted on this in a while, but here it goes. I watched the Christmas episode for Rafe Spall- I liked some of it, but truthfully even with RS in it I was getting bored by the end and ready for them to wrap it up. I do think there was a plot hole about the little girl, unless I missed the explanation. They said blocking extends to offspring-so that's why he can't see the baby's face. But he is able to see the little girl after the woman is dead. Did they say that the blocking ended upon her death? Because that doesn't really make any sense-if it extends to the offspring, and the offspring is alive, why should he be able to see the child? I get why the audience is able to see the child-so we know he's not the father. But it makes no sense that HE(can't remember RS's character's name-Mike?) is able to.

I thought the whole thing was just kind of nonsensical, really. Do they ever say that ordinary law is abolished? Admittedly, as I said, I got kind of bored in spots and may have missed some, but if people were still allowed to get lawyers for defense, the guy would have a good case for #1 manslaughter, not murder, and #2, extreme emotional distress.  I mean, this woman, rather than just admit what she did, let him think for years he had a kid he could not see or have contact with. As the father, could he not fight for his legal rights? Yes I know he wasn't really the father, but that's my point: had he fought for the right to see the child in court, the whole mess with the girlfriend's father and the child, later-could have been avoided. Both the ex girlfriend and her father let him be tortured emotionally, rather than just telling him the truth years before. A good lawyer could have gotten him off completely, or at least, with just  a few years.

It seems the show forgoes common sense just to shock/surprise. Yeah I get it-shows like The Twillight Zone did that too, sometimes-but because it's a much better show-it's easier to get past their plot holes. At least for me.

Rafe Spall-and even Jon Hamm were awesome, though. RS is so underrated.

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I think the point was that the company that did the blocking was powerful. And I just figured that the offspring was a secondary block, not a primary block? So when the primary lifted, the secondaries lifted too? 

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On 12/16/2014 at 9:10 PM, ottoDbusdriver said:

I like the callback to the previous episodes -- the song sung by Beth at the karaoke bar was the same song sung by Abi in the '15 Million Credits' episode at the Pop Idol style competition.  Or the fact that the username of one of the guys in the techno-Cyrano De Bergerac group that Matt was hosting for Henry was I_AM_WALDO.

The username of one of the guys in the techno-Cyrano De Bergerac group that Matt was hosting for Henry was "PieApe", the insult that the jerky dude in the '15 Million Credits' episode kept calling the janitorial staffer who kept getting reflected in his teevee screen.

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Blocking was definitely a creative (and socially plausible) concept, but crossed the line when it was bi-directional. If you don't want to look at someone then fine; it's immature but won't break down society. However, if blocking someone affects their vision as well the problems are obvious and I think society would reject this long before the "blocked by everyone" step. 

The life of a "cookie" on the other hand is not really new ground because giving emotions to AI has been speculated before and is always a bad idea bordering on torture. That doesn't mean there's nothing new to explore, but the result here was that I was horrified without any new quandaries to think about. Black Mirror's appeal tends to be delivering those together.

(Although it did make me wonder if a copy of myself would even be the ideal assistant, morality aside. Yes it knows my preferences now, but I can't predict what I want a week from now let alone a few years. If it has to grow and take specific override instructions anyway then how much have I gained by torturing a copy of myself?)

On 7/19/2016 at 9:41 AM, IWantCandy71 said:

They said blocking extends to offspring-so that's why he can't see the baby's face. But he is able to see the little girl after the woman is dead. Did they say that the blocking ended upon her death?

I'm replying from several time cycles into the future, but yes they did say that: "When she died, the block died." That's why he was able to see her picture on TV from the news report about the crash.

