In the lead-up to the highly anticipated sixth season of Black Mirror, showrunner Charlie Booker discussed his experience using Open AI’s ChatGPT. While developing the season, Booker attempted to have the AI write an episode. However, this experiment was ultimately a failure.
While discussing the process with Empire, Booker said he “toyed around with ChatGPT a bit.” Wanting to see if an AI could write an episode of the dystopian tech-focused anthology series, Booker claimed he prompted ChatGPT to “generate a Black Mirror episode.” He went on to say that the results “at first glance, read plausibly, but on second glance, is shit.”
According to Booker, the AI looked up synopses of previous Black Mirror episodes and made an amalgamation of ideas. “Then if you dig a bit more deeply you go, ‘Oh, there’s not actually any real original thought here,” the showrunner said.
While the attempt to have generative AI tackle the writing responsibilities of an episode was deemed a failure, Booker was surprised by the notion that it pointed out a writing cliché of his.
“I was aware that I had written lots of episodes where someone goes ‘Oh, I was inside a computer the whole time!’,” said Booker. “So I thought, ‘I’m just going to chuck out any sense of what I think a Black Mirror episode is.’ There’s no point in having an anthology show if you can’t break your own rules. Just a sort of nice, cold glass of water in the face.”
Black Mirror has provided a commentary on society’s use of technology. Across its many seasons, the series has shined a dark light on the way we use technology and how that reflects on us.
Booker’s experience with AI provides commentary on a much larger real-world issue. Currently, the Writers Guild of America is in the midst of a protest. Entering its second month, writers are championing for the industry to recognize how destructive AI can be in television and film. The union hopes to gain greater residuals from streaming services and have guarantees that AI will not be trained on materials written by guild members.
Image credit: Netflix