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A week ago, I was walking through an old district of Prague and found an old lamp. I tried to clean it by rubbing it... And you guessed that correctly: A genie appeared saying: "I will fulfill you one wish."

Being a long time Worldbuilding member, I said: "I wish for an infinite number of wishes."

The genie laughed and said: "So be it! But you have to fulfill at least one wish to one person every day, otherwise you die. As long, as you keep fulfilling the wishes, you will be kept alive. No loopholes." And then he disappeared.

Because I really do not want to test (yet) if I will really die without fulfilling a wish, this is what I realized so far:

  • Once a person is granted a wish, I cannot fulfill any other wish for that person. So if you wish infinite wishes, as I did, nothing happens and your wish is over.
  • You can wish for another person. But that cancels your own wish (you cannot wish for yourself afterwards)
  • Once I say "So be it" after the wish has been told to me, that wish is fulfilled. (And funnily enough, I have to say it out loud and in English.)
  • I tried "atomic bomb" and "pile of gold" as stupid wishes with my friends. Both were fulfilled. Next wish (in exchange for the pile of gold) was "make the bomb disappear" which was fulfilled too.
  • I have the ultimate power of not fulfilling a wish. But I totally must fulfill at least one wish a day (and I really do not want to try what happens if I don't do it).
  • I still need to eat, drink, breathe, sleep (and use toilets) as I used to.
  • If you say a wish to me in a language that I do not understand, I cannot fulfill it. But, it does not cancel your "one wish per person" rule. (Thank you my French speaking friend!)
  • I understand Czech, English and basic German.
  • Wishing "make Pavel normal again" did not do anything.
  • Specifying amounts: As long as you state some amount, that amount is going to be fulfilled. For instance, the Czech word for "pile" is "kupa" which is close to kopa, the medieval number for 60. So "pile of gold" gave us 60 gold bars.
  • If the amount is not specified, a wish for "a water" was influenced probably by my imagination, that such person wants a glass of water. But generally it seems to me, that I cannot condition the wishes, or dramatically change the scope of a wish.
  • I was not given my original wish. I just have to fulfill wishes for anyone else than me. And I am pretty sure there is only a finite number of wishes I can fulfill. This sucks...

I am at a point where I am about to reach people who I do not know (outside my "friends and family" circle).

Obviously, I do not want to destroy the worlds economics by giving a pile of gold to anyone I meet. I also do not want to destroy the world itself by giving atomic bombs to anyone I meet. While I know that were extremes, thanks to my previous question I know people are strange.

So, today, I fulfilled wish "a lollipop" to a small child. On one hand, I would like to keep living a "normal" life as I did previously, on the another hand, I would like to also do some good in this world.

How should I proceed further? I am ultimately scared of being locked away and approached by just one person a day with clear agenda: Either I fulfill that wish, or I die...

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    $\begingroup$ "Hey kid, I'm doing a commercial/rehearsing a play, I'll pay you 50$ to say: I wish Pavel wouldn't die in the next 70 years." :-) $\endgroup$ – Nahshon paz Dec 17 '15 at 12:23
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    $\begingroup$ Will you ever die if you keep on fulfilling wishes ? Doesn't your wish makes you invincible or "eternal" as long as you respect the rule. If it does not make you immortal, then you've got at most 36.500 wishes to fulfil. Considering you'll live another 100 years ! Looks easy to me. $\endgroup$ – Kii Dec 17 '15 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ So... the genie outsourced his job to you? Smart genie. $\endgroup$ – corsiKa Dec 17 '15 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ If I ever find a lamp with a genie that can only grant me one wish, I will wish for a new lamp with a genie that can grant me unlimited number of wishes :) $\endgroup$ – Cano64 Dec 17 '15 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ Your original wish was fulfilled! At least one person tells you a wish every day - so given an infinite amount of time, you'll get told an infinite amount of wishes! Maybe you should've made your intention clearer to the genie. $\endgroup$ – immibis Dec 19 '15 at 10:59

18 Answers 18

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First, hire a lawyer. For purposes of this answer, assume that the lawyer operates under American rules (as I know them better). Feel free to adjust advice to fit a Czech lawyer if that works better for you.

Grant a wish to the lawyer in compensation for her services (assuming a female lawyer for ease of pronouns). She can retire if she pays for a replacement lawyer.

Have the lawyer approach an organization like Make-a-Wish and tell them that she represents a rich client who would like to participate. Her client is quirky though and would prefer to acquire the items himself and donate the whole item to the child.

They say that they fulfill one wish every thirty-seven minutes. Since you only need one a day, you should easily be able to cover your daily wish requirement.

The lawyer is bound to client confidentiality, so she doesn't reveal your secret. The charity just thinks that you are rich and eccentric.

Because this creates a variety of things, it should be less economically distorting than giving just one thing, like a pile of gold. You're doing good with your wishes. The wishes come as English statements, which is acceptable under your limitations. If necessary, you should be able to get the wishes directly from the children. The lawyer can help them with phrasing.

