I first heard about The Good Place from someone interested in Copiosis. They suggested I watch because the show’s premise offered a view of life on Earth similar to what Copiosis creates.
The Good Place, a comedy featuring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, posits an algorithm measures everyone’s actions on Earth. At death, the final result of that algorithm calculation determines whether the now dead person goes to the “Good Place”, a beautiful, heavenly scenario where all wishes are granted, or the “Bad Place” where people are tortured in hideous, but hilariously-described ways. The algorithm calculates its numerical outcomes based on “the moral worth of each human’s actions.”
“Moral worth” is vaguely described in the show. It includes as measures, according to one main character, “Use of resources, intentions behind [the action], effects on others…”. Those familiar with Copiosis’ algorithm know our algorithm goes much farther than this. Indeed, the The Good Place rating system falls more in line with China’s reputation system than Copiosis. Here, the main “celestial” describes how the system works.
It’s interesting to note that Michael Shur, the show’s creator, enjoys creating feel-good, optimistic shows with characters who find strong friendships and lasting love, through plots that showcase good-hearted humanistic warmth. Brooklyn Nine Nine, The Office and Parks and Recreation rank among his credited creations.
“Good-hearted humanistic warmth” undergirds many assumptions in Copiosis too. I see how someone might relate The Good Place to Copiosis. Perhaps Michael Shur would like Copiosis. But do similarities really exist between Copiosis and this comedy?
A flawed algorithm?
I watched two episodes after someone introduced me to The Good Place. Then I stopped watching. Two years later, I resumed. Now, at the end of the 4th and perhaps final season, I see why the show reminded them of Copiosis.
Around Season Three, Episode 8, viewers discover something shocking about the how The Good Place’s calculation works. It’s sending everyone to the Bad Place. The last time someone got sent to the Good Place happened over 500 years ago.
When the main characters look into it, they discover the problem. Modern-day life overwhelms the algorithm. So many decisions get made today. Many happen in relative isolation. Still, those decisions create halo effects making it impossible for people to do good. In the show, everything people do create negative outcomes. No matter how good the deed. That’s why no one gets to the Good Place.
Two different people, for example, buy roses. One “Douglass Wynegarr”, who lived in England back in 1534 gave his grandmother roses. He picked them himself, walked them over and made his mother happy. He got 145 points. Then, in 2009 in Maryland, Douglass Ewing, gave his grandmother roses but he lost points because the smartphone he used to call in the order came from “a sweatshop”. The roses grew in toxic pesticides. Exploited migrants picked them. The roses then traveled thousands of miles, which created a massive carbon foot print. Finally, Douglass’ money went, as one character describes it “to a billionaire racist CEO who sends his female employees pictures of his genitals!”.
“Every day the world gets a little more complicated,” This same character says. “And being a good person gets a little harder.”
Is this true?
I enjoy The Good Place. It’s funny, well acted and well written. It also looks at our social system in a novel way while still remaining humanistically good hearted. But The Good Place is not trying to create The New World order. It’s offering entertainment.
As such, it doesn’t account for many things we’ve accounted for with Copiosis. Compare the video from the show above to this video about how the Copiosis algorithm works:
Now, let’s take a look at conditions surrounding growing roses in Copiosis. I think you’ll see life is complicated, but much easier to create benefit.
First all capital goods come to all manufacturers at no cost to them. This includes innovations which increase Net Benefit Value (NBV). Net Benefit Value gets measured when results happen. Our algorithm doesn’t care about intent, or moral values. The better the results as measured by the algorithm, the more Net Benefit Rewards (NBR) responsible actors get.
People also live totally free in Copiosis. They don’t need jobs to get what they need. They don’t even need jobs to get what they want. That gives people extreme flexibility in choosing how they spend their time. Would people with such freedom want to work in a sweatshop? Would people tolerate working in unsafe conditions and grueling hours, working for someone who treats them poorly?
So in Copiosis, since people are free, many problems making it “hard” to do good in The Good Place no longer exist in our innovative economy.
Freedom for manufacturing
People making things such as growing roses or making smartphones can get all resources at no cost. The more the thing they make gets made in sustainable or regenerative ways, the more NBV they create. That means the more NBR they get.
Why would a manufacturer use things like pesticides, or force people into unsafe working conditions? Today, they do these things because it costs less doing it that way. But in Copiosis, the better ways of doing things don’t cost ANYTHING.
Wouldn’t manufacturers then make their products as impact neutral or positive as possible? Wouldn’t they also create working conditions conducive to attracting the brightest and best they could? I think so.
Doing these things would cost manufacturers nothing, but would also make them rich. So from a manufacturing perspective, it costs nothing to make things better. Not just better products, but also better product manufacturing processes. Not only does it cost nothing, manufacturers make more when they do things in better ways.
So why wouldn’t they?
Copiosis: it’s the future
The problem with The Good Life scenario lies in TODAY. Today, people must earn a living, depend on their jobs for that living, and have little choice in the jobs they can get. It costs businesses period. And it often costs them more to do business right. It makes sense then that outcomes might skew negative because people don’t enjoy freedom today.
But in a future where people are free and everything is available at no cost as well, such conditions don’t exist. That makes it far easier for people to create beneficial outcomes. Or not feel they must stay in situations they don’t like.
In Copiosis, nowhere in the supply chain need there be anything other than beneficial processes. Processes benefitting employers, employees, customers and communities.
I think there is a Good Place. But people don’t need to die to get there. They just need Copiosis as their economic system. And that’s coming.
When it does it will be a good and beautiful thing.