The Ethical Reflections of Technofetishism in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror

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“Without desire, there is no need of a scheming mind devising tools to possess an object.”

Alessandro Tomasi, “The Role of Intimacy in the Evolution of Technology”

All too quickly the technologies of science fiction, like those imagined in the British TV anthology Black Mirror, turn into technologies of science fact as humanity continues in its love affair with the inextricable machine “towards an ideal end that promises at least an approximation to the absolute intimacy that is unique to the gods” (Tomasi). This process of technofetishism isn’t necessarily based on a premeditated plan for the future but rather on our response to current desires and problems. And, this process continues regardless of whether the technologies are good or bad for us, but why?

While certainly desire, the erotic experience, and intimacy-as-closeness play a part in our drive for new technologies, to understand the sort of intimacy referred to in this case we must consider an evolutionary framework posited by French intellectual Georges Bataille. Bataille establishes three types of intimacy. Immanence is the intimacy of inorganic matter. Such matter has no sense of itself, no desires to satisfy, and yet it has being and thus exists in physical continuity with the rest of creation. Unlike inorganic matter, animals have nutritional and reproductive needs to satisfy, so they must make some distinctions between themselves and their landscapes. Yet, despite having some “sentiment of self,” animals still “live immanently ‘like water in water’” (Bataille qtd. in Tomasi). (Think of the ways in which animals react to themselves in mirrors.)

Humanity, however, lost its intimacy with the world when it developed the first tool—its first technology—thereby transcending its animality and creating a consciousness that split the world into subjects and objects. Even our own bodies, that with which we experience the most intimacy, suffer from conscious self-objectification. (Think of the ways in which humans react to themselves in mirrors.) Thus, the human being lives discontinuously, but simultaneously desires continuity, with the rest of the cosmos. For Bataille, it is only through the destruction of technology or “the negation of its usefulness” that humanity will ever dissolve this distinction between subject and object and once again “open up a possibility of an experience of intimacy” with the rest of creation (Tomasi).

However, in “The Role of Intimacy in the Evolution of Technology,” Alessandro Tomasi reinterprets Bataille’s definition of intimacy in order to illustrate that we already experience a variation of it with certain technologies, and this intimacy determines the criteria for technological evolution. He claims “certain technologies have certain qualities that allow them to disappear from consciousness through use, that is, by becoming transparent or intimately connected. . . . With total familiarity, technological objects recede into the background of consciousness and become nothing, but extensions of our body.” So, if a technology satisfies desires or solves present-day problems, and gives us effortless control in doing so by closing the time and distance gaps between ourselves and the objects of our desires, that technology disappears from our objectifying consciousness, and we accept it. So, where in this process does a human ethics of technology have a place?

Consider the memory grain in the Black Mirror episode “The Entire History of You.” Designed to solve the problems of organic human memory, as the character Colleen tells us, the grain permits humans to record everything they see, hear, and do. The grain, named no doubt for its size, is literally out of sight once it’s implanted in the body, behind the person’s ear. With a small, smooth, handheld remote, a person can instantly recall a memory or series of memories that are projected either privately onto invisible screens implanted in the person’s eyes or publicly onto a flat screen TV in the person’s living room. As a result, the characters in the world of this episode often spend much of their time looking at “redoes.” Though imaginary at this point, it’s easy to understand how such fiction might evolve into fact when we consider the technologies that we presently accept without questioning.

In the subsequent episode, “Be Right Back,” our ubiquitous present-day software—email, photographs, social media, text, and voice messages, etc.—have been harnessed by a company who specializes in animating a new kind of hardware that virtually and corporeally resurrects the dead. In the world of this episode, technology has evolved to solve the problems of death and grief (and perhaps capitalize on them, too?), but we recognize in Martha’s secrecy regarding Ash, the android lover come back from the dead, that this technology may still carry with it a sort of stigma.

Indeed Black Mirror on the whole is a series designed to address inevitable ethical crises caused by technological progress. These ethical dilemmas in turn disrupt our intimacy with current technologies that have the potential to evolve toward the ends exemplified in each episode, for, as Tomasi admits, “the arising of a technology to the level of an ethical consciousness makes that technology unable to uphold its place in intimacy. It fails to fit in and work out.” In “The Entire History of You” and “Be Right Back” in particular, we are presented with something of a paradox. Both episodes use the intimate relationships of lovers to stir up ethical questions about technologies that move us ever closer to the sovereignty of godly intimacy with the world. But why? What’s love got to do with it? Or is something else at work here?

When we look carefully at Liam’s character, and his relationship with Ffion, and her relationship with Jonas, what insights can we glean about why the grain technology “fails to fit in and work out”? Why ultimately does Liam decide to remove his grain? As we follow Martha on her exploit to reclaim her lost love with an android, what sorts of ethical questions arise, especially in regard to Martha’s decision revealed in the show’s final scene? What are the specific ethical crises these episodes mean to address?

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  1. In today’s society the role of technology and our dependence on technology have increased every year. As a society, we are not completely trusting technology to do everything for us, but in the near future I can see this becoming true. It seems that every time a new invention comes out, there is a bigger, better invention that comes along months later that promises to make our lives easier. Through the use of advertisements and word of mouth, we are constantly urged to adapt to these new technologies, which seems to shape the way we participate in social activities. I have found that technologies are shaping our lives. Everyday I find my friends or myself recording little moments of time while we are together. Smartphones, tablets, and mobile computers have made sharing life events much easier than ever before, and this does not seem like a harmful thing. Technology is always promising making our lives faster, and bring countless benefits to our lives; but does anyone ever think that technology is harmful? What are the downsides to technology being such a large factor in our lives? Will society begin to incorporate technology too heavily into every one’s daily life? Charlie Booker’s British television series Black/Mirror asks such questions. Each episode of the series depicts a different scenario in which society has integrated technology, almost too heavily, into daily life.

    In the episode “The Entire History of You” Brooker conveys a world in which everyone has a miniscule piece of technology called a “grain” implanted behind his or her ears. The “grain” is a memory recorder that gives the person the opportunity to playback specific times in their lives, using a tiny handheld remote, that sends the footage onto public screens or to a private monitor located in their eyes that work like eye contacts with screens. These memories are referred to as “re-dos.” These re-dos allow the user of the grain to go back and analyze specific moments in the past and also allow others to analyze other peoples’ lives. Brooker shows many ways that society utilizes the grain and how it changes everyone’s behavior. One of the first things that I noticed is that Liam immediately analyzes his job interview and keeps rewinding the guys voice to see how sure he was to potentially hire Liam. Another way the grain was used was the guy at the party was showing his dislike for his rug to his friends through the re-do. This gave the guy an easier way to show what he disliked about his carpet instead of describing the carpet through his words and making the listener create an image using his description. The grain definitely affects the way conversations are held because instead of using descriptive adjectives, a person instead just pulls up a re-do.

