The Creator of “Black Mirror” Tried to Use AI to Write an Episode, And It Didn’t Go Well

ChatGPT had a hard time generating an episode of the popular series

Black Mirror season six
A scene from "Black Mirror" season 6.

Skeptics of artificial intelligence like ChatGPT have often likened the technology to something out of a Black Mirror episode, and now the creator of the popular anthology series — which often chronicles the many ways in which modern technology can backfire and harm humanity — has finally weighed in with his take on AI.

In a recent interview, Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker revealed that he “toyed around with ChatGPT a bit” while writing the series’ forthcoming season to test the technology for himself — and it didn’t go so well.

“The first thing I did was type ‘generate Black Mirror episode’ and it comes up with something that, at first glance, reads plausibly, but on second glance, is shit,” Brooker said, noting that the AI tool was unable to generate a usable script. “All it’s done is look up all the synopses of Black Mirror episodes, and sort of mush them together. Then if you dig a bit more deeply you go, ‘Oh, there’s not actually any real original thought here.’ It’s [1970s impressionist] Mike Yarwood — there’s a topical reference.”

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Brooker added that experimenting with ChatGPT did provide some helpful insight into his own writing process, however, by making him aware of the tropes he most frequently relies upon.

“I was aware that I had written lots of episodes where someone goes, ‘Oh, I was inside a computer the whole time,’” he said. “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.”

So there you have it: we have ChatGPT to thank for the new season of Black Mirror (which premieres on Netflix on June 15) — if only because it was so bad at generating an episode that it reminded a very talented human writer of his own failings. Maybe there’s hope for us yet.

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