[Warning: Some spoilers ahead]
We don’t review new films or TV shows on these pages — that’s not our beat. Besides, there are plenty of sites that have the review thing nailed down. But we do make it our business to unearth and analyze some of the web’s most unnerving videos, news items and images — and this particular discovery draws a razor-straight line to one of BLACK MIRROR’s most nightmarish episodes: Season 4’s grim survival-horror installment “Metalhead,” directed by David Slade (30 DAYS OF NIGHT).
The plot of “Metalhead” is so skeletal, it’s more of a situation than a story: a trio of frightened survivors cross a post-apocalyptic landscape in order to search an abandoned warehouse for a certain supply crate. But when a robotic sentry — which looks like a cross between a cockroach and ROBOCOP’s ED-209 — discovers them, the survivor count is quickly pared down to one, leading to a horrific cat-and-mouse chase for the duration of the episode.
The cause of this robot apocalypse is never explained, but it can be safely assumed these “dogs” — as the characters nickname them — were designed as autonomous military and/or security devices, with simple onboard A.I. to guide them (much like present-day Mars rovers use). But given the doomsday tone of BLACK MIRROR, we can assume the bots collectively murdered almost every living creature in the U.K., from human beings to farm animals… though it’s never mentioned how wide the genocide has spread.
Okay, so that’s enough about the show itself… now it’s time to focus on what we do best, and look at the facts and theories behind the onscreen horrors:
Above is Boston Dynamics’ latest demo video “Hey Buddy, Can You Give Me a Hand?” — a clip which so completely freaked out viewers it built a massive viral reputation nearly overnight, racking up over eight million views, plus hundreds of reaction videos and tributes. It was uploaded just a week ago by the pioneering robotics company — and, unsurprisingly, the bots shown in the company’s training exercises often have canine nicknames themselves, like “BigDog” and “Spot.”
If you were even a little bit creeped out by that footage, you’re not alone… hell, not by a long shot. Here’s a reaction video uploaded by YouTube celeb Jor-Els Alexandria, who spares no words in expressing his complete horror:
BLACK MIRROR creator Charlie Brooker knew all about this viral phenomenon, and his script simply expands the basic situation to fit the show’s “technology is great until it eats your head” theme. He didn’t have to tweak it very much, either; just the idea of one or more of those things coming after you — armed with whatever they can pick up, and the skills to override any lock or barrier you put in front of them — is enough to give you nightmares that probably look a lot like this particular episode (which, in tribute to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, is shot in gritty black-and-white).
“It was from watching Boston Dynamics videos,” Brooker admitted during an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “There’s something very creepy watching them where they get knocked over, and they look sort of pathetic laying there… but then they slowly manage to get back up.” Brooker then simply envisioned an escape-chase-fight-escape-repeat premise from that idea, and augmented the “dogs” with lethal military tech.
Allow me to illustrate: first, take this creeping, lumbering monstrosity and program it to kill humans:
…then give it the land-speed of a cheetah (hence this robot’s name)…
…and presto! If you have a pulse, you won’t have one for long.
The world’s most brilliant minds are already predicting that true Artificial Intelligence is probably coming within this century, which sounds cool at first. But they also predict A.I. may cause the total extinction of the human race — more likely than nuclear war, extremes of climate change, viral epidemics, massive asteroid impact… take your pick.
Do me a solid and watch those demo videos again — this time imagining what would happen if those trotting robots were self-aware, with protocols for self-defense in case someone tried to override them or turn them off. Now imagine they’re opening those doors to get into a room where you’re hiding… knowing that they can use any household gadget to get to you… and terminate you without hesitation, empathy or remorse. You know, like stomping on a bug.
Think about it. Just for a second. You’re welcome.