    It is pretty evident how drastically the grain changes the way people go about their day. Liam shows the viewers how one can begin to obsess on past events. One can almost say that the grain inhibits the user to live in the present because it creates such an easy access to past events. This fact is very obvious when Liam and Ffion are at dinner with their friends and the host decides to throw a re-do up of what seemed to be a very fun filled night they had together back when they were at a club. But nothing disturbed me more than seeing Liam and Ffion later that night having sex after their fight, and they were watching a re-do of a very emotional and sexy night when they had sex; but in reality they were absolutely disconnected and not living in the moment. Watching this scene made me evaluate how some people disconnect themselves with living in the moment in because they want to capture a picture in order to post it on social media sites. It made me sick to the stomach and very depressed. This scene made me realize that people in society already are too focused on past events where they are no longer focusing on what is currently happening in their lives. The scene also made me realize that when we are trying to capture moments of special events through pictures we are not capturing the true essence of the moment. The moment is so special because it is filled with laughter, genuine fun, and the feeling of the moment. Having a memory that records everything can definitely help you remember those moments, but truly reliving that moment is impossible because one can never have those exact emotions that he or she had at that exact time. We are so obsessed with sharing events on social media and capturing little snippets of the day in order to look at that moment later, but remembering that picture later will only be remembering posing for that one moment and not the full essence of the actual event.

    The ability to document every moment of our lives ultimately brings a negative effect to the table. One will start to analyze and nit pick every little detail from past experiences, which is distracting oneself from present situations. Also knowing that your life is in constant recording mode, you will start to act in ways that seem more fun for the video, and not the way you would usually act. Life would all be an act in order to make life seem more fun when you watch the re-do in the future. In this episode Brooker is asking, “Is a normal memory not enough? Why do we feel the need to record so many events in our lives?” It is not so bad to have a memory that does not remember every detail of an event because then that memory will be more genuine. That memory will be a memory because it has specific importance to you emotionally and physically. Normal memory helps you forget things that you do not want to remember, but does remember very special moments of your life.

    Think about the times in which your memory has used past events that were horrible, but they help shape your decision making in the future. Brooker shows that characters were able to wipe their memories of events that were not so pleasing to them. Think about how many times you have deleted something of your phone or your computer only to realize later that deleting that information was a mistake because you needed it later on in life. That is how your memory works. You store some fact or information from your life, and that piece of information can go unused for many years until there is a similar situation in which your brain recalls that fact, which helps you make decisions for that present action. Having control on what memories you keep can create a false life of only happiness. It is sometimes the harmful and bad memories that help shape the person in the future. The mind is such a complex piece of nature. Not even doctors can fully understand how the brain works sometimes. It is like the old saying “the mind works in mysterious ways.” And I think Brooker is trying to convey that not even technology will be able to help control the way the mind perceives and copes with events.

    In the article “The Role of Intimacy in the Evolution of Technology,” Alessandro Tomasi explains that the desire for intimacy is a main drive for technological advances. In the Black/Mirror episode “The Entire History of You” the audience gets a taste of what technology invented to create a more vivid sense of intimacy in past events will look like, and how this invention actually causes the exact opposite of intimate relationships. The exact opposite of intimate relationships meaning this invention of the grain will take away from present experiences due to dwelling on past events, and will harm relationships due to lack of trust and intimacy. Tomasi quotes Georges Bataille who states that through the “negation of [technologies} usefulness” society will finally be able to “open up a possibility of an experience of intimacy.” This is ultimately the dominating factor that Liam comes to realize at the end of the show. He realizes that the grains has done nothing to his life, but destroy his relationship and cause him to dwell on past events that ultimately he cannot change. The grain is suppose to be controlled by Liam, but in the end the grain is controlling all of Liam’s emotions and actions, bringing harm to himself and others around him. Technology has caused a change in his emotions that the inventor could have never possibly imagined. The “grain” steered Liam further away from achieving an intimate relationship with everyone around him. And if this episode deems technology to be harmful to intimacy, then that is to say that our current society will ever reach a truly intimate relationship with technology.

    Tomasi also states that the further evolution of technology is aiming “towards an ideal end that promises at least an approximation to the absolute intimacy that is unique to the gods”(Tomasi). He is saying that the evolution of technology has brought an end to intimacy. But further evolution of technology is society trying to gain back the “absolute intimacy” lost that only gods can obtain. Society is trying so hard to control all things through technology. Tomasi is describing our pursuit of happiness as reachable goal, but there is a sacrifice needed for that goal. Society has desperately tried to win back this sense of intimacy that was lost with nature through the use of further advancements in technology; but until we separate ourselves from this technology, we will never feel at peace with nature.

  2. A Search for Intimacy

    “Technological progress is like an axe in the
    hands of a pathological criminal.”
    Albert Einstein

    Technology is such a part of our everyday lives, that our tech has become our not so secret lovers. We spend so many countless hours on the phone, internet, social media, emails, etc., that we have almost become one with our technology. This closeness has created a warped sense of intimacy with our technology; consequently, this intimacy has all but ruined us. Technology feeds our desire to know and have everything right now,  and if we are not careful, it will destroy every relationship (outside of our tech) that we hold dear.

    “Without desire, there is no need of a scheming mind
    devising tools to possess an object.”
    Alessandrio Tomasi

