The Highest Good

“There are two ways to live your life: one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle.”

-Albert Einstein

I recently met someone who is striving to further the idea of the technological singularity. He used an interesting metaphor to describe his work. He asserted that, given three wishes from a genie, the best possible first wish would be to wish for more wishes. Striving to eliminate disease, aging, and death, he said, was a bit like “wishing for more wishes” from life.

It was a clever way to describe the hope some hold for technology’s seemingly unchecked advance against death. But something about the metaphor did not seem right to me. In the end, I came to the conclusion that the best first wish would not actually be to wish for more wishes, but to wish instead to know the summum bonum — the highest possible good — for the use of the remaining wishes.

The next wish might, indeed, be for more wishes, or for the strength to carry through on that final summum bonum wish — or for something else entirely. Because I have not actually been granted this first wish to know that highest good, I can not know what would come next. But I do know that unchecked individual omnipotence, in the form of endless wishes, would alter not only the consciousness, but quite possibly the physiology of the wisher. In the face of limitless opportunity, the brain chemistry could change — causing one to become paralyzed by choice, go mad with power, or drop dead from a heart attack.
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