Courtesy of Pizza Hut

The science-fiction anthology’s latest season features an automated pizza delivery accident.

Abbey White
January 09, 2018

During a presentation at 2018’s Consumer Electronics Show, Pizza Hut announced plans for an automated delivery car and the Twitter account for sci-fi Netflix series Black Mirror reminded us why that is a terrible idea.

The race to design, produce and perfect automated transportation has been quietly on for years, but in the last handful, the possibility has become a more serious and publicly acknowledged reality. From personal vehicles to public transportation, our role in manually controlling where we go and how we get there is on the cusp of dissipating. During a presentation at CES 2018 yesterday, carmakers Toyota and Mazda, along with rideshare companies Didi and Uber, Pizza Hut, and Amazon illustrated just how close we are to relinquishing that control.

In what was teased as an exciting leap into the future of delivery, the companies previewed their electric autonomous shuttle—or e-Palette vehicle—that may soon be dropping people and their packages to their desired locations. For fans of Black Mirror, the announcement was a bit ominous. Following the season’s release in late November, the automated pizza delivery vehicle became a much talked about concept, mostly for its timeliness and its subtle, but creepy role in the near-future episode “Crocodile.”

Food actually plays a pretty frightening role throughout the science fiction anthology’s latest batch of episodes, from its innocuous ability to “capture” our DNA to how our desire for instant hunger relief can blind us to the horrors of both invasive technology and the mind itself. The latter is what the series explores in “Crocodile,” through a hiccup with a seemingly harmless automated pizza delivery vehicle which strikes a pedestrian. The event leads one insurance claims agent right into a startling case, that forces viewers to question the role of privacy, memory, and government access in our lives.

Wasting not a beat to promote one of its perfectly relevant cautionary tales, the Black Mirror Twitter account took a hilarious jab at Pizza Hut’s own social media announcement, which featured the pizza maker’s version of an “e-Palette” vehicle.

Some of the responses were even better, the tweet triggering a small stand-off between one Twitter user and frozen pizza maker Digiorno, and even resulting in someone writing an episode plot line.

The concept of technology smart enough to entirely replace us—or have actual conversations with us—has been a source of science-fiction driven anxiety for decades. Thanks to Black Mirror and Pizza Hut, we can now anguish over whether our demand for food delivery will end up being our downfall.