      In Black/Mirror’s episode The Entire History of You, a memory grain is implanted behind people’s ear that records everything that one does, says, and sees (also known as redoes). When I first began to look at the episode, I thought it might be rather cool to recall specific memories with that type of accuracy; however, it wasn’t long before I could see the dangers of such ability. I soon began to be happy that we don’t have that type of tech available, but then again, we do. At the rate our society posts, shares, tweets, etc., we have created a digital trail of memories. This trail, can be recalled simply by scrolling down your feed or timeline.  With its ease of access, we quickly try to recall a memory. But as with anything, it has its side-effects. In our quests to search out the good memories, we inevitably stumble upon the bad ones as well. Due to this, we have a society full of people who spend most of their lives redoing the past, thus becoming intimate with our memories and treating it as if it is happening in the present. While there is nothing wrong with learning from the past, spending every moment there causes you to lose sight of reality and become lost in that technology; thus forming a sense of intimacy with projections of reality.
    A similar issue can be found in Black Mirror’s Be Right Back. Martha’s husband dies (presumably in car accident due to being on his technology) and she is devastated. During the beginning of the episode, we see Martha’s husband constantly on his phone. In a scene at home, Martha tells her husband that “[he’s] gonna get lost in that thing.” Ironically, after her husband’s death, she’s offered a proposition where she would be able to reconnect with her husband-as a droid. She reluctantly agrees and soon she too becomes “lost in that thing.” Her desire to cling to past, to physically re-live memories, drove her to being intimate with that which really didn’t exist. Both Martha and her husband became victims to, as Tomasi states, “I want to know…immediately as soon as the will to know arises.” This desire became a danger to them, it became the axe they used for their own demise. 
    We see here the slippery slope of our desire for intimacy when mixed with our impatience. Because of these two things, technology is created that violates ones’s privacy through having direct access to their personal memories, and attempts to “play God” by “bringing someone back from the dead.” Even if one not religious, one can argue that “bringing someone back from the dead” is unnatural. And because these technological advances are not real, it doesn’t provide true intimacy. It only portrays a projection of intimacy, similar to that in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. This type of intimacy is not permanent; however, because it’s not real. Martha tried to “kill” her droid, but then ended up locking the droid in the attic. One of the characters in The Entire History of You became so engulfed in “memories” that it drove him insane. So much so, that he cut his neck open to remove the memory grain. 
    No matter how much we advance technology, it will never be able to replace human interaction and human intimacy. Our impatient desires will always be subject to the unwritten laws of what makes us human. It is those laws, because it’s unwritten and natural, that will forever cause us to ultimately reject any intimacy that technology can give.
  3. “Without desire, there is no need of a scheming mind devising tools to possess an object.”
    ~Alessandro Tomasi
    This quote is substantial when relating it to both episodes of Black Mirror. Even though the episodes are unrelated both main characters are fixated on technology to achieve some sort of satisfaction. The director does a fabulous job of expressing the way the world is heading in the way of technology.
    Black Mirror episode “The Entire History of You” in the beginning has a way of showing how vain our culture has become. We are so obsessed at videoing every aspect of our life and displaying it for the world to see. As if our lives are so much more important than another’s life. All characters in this episode have a device, called a grain, implanted in their brains with the main hard drive being implanted behind the ear. This device is a recorder of a person’s daily activities that can be played back to you, to a group of friends or infringed upon by the government and it is termed “redoes”. This episode focuses on the relationship between Liam and his wife Ffion and her extra marital relationship with Jonas. Jonas has a lack for true intimacy as he doesn’t envision a future with a woman, jumping from one relationship to the next. He treats women as if they are objects rather than human beings. He brags that when he has women waiting for him in his bedroom he uses his redoes to view previous sexual relationships to pleasure himself. During this bragging session Liam notices that Ffion is paying extra close attention to the story and when Jonas brings up watching redoes of old flings, Ffion exclaims “careful there”. It was this moment that Liam suspects his wife is having an affair with Jonas and becomes fixated on finding the truth. After drinking and becoming inebriated he gets into his car and drives to Jonas’ house. He ultimately confirms the relationship between his wife and Jonas by forcing Jonas to delete his grain of all the files of his wife on a screen. At the end of the episode Liam is alone and replaying the images of Ffion and his son. The episode ends as Liam removes his grain, because he does not want to replay images of his wife and son.
    Black Mirror episode “Be Right Back” plays on the emotions of a grieving wife who found out she was pregnant shortly after her husband was killed in an automobile accident. Opening scene shows Ash, Martha’s husband, heavily involved on his cell phone that he doesn’t even notice Martha has returned to the car in the pouring rain with hot coffee in her hands. The next morning Ash sets out to return the moving van, he did not return as he was killed in an automobile accident. At the wake a friend offered Martha advice about a computer program that would allow her to talk to her deceased husband. At first Martha was against this because it was not ethical, however after she found out she was pregnant she opted to try the program out. Martha experiences ataraxia at first with the computer that was able to speak and sound like her deceased husband, then the android that was made in the image and likeliness of her deceased husband. At first she was unable to distinguish between her deceased husband and the android, she even had sex with the android. Although she was “in love’ with the android she kept it a secret from everyone including her sister. Then all at once, like a flood gate was opened, it hit her that this android was an inanimate object and could never replace her husband. Although, she wanted the avatar to jump off of a cliff to put an end to the relationship, her bond with the avatar was too strong and she did not allow it to jump. At the end of the episode we find out that Martha has had a daughter and that she locked the avatar in the attic. This episode is full of unethical choices made on emotion alone.
    Getting back to the quote above if Liam did not have the desire to catch his wife and Martha’s did not have a longing for her husband to be near again, they would have never pushed technologies limits, the tool, to possess the feelings they were having.

  4. In today’s society many people say that social media puts a strain on relationships whether it be romantically or just a friendship. We are so involved with social media outlets, and not communicating or finder faster ways to communicate. People say that we have lost touch with each other, and we are too involved with finding a faster mean of communication that we do not have communication skills like we used to. Tomasi questions “Why does humanity need to lose what it seeks as soon as it finds it?” Tomasi answers it by saying “that we do this in order to continually improve upon the function and practicality of the technology”, but maybe there is something else behind it. In the episode of Black Mirror it may be pointing out that some technology raises ethical questions, so there may need to be changes. Such as when Liam removes his grain, he does this because ethical question may have arised.
    I cannot help, but think of how technology has advanced so fast since the 1980s. Today our parents say we did not have cell phones we actually talked to each other, we did not hide behind the screens of computers and cell phones. They actually interacted, but why did people feel the need to make technological advances if it was fine the way it was? It would have been nicer to live in a society where people actually communicated, and would like to get back to times where we did not rely so heavily on technology. So am I preventing absolute intimacy? No, because our society today could not work without technology, but we could possibly prevent it from advancing anymore.

    People can post pictures or talk about others experiences through social media. This could lead to strain on a relationship. Maybe someone tags you in picture with a guy your boyfriend does not care for it can lead to fighting or maybe even a break up. This is also seen in Black Mirror between Liam and Ffion except through memories. It is true that memories haunt you even more so in this show. With the grain you cannot forget or lie about anything, unless you delete the memory.

    In both Black Mirror and social media in today’s society as Liam mentions, “you can’t hide it not completely.” Black Mirror and social media outlets that are used today are similar in many ways.

