Poll Position: Game changers

This week's poll position posits:


I originally thought, "What power would, if everyone in the world had it, most dramatically change human society?" but then I thought it might be more fun to speculate on what you yourself would do if you were singularly gifted, and everyone else stayed the same. So here we go!

  1. Invulnerability: I don't see how this has dramatic, society-wide repercussions. You can't be hurt, big deal -- they throw you in a cell and you're done for. Granted you could go and save people from burning buildings and such, but even that's pretty small-scale.
  2. Super speed: I keep thinking back to "Kingdom Come"s version of the Scarlet Speedster, where the Flash is a never-seen, always-vigilant, omnipresent force in the city, able to prevent every crime just before it happens and ensuring the safety of all. That's both cool and pretty damn frightening. Plus you'd be exhausted.
  3. Time travel: This one depends on how you think time travel works. Do you end up just splitting off an alternate dimension? Is it even possible to actually change the past or the future or is it all just part of what would have happened anyway? The whole theme of time travel has been so abused in pop fiction I don't really know what to make of it any more.
  4. Hyperintelligence: Now we're talking! Imagine having Reed Richards' ability to create incredibly powerful tools ... Technology, I would argue, is the single biggest factor in the mutability of human societies in our entire history. What fire was to cavemen, or steam engines to the 1800's, you could be to the new millennium. Pretty cool.
  5. Telepathy: A society where any liar can be caught out and any secret revealed is a profoundly different one from what we have now. This has real potential to be a game changer.
  6. Immortality: Imagine being able to take the really, really long view of politics, money, culture, and humanity. You could nurse decades-spanning schemes along, shepherd a whole society in a new direction, and plan farther ahead than any of the short-lived mortals around you could ever hope. On the other hand, that sounds like a LOT of work ...
  7. Vast healing abilities: You could, effectively, end disease and death while you were still alive, but only for a relatively small number of people. Still, the world would be a much different place if, say, you could have healed JFK's head wound before he died. A subtle, but powerful ability.
  8. Transmutation of elements: This has the potential to completely destroy most of our modern economy. Once resources are no longer scarce, an entirely new way of living could emerge. Imagine if gold were as freely available as silicon, of if vast amounts of carbon nanotubes were suddenly grown like wheat, or we had all the nuclear fuel we could ever need.

Given all of that, I'd probably have to go with hyperintelligence as my preferred power. You could probably figure out how to replicate almost everything else on the list, eventually.

But what would you choose? Let me know in the comments! And if you have any ideas for better Poll Position questions, by all means chime in.