Warning: contains spoilers for all seasons of Black Mirror
When it comes to Black Mirror, it's often hard to know if life is imitating art - or vice versa.
Over the course of its four series, Charlie Brooker's dystopian sci-fi tales have featured plots and tech innovations that have weirdly ended up seeping into the real world.
The latest example of a Black Mirror plot coming true is the news that Pizza Hut plans to introduce automated delivery vans over the next two years.
Anyone who has watched the most recent season of the show - released at the end of December - will recognise the similarity to the driverless pizza delivery vans that form a crucial plot device in the episode 'Crocodile'.
That episode stars Andrea Riseborough as an architect desperately trying to cover her tracks in the wake of a car accident 15 years beforehand.
The spooky merger of fiction and reality hasn't been lost on fans - nor the makers of the show itself.
However, the real pizza vans will likely have some human involvement.
Creator Charlie Brooker’s unsettling worlds, with their bizarre occurrences and often sinister technology, have now weirdly foreshadowed actual events so many times that Brooker has said: "Maybe we should be patenting this stuff…”
Here's six more of the creepiest ideas from past episodes that have come to pass over the years.
Black Mirror, 'Nosedive' (S3): The episode is set in a world where everyone can rate one another from one to five stars for every interaction they have, no matter now trivial. It's about Lacie (Bryce Dallas Howard), a woman obsessed with her ratings, who will do anything to preserve her high-rated standing in the eyes of her fellow citizens.
Reality: The Chinese government recently unveiled plans for a new scheme called the 'Social Credit System' to essentially rate the trustworthiness of its citizens. According to a Wired report, people will be monitored and evaluated on social interactions ranging from how and where you shop, to how you interact with your friends. This would then give you a 'Citizen Score', which would telegraph your trustworthiness - as well as your suitability for mortgages and even dating.
The iPhone X 'Animoji'
Black Mirror, ‘The Waldo Moment’ (S2): A comedian brings a blue cartoon bear called Waldo to life as a 3D virtual avatar through facial recognition and motion-capture performance. Waldo then becomes a sensation when he contests a seat in a British by-election.
The Reality: In September 2017, Apple revealed a new feature for its new iPhone X called TrueDepth, which enables a face scan, allowing users to control the facial expressions of virtual animal avatars known 'Animojis'.
During its presentation, Apple showed some of the avatars that had been tested so far, including the panda and pig emojis.
Soon after, the official Twitter account for Black Mirror simply tweeted out a gif of Apple's 'Animojis' - only in its version, Waldo had been superimposed into the line-up alongside the real ones. A very Black Mirror way to make a point.
Digital life after death
Black Mirror, ‘Be Right Back’ (S2): A women replicates her dead boyfriend using tech that filters together his personality via social media accounts.
Reality:This is already happening, with Bina48 being one of the most advanced examples. She’s a social robot who has been created using video interview transcripts, laser-scanning life mask technology, face recognition, artificial intelligence and voice-recognition technologies. She’s designed to be a social robot that can interact based on the information, memories, values, and beliefs collected about an actual person – dead or alive.
(In fact, BBC Three made a whole documentary about it...)
Sky plus for the brain
Black Mirror, 'Entire History of You' (S2): Using memory implants in the head called ‘grains’, everyone can record everything they do, see and hear, as well as play back any moment with on-screen ‘redos’.
The Reality: Last year Samsung patented a live-stream contact lens, which takes a picture whenever the wearer blinks. The lenses are hooked up to a smartphone, which receives a live stream of whatever the wearer is looking at.
When it comes to recording memories, neuroscientist Theodore Berger is already on it. He’s designed silicon chips that mimic our memory-recall process. He hopes to help Alzheimer’s patients with memory loss by implanting an electronic implant. All starting to sound a bit… familiar?
Black Mirror, 'White Bear' (S2): Hordes of people mindlessly follow a girl. They watch her every movement from behind their smartphone lenses, a silent audience stalking her for sheer entertainment.
The Reality: Pokemon Go became a global obsession in the summer of 2016, gluing thousands of people to phone screens as they hunted for augmented reality creatures in the real world. People quit their jobs, trespassed, discovered dead bodies, fell off cliffs, crashed cars, broke into zoos and even kept playing after getting stabbed.
The future is not bright for bees
Black Mirror, ‘Hated In The Nation’ (S3): This episode features a swarm of mechanical bees, developed after the real honeybee died out.
Reality: The Black Mirror team recently discovered that mechanical bees are already being developed. Harvard have a swarm of 60 mechanical bees with an identical function to that depicted in Black Mirror – and, once you’ve seen it, you’ll understand why that’s so terrifying.
And let’s not even get started on Marmite Gate. How are you doing this, Brooker?
As Kelly Macdonald’s detective character aptly sums up in that episode: “I didn’t expect to find myself in the future. But here I ******* well am.”
Who knows what season four of the show will predict - but maybe you can divine some clues from the upcoming episode titles, or Netflix's official promo trailer?
This article was originally published on 21 October, 2016