    The first way is on social media websites a person can post anything what will someday become a memory. One can do practically anything with this memory someone can share it with others, delete it, decide who can view it, the list goes on. This is also seen in “The Entire History of You” except with actually memories. Technology advances make everyone have a grain implanted in them, and with this grain a person can store all their memories. The characters could do practically anything with the memories replay them, share them with other, and delete the memory, just as we do today in social media. A difference between social media today and the episode of Black Mirror is he removes his grain which prevent him from replaying his memories, in real life you cannot do that. In this episode Hallem, a character who had her grain gouged out and stolen, mentioned that she actually liked not having it. Could this have possibly been apart of why Liam took his grain out? Could technology possibly put a strain on intimacy in relationships? Or could it be the other way around?

    Perhaps relationships put a strain on the intimacy that guides the evolution of technology. As seen at the of episode Liam removes his grain. Why would he do that? A possible reason is he does not want to have to keep playing the memories that he made with Ffion anymore, with removing his grain he cannot replay memories that he had before. Maybe he wants to start fresh because the memories are haunting him, this is where he loses intimacy with technology. Will we ever achieve absolute intimacy again? At the start of this episode, Liam is offered a job that has him questioning the ethical use of the grain. As the episode goes on he sees how the grain can affect his life. Liam notices more problems as the episode goes on. Alessandro Tomasi mentions, “with total familiarity technological objects recede into the background of consciousness and become nothing, but an extension of our body.” When the episode started Liam questioned the grain, and the problems with it. As the show went on he continued to see the problems with the grain, such as having his memories ‘haunt’ him, which made him then question it. Before that it was simply just “an extension of our body”, he did not think twice about it. So does relationship problems romantically or friendly get in the way of people achieving absolute intimacy with technology? It would be nice to be at absolute intimacy with technology, but it is so hard to change something we are so reliant on.

  5. Although I find both episodes very interesting, I think I enjoyed watching “The Entire History of You “, more than the “Be Right Back” episode. This story was about people of the world having “grains (recording device)” inserted behind their ear, under the skin. The “grain” allows one to record everything they are able to see and hear. I consider it was an upgrade to the video camera. The movie shows how technology can, and will, continue to evolve.

    I feel the part where the character could rewind his interview could be very beneficial for future interviews. It gives you the opportunity to see what areas could use more work; paying more attention to the facial expressions of the interviewers, etc. I found it to be very beneficial to the male character when he awaken in a ditch on the side of the road, not knowing what happened and how he had gotten there.

    So I guess the question is who wants to be able to rewind and review every aspect of their lives as well as others? I don’t think I would want to be able to relive everything, some things, maybe. I found it sad that he lost everything behind his wife’s actions. Losing your wife as well as your child would make anyone have a breakdown. He paid such close attention to her that he figured it all out, without even having to use the “grain”. I figure the grain just confirmed what he already knew.
    The movie reflects the intimacy between Fiona and Jonas, and Fiona and Liam. The body movements and the way she watch Jonas (as Liam so pointed out), showed that the two had had some sort of romantic relationship, not just a fling. I think anyone could have picked up on that. What I couldn’t figure out was if you remove the grain, would it cause you to lose your memory or one just wouldn’t have the chance to “watch” the memory?

    As for “Be Right Back”, I didn’t really care for that movie. Maybe because I haven’t lost a loved one like the main character had. I don’t think recreating a new “look alike” would relieve the pain. That was proven when Martha began having issues with the fake husband because he couldn’t argue, fight, or have feelings, etc. like the “real” husband was able to. I think I would have gone with making him jump. I found it sickening that she kept the fake husband and allowed her daughter to grow up knowing and playing with him.

  6. An Intimacy Unique To the Gods

    “Intimacy, therefore guides the evolution of technology from start to finish, from the first tool, because of which we lost our animal innocence, to the last transcending leap towards a condition that approximates that of the gods, as it is humanly possible.” (Alessandro Tomasi)

    It’s easy today, to feel like we, the people of this technologized world, are constantly bombarded with so many inventions of new technologies and updates to old ones. Through advertisements or opinions of friends, we are also bombarded with claims of ways in which these technologies will make our lives simpler, make certain tasks easier, or benefit our lives. In many ways, I’ve found these claims to be true. The technologies that I have integrated into my life, and continue to integrate even more deeply, have allowed me to keep in touch with people across the world in an instant. I can now send videos of myself, or experiences I’ve had, to people whom I wish were here with me to share them with. I have the ability to control my finances using my phone and almost every song ever recorded is but a click away from my enjoyment. There are countless ways in which the technologies we’ve surrounded ourselves with benefit us, and we are reminded of this often. A question is still left unanswered though, sometimes even unasked. What are the downsides to these technologies? What are the negative effects these technologies may be having on our lives, or perhaps will begin to have, if we continue integrating our lives so intensely with the devices we use? With so many advertisements and people reminding us of the ways in which these technologies benefit us, who is warning us of its possible misuses, or what downfalls we may experience if we continue down the same path. A British television series Black/Mirror, created by Charlie Brooker, does just this.

    In the first season of Black/Mirror, there is an episode “The Entire History of You.” This episode shows us various ways in which this technology might be used if it were ever to be invented and utilized by societies. We see people spending quite a lot of time viewing their past experiences. It would be easy to say that the “grains,” or the memory devices the show is centered around, certainly have an effect on its users in putting a lot of emphasis on the past.

    We are also shown a culture where it is acceptable for others to ask to review your private moments. This is seen when the group asks Liam, the main character, if they all could view his job interview, referred to as an “appraisal,” and critique his experience. This request obviously makes Liam feel uncomfortable. Parents also have the ability to view their child’s life moments. Upon returning home from the dinner party, Liam and his partner Ffion watch the re-dos of their baby’s whole night with the babysitter in a matter of minutes, but they never actually go up to hold the baby or to even check on it. Do we see signs of behavior like this in modern society? It could be argued that today many of us sit on the sidelines of our own lives in order to record the moments we deem important. With our own children, are we so obsessed with recording everything, or not missing a moment, that we are actually missing the opportunity to share those moments with our kids? It’s difficult to both be a participant of life and to also be a photographer or recorder, roles that, regardless of our intentions, downgrade us to the role of a mere spectator. Is this a hint as to what the creator thinks would happen to our relationships if this technology were real? Is he showing us an extreme glimpse of what we may be beginning to see in our lives today? How would this affect children emotionally if parents were more worried about recording and viewing their children’s lives on a screen than being a part of it personally? Could this be highlighting the reason why in this future, children can sue their parents for damages due to lack of attention given, as we heard in the beginning of the episode during Liam’s appraisal? What other ways do we see how this technology could be used, or misused, in ways that may affect the people closest to us?