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This was one of the more disturbing episodes of this show, just from the standpoint of gross violations of human rights.  Making a copy of someone's mind so that they are fully conscious and self-aware but enslaved to basically be a house maintenance program...big problems there.  Plus the ability for some douchebag like Hamm's character (always like seeing Jon Hamm btw) to imprison them for years at a time on a whim.  Yikes.  The whole blocking people thing would also have huge legal obstacles.  The levels of abuse would be ridiculous and it would lead to all sorts of bad situations between people, just like in this story where the cowardly girlfriend let her ex think he had a child all those years to cover up her infidelity (I agree with the above that the whole mess could have been completely avoided through the legal system as the ex-boyfriend was being seriously abused by this callous woman and her father).  Lots of lawsuits and criminal cases for sure from something like that.

The other problem I had was when the cop or whoever made the cookie suffer through a thousand years of imprisonment per minute while they all went to a Christmas party.  But what about the real guy, he's the criminal.  The copy is just a copy.  What is the point of punishing the copy?  For having a memory of what the real one did?  Obviously there are no legal rights for self-aware AI in this world.

Hamm and the other guy sure ended the episode living in their respective versions of hell.  I could see someone just killing himself if he was in Hamm's shoes (and this is another human rights and civil liberties issue, as not only can't he do something as simple as shop for groceries, but the government is allowed to freely make people not see anyone they want without warning or justification).  But the virtual guy in the virtual reality prison is just stuck.

Edited by Dobian
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I didn't get the point of the punishment either, and like all but one episode of Black Mirror, it is a dystopian world. 

The only benefit I see in torturing the cookie, really, is that it helps the victims get vengeance in a way without impacting a living human being. However, I am not sure how healthy it is for victims of crimes to keep dwelling on revenge rather than moving on. 

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22 hours ago, romantic idiot said:

The only benefit I see in torturing the cookie, really, is that it helps the victims get vengeance in a way without impacting a living human being. However, I am not sure how healthy it is for victims of crimes to keep dwelling on revenge rather than moving on. 

It brings up the question of AIs and consciousness, an idea explored more fully in Westworld.  So is this just a computer character, or is it actually sentient?  If it is sentient and self-aware, which seems to be the case, how is abusing it less of a crime than abusing a living person?  I don't think the episode side-steps the question, deliberately having that guy increase the timer to the max on the cookie makes it something to think about.

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I sort of buy the whole blocking punishment concept.  I've worked with sex offenders and parolees, and if you set aside whether or not they "deserve" it, but there's a lot of enfringements to their rights and restrictions that make it difficult to live a semblance of a productive life. It's basically set up for one to offend again. So blocking in this world is rather extreme, but I think parallels some real life concepts. And while the punishment may seem disproportionate to the crime, that happens all the time too ... though probably not to guys like Jon Hamm's character. 

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On 2/2/2016 at 4:52 AM, ToxicUnicorn said:

Yes, I think the cookie is essentially initialized with all the owner's thoughts and memories when it is implanted, and learns throughout its time in the owner how the owner will think.  So, if he was forced to have a cookie after he was arrested, the cookie would know the events from the owner's original memories AND what he was told had happened after he was arrested

I thought Jon Hamm's character said the cookie had to be implanted for a week, and it's only been 2 days since the murder. (Murders? Did he kill May?)  Albert they fast-tracked it somehow. 

But yeah, the 'blocked from everyone' punishment seemed excessive and cruel. 

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This was creepy and nightmarish but not really that well thought out.

On 12/20/2014 at 1:59 PM, ganesh said:

I think that was the most interesting part of the show for me. I thought in the middle act that the female cookie was going to kill of her 'original self.'

I thought so too.  I was expecting her to make the coffee burn her "real self" or something.

It just doesn't make sense that a rich customer would have a technocopy of their brain made that knows how the customer likes everything and sits in a virtual reality, bored to tears, resentfully programming the toast, coffee, appointments, and everything else in the house.  Why wouldn't they just buy a "smart house" computer that can be programmed to do everything and that wouldn't require a medical procedure and wouldn't create a resentful copy of your mind that's sitting around watching and hating you?

