Glen and Sally were having coffee at the coffee shop.
“If you could have one wish what would it be ?” Sally asked.
“I would wish to have infinite wishes”, Glen said without hesitation. He had thought of this before.
“I mean apart from that” Sally said.
“I would wish to have another wish without the restriction to have infinite wishes and then wish to have infinite wishes, but I get your point” Glen said. “I would wish for perpetual perfect regeneration with the ability to end my life whenever I please” he continued.
“That is very particular. Why ?” Sally asked.
“Well, first I would have wanted to live forever, but then what would be the point if you age to say 90 and then live in that state forever ? Definitely you would want to stay young. But then, what if someone cuts off your arms and legs ? You wouldn’t want to live like that forever. See, immortality brings its own set of curses. You wouldn’t want to be forced to end your life because your are handicapped. You would want everything to return to normal. So the ideal way to phrase a good immortality wish is ‘perpetual perfect regeneration’. But what if someone caught you and catapulted you into space ? You would float through space forever having nothing to do. So you would probably want to end your life then. You would probably want to do that anyway at some point.”
“But what would you do with immortality ?” Sally had asked.
“Well, first off I would quit my job.” Glenn said with a laugh.
“Of course” Sally laughed “And then what would you do?”
“Well I would go out and learn everything about everything” Glen said.
“Everything ?” asked Sally.
“Yes, everything.” Glen replied “Physics, Chemistry, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Voodoo magic, you name it.”
“And then what ?” Sally asked.
“Well, I have no idea how long that will take” Glen replied “Step two would be to obtain power and money. I bet being immortal would lend itself nicely to doing really dangerous jobs that has a potential for high pay off. But I am really hoping that there would be some connection in all the knowledge that is available in the world that nobody has made. A connection nobody can possibly make in one lifetime. A source of large amount of power.
After that I would have to try and take over. See, I would have lots of time. All I would need to do is wait for right opportunities. I bet the best places to take over first are the war torn areas in Africa where a power vacuum develops every few decades. The point is try to install people who are obliged to you to serve as your puppets.
Form a secret society, with a hierarchical tree like structure. At each level, you have a number of people overseeing the work of one or more people. Anyone power hungry can join, and take a pseudonym. Nobody knows each others name, how many people there are at each level or how many levels there are. You can kind of ask these people to help each other and act as a power broker. It is important to stay away from the light though”
“Why ?” asked Sally.
“Well, that kind of power would simply attract too much attention. I can definitely see people sacrificing their entire lives to make my life miserable if they can detect my involvement” Glen replied.
“OK” Sally was now starting to regret ever having asked the question.
“Well the next step is to optimize” Glen continued on, unaware of the uneasiness developing in Sally, “Obviously, I feel the worst thing in the world is war. When people are constantly fighting each other they have nothing to look forward to. First thing I would do is stop all the wars. When people feel safe, and they know what they build won’t be taken away from them using force, they will start building for the future. Next step is to educate. The benefits of Enlightenment should percolate to the whole world. Just imagine, billions of people in the developing and under-developed nations joining the quest for Scientific Inquiry. How much more the average human condition would improve! How the international productivity would go through the roof!”
“What then ?” asked Sally
“Well, the next step is to expand outwards, of course. Colonize the moon. Colonize Mars. It might be possible to sustain human life in harsh conditions by then. Expand outward. We have no idea how vast the Universe is. I could be doing this for a while”, Glen finished with a smile.
There was a silence. “Do you know what you are planning to do ? You are planning to become God!” said Sally.
“Not really, for all we know God’s powers could be infinite” said Glen. He was an atheist himself, but he did not want to offend Sally’s feelings.
“But do you think that what you asked for is right ?” asked Sally.
“Ah, I thought you wanted to hear about the most interesting wish I could come up with” said Glen taking a sip of his coffee. “I was not thinking about the morality aspect of it. I wouldn’t do this if the opportunity was real. If a genie appeared before me and granted me one wish, I would first ask him ‘Can you go back in time and fix stuff there ?’, if his answer is ‘Yes’, I would wish for ‘Go back to Big Bang and fix everything from there onward, if there was time before that fix that also, if there are other Universes fix everything there as well. FIX EVERYTHING'” he said waving his hands to express his enthusiasm. “If he can’t go back in time and fix stuff – I mean what a crappy genie, right ? – then I would ask him to fix everything instantly”.
“OK” Sally was smiling approvingly now.
“That is the only moral thing you can do, Sally. Everything else is immoral. Since we are just chatting, I just inferred the question as ‘What is the most interesting thing you would wish for?'” said Glen and then he smiled as well.
Sally walked into the room where G.E.N.I.E ( Generic Electronic Nature Influencer Engine ) was housed. She wanted to take Glen’s advice on what to wish for before entering her wish. Sally had felt a huge burden of responsibility when her research was complete and she realized that they could build exactly one machine that could in fact grant someone one actual wish. The machine could not do wish recursion and therefore wishing for more wishes was futile, that was the first thing she tried. But now she had figured out the ideal wish. The only wish any moral person could make.
She pulled out the console for G.E.N.I.E and typed in her wish :
The computer blinked, and then started computing.
After a while it shut down, and changed nothing.