    With this device they have the ability to not only view their past experiences, but also to obsess over them. We see early on in the episode that Liam, the main character, uses his memory device to overanalyze a meeting he had with a possible future employer. We then see Liam join his partner Ffion at a friend’s house and he uses his “grain” to once again overanalyze and critique Ffion’s interactions with another man at the dinner party. This seems to affect their entire evening and leads to much larger problems. He becomes obsessed. The viewer doesn’t know at this point whether he is just upset about his feelings that the appraisal didn’t go well and he is venting his frustrations through this situation. They have a big fight, Liam realizes he is overreacting, and he goes upstairs to apologize to Ffion. They kiss, they talk kindly to eachother, and they have sex. This part perhaps was one of the most disturbing parts of the episode. As they are having sex, they are watching re-dos of past, passion-filled nights while having what seems in reality to be relatively boring and passionless sex. Here we are shown a world where it is easier to relive past moments of passion than it is to live out new, just as memorable ones. The viewer is shown what re-do Liam is watching during their lovemaking. We are left though, wondering whether Ffion is indeed watching a re-do of her and Liam, or possibly of her and the man she was flirting with at the party, her ex-lover Jonas. In this world it is possible to watch the re-dos of all your past sexual experiences on command. Liam, skeptical as well and not fully convinced of his wife’s behavior at the party, returns downstairs to binge drink and to continue overanalyzing re-dos of the night before. He studies and critiques Ffion’s every facial expression during the party. He uses a lip reading application to read what she was saying to Jonas as Liam arrived at the dinner party. The next morning, he makes her watch how she was looking at Jonas and how she was the only person who laughed when he told, what Liam considered, a tasteless joke. Liam involves the babysitter in this tirade. He embarrasses her and makes her feel obviously uncomfortable. Liam makes Ffion watch re-dos of their first night together to catch her in a lie. He takes this memorable night, one that most would want to remember in a positive way, and uses it to pin Ffion in a corner. At this point, what he is doing to Ffion is close to abuse. It seems like he is literally driving himself insane, and creating a huge rift between his partner and himself. Ffion maintains her innocence throughout. What questions does this ability bring to the table? With the possibility that the people around us could go back at any moment and put under the microscope anything you said or did, would it be possible for that not to affect how we live and make decisions? If we all knew that at any moment, the people closest to us could go back and review every moment they shared with us, would it not be normal to fear what someone may be able to use against us? Would it not be normal, to also become very self-conscious about how we look and about how we act? If this were the case, would it not be easy to believe that it would be a challenge to be around anyone, even those we trust, and be able to relax and be ourselves. If Liam, Ffion’s partner, arguably the person closest to her, who knows her most intimately, who loves her most, uses her own words, facial expressions and tones against her, would it not be easy to believe that anyone else would?

    Liam is seen going to extreme lengths, even criminal, to appease his desire to know whether his wife is being unfaithful or not. He crosses many ethical boundaries and puts himself and the people around him in danger. Although the viewer witnesses what seems to be a jealous rage in the crazed pursuit of the truth of his wife’s infidelity, in the end we find out that he was correct in his suspicions. His wife had cheated on him with Jonas, even in Liam’s own home. Liam’s paternity is put into question, and we are left with the assumption that he is indeed not the father of the child he has been rearing together with Ffion. His world seems to crash. We are left with images of Liam in an empty home, torturing himself by constantly viewing re-dos of happier times with this family. The episode ends with Liam painfully ripping the “grain” from his head. Does this technology seem to make these people happier? What desires may have caused the popularity and wide spread use of this device, and how does it fail to fulfill these desires? Does the fact the Liam’s suspicions were correct justify his extreme and cruel actions?

    We have all experienced beautiful moments in our lives that we later wished we could remember better or in more vivid detail. It’s true. It’s why we take photos, to remember. But couldn’t it be said that our culture has become photo obsessed. Our telephones now come equipped with cameras just as capable, if not more, than most actual handheld cameras were only a few years ago. Have we become so obsessed with capturing the moments and experiences of our lives that we actually never fully experience them? Is it possible that our obsession with trying to document the present, so we can always be able to look at the past, has led to the point where we rarely even give ourselves the chance to live in the present. Could our desire to never forget the important moments of our lives be making it harder for us to actually live out those moments?

    How is this not what so many of us have become accustomed to doing on social media? In order for us to “connect” and feel more closely to our “friends” on social media, we must record our lives in order to share those moments and experiences with others. With the ability to look back at our own timelines, to look back at so many different moments in our lives, would you say that this adds or takes away from the joy of living? Do these recorded moments define us? Do they define us to others? With so much emphasis being placed on capturing the moment, it’s easy to think, something I myself have thought, “If I could just record and remember more vividly my experiences, maybe it would help them seem more significant or genuine.” We forget though, that it is our feelings and emotions that make our experiences more genuine. By constantly documenting and focusing on finding the best angle, we’re taking ourselves away, even if only a little, from those moments and experiences, thus inhibiting ourselves from feeling more fully, and experiencing more deeply and genuinely. Our ability to continuously look back at moments in our lives and the lives of others, affects how we live in the present, and because of our knowledge that the way we look and act will be available for the future viewing pleasure of ourselves and others, it is easy for our actions to become more of a performance in an effort to be remembered in the way we desire.

    Maybe a faulty “organic” memory isn’t always a bad thing. It is natural to wonder what our past lovers have been up to. It is natural, especially when we are hurting emotionally, to think it may help to see that person one more time, or to remind ourselves of our past together by reliving those moments past. Is this positive, though? Would this help or hinder our abilities to move on, to forget, or to continue living on without that person? In my experiences, it has never helped me to do these things. There are positives about memories fading. Maybe it’s a form of self-preservation.
    How many of us have ever ripped a photo, thrown something in the trash, or perhaps even lit fire to something that reminded us of something in our past that we thought we wanted to forget, only later regretting this decision and thinking it harsh or irrational? Would we really want the ability to erase memories? And if there were a situation that we truly wanted to erase from our memories, perhaps some traumatic experience or abuse, would simply erasing it from our memory device also erase it from our actual organic memory? The scary part is that this is a very believable technology, and one that seems it could be possible in the near future to have the capabilities of such a device.

