This is the first post in a series where I introduce myself and how Intelligent Design came to be what it is. If reading isn’t your thing, there’s a video version above each post. So, choose the medium you prefer!
MVP: A PRIMER
People often want to know where ideas come from. This is where both the title Intelligent Design came from and the deep origins of the story, though it has morphed considerably in the two years I’ve been working on it.
While researching for ALGORITHM, which is about hackers, I had to dive deep into the tech world. At the time, the most popular book was The Lean Startup–it’s basically a manual on how to run a business efficiently during a time of constant change. In fact, I ran ALGORITHM’s crowdfunding campaign based on an idea in The Lean Startup: the Minimum Viable Product, or MVP.
The MVP is the kind of product that’s just barely out of development. It’s probably got bugs and is really limited. Think: early Twitter. It was just barely limping along. But, it does something, and people might be interested in that something. So, MVP says release it. Put it out there and see what people do with it. When you see how people use it, how they respond, the creator redesigns the product, optimizing for how it’s being used.
As logical, easy, common, and natural as the ideology of MVP appears to be, it carries with it a critical flaw, one so dangerous that it’s possible MVP should be quarantined!
Like evolutionary theory’s survival of the fittest, MVP naturally tends toward whichever product will most thrive in its environment, in this case, among people, and thriving is defined as what people use most. The problem is human motives. What motivates us becomes a factor in determining what MVP eventually produces.
It’s easy to think of our motivations according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow created a pyramid of what drives us, what we need in order to become the best humans we can be. It starts with psychology or conceptions of self, then onto safety, to love and belonging, then to esteem, and finally to self-actualization. We all want to be self-actualized bodhisattvas but first we have to start lower, at whatever level needs to be filled in.
Put more simply, we are motivated by whatever section of the pyramid has a crack in it. It then becomes the job of the MVP to either find or create a crack in the pyramid. MVP will then promise to fill the crack it found/created. Almost all advertisements work this way (Our whitening gum will fix your yellow teeth), as do most games (kill or be killed), and almost all social media sites (fomo).
MVP isn’t as much about design as it is about evolving a human-hunting machine. And it’s very, very powerful and profitable for its creator.
But, for everyone else, it’s dangerous. It creates a world of hostility, where we constantly feel unsafe. It’s not a world filled with beauty and wonder, but of fear and desperation. We see the danger in a recent study on Facebook and happiness as described in the podcast Hidden Brain Ep: 68.
I could go on, but I believe I’ve made my point.
SEEDS OF A SHOW
Intelligent Design first started as I thought about MVP.
I wondered: what if a group of extremely advanced aliens had technologies. The aliens knew what they used it for, but they were curious about other possible uses. So, they chose to drop their hi-tech stuff on various species throughout the universe. It was like an interstellar version of The Gods Must Be Crazy.
The problem I had with the idea is that it would be highly episodic, not serialized. While that may make for a good and fun TV show, it’s not the kind of story I wanted to tell because it doesn’t really lend itself to in-depth character studies. Also, as a producer, I knew creating new species and planets from scratch for every episode would be prohibitively expensive.
So, I let the idea sit for a few months.
Eventually the show took a completely different plot. It's not on Earth. It's now about spies and governments and how they respond to radical disruptive technology. But, everything starts somewhere.
At that time, the project was untitled.
The name came as a result of watching an interview called Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview. Jobs had founded Pixar and Toy Story had done really well. He had also started a company called Next, which would later be purchased by Apple. But, at the time of the interview, Apple had yet to make that purchase.
During the interview, Jobs started talking about Microsoft and said something to the effect of, “Microsoft writes good code. Their software works just fine. The problem is, they have no taste.”
With that statement, I had a huge realization. The world of human design usually doesn’t match. People will accept whatever they’re presented with and assume that’s as good as things can be. Until they’re shown something different.
Prior to Jobs’s return to Apple, people thought all computers were beige boxes and clunky software. Apple showed that mundane things can be beautiful, and in so doing, they changed the face of computing, becoming the company with the largest market capitalization in the world!
In order for the world to be better, someone must have a vision. The design must not be entirely driven as a reaction to the environment, but must be intentional. That requires skill, talent and vision.
That’s Intelligent Design. That’s where the title came from.
I have completely re-engineered what movies and shows can be, from the ground up. I’ve built a completely different production model, from the writing, filming, post-production, and even the distribution. Everything about Intelligent Design is a revolution. It’s not just about radical innovation. It is a radical innovation that may change the world. I’ll get more into that as this series progresses.
So, stay tuned/subscribed.
If you have any questions, send me an email jon@BrandXIndustries.com (All spammers will be labelled as spam at Gmail, which tells Google that URL server is a spammer and blocks it from everyone else’s account. So, don’t spam this account.)