Black Mirror’s not talking about Copiosis

This post originally ran September 19, 2017.

Black Mirror is doing a disservice to the future. Season 3, Episode 1, entitled “Nose Dive” has many thinking something like Copiosis is a bad idea. 

Nevermind people are using a goofy piece of entertainment as a harbinger of the future…

In this post, I’ll share a little background on the show for those who haven’t seen it. I’ll also explain what happens in “Nose Dive”. After that, I’ll set the record straight why Black Mirror is not talking about Copiosis.

TLDR: Copiosis Reputation Accounts are nothing like what’s featured in “Nose Dive”. And black mirror is fictional satire.

What is Black Mirror?

In case you’re like me and you’ve never watched or even heard of it until now, “Black Mirror” is a British science fiction series. It features dark and satirical themes examining modern society, particularly with regard to the darker potential consequences of new technologies. If you’re old enough to remember The Twilight Zone, it’s a lot like that.

In the episode “Nose Dive”, we visit a world wherein you can rate other people using a 1-5 star rating for every interaction you have with them. And vice versa. How people rate you in this world has a significant effect on your entire life. This is portrayed in absurd ways.


“Nose Dive” follows a young woman overly obsessed with her ratings. Through a series of unfortunate and downward spiraling encounters with others, she ends up with a destroyed life, a “0” rating and in jail. You can read the entire plot summary here.

Give me sanity please

If you do read the more detailed plot summary linked above, or if you’ve watched the episode, you can tell the writers were riffing off what could happen with über or lyft-type rating systems. You’ll also notice the ratings are simply that: star ratings. There’s no explanation, or justification supporting the ratings.

There’s no one checking to see if the ratings are even accurate or truthful. People simply willy-nilly give people ratings, often in vengeful ways, leading to chaos. Can this happen in Copiosis with our Reputation Accounts?

Of course not.

What are Copiosis Reputation Accounts?

Reputation accounts are living testimonies of one’s reputation as a benefit-producer…or the opposite of that. All Citizens in Copiosis have a Reputation Account.

The Reputation Account is an encrypted record of an individual’s activity and accomplishments. Only the Account Owner has access to this information. But the Account Owner may, at her discretion, allow access to portions of her Reputation Account to others.

Reputation Accounts include:

  • Work history and skills
  • Quality of performance
  • Education level
  • Luxuries ownership registration
  • Special accomplishments, rewards and recognition
  • Family and medical history

Reputation accounts also include Declarations. Declarations are statements filed by other individuals about the Reputation Account Owner, much like eCommerce review sites like Amazon or eBay allow customers to rate products.

Whether positive or negative, all declarations are verified by the Copiosis Organization for accuracy. Citizen Juries may be involved in this process. Once verified, declarations become a permanent part of an individual’s Reputation Account.

A person can’t make a declaration in your reputation account about you. They can only declare about your behavior, related to specific acts. In other words, Reputation Accounts are reports on what you do…or don’t do. Not who you are or what you are.

When a person does make a declaration, that report is researched by the Copiosis Organization to determine its accuracy. If necessary (depending on the severity of the declaration) citizen juries may be convened to determine if the declaration is valid/accurate. If it is then it sticks.

If not, then it is dismissed and the filer may receive a declaration for false declaration on their reputation account, filed directly by jury members or a Copiosis Organization member. Declaration accounts aren’t something to mess around with, file at a whim or out of malice.

Reputation accounts aren’t made with “5 star ratings” as depicted in “Nose Dive”. They are much more like police reports. They require a lot of detail about what happened, the circumstances, who was involved, witnesses if any, results of the behavior, expected harm or loss, and more. It will not be a simple matter to file a declaration. So people aren’t going to arbitrarily file them. As I said above, doing so arbitrarily is risky.

What are they good for?

Declarations don’t automatically cascade into either decreasing or increasing ratings. Nor can Negative Declarations land you in jail. What are they for?

Reputation Accounts help parties decide if they want to work together. They are part of decisions which create relationships and partnerships in this model. Raw data in these accounts are represented to others as aggregate icons situated along pre-defined scales, making it easy to quickly determine someone’s reputation. At this point, these icons are the familiar smiley face emoticons we’re all familiar with.

If more detailed information is desired, an individual may ask the owner. The owner is never compelled to do so. However, not doing so leaves the requestor free to interpret that reluctance in favor of his or her concerns.

Reputation Accounts are a kind of social check and balance which works alongside NBR accounts and Necessities which are provided at no cost to everyone. All these elements working together helping make Copiosis a safe place, without the need of laws and aggressive police forces.

Individuals make their Reputation Accounts available as a record of one’s contribution.  As people regularly visit stores, groceries and other locations where Necessities or Luxuries are obtained, Reputation Accounts become less important as property owners, neighbors and others become familiar with their customers, clients and community members.

Hopefully you can see that the dystopian “rating system” in Black Mirror is nothing like Copiosis’ Reputation Account system. Black Mirror attempts to paint a dark picture about current tech. It does an entertaining job of this. But it is entertainment. And should be seen as such.

Yes, art and entertainment can serve as a warning platform for our society. But as you can see, in the case of Copiosis Reputation Accounts, Black Mirror’s warnings were heeded well before the show was conceived.

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