    In an article by Alessandro Tomasi “The Role of Intimacy in the Evolution of Technology,” Tomasi talks about his belief that it is the need for intimacy that drives our technological evolutions. In this episode of Black/Mirror, we are shown a world where a technology, perhaps invented to help us feel more intimately connected with our own experiences and the people around us, actually ends up detaching us from our experiences and hurting our relationships with the ones we love. In his article, Tomasi includes a quote from Georges Bataille that suggests it will only be through the destruction of technology or “the negation of its usefulness” that humanity will ever be able to achieve this deep level of intimacy with nature again. This is why Liam rips out his “grain” at the end of the episode. He has realized that the memory device has not made him feel closer to the world and the people around him. It has only driven him further away. And if we are to believe this is true for all technology, it is for this reason that I believe that humans will never cease its use of tools and technology to fulfill their desire, and therefore never achieve its goal of intimacy. I believe this desire for intimacy will ultimately lead to our own destruction.

    Tomasi states in his piece that “[i]ntimacy, therefore guides the evolution of technology from start to finish, from the first tool, because of which we lost our animal innocence, to the last transcending leap towards a condition that approximates that of the gods, as it is humanly possible.” What I find ironic is that it was through the use of tools and technology that we were able to separate ourselves from the world around us, to feel more self-aware, and therefore lose that intimacy with nature. Since that moment though, we have been using tools and technology to search for a way to re-attain that intimacy we lost in that separation. It was our drive to manipulate the world around us and to use objects around us in order to fulfill our desires, and perhaps it will be this drive that will be our end as well. I believe this was what Tomasi meant. Humans will never finish their endless pursuit “towards a condition that approximates that of the gods” (Tomasi). It was through these desires that began our separation from nature and the loss of our connectedness and intimacy with the world around us, and it will be these same desires that will ultimately see us to our end, all in the pursuit to regain the intimacy we so desperately want back.

  7. The episode “The Entire History of You” of the TV show “Black Mirror” it brings up an interesting concept. The episode begins with our main character Liam in an interview that he feels is not going so well. After the interview leaves he proceeds to get into a cab. Once in he pulls a small silver remote out his eyes become foggy and the memory of his interview he just had is being put onto a television. He is able to rewind and speed up the memory and even zoom in for a closer look. He then rushes to a party were he finds his wife chatting with a gentleman. From this point Liam finds that odd she seems to be having a good time chatting with the man and when she notices Liam her mood changes. As the party leads into a meal the man begins to talk and ramble on what he spends his time remembering using his grain. The grain is a device placed behind a person’s ear which is used to replay memories. Liam seems to believe his wife is fond of the man and goes on to question her about the man after the party. He uses his grain to show his wife how she was acting when the man was talking. Liam then goes onto drinking to the point of drunkenness and the next day drives to the man’s house and confronts him. He finds out the man and Liam’s wife had dated so Liam made the man delete all the memories he had of his wife on a television. Liam notices a memory the man has of his wife in his bed 18 months ago. He questions his wife and she cracks admitting to cheating on him. This also leads to the possibility of Liam’s daughter not being his own child. Liam grows more and more distraught over the situation to the point where he rips the grain out of his head.
    This is a very interesting subject. The grain gives way to many different opportunities and challenges. Through the power of the grain crime cases can be accurately ruled through the memories of witnesses. But there is a down side to the grain and that is seeing things that maybe we should not see. Using the power to recall a memory to see how someone reacts to something you did or said can change the dynamic of a relationship. I feel that this is a very good device since I believe that the good out ways the bad with the grain. Its capabilities and applications are almost endless and can be used for good. I feel that this is a very interesting and helpful tool if only such a thing existed. I enjoyed this episode and am also considering watching the rest of the episodes.

  8. Technology and Intimacy: Best Frenemies
    We as humans have an innate desire for intimacy. In human to human intimacy, we seek it from our families, friends, and lovers. This need has driven the advancements in communications and in turn those technological pursuits have put a black eye on organic intimacy. We are now able to communicate in seconds and document our time with others with a quick push of a button. We carry cubic inches of circuitry marketed as devices to keep us connected, yet when we are with other live human beings we ignore them to see what is happening on the small screen or we are documenting what’s going on so much we cannot enjoy the full experience. How many arguments and misunderstanding are the cause of Facebook post, missed calls, or misinterpreted text messages. The lack of voice inflection and, eye contact, body language and the ability to judge situations in the context in which they occur has done human intimacy a great injustice.
    What allows us to delve so far into technology that it interferes with the human aspect of our lives? Well, there is another intimacy at work; the intimacy associated with the evolution of technology. Our desire to achieve a familiar relationship with technology so much so that it becomes an extension of ourselves. The developing a technology that is so efficient that we do not realize how much they become a part of our lives propels the next great gadget or software. This intimacy between humans and technology develops an evolution of not only technology but the human experience.

    In the television series Black Mirror the episodes “The Entire History of You” and “Be Right Back” delve into this the subject of intimacy in the technological and human form.

    In “The Entire History of You” the ability to record every life experience and play it back to oneself or on the screen for others to view takes sharing a person’s life experience to different level. The intimacy between the human and technology is very apparent in the episode. An account of Liam’s day shows the audience that the “grain” device that is implanted behind his ear has become a part of him. The remote that he carries is almost an extension of his hand and playing “redoes” is just a part of the everyday routine. The redo is even necessary to board a plane and a work evaluation. The intimacy displayed between the human and technology is interrupted because it interferes with the nature of being human. The ability to record and playback everything that is experienced, not only to oneself causes an environment of constant evaluation and study. Is this natural? Do humans forget for a reason? Maybe to allow ourselves peace, to let go and move on? Liam’s ability to replay every aspect of one night drives him nearly insane. Every look and statement his wife makes raises suspicions to the point that it changes the whole course of his life. In the end, after redoing those moments and happier ones over and over he crudely removes the grain.

    In “Be Right Back” the need for an intimacy that is no longer there gives rise to a technological phenomenon that allows a person to stimulate communication with a deceased loved one. The service uses the social media, email and voicemails of the loved one to develop a personality that is supposed to mimic the real life version. Martha has many misgivings about the services offered, but after finding out she is pregnant, she gives in to her desire to connect with her recently deceased boyfriend, Ash. At first things are fine because the form of communicating with “Ash” is through the comfort of dealing with technology that she is familiar with including email and phone conversations. That intimacy of technology is disruption when Martha purchases the physical form of virtual Ash. When she first encounters the being she is needy and becomes drunk. During this state, she connects with no problem. Eventually after some time and with a clear head, she realizes that this new Ash cannot compare to the real Ash. Her Ash was not the sum of his emails, social media post, and posted picture. Because she knew him in a human to human intimacy the virtual Ash could never be a real substitute and she decides she cannot live day in and day out with the imposter. In the end, she cannot find it in herself get rid of the virtual Ash, so she locks him in the attic for her daughter to visit on weekends.