On 12/20/2014 at 3:04 PM, Chattygal said:

Agree with your assessment of the blocking detail 100%. Plus, blocking really didn't block the person - it just turned them into a gray blob that sounded like an adult voice on the Peanuts. The blocked individual could still audibly and physically harass the person blocking them, there was nothing set up to stop them from being an obstruction and nuisance in their blocked state.

This too.  The cheated-upon husband could still have been physically abusive if he wanted, even with the block in place, so it doesn't really make any sense.  Plus the husband hadn't really done anything in my view (at that point) that would have warranted a lifetime block, especially since he thought he had a child with his ex.  Couldn't they at least have told him that it wasn't his child?  He was still able to come around and stalk his ex and do whatever he wanted.  He just had a little difficulty telling what was going on because he couldn't actually see the blocked faces but that's about it.

Jon Hamm's punishment seemed like it was sentencing him to death, basically.  He wouldn't be able to work, buy groceries, etc.  Unless they set up a special place for him to live and have food delivered.  Having a "Scarlet Letter" like that would also make him a target for vigilantes.  It kind of looked like that one guy was looking at him in a threatening manner.

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On 12/20/2014 at 3:19 PM, ganesh said:

I suppose if Jon Hamm wasn't fired from his job; I would think peeping tom would be a minor offense, and they wiped out the not reporting the murder, then he'd have a a real case. 

On 12/29/2014 at 9:12 PM, ganesh said:

That's too simplistic. If you're blocked by everyone, where do you go that's non blockable? You need income. You need a job. Jon Hamm didn't strike me as suicidal. He got the guy to give up the murder and was virtually prancing all over the place. They showed in the middle act that he's great at breaking in the cookies. If I'm his company, do I really want to let him go? His not reporting the murder was wiped out, so he's not guilty of anything except being a "peeping tom". He basically got capital punishment for being a wing man. I enjoyed the episode, but this doesn't hold up. I think the writer had a cool concept but didn't think it through all the way.

I think that in a world where everything you see is recorded and can be replayed, zoomed in on, paused, uploaded and shared etc. we are going to have a totally different view on whether being a peeping tom is a minor offense. The guy he was helping believed that Jon Hamm would break contact once he started getting physical with the woman and it appears like he only knew about Jon Hamm and not any of the other men watching so he didn't give his consent for that. The woman he was with certainly didn't give her consent to be watched by half a dozen strangers who now have the ability to share that footage of her with anyone they want. (Sure, in the case we watched the woman turned out to be a suicidal murderer, but based on the way the men were talking, this wasn't their first customer.) Women get fired from their jobs when videos and pictures of them end up online. What happens when footage of them being intimate with someone is found and shared? People need to be able to trust that their most private moments won't go viral and giving people who betray that trust the strictest punishments helps alleviate those fears. 

 

On 4/12/2017 at 8:03 PM, nanners84 said:

I sort of buy the whole blocking punishment concept.  I've worked with sex offenders and parolees, and if you set aside whether or not they "deserve" it, but there's a lot of enfringements to their rights and restrictions that make it difficult to live a semblance of a productive life. It's basically set up for one to offend again. So blocking in this world is rather extreme, but I think parallels some real life concepts. And while the punishment may seem disproportionate to the crime, that happens all the time too ... though probably not to guys like Jon Hamm's character. 

When Potter was talking to Jon Hamm about the grandfather's cabin, he referred to it as being 'on the outside' or something like that and that he hadn't been on the outside in years and he had forgotten what it was like. So it does appear that there are places outside of society that people who want to live off the grid can go. Jon Hamm is probably expected to go live out there, kind of like how now we making zoning requirements that sex offenders can't live within a certain distance of children which leads to shanty towns in the middle of nowhere for predators to live. 

Edited by Rockstar99435
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On 11/14/2017 at 11:53 AM, Rockstar99435 said:

The guy he was helping believed that Jon Hamm would break contact once he started getting physical with the woman and it appears like he only knew about Jon Hamm and not any of the other men watching so he didn't give his consent for that.

