A god-like being has offered to give humanity a wish.


John and Edna, working as night security guards at the British Museum, are sitting in a control room watching CCTV feeds when Edna notices something out of the corner of her eye. She only gets a quick glimpse, but it was almost certainly a person walking around. She quickly looks for and identifies Colin, another guard who is walking through the museum, but he is in a different section of the museum.

Edna: John, I think I saw someone near the Rosetta stone. Can you get Colin over there to check it out?

While John calls Colin, Edna continues looking for the intruder. After a minute, she sees an unknown man standing in the middle of the room with the Parthenon Marbles.

Edna: John, we've got a man in with the Parthenon Marbles. Get Colin over there to...

Suddenly, Edna realizes that her eyes are closed. She opens her eyes to find herself still sitting in her chair in the control room. Confused, she looks over at John, but he looks just as confused as her.

John: Did we both just black out? Last thing I heard you say was to get Colin over.

As Edna nods, a series of expletives comes through the radio.

Colin: What the expletive just happened to the museum?

Startled, Edna and John turn to the CCTV feeds and stare at what greets them. The entire museum looks different. Artifacts have been moved around. Rooms have changed shaped.

And the artifacts themselves have changed. The Rosetta stone, which used to be missing part of the original stone, is now whole. The Parthenon Marbles, which used to be damaged and missing the original paints and colors, are restored. Ancient artifacts look like they had been made just the other day. Missing pieces are no longer gone. Everything is in absolutely pristine condition.

Rewinding the feeds reveals about 10 minutes of static, corresponding exactly to the time during which Edna, John, and Colin all blacked out.

The next day, all eyes are on the museum. The tapes of the CCTV feeds are sent to experts to be analyzed, the guards are interviewed extensively, and all possible explanations are explored and discussed by everyone. There's hardly anything else being discussed that day.

The Note

The following day (~1.5 days after the event), a note is found delivered to every single news agency worldwide, translated flawlessly to local languages. This is how it reads in English:

It doesn't matter who I am. I am a wanderer, only passing through as I search for my lost home. I am not your God, but in terms of what I am capable of, to think of me as a god would not be very wrong.

I am responsible for what happened at the British Museum. I have restored a piece of your history to demonstrate my good will and my capabilities.

Before I move on, I will grant humanity a wish. There are limits to what I can do, and limits to what I am willing to do. I will let you know if the wish is one that I will not grant.

Humanity is still young. My desire is to help humanity grow.

I am not bound to follow the wording of your wish. I will not doom humanity simply because of a poorly worded wish. I will follow the spirit of your wish, and grant it better than you may have conceived.

Do not bother trying to trick me. I know your motives, and you cannot fully understand mine. Things such as your "reverse psychology" will not fool me. Likewise, I will not trick you. I will not be able to please everyone, but most of you will be pleased with the results of your wish.

I am aware of your stories of genies. Attempting to wish for more wishes is the surest way to try my patience and cause me to leave before granting a wish.

I am patient. You do not need to fear that I will get bored and leave before humanity has come to a decision.

The Question

How will humanity react to this opportunity, and what will they wish for?

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ "How will humanity react to this opportunity" Chaos, Who is supposed to announce the decision? The strongest? What happens if we can't reach a consensus? $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Sep 9, 2015 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting. The final line was particularly amusing, because I think humanity will leave before humanity comes to a decision =) I did have one question, related to Vincent's question: how does humanity wish? If you intentionally want to leave that unspecified, I think there's a lot of room, but if the particulars matter to you, the results may be very dependent on the process. We might all simultaneously want the same thing at the same time, or we might elect one individual to address the stone, starting with "Oh Deep Thought...." $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Sep 9, 2015 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon The particulars of how humanity wishes aren't important. Everyone simultaneously wanting the same thing actually could do it, as long as it isn't a "gotcha" like "I wish I had a sandwich right now". $\endgroup$
    – Rob Watts
    Sep 10, 2015 at 2:50
  • $\begingroup$ My wish, provided we were in or above Year 2063 would be : "Star trek is now real life" ;) $\endgroup$
    – Mystra007
    Sep 10, 2015 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ "Your wish is that Donald Trump gets all the money?" $\endgroup$
    – billpg
    Sep 23, 2015 at 11:56

10 Answers 10


Everyone would panic and argue and go nuts, definitely. However, I think a great wish would go as follows:

Please, god-like creature, pick the wish that will have the biggest, longest-lasting, and most positive impact on us as a species, and grant us that wish. We aren't trying to trick you. We just aren't wise enough to choose a good wish, and we're too fragmented and opinionated as a species to choose a single wish.