    The episodes bring issues about the ethics of technology. As the ability for human intimacy with technology becomes increasingly available the integrity of the human experience must be examined. For example, the most disturbing parts of each episode were the physically intimate scenes. The human to human connect is reduced to “redos” and sexual contact with a human android. The very essence of human interaction is tainted. How much are humans willing to lose for the desire of technological intimacy?

  9. Losing Intimacy in the Search for It

    When it comes to intimacy does technology help or hinder us? Technology gives us a
    way to manipulate our environment. It increases our ability to reflect on ourself and the
    other, to be conscious of the “self.” Bataille states that, “Technology embodies the first
    act of consciousness that split the world into subject and objects” and that in this split
    we lost an intimacy with the world we once had. Is it actually possible to return to this
    “lost intimacy”? As we know ourselves today, is the ability to separate and reflect on our
    environment and each other arguably what makes us human anyway? If we no longer
    functioned in this way would we still be human? If we were to reach or return to that
    “lost intimacy” that Bataille speaks of, would we even know it? To reach this state of
    being, our “self” consciousness as separate would have to cease to exist.

    So then, Tomasi says, “Intimacy . . . guides the evolution of technology from start to
    finish . . . towards a condition that approximates that of the gods, as it is
    humanly possible.” According to him, what drives us to create technologies is the
    pursuit of “absolute intimacy”, and we will pursue this regardless of its ethical impact. In
    “absolute intimacy” we would not see this technology as separate, over there, but it
    would be fully assimilated as a part of us or an extension of the self. Though I will
    entertain the idea that “absolute intimacy” drives us, that we can ever fully achieve this
    with technology is contradictory. To create technology, to manipulate our environment in
    the first place, requires a consciousness of separation. Itʼs impossible to manipulate the
    world for our own needs (outside of animalistic survival) without a belief of separation.
    So then, to assimilate a technology to the degree that we believe it to be a part of
    ourselves will never be a harmonious “absolute intimacy” since the technology itself was
    created in a consciousness of separation. We cannot regain our lost intimacy through
    something that has only been able to be created in the first place through this very split.

    Turning to reflect on Black Mirror, in the episode “ The Entire History of You”, those with
    the grain are able to repeatedly view their memories as a film and consequently erase
    them as well. In this episode, those with the grain have reached a sort of intimacy with
    this technology. Itʼs implanted in their bodies and seemingly something they consider a
    part of themselves. When the character Liam suspects his wife Ffion of infidelity, he
    drives himself mad replaying his video memories over and over trying to find evidence
    that she is guilty (an activity someone who was already jealous or insecure might do
    with their natural memories though a technology like this would only make life more
    excruciating.) He reaches a crazed and violent point both with her, and Jonas, the man
    he suspects to be her lover. Throughout this, she still denies cheating though it turns
    out his suspicions were correct. A moral discussion of infidelity aside, how ethical is a
    technology that puts everyone under surveillance in this intimate way? Should it really
    be anyoneʼs right to see your memories? Should we even have the right to see our own
    memories in this way? Does this not objectify a very private part of us and even strip us
    of intimacy with ourselves? Memory research exists, but how memory works is still
    much of a mystery. We cannot say exactly how memory forms or why we we remember
    one thing but forget another. Maybe there is value to how our organic memory functions
    (forgetfulness and all), and it shouldnʼt be dissected to the extreme it has been in this
    episode where all our experiences can be catalogued, recorded, and broadcast.

    In “Be Right Back”, Martha is at first frightened by this android who looks and sounds so
    much like her deceased husband Ash though soon is able to form a relationship with
    him. In time, his programming gets the better of him, and his actions and words become
    too inorganic for Martha. It is obvious he is not her husband. She leads him to a cliff
    and instructs him to jump. At first he complies, but she says, “Thatʼs not what Ash
    would do, he would be scared.” The android then starts to cry and act frightened. She
    doesnʼt force him to jump. In this scene, she may be emotionally stirred by “him” and
    what she is instructing he do and that is why she doesnʼt “kill” him. Or I wonder if she
    realized if the android did “die”, she would actually have to face the fact that her
    husband was dead. At the beginning of the episode (when Ash is still alive), he is telling
    her how his mother kept all the pictures of her dead son (his brother) and husband (his
    father) up in the attic only leaving a picture of Ash, her survived son, visible in the
    house. Martha decides to keep the android Ash in the attic. The technological evolution
    of holding onto a picture to holding onto an android of a dead loved one is vast, but the
    inspiration to do so stems from a similar place. We want to remember this person. We
    want something tangible that can keep them alive in our memories. The other side to a
    memento, such as a picture or article of clothing, that weʼve kept after someoneʼs death
    is that it reminds us that they are gone. The picture doesnʼt animate itself; there is no
    one to inhabit his favorite shirt. But an android like the one depicted in Black Mirror
    does give “life” to what otherwise would have been only a remembrance of the dead. Its
    existence holds us in a bizarre limbo of denial. If the dead can be reanimated to
    approximate the living, how does this change death and in turn our experience of being

    In our culture, we try desperately to deny death and aging. We hold little to no respect
    for these courses of being and try in vain to keep as much distance from them as
    possible. We do not want to lose; we aim to gain and possess. Whether that is
    experience, physical possessions, people, land, knowledge, a certain body, a longer life.
    We possess. “This is mine, that is mine.” “I own this, you cannot have that.” We have
    created a world and technologies that encourage this possession and denial.
    Technology allows us a feeling of control, something beyond survival. But when death
    and loss appear, we are reminded of our lack of complete control that we are not gods.
    In our continual innovation of technology, we want more and more rule over our
    environment while we still yearn for this elusive intimacy. But we cannot have both as
    control and loss are at odds. There is more resistance to loss that involves pain
    (physical and emotional) as in death, injury, deteriorating mental capabilities, etc. On
    the other hand, loss in the erotic realm, such as orgasm or a feeling of union with your
    lover, is easily surrendered to as itʼs usually bolstered in pleasure. But in all these
    experiences we lose, at least for a moment, our possession of “self”, our possession of
    other, and the “split” that Bataille speaks of dissolves into a flicker of intimacy. In the
    experience of loss, we find ourselves closer to our “lost intimacy”.

