S3E6: Hated in the Nation

Recap

The episode starts with Karin, who we later find out is a detective, going into a trial. At the trial the judges ask her when she initially became involved in “the incident.” The scene cuts to a flashback of Karin at her house watching the news on TV. They talk about the controversy surrounding Jo Powers, a columnist who wrote out against someone claimed as a “wheelchair martyr,” and an additional report on the second year the UK has released ADIs, or technological bees, for the summer (foreshadowing much?).

The scenes cut to Jo Powers walking around London, where people recognize her and even blatantly yell stuff at her on the street. She goes to her house and keeps receiving hate tweets, some of which include her photo accompanied by #DeathTo. She receives a cake which she proceeds to eat. Later on Karin appears at a crime scene, where she meets Blue, who has switched from the tech side of the police force to on-the-field police work. At the scene, they find Jo Powers dead and her husband injured. They start the investigation but find multiple dead ends. First no one comes in ur out of the cctv tapes. Then the cake comes back negative from toxicology (they did talk to the person who sent it because of her #DeathTo Jo Powers tweet). When they question the husband, he says Jo killed herself after clutching her head and having a seizure. Karin still believes the husband killed Jo.

As this is happening, an American celebrity named Tusk has become the newest target of internet hate. We see him and coworkers preparing for a show when he suddenly clutches his head and starts yelling and having a seizure. They take him to a hospital, where he is put under anesthesia. The doctors put him through an MRI machine to figure out what is wrong with him. As soon as they turn the machine on he starts shaking and when they take him out of the machine they find him dead because of an ADI that was lodged in his brain and since it was attracted to the MRI’s magnet, blasted through his head. The autopsy report on Jo Powers, found an ADI in her brain as well. Blue uses social media and technology to figure out how this is happening: Someone has created a game via the #DeathTo hashtag, where the most targeted person dies by the end of the day.

Karin and Blue talk to the people at the ADI company, who explain the bees are “unhackable” and they can’t best down because entire ecosystems would crash. It seems like real bees have become extinct in this reality and have been replaced with these autonomous placeholders. We later learn they are also used by the government to track down terrorists and killers via facial recognition systems, and that is how they have been tracking down victims.

The police force finds the next candidate, a girl named Clara, and tries to protect her as they work with the ADI company to find the hacker. Suddenly the whole ADI system is taken over by the hacker and an ADI bee finds Clara and kills her. The next day the top target is the Chancellor. He is trying to shut down the internet, meanwhile the police force tracks the trackers location down and finds a hard drive. The hard drive contains a way to deactivate the ADI takeover but they find names of every single person who tweeted #DeathTo on the disk as well. They run the deactivation and it seems as though everything is back to normal but the bees suddenly go rouge and kill every single person who tweeted #DeathTo. We go back to the trial in which Karin is still being interviewed. They ask her what happened to Blue and we are led to believe she has committed suicide.

In the ending scenes we see the hacker being followed by Blue on a different country, as she texts Karin “Got him” and she deletes the message.

Themes

Using technology as a replacement for natural things – In this episode the ADIs intent is to act like bees in order to continue to pollinate the world. This somewhat mirrors reality since bees are becoming extinct and no one knows exactly why, unless we save them we might have to resort to similar technologies to make sure nature continues to thrive. In this case though, it’s a placeholder for any technology we use in place of natural things and processes. Natural things can’t be hacked on a monumental scale like you can do with technology, and as a familiar sci-fi trope autonomous things can malfunction and turn against us.

Constant government surveillance – These bees were used for much more than just pollination purposes, they were also used by the government to constantly track and hunt terrorists and other criminal. In the end, this facial recognition software implanted on the bees turned out to be its downfall once it was hacked and used to kill humans. But the episode subtly raises the question of how much do governments need to use this technology and the means through which they do it – basically, attaching a second use to technology that already has a clear purpose.

Public shame and its consequences – We’ve talked a lot in class about public shaming and it’s consequences on the people who are shamed. This episode flips that idea on its head and basically targets the mob who was targetting individuals. In this way “justice” is served unilaterally – to the people who did a “bad” thing in the first place and to the people who demonized others without the threat of a consequence or because they thought it was a funny joke. In that sense, it becomes a totalitarian sort of justice – you can do no right.

 

Jour 325 says…

Questions:

  1. Is it our job to create this sort of technology to protect ecosystems and the human race, even when we face dangers such as the one presented in this episode? Do we have a choice?
  2. Thinking about the themes established in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, is it right to punish the shamer, not in an extreme way like death, but in some other way? Do they have the same amount of fault as the people they shame or more?
  3. Is it OK for the government to use whatever means necessary to track down criminals? What are the ethical connotations to this sort of surveillance?
  4. As we move further and further to using technology for everything, how much can we rely on encryption? How hackable is all of our technology?
  5. Can the rise of trendy hashtages be detrimental? How is it positive too?
  6. Once a trend unfolds, does it take drastic measures such as what happened in this episode to stop it?
  7. And finally, is anyone even more afraid of bees now??