Poll Position: There can be only one … billion.

This week's Poll Position puts the fate of Homo Sapiens in your hands. Meaning we're all screwed.


Discussion after the jump.

One of the first things that occurred to me after thinking of this question was, "What happens to all the normals in the world once a major mutation takes hold?" So I'm going to have to bake that into my thinking on this one.

  • Dimensional travel: The potential for vast good and vast evil comes with this one. Someone could accidentally bring through a horrific virus that kills everyone, or some source of limitless energy that makes life a thousand times better. You never know what's lurking behind Door Number 3, which for me makes this one too scary to consider. But if you're more tolerant of risk than I am, this might usher in an incredibly cool set of changes.
  • Flight: Basically a harmless choice. It's not a threat to the non-flighted remnants of humanity, but also wouldn't really change all that much. It'd be neat, though.
  • Hyperintelligence: Like Dimensional Travel, this could either be great or disastrous, though not to the same degree. The thing is, there would still be variation among the hyperintelligent, so although normal humans would basically be relegated to the dustbin of history, once that's done the world would basically be like it is today, with people of varying degrees of intelligence all competing. Granted, the low end of the curve would be waaaay ahead of the high end of the current IQ distribution, but it doesn't seem like the fundamentals would change all that much.
  • Immortality: Talk about huge changes ... imagine billions of immortals all running around consuming. If they keep breeding, how long is it before the world basically fills up and can't support any more people? Of course it might be different if people could still be killed, if they're not invulnerable, just immortal assuming nothing actually slaughters them. Still, looking at eons to fill and learn instead of our current scant handful of decades would lead to some pretty radical changes.
  • Invulnerability: I imagine daredevils would be pretty much out of business. Still though, I kind of like the idea of kids who won't have to feel pain or wither away from disease. Imagine staying 100% healthy until you finally die of old age. Of course, being invulnerable doesn't mean people wouldn't still harm each other, it'd just be non-physical. I bet after a while, kind of like with hyperintelligence, things would average out and you'd end up with basically the same types of societies you have now.
  • Lie detection: Infallible lie detection ... wow. This is a subtle ability but, I think, in some ways the most profound possible change. Our culture is built on lies, from the little white ones we tell to smooth things over to the whoppers told to cover up crimes. It's hard for me to imagine a world full of people who could not lie to each other, and what changes that would wreak.
  • Polymorph (able to take different shapes): One hopes people wouldn't have to also be green, like Chameleon Boy. This would be a fun change, but ultimately sort of pointless, I think.
  • Super healing: People could still be hurt, still feel pain, but they'd heal super-fast, like Wolverine. Again I think you'd end up with a world similar to this one, only without the fear of disease or disfigurement. Which would be kind of neat.
  • Telepathy: Like lie detection on steroids. What kind of a society would result where you couldn't keep your thoughts to yourself? Absolute honesty would be just the beginning; I doubt we'd even recognize what such a world would look like.

So thinking about all of those facets, and knowing I'd have to live out the remainder of my life in a world filled with these next-generation humans, I'd probably have to choose ... telepathy. It would change the world the most dramatically, and (he thought optimistically) I'd like to see what we could do in a world where we were totally honest and open to each other.

Which would you choose, and why?

17 Responses to Poll Position: There can be only one … billion.

  1. DJ says:

    My first instinct is super healing. I choose this over invulnerable because pain is a good thing to feel. It’s teaches us. It wouldn’t have a great effect on humanity but it would some. One bad/good thing about is that people wars would be less likely to die. This bad however because wars could become virtually endless and we wouldn’t feel the same effect from wars that we do now because our main tool for learning from our past mistakes is sadly seeing who those past mistakes hurt. We would be much more likely to jump into a war because we have far less to risk by doing so.

