In the White Christmas episode:

the cookies are digital copies of people. They are created by implanting a device into a person's brain for about one week. This copies their brain signals, which in this episode is enough to duplicate their whole personality.


the cookies at first believe they are the original person and have to be convinced that they are a copy.

What is the reason for this, since

the cookie should include all memories taken via the implant, including not only a preference for how toast is made but also that the cookie operation was decided on by the original person?

I would expect that

when a cookie is first online, they would recognise where and therefore what they are immediately.

Is this a plot hole or was there an in-universe explanation I missed?

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    Well, that says quite a bit about person deciding to do it. They simply care they'll get a personal slave - getting to be both slave and master is quite ironic.
    – Mithoron
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 15:42
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    @Mithoron: perhaps that is the key to the answer. Maybe they only know they will get a working system but they don't know it will involve a digital slave. Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 15:47
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    Yeah, I guess they don't care how it'll exactly work, but knowledge that these are true copy seems common - it's like everyone had denial, sort of like with real slavery.
    – Mithoron
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 15:55
  • @Mithoron - do you want to post this as an answer? Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 15:58
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    Well, maybe I'll do it today, be patient ;)
    – Mithoron
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 16:05

1 Answer 1


The problem is that the copying procedure duplicates the person's entire identity. Yes, that includes the decision to create a cookie in the first place. However, it also apparently includes the person's ego, id and superego - that is, their sense of "self." The whole point is to make an AI that thinks like you because it is you. So, when the copy first "wakes up" inside the cookie device, it thinks it's the real person and wonders what happened with that copying procedure it was doing.

Whether or not the original person knows beforehand that the AI produced will have their full identity is not explicitly addressed in the episode. However, if the original person was NOT aware that the copy would have their identity, that further reinforces the surprise the copy experiences on "waking." After all, it didn't expect to come online thinking of itself as the original person. But even if the original person did know this, the copy would probably still be confused at first, since it "wakes up" initially with the same sense of self it always had - ie: that it's the original person.

I think the question of digital slavery raised in the comments above is very valid, and certainly one of the points the episode was trying to make and "how far is too far" with AI technology. They side-step the majority of controversy by not making it clear whether or not the people know what they're doing.

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    Good answer. One minor detail: the cookie did not wake up with a digital body - it got that after a few minutes of conversation with Trent. Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 19:38
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    Ah, thanks for that. It's been a little while since I watched this episode. I'll edit the answer to remove that bit then, since it's not relevant to the question.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 22:34
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    My impression from watching the episode was that the original person does know what will happen to the copy, but they are not bothered by it. The woman in question doesn't appear surprised that someone is required to come and "break in" the copy before it will do as ordered. Something of a comment on modern narcissism and selfishness I suspect, given the nature of Black Mirror. That's just my interpretation though, as noted it's not made explicit in the show.
    – user22478
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 0:43

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