    Both Black Mirror episodes show technologies that have found a way to control, or at
    least temper, more elusive parts of human experience. But neither of these
    technologies stopped the drama of humans or drew us closer to intimacy. The grain
    didnʼt stop Ffion from cheating on Liam. The android plays stand-in husband for a time,
    but Marthaʼs real husband is still dead. In the end, these technologies canʼt take away
    losing a person we love whether that be through death, betrayal, or the loss of a
    relationship. If anything, they only prolong it. Liam can watch a movie of his
    remembered life over and over though it no longer exists. Martha can keep “Ash” alive
    in her attic living in a suspended reality where death doesnʼt exist. He can make himself
    sick with grief; she can stave it off. She decides to continue a life with this technology
    because of the solace it provides her. He decides to cut his out because of the peace it
    will never allow. These technologies may attempt to bridge a gap to bring us closer to
    the world, but they end up creating more distance. By trying to harness (quite
    successfully) elusive parts of our lives, they have pushed the experience of intimacy
    further to the edges. With them, there is no space to experience intimacy, and they end
    up instead shining a glaring light on our lack of intimacy. A pursuit for “absolute
    intimacy” with technology only pushes our “lost intimacy” further away as the nature of
    intimacy and technology are ultimately incompatible.

  10. Satisfying Our Needs

    The episode “The Entire History of You” depicted characters having the option to have a grain installed into their necks so they could replay past experiences to watch within their eyes themselves or display on a television for others to see. Due to the abilities the grain gave the characters, they faced ethical decisions that could cause issues and even cost them relationships. At first glance I’m sure the grain would seem to make life easier but it created the opposite effect.

    In this episode of Black Mirror the grain was used by Liam to determine the feelings his wife (Ffion) had for another man (Jonas). He played back the memory of his wife interacting with the other man, analyzed the situation by repeatedly replaying the memory, and concluded her feelings for Jonas. One of the many ethical dilemmas faced by the characters was the choice to watch past sexual encounters with other people, especially if the people are not married to each other. Another ethical issue occurred when Liam forced Jonas to show him memories from when Jonas and Ffion were in a relationship. This not only invaded Ffion’s privacy but as a result of Liam’s behavior, after Jonas’ memories were shared, Ffion left Liam.

    Liam wanted to find out the truth, even if it hurt him. Many people have that same feeling, which is we want to know the truth no matter the cost. Is it better to hurt and know the truth or continue to be happy and stay in the dark? I feel this is a pride issue many times. People don’t want to look like a fool and be caught not knowing or to be the last to know. Curiosity is another issue with people. We want to know what is going on, no matter what the issue or the cost. Liam’s curiosity got the best of him about Ffion and Jona’s relationship. This ultimately cost Liam his relationship with Ffion.

    Another ethical issue or temptation is the idea of being “all knowing” is tempting, especially for people already having a God-like complex. This major issue is that people are not God and can’t understand how He works, or how He reacts to sinful situations. We react the way humans react, which most of the time causes hurt. God reacts to sin out of love and people will react because of pride or hurt.

    Liam was disappointed because his interview did not go as expected, then he saw his wife flirting with another man which made his emotion go to skepticism. This skepticism lead him to do violent and highly unethical things to get to the truth. Liam seeing the truth, only caused more negativity and ultimately cost him his marriage.

    At the end of the show Liam replayed only positive memories of his wife. After these memories were replayed, he cut out the grain from his neck. This act proved that being all-knowing is not best. We need to realize that God created us with the abilities that are best for us. When we begin adding things to the unnatural functions of our bodies it will be an unhappy ending. As Liam realized in the end of the show, sometimes ignorance is bliss.

  11. Blake Avery
    Automated, perfect recollection like the grain, that can be accessed at anytime, private or public sounds like a wonderful technology until we are presented with a situation like Liam’s. But is it really different from our smart phones or our social media pages that have thousands of photos and videos on them that can be accessed at anytime? The grain is an evolution of what already exists and it has the same unpredictable consequences. When a technology is new, it can seem awkward, intrusive, and silly. A great example is the home video recorders during the eighties or the first cell phones. But gradually we accepted those until we couldn’t live without them and now it’s commonplace to see people recording video of everything and posting it at will. Getting accustomed to something as scary as the grain device isn’t very far off the current reservation.
    The grain fails to “fit in and work out”(at least with Liam) because the consequences of it are too vast and varied to allow for reasonable use. As seen in Liam and Ffion’s sexual encounter, they are both tuned out to previous encounters and are not at all in the moment. They have sacrificed current intimacy for the memory of a pervious experience. The sexual encounter can be substituted for any number of moments where people could tune out and live in the past instead of experiencing what is happening right now. This creates intimacy with the technology while replacing the intimacy of experience. Liam ultimately removes his grain because it is causing more harm than good, he can’t get past what he has seen and now he can access all of the reminders,good and bad, of his failed relationship. In this world, there is no forgetting or getting over something, it is always accessible for someone to obsess over. The old adage “ignorance is bliss”, which can be so useful in relationships, simply does not apply.
    Martha’s plight in the subsequent episode is wrought with ethical peril. Bringing back a deceased love one conjures thoughts of witchcraft, disturbance of the natural order, and oddly, the holographic Tupac at Coachella some years ago. Some things just need to be left alone and this is one of them. While the initial heartbreak of losing a loved one is awful, as with Liam, Martha will never be able to move past it while there is a semi-perfect reminder of her lover walking around. Liam had his perfect recall, Martha takes it farther, having an walking, talking, f*ucking, version of poor, dead Ash. The damage she does to herself and to her daughter in keeping this shadow of a human is extreme and obviously ironic. She becomes emotionally and physically dependent on technology while living on a farm she moved to in order to escape just that. Dead people need to stay dead. One can not appreciate the sanctity of life if it can be so easily recreated.
    What’s love got to do with it? Everything apparently, for Liam and Martha. Liam can’t let his love go without removing his grain. It’s his leash attaching him to failed relationship with a possibly illegitimate daughter. His technology would have always connected him to his failed relationship, at least now he can let the memories fade. Martha loved Ash so much she couldn’t live without him and eventually couldn’t get rid of his imperfect replacement. Her love for him made her dependent on a robot, going so far as allowing her daughter to become attached to it as well. Ethically, Liam takes a step forward, cutting the cord. Martha, is in a much greyer area. The robot made her feel better than she did when Ash died, but at what cost? She didn’t remarry, she exposed her daughter to a synthetic relationship, and she never allowed herself to heal. These episodes, especially the first, are scary reminders of the questions we may have to ask ourselves in the near future. Is automatic, perfect visual recall worth it? Should we “duplicate” lost loves?

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