Who run the world? Humans do — and we're not doing a very good job! Biologists have calculated that roughly 0.01% of animal species become extinct every year. There are approximately 2 million different species of animals at the moment so it doesn't seem like that much but, to put it in perspective, it counts for nearly 1000 species being wiped out a year.
#BlackMirror is a sci-fi series that explores different technological advances in every episode. Season 3 debuted on Netflix this week and the finale, "Hated in the Nation," depicted a world in which bees become endangered and were replaced by robotic counterparts. These mini androids fulfilled their role and pollenated but one thing became clear: Whoever controls them can use them for good or for evil. The finale of Season 3 asked a lot of important questions but there's one that may have been overlooked: Do humans dream of electric sheep?
Check out the amazing trailer for Season 3 below:
The world presented in Black Mirror's heated finale "Hated in the Nation" is so scary because it's not so distant from our present situation. Bees are in decline but engineers all over the world are working hard to replace them with androids. We're going to explore the themes of this Black Mirror episode further and discuss the pros and cons of playing God.
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Are Bees Next Up On The Endangered List?
"Hated in the Nation" takes place in a near-future where bees have been completely wiped out. This reality is not so far from our own as many of the 30,000 different species of bee have been put on the endangered species list due to heavy use of pesticides and destruction of natural habitats.
Sure, we may be able to live without honey (actually, scratch that) but bees are an integral link in countless ecosystems because they transport pollen in spring that stimulates growth of flora. These puny insects are the glue that holds the environment we live in together. Wiping out bees would cause irreversible damage but it looks like we've reached a point of no return.
Send In The Robots
Much like Black Mirror, a lot of tech companies are trying to look into the future to find a solution. Robotics has become an enormous industry that is growing out of its primal stage to a place where we can see robots affecting our daily life. The Robobee is a masterpiece in micro-sensors and nano-technology and is in development at Harvard robotics but will be ready for the eventual extinction of our honey-producing friends. Harvard Robotics are thinking big and imagine the Robobee will be put to use in pollination but also space exploration, medical science and much more.
Check out the real-life Robobee in action:
The dutiful engineers are busy trying to find a way of replacing the bee to keep our ecosystem afloat. However, if we focussed more on preventative measures to keep these insects from dying out in the first place, maybe we wouldn't need to invest so much time and energy into replacing them. The finale of Black Mirror demonstrated the dangers of playing God, eventually you have to give the Robobees freewill and then all hell could break loose.
Fear Of A Robot Planet
It doesn't end with bees. Last year Boston robotics revealed Spot, their range of robotic dogs and the internet went insane. The dynamic and sophisticated A.I can master any terrain, no matter how rocky and is perfect for transport, logistics and warfare.
Watch Spot the robot in action:
The idea of Spot transporting food, water and supplies to those stranded in war torn countries or the Robobees pollenating to keep our environment alive is beautiful but also alarming. If Black Mirror has taught us anything, it's that no matter how stunning new technology is, people will use it for evil if we're not careful. Robo-dog is a man's best friend — until it becomes sentient.
Would you like to have a robo-pet?