London, England

The setting for the dystopian society seen in the "Fifteen Million Merits" episode of Black Mirror. 


Latitude: 51.507350900000
Longitude: -0.127758300000

Timeline of Events Associated with London, England

Date Event Manage
10 Dec 1815 to 27 Nov 1852

Life of Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace is recognized as the first ever computer programmer and the first computer scientist to realize computers had applications beyond simple calculation. She was the child of the famed Romantic poet Lord Byron, who was disappointed in her gender upon her birth. After Lord Byron's death, her mother, Lady Byron, decided to educate her in a way that distanced Ada from her father's literary and artistic interests; this resulted in her young daughter developing passions in fields uncommon to women of the age: science, philosophy, and above all, mathematics. 

In 1833, during her debut at court, she met the scientist Charles Babbage, and the two developed a friendship which changed their lives and the world forever. Babbage was developing a machine he called the "Analytical Engine", a device which could automatically produce calculations: the world's first computer. Lovelace's work on the Analytical Engine was invaluable to its development and dissemination of its workings. Though she faced antagonism at court and abroad for her gender, Babbage continued to champion Lovelace's capabilities, and they made great strides in the new field. Although the Analytical Engine itself was never completed, Lovelace later published the first algorithm to be carried out by the machine. 

Lovelace died in 1852 in London, only 36 years of age.

Works Cited:

“Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace.” Ada Lovelace: Founder of Scientific Computing,

Lovelace, Ada. “Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage.” Sketch of The Analytical Engine,


Autonomous Tortoises

Grey Walter built two electro-mechanical "tortise" robots, ELSIE and ELMER, each with an analog computer simulating a neural network for decision making. These early analog nervous systems were very simple, consisting of a touch or a light sensor, 2 "neurons", and 2 motors. These robots were nonetheless able to show a few lifelike behaviors- the ability to move to is goal, the ability to choose between various attractors, and the ability to explore its environment, though it could not record anything in memory. When combined with an electrical learning circuit, the robot gained the ability to be conditioned, such that an irrelevent stimulus repeatedly followed by a stimulus the robot typically would react to would eventually also cause the same reaction. 

Image and Information Retrieved from

Boden, Margaret. "Grey Walter's Anticipatory Tortises" The Rutherford Journal. Retrieved 8 March 2018

Dec 2011

"Fifteen Million Merits" (Black Mirror, 2011)


Black Mirror itself is a show that dives into the numerous “what ifs” the future may hold with the exceeding advancement of technology. This episode specifically centers around the idea of a dystopian future in London where people are forced to pedal on exercising bikes in order to not only provide energy for the city, but it is their way of providing for themselves as they earn currency in the form of merits for how much they pedal. This currency can be used to buy anything from food to adult shows and even a spot on a singing competition, which one woman with the help of her newly friend, Bing, and his merits, decides to do. However, she ultimately fails such competition, and instead, to the Bing’s enragement, ends up on one of the adult shows which they are forced to watch at certain times of the day, (unless they pay to skip them). Bing then goes on such show himself to try to get people to know the truth about their failed society.

Conditioning and Consumerism:

The commentary on conditioning and consumerism through the way of media is interesting focus in this episode. The bikers are trained to work harder in order to buy more. The entertainment they want to buy is constantly put in front of their faces while biking in the form of commercial-like promotion. The tv shows they buy in return also conditions them. For example, there's a show surrounding the humiliation of obese people which in return makes the desire to exercise on their bikes stronger in fear of being humiliated as well. Similarly, they are conditioned in their desires as they have forced programming of the same shows which they must pay to watch any other time. Such conditioning of desires becomes an illusion of a release of repression, for example, the adult shows a seemingly release of sexual desire, but in reality are only a part of the circular trap of extreme consumerism. The product of this becomes what appear to be "soulless" individuals who only work and consume. Such result becomes a social commentary on present society's heavy focus on consumerism and unawareness of conditioning through advertisment, and what it could become in its most extreme form.