And of course some people would object to this wish because they wouldn't want to give up control of their destiny or their "right" to choose what they think is best for themselves.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ "Your kind destroys itself constantly and corrupts its own homeworld, therefore I determine that the most positive thing I can do for you is take away your sentience." Good job, you just killed humanity because you forgot to rules lawyer. ;) $\endgroup$
    – Theik
    Sep 10, 2015 at 7:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Theik Hahaha! Well, maybe it would be in our best interest. ;-) $\endgroup$ Sep 10, 2015 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Theik I was thinking it would be understood that the being would not pull a nasty trick like that on humanity. Do you have any suggestions for how I could make that more clear? $\endgroup$
    – Rob Watts
    Sep 10, 2015 at 20:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @RobWatts I don't think there is any way you can combine "I will follow the spirit of your wish, and grant it better than you may have conceived" and "may not screw you over because his definition of better is not what you hoped for". $\endgroup$
    – Theik
    Sep 10, 2015 at 21:01

Like Solomon, Wisdom. Not knowledge which can be used poorly, but wisdom to help direct our thoughts and actions. We can over come any obstacle, if we had the wisdom to see past our petty differences and our wish to be right, or just to have the power to make a decision. If we were wise enough to see this is the right one.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This would be a great answer for what humanity should wish for, but I don't know that it's what they would wish for. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Watts
    Sep 9, 2015 at 22:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I know. That is what my last line is meant to imply. :( $\endgroup$
    – bowlturner
    Sep 9, 2015 at 22:55

Panic: There's no assurance that this being is benevolent, and it has explicitly stated that it will react unpredictably to a wish, and that it will not leave until we make a wish. I imagine that many religious people would see this as an act of the Devil. Of course, many people would be trying to find out more about this entity, by studying the museum for example, or by attempting further communication.

Doubt: While what happened at the museum does seem strange, it doesn't necessarily require a godlike level of power. There would be plenty of conspiracy theories and so on about other possible agents that could be responsible. Also, there's no proof that the author of the note is the person responsible for the museum event.

What they wish for: can't be answered because you haven't specified how "humanity"s wishes will be determined.


I think that the wish itself is irrelevant. The very first thing that will pop into the heads of people are about control - who controls the wish. The story does not determine how the wish is controlled (IE granted). The author later states that "The particulars of how humanity wishes aren't important" is incorrect. It is of paramount importance. The mechanism determines the response. Presumably, there is a central control point otherwise how would the wish be entered?

Once anyone realizes that the wish represents an opportunity for unlimited power, conflict would break out among unscrupulous individuals in a bid to control the wish focused on the wishes location. Since it is in London, England would feel the first blows.

If the wish is a decentralized entry, then the world governments would become immediately authoritarian in an attempt to force populations to grant the governments 'wish' from whatever leader has the most population. This would tend to tempt one country to start a nuclear war to reduce the 'wish power', and to prevent a 'strategic wish gap' from our adversaries.

"My desire is to help humanity grow" is insincere. He must see the havoc he would cause. "I know your motives" is sincere. It is going to be violence. I would be suspicious of the intentions of this being. Generosity is not necessarily a sign of goodwill.

As a movie quote put it, 'The only winning move is not to play'. The wish needs to be 'make this troublemaker go away forever and never return'.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ By saying the particulars aren't important, I meant that it's not important to me. You can choose a particular way in your answer if you want. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Watts
    Sep 10, 2015 at 20:51

Originally: Panic, chaos, dogs and cats living together.

Eventually: Social Media campaigns for consensus.

Once the initial furor dies down, people will start coming up with what they think are good wishes. Then they'll start trying to get the message out and get the maximum number of people to agree with their wish, in the hope that it will make the not-quite-a-god pick them. This will make our current elections look like grade school student council campaigns.