Having just finished the episode, the guy he was helping (Harry?) did know about the other guys watching. It was said by him that he had been one of those onlookers not long before he used Matt's services (when Harry tried to stop the service altogether, one of the peeping Toms said that Harry had watched him have sex with a German girl). So he knew that there were people watching, Matt included. It was just that Matt had to lie as he had the police watching and listening in as he tried to get the confession out of Joe.

I did find the concept of the episode interesting, but there were things that didn't work for me. I think the one thing I was most disturbed by was Matt's punishment after being released, which would be blocked by everyone. That would be incredibly isolating, even more so than being in prison. It's actually a worse punishment because even though you're free in the world, you can't interact with a single person. It would also cause a lot of problems with people who wanted to get back at these criminals, whether it's just predators or all criminals. I would fully expect that punishment to last a very short time until these people would just simply kill themselves. But at least they have that option to escape for good; the idea of cookies and the AIs is just terrifying in its own right. The person is still physically in their own body, but their consciousness is just copied into a cookie so that they can be...not forced, but persuaded to do things. Yet they're still presented as real people, as real as they can get, with free will. 

I agree with above comments that Joe's punishment in being stuck in the cabin for 1,000+years isn't punishment for the actual Joe, because for him, it's only been a few days, but for his copy, it's been years. It's just the police getting to stretch their rights on a person and do whatever they want with little consequence. I assume the prison system, in this world, has all criminals be subjected to the Cookie chip. Or, at least, the worst offenders like murderers.

Though I'm still confused as to why Joe was technically confessing to killing May when he didn't. She went outside and froze to death. 

Also, why did real Joe, in prison, suddenly look like he also aged five years? 

I did find the acting simply wonderful, though. It got me to enjoy the episode more. I just think the overall ending was fairly weak compared to the compelling first 3/4 of the episode. 

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Joe’s wife was a real bitch. Just tell the poor guy the baby wasn’t his. Why couldn’t Joe go to court if he thought he was the father. Where were his rights.

Re: the blocked by everyone, was it established that implants were mandatory? 

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Wow, bad endings for everyone, and deservedly so, except for the little girl.  So many ways the tragedy could have been avoided, if the wife had told the husband about the child, if the father had told the wife that the husband was writing and writing (because maybe she would have fessed up), and I guess the girls father didn't know or didn't care about the girl either, since he wasn't in the picture, again the fault of the wife maybe?

And pretty heavy punishment for Hamm's character.  

As for the cookie/smart home bit, that's just kindof weird to wrap your head around.  enslaving essentially a part of your consciousness to run your house, but its you and its code, so its sortof not alive, but then again, it apparently knows everything about you and can be used as a witness against you.  its like Alexa, but more (which I why I don't want one).

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It's unclear to me what laws would cover Henry's service. Laws related to "revenge porn" or distributing without model releases wouldn't criminalise the viewer (e.g., imagine if today if someone secretly filmed, then shared the result). Possibly a future court might rule this under voyeurism laws if it's streamed live; or maybe in a world where there are cameras everywhere, stricter laws have been brought in. Or perhaps such an organised approach could be considered aiding and abetting.

The harsh punishment seemed to me a commentary of sex offender lists - societies already accept increasingly harsh restrictions because "pedophiles", but people can be put on the list for the most minor of sex offences. I'm glad people here see it as a harsh punishment, but I can easily see the laws being passed and most people not caring. Never mind Henry, people receiving that punishment might including someone peeing in public, teenagers having underage sex, or someone having pr0n of an 18 year old but where they couldn't prove they weren't 17 - Henry wouldn't find himself getting much sympathy, despite the severe punishment.

I hope that such confessions are strongly challenged in court! I think a confession from a perfect copy could be valid (if two people are alleged to have carried out a crime, a confession from one can still implicate both of them), but there's the question of whether a very complex piece of software is a genuinely accurate copy, and free of any biases that might make it more likely to give a false confession. Not to mention that the cookie in this story was in some kind of confused state, not fully aware of the real situation.

