Sunday, July 26

#30 - animals (2 of 2)

You have ascended to a position in which you are a representative on a small but powerful panel that monitors and oversees all wildlife, worldwide. Soon after this panel has formed, you are presented with an interesting opportunity.

The scientific community, coming off a series of breakthroughs in the field of genetics, has informed your group that the ability now exists to bring a species back from extinction. Woolly mammoths, dinosaurs, the dodo, all of these are real possibilities.

The catch here is that the process would require the DNA of an existing species, and the endeavor would consequently result in the extinction of that species. It would, in effect, be a species for species trade. Also, the species chosen to supply the substitute DNA must come from the same class of animal (Mammalia, Reptilia, etc) as the extinct, candidate species.

Do you elect to bring back an extinct animal? If so, which one?

For the purposes of the question, please answer as if the events in post #29 had never occurred. There is no epidemic and there is no need for a species to be eliminated if you elect not to attempt the "un-extinction"..

Monday, July 20

#29 - animals (1 of 2)

You have ascended to a position in which you are a representative on a small but powerful panel that monitors and oversees all wildlife, worldwide. Unfortunately, soon after this panel has formed, a dangerous epidemic begins sweeping the globe, and it is feared that the death toll could eventually stretch into the tens of millions.

Your panel has been in contact with many different individuals and groups since the outset of the crisis, and nearly every scientist surveyed recommends the same radical course of action.

The scientific community believes that intense, exhaustive research on a single species of mammal would almost assuredly lead to the development of a successful vaccine for the spreading disease. The specific choice of species is not critical, it could be any mammal currently present in nature. However, the discomforting fact is that the proposed research and tests would lead to the extinction of the selected species. The consensus is that there is no way around this.

The decision has already been made to pursue this course. Your panel will meet in one week to choose the species that will be used for the study. What animal do you tab for this research and inevitable extinction, and how do you make your choice?

Monday, July 13

#28 - time bank

A new business has set up shop on the corner of one of your town's busier intersections. The company bills itself as a "time bank" and intrigued, you pay the location a visit one Saturday afternoon.

Once inside the classy, high-tech interior, you are guided to an open desk of one of the time bank's consultants. After a short amount of small talk, the consultant explains how the bank operates.

Those running the business have pioneered a method by which a person can reclaim (withdraw) time from earlier in their life. These withdrawals can be from a certain time period (the summer months of 1992, for instance), or interestingly enough, tied to specific experiences. The bank consultant throws out the example of piano lessons. If you feel that the piano lessons you were put through as a child were a waste of time, you can reclaim any or all of that time to be applied to other endeavors. The catch is that you will no longer have any memories or skills associated with those times. If you retain any of your knowledge of playing piano, it would be erased once you made the withdrawal (which involves a quick, painless, safe scan of your brain).

Once you have this additional time on your hands, you are somewhat limited in how it can be used. There is no real way for this time to simply be added to the end of your natural life (though the consultant implies that some research was initially done in this area). Instead, the time bank carries an extensive set of "skill cassettes". Your knowledge from the erased time will be replaced by a corresponding amount of knowledge from any combination of these cassettes (which include sports, foreign languages, etc). Though there are some differences, the process is likened to what was shown in the original Matrix film. An important factor to bear in mind when making these selections is that you will be limited by your own mind and body. The tapes will not have the same effect on every individual. If you are not naturally predisposed to excelling at golf, it would take a longer time with the golf cassette for you to fully internalize its contents.

There is a nominal fee associated with setting up an account and doing business at the time bank, but it does not strike you as an unreasonable amount. You take some of the available literature and head home to ponder the possibilities.

Do you return to the time bank? Before you left, the bank agent made a point to caution you as to how you make your selections. Any memories (including places or people) associated with the withdrawn time will cease to exist in your brain, so there is the possibility of altering relationships in ways that would be difficult to predict.

Monday, July 6

#27 - human photosynthesis

You receive a questionnaire in the mail from a group of renowned scientists. You have been hearing and seeing a lot of recent news coverage about the impending possibility of medical science implementing a sort of photosynthesis in the human body, and in fact, this is the topic of the mailing.

It appears that these scientists have perfected a viable technique and are ready to begin testing human subjects. The feedback form in your mailbox has been sent to you and thousands of others in order to gauge interest in volunteering for the operation.

The work of the scientists has been rigorously documented. If the procedure is successful, the subject would never have to eat again, instead "ingesting" light and carbon dioxide in a method similar to plants. The body would store sugars as an energy reserve, leaving oxygen as the only waste product. There are no consequences to a failed operation, a volunteer would merely continue to ingest food normally as before. Regardless, the subject would still retain his or her digestive organs (though because they would no longer be needed after a successful operation, the scientists speculate that using them more than once a month could prove dangerous).

The mailing asks if you would be very interested, mildly interested, or not interested in participating in these first trials. Ample space is provided for comments. Should you show some interest, you would be contacted at a later date, but there is no ironclad commitment at this point. How do you respond?