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Charlie Brooker used ChatGPT to write a Black Mirror episode – and says it was a disaster

Charlie Brooker has opened up about his experience using AI technology to write an episode of Black Mirror.

The writer and satirist created the acclaimed dystopian anthology series with producer Annabel Jones in 2011. It will return to Netflix for a sixth season on Thursday 15 June.

Ahead of the new season, Brooker spoke about the creative process behind the run and admitted that he used the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT to test whether it could successfully churn out the script for an episode of the show.

In his view, the tool produced something that read plausibly “at first glance” but did not contain “any real original thought”.

“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 s***,” he told Empire magazine in the forthcoming July 2023 issue, on sale tomorrow (Thursday 8 June).

“Because all it’s done is look up all the synopses of Black Mirror episodes, and sort of mush them together.”

According to Brooker, part of the AI-generated script’s failure came down to it not being able to create any content that wasn’t based on something that already existed.

“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.”

The series often examines how technology and its rapid developments can have an effect on society at large – so an attempt to integrate AI into the programme seems especially fitting.

Charlie Brooker (Getty Images)
Charlie Brooker (Getty Images)

Elsewhere, Brooker teased that season six would include “new elements” that may surprise viewers.

“This time, alongside some of the more familiar Black Mirror tropes we’ve also got a few new elements, including some I’ve previously sworn blind the show would never do, to stretch the parameters of what a ‘Black Mirror episode’ even is,” he told Netflix’s editorial platform, Tudum.

“The stories are all still tonally Black Mirror through-and-through – but with some crazy swings and more variety than ever before.”

Brooker has also spoken out about the series’ move to Netflix from its original Channel 4 home, claiming that the broadcaster had “effectively cancelled” the show.