In a world of AI that can replicate humans, it seems unlikely that the training would be done by an actual human. Even if the training procedure was designed by humans, it would be delivered by the software, entirely virtually. I think that would make it creepier too: in the version we saw, it's possible for the cookies to communicate the outside world. Even if it's a hidden manufacturer switch, some people would enable them - and even if people first thought it was just code, it's hard to stick to that view when an intelligent perfect copy of you is pleading with you[*]. But imagine if that was all hidden away - the cookie had literally no way to communicate to the outside world other than through what job they were doing, and the dreadful torture was itself code hidden away in a complex application.

It also seems terribly inefficient - I get the point that a copy would know your needs best, but you'd also have the unpredictability and failures from an (overworked) human assistant. Most of the time I'm using Google for the things that I don't know (and hence my copy wouldn't either). Okay, I suppose the point is the AI version of you would do the Google search for you, in some sort of extreme version of lmgtfy.com... Having said that, it seemed an interesting concept, and something that could be possible.

The use of "nothing" rather than other punishments seemed interesting too. I think it's something that would be more accepted by people, and would avoid the "can cookies feel pain" debate - in the same way that modern societies view painful punishments as barbaric, but locking people up in solitary for decades is accepted. The fact that it happens near instantly would also make it seem less real to the outside world ("look, it's all over in five minutes") - yet makes it all the more terrifying to the cookie; you can't even cling to the hope that you might be freed, when the decision is made in mere seconds or minutes in reality.

I can just imagine the advertising slogan - "It's like having a little copy of you do all the work!"

Much sci fi has viewed human level AI in the form of intelligent robots when asking if they should have rights. But imagine if with sufficient computing power, someone could create millions of sentient AIs, virtually use and abuse them without anyone knowing. If treated as humans with rights - as much as that seems reasonable, does it mean indefinitely keeping an AI alive the moment its created? White Christmas focuses on AI copies, in practice AIs may be created without them believing themselves to be human, or even behaving human-like at all.

 

Spoiler

* - Perhaps that's how they got their human rights in Hated In The Nation - I saw that episode before White Christmas, and was wondering why the ECHR had given Human Rights to cookies...

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Very late to this party I see....

I think it was unnecessarily cruel to make the cookie that close to the original person.  If that being has consciousness and can feel pain that is where it becomes cruel.  And what is the purpose of in effect punishing and enslaving a version of yourself when as some have said above, you could program a computer to do pretty much the same thing?  Alexa, make my toast.

I can't imagine anyone wanting to enslave a facsimile of themselves either.  It may not be you technically but why be OK with that?  It seems to be way more than just a Sims character.  In a world where being a peeping Tom seems to be such a huge offense why is this innocent cookie torture not an offense?  I can't even imagine the justification.  

And I call wild arbitrary overkill on the 1000 years in a minute.   That's somehow OK to do in this dystopia, but what Hamm's character did in the dating scheme was not and worthy of some really severe punishment considering the "crime"?  After several thousand years from their perspective a real person would have gone so mad by then they couldn't even function in any normal fashion after that anyway.

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On 11/29/2017 at 11:45 PM, Lady Calypso said:

Though I'm still confused as to why Joe was technically confessing to killing May when he didn't. She went outside and froze to death. 

Just watched this. The guy killed May's primary caregiver, and she then died because there was no one to take care of her. Since Joe knew she was in the house I didn't see it as too much of a stretch to say that he killed her too.

overall quite the mindfuck episode, especially the idea of cookies. The punishment for witnessing a murder suicide and not reporting it seemed crazy extreme. So does that mean people can just rob or assault him now because he won't be able to identify them.

I did think it was hilarious that the guy who no one could see looked like Jon Hamm.

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On 8/30/2018 at 9:05 PM, Kel Varnsen said:

I did think it was hilarious that the guy who no one could see looked like Jon Hamm.

Why?

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