  2. nate says:

    if they were all telepathic, they’d never know the anticipation leading up to birthdays and holidays of wondering what they were going to get. I vote super-healing. They’d still learn the lessons that injury brings (i.e: not touching hot stoves, not jumping off of high places, etc) but they wouldn’t be sidelined for nearly as long

  3. HalLoweEn JacK says:

    I support lie detecion for all of the reasons Jef listed – though I do have one question;

    If acting is the art of skillful lying for the sake of entertainment, would peopel still take pleasure in theatre and film? I leave television out because the majority percentage of TV shows do not involve any acting.

  4. Kaldath says:

    The Lie detection ability isn’t full proof. You ever read The Wheel Of Time Series by Robert Jordon. There is a Group of Woman Sorceress Called the Aes Sedai that are all Magically Bound to speak no word that is untrue. So they are unable to Lie, but they have mastered the ability to mislead with the truth by selectivly leaving things out and allowing the listener to make there own conclusion. .. In this books there is a say The truth an Aes Sedai speaks may not be the Truth you hear.

  5. The Imp says:

    I’ve got to go with hyperintelligence, because with that, all the other poll choices could probably be achieved eventually… and we might actually be smart enough to use them correctly. 😉

  6. Jeff Hebert says:

    Ah, but Imp, that implies intelligence necessarily begets wisdom!

  7. The Imp says:

    One can dream… 😀

  8. HalLoweEn JacK says:

    …or that intelligence relates at all to decency! I’m sure that DIck Cheney is an intelligent man… but FFS is he evil!

  9. HalLoweEn JacK says:

    as for being able to manipulate a lie detection ability – sure, there’d be loopholes, there always are, but there is still a likelihood that the majoriy of society will reacha more positive equilibrium – I say in blind, rose coloured hope!

  10. Kaiju says:

    I would choose destroy annilihate humanity, but since thats not an option i went with dimensional travel
    Then i could wipe humanity with some uber virus or something.

  11. Luke says:

    polymorph may not be the best as imagine serial killers with the ability to change their fingerprints along with the rest of their body I chose hyper-intelligence

  12. Bael says:

    First, I will not inflict humanity on the multiverse. We’re not done screwing up this one. Yet.
    Flight depends on how fast. Bird fast, meh. 100 mph, on the other hand, ends the gasoline crisis by reserving fuel for bulk transport and buys the world a few hundred years.
    Hyper intelligence sounds good, but it will really just boil down to better gadgets. Human nature and behavior will keep things more or less the same.
    Immortality? Already too many talking monkeys here.
    Invulnerability would backfire. Muggers and murderers would just take up strangling people, and wars would turn to viruses (remember, they don’t actually damage cells, they just reprogram them) and the like.
    Polymorph is a weird one. It should eliminate racial prejudice, at least.
    I have a deep philosophical hatred of mind invading telepaths myself, but it would probably do the world the most good in the long run for everyone to truly understand each other.
    I like lie detection. Politicians will still prevaricate, but the general quality of politicians will have to improve.
    Over all, I think healing is the way to go. Everyone’s life gets better, a huge drain is removed from the economy, and life would be a lot more fun, without all the nanny culture we’ve ended up with.

  13. EnderX says:

    How tunable is the telepath one? It might be interesting, but I’m having a few flashes of a Borg-like hive mind resulting.

    If I actually had the choice, I’d say lie detection…but not quite for the reasons most of you would think.

  14. NotACylon says:

    I voted flight. As Jeff said, it’s relatively weak, with high cool points. I also think that invulnerability would be awesome, but only because I’d like to fully explore the world in ways that we can’t now.

  15. HalLoweEn JacK says:

    Lol @ NotACylon…

    Marianas Trench? Just strap a rock to my ankle and I’ll see you in a month!

  16. DJ says:

    Flight would probably end up being the best. Like one person said it would help with the energy crisis because people could just fly every where. A downside is that criminals could escape easier by flying.

  17. godOfPLague says:

    criminals escape nah we just give Swat the AA guns.

    I go with super healing