As to what the final wish is - well, it's really hard to say. One thing of interest, if it goes by raw numbers, is that China and India would probably have a disproportionate (from a Westerner's point of view) influence on the wish. But it really depends on who has the best PR and throws the most money at it.

I think a few likely possibilities are as follows:

  • Make humanity immortal.
  • Eliminate all disease and hunger.
  • Make all humans truly equal.
  • Give humans conscious control over reproduction (getting pregnant, sex of child, etc).
  • Fix the environment/global warming, hopefully permanently.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea - it has to be something that a lot of people can be convinced benefits them directly, and it needs to be simple so they'll buy into it. Note that you don't need to get everyone to agree, presumably just a majority - thus the reproduction wish which would appeal to women.


Some more sample wishes that will have to be voted on/campaigned for (besides those already mentioned):

  • World Peace, permanently. Isn't that what all Miss Americas are supposed to wish for?

  • The theory behind and the ability to create unlimited power, that is 100% efficient and produces no waste (ala Fusion, but better)

  • The ability to transform matter and energy into other forms, at 100% efficiency

  • Reasonably accessible FTL travel

  • Psychic powers for everyone!

  • Vastly enhanced intelligence, and memory for everyone!

  • The ability to become like the traveler (or is this wishing for wishes?)

This question sounds like idea generation to me :)


Wishes would easily range from the very selfish to the very unrealistic to the very altruistic. The museum would receive many death threats as well as many worshippers for this new god. The police wouldnt' be sufficient, you'd need a small military army guarding the museum, despite perhaps repeated press releases stating that the "god" isn't there.

Millions of people would just drop everything and focus on this in some way, perhaps even billions. It would be everyone involved in the Olympic games just up and decided to go to some rural town and create mass chaos.

The government would likely try to create some sort of panel to determine whose wish will get selected, but there will be much disagreement on who will be on this panel. It would be literally impossible to check them all since they will be coming by mail in far greater number than they can read per day. Though I'm assuming you will slowly but surely see the panel dwindle down the better wishes into few. Some that come to mind might be:

  • We wish for the power to exceed the technological point of mass suicide created by nuclear weapons and use our technology for the betterment of man.
  • We wish for a solution that would allow us to have a long lasting period of world peace.
  • We wish for a means of contact with another intelligent alien species not unlike ours so that we may learn from them and them us.
  • We wish for all the world's oceans to be turned into green jello. (no doubt a popular wish) ;)

The reaction would be panic, chaos, and confusion. To the extent that the wish would quite possibly never be wished because there would be no consensus on what it should be or who should wish it.

As for the wish, I would suggest something like

We wish that you'd never been offering us damn-fool wishes in the first place.

For a being that desires to help humanity grow and not subject us to trickery, it has a very funny way of going about it. Growth and development are inevitable assuming we survive, so the offer of the wish with all it's ensuing disruption and conflict is counter productive.


For every person on Earth to have good neighbors.

This would mean you care about and for the people with whom you share your block, countryside, village, town, county, state, country, the Earth.

When they need help cleaning up after a storm, you go help them cut up the downed trees and fix the roof. When they have reason to celebrate, you celebrate with them. When they mourn, you mourn with them and take them food and tend their gardens until they can care for themselves again. When they need solitude, you let them be. When it's time to celebrate again, you bring food again, and play games together.


What should we wish for?

It's hard to say, exactly, without knowing more about what 'one wish' means. Can we wish for the knowledge to create clean energy and plentiful food, for example, or would that count as two different wishes? Ultimately, in my opinion, the best wish would be for a greater ability to go against our own base emotions and instincts, and a broader sense of humanity as a whole. If we could just be rational about things, we'd be a lot better off.

What would we wish for?

We wouldn't.

If the world had to come to a single, conscious, group decision, we'd probably never manage it. Instead, we'd end up with wars being fought over what the choice should be. A lot of people would dig in their heels and insist that The Wish should be "we wish that everyone believes in ". A lot of people would refuse to voice their preference. A lot of people would make frivolous wishes. In time, entire religions and philosophies could grow up around What the Wish Should Be.

If Mr. Deity got sick of waiting for us all to pull our heads out of our collective backsides and decided to just read our minds and have done with it, the Wish would probably end up being something like "Food, family, and safety" - the most basic of human desires.


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