“Black Mirror” creator Charlie Brooker revealed in June that he experimented with having the artificial intelligence chatbot known as ChatGPT write an episode of his beloved anthology series. The final results were “shit,” he said at the time. During a recent panel at Sydney’s International Convention Centre SXSW event (via The Guardian), Brooker opened up further about the experiment.
“I said to ChatGPT, ‘Go give me an outline for a Black Mirror story,’” Brooker said. “The first couple of sentences you feel a cold spike of fear, like animal terror…like I’m being fucking replaced. I’m not even gonna see what it does. I’m gonna jump out the fucking window.”
The more ChatGPT continued to write the episode, the more Brooker’s fear of being replaced faded away. Without the messiness of being human, Brooker said, ChatGPT can never be as successful as an actual screenwriter.
“As it carries on you go, ‘Oh this is boring. I was frightened a sec ago, now I’m bored because this is so derivative,’” he said. “It’s just emulating something. It’s Hoovered up every description of every ‘Black Mirror’ episode, presumably from Wikipedia and other things that people have written, and it’s just sort of vomiting that back at me. It’s pretending to be something it isn’t capable of being.”
Brooker also touched upon some fan backlash against “Black Mirror,” which aired two seasons and a Christmas special on Channel 4 before jumping to Netflix for four more seasons.
“One of the criticisms we sometimes get is, ‘I prefer the show when it was British and everyone in it was miserable and everything smelled a little bit of shit and all the stories were horrible,’” Brooker said. “And then it’s gone to Netflix and suddenly everything’s sunny and happy and everyone has wonderful teeth, and it’s full of Hollywood stars and it’s lost that edge.”
Brooker said he understands those complaints, but he said the show’s changing tone was never a mandate from Netflix and rather driven from his own interests.
“Arguably the happiest [episode] I’ve ever written was ‘San Junipero’ and I just did that off my own back,” he said. “I was aware we’re going on a global platform now, so we’ve got to make these stories a bit more international. And I wanted to mix it up a bit, as in not just keep doing bleak-a-thons.”
“Black Mirror” is available to stream on Netflix.