If you need money, have the lawyer recruit someone to buy something from you. I'd try destroyed artwork. Again, this should be only mildly distorting of the economy. It depresses demand for artwork slightly but otherwise just shifts the money from someone who doesn't need it to you.

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    $\begingroup$ He can wish for such a lawyer. Much more binding :-) $\endgroup$ – Nahshon paz Dec 17 '15 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ A moral dilema: some noi those kids are crippled/sick and dying. They might wish to see Santa before they die, or to meet their favourite basketball player. But you have the means to SAVE THEM. Do you grant the silly wish, or the greater one that they have lost all hope for? The second will attract attention though. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Dec 17 '15 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM If they're not willing to wish themselves better, either they're not clever enough to want themselves saved or because they've grown too cynical to expect a miracle. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Jacobs Dec 18 '15 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ I think that you are missing parts of the question. The goal is to do good without making it obvious that you can fulfill wishes. So fulfilling a wish for a physical object is no problem. Healing someone is a problem unless they phrase it in such a way that it is OK, e.g. "I wish that the chemo works" is all right. "I wish that my leg would grow back" isn't. If you are willing to take the risk of fulfilling wishes, you should just have the lawyer set up a foundation and accept applications. Or work this out in a different way entirely. This solution maximizes anonymity not doing good. $\endgroup$ – Brythan Dec 18 '15 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ @ThomasJacobs Even if the children wanted to ask Make-a-Wish to be better, would that request get through the children's parents onto the request? And then through the foundation? Realistically, wishes that are (deemed) "impossible" are probably not put out to the "wish-fulfillers." But they might wish for something else, and then if you have to come in person you may see their condition... leading to the moral dilemma $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Dec 18 '15 at 21:44
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This is really easy, and here is your solution:

I wish for a system that will maximize the lifetime benefit to the world of my wish-granting, while not being too onerous and allowing me to lead a normal life.

It appears from your question that you can't wish this yourself, but this is little problem. You just need to find someone else willing to wish this. This should be easy, given the benefit to the world of the wish. Heck, I would be happy to wish this. In fact, I take the opportunity to formally state here that I do wish it for you. Feel free to use it.

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This isn't likely to be better than some of the other answers, but you could randomly approach someone on the street of a major city and say to them, "Wish that you had \$10" and when they do, you hand them the \$10 bill and walk away, an additional 24 hours of life ensured. Most people will be too surprised and simply wish for the $10, then count themselves lucky that it actually worked and buy themselves a cup of coffee. Anyone that tries to get cheeky you can just simply decline. Anyone who gets their wish will be unable to wish a second time, reducing the potential abuse.

The overall impact to the economy of these new bills is going to be relatively minimal: The US prints about 1,300,000! of them on its own every day and that's ignoring the other denominations. Even if your magically created bills are detected as counterfeit, the volume is going to be low enough that the government isn't likely to put much effort into finding you (after all, you're only creating \$10 a day which isn't even enough to pay an investigator for an hour).

With luck, you'll get away unnoticed and avoid large-scale disruptions to the world.

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Solution by induction.

Get 2 people.

Grant Person A the wish of teleporting $2 million from a Swiss Bank vault to your location. That money is split evenly. Grant person B the wish of "at dawn, create a person who exists until dusk, at which time they make this wish, and then disappears."

Immortality achieved, with no huge impact on the world.

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    $\begingroup$ Solved by recursion, I like it! But let's hope that after some years the person not just says "Stackoverflow in WishingPerson (call WishingPerson)" and crashed :-X $\endgroup$ – Falco Dec 18 '15 at 9:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Falco: Good functional wish-fulfilling magic of course has tail recursion elimination. $\endgroup$ – celtschk Dec 18 '15 at 19:03
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Employ yourself in a large hospital, there is plenty of people who wish to get better. You don't have to be a doctor, you just need to meet one patient or their family member a day somewhere in a hallway. Nobody will notice because sometimes people just get suddenly better on their own (and then believe in the power of prayer, homeopathics, healing crystals and other bullshit...)

It may impact economy of the hospital though, since cured patient is a customer lost.

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    $\begingroup$ But if over a period of time one random person per day magically gets better in the hospital the hospital will probably start to attract a lot of people. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Dec 17 '15 at 19:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Daniel how big is the hospital? Lots of people get better in hospitals every single day, one more or less will probably be hidden. If the city's hospitals are part of a linked trust/organisation, you could travel between them to spread the risk. Two people per hospital per week is unlikely to be noticed at all. $\endgroup$ – pete the pagan-gerbil Dec 18 '15 at 12:01
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    $\begingroup$ If will impact the hospital most definitely, but in a positive way. Forget the customer lost aspect of it. The improvement to their mortality rate will make their services sought after to the level of Johns Hopkins or other top tier hospitals. A dead or sick patient makes a horrible reference. $\endgroup$ – Mauser Dec 19 '15 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think that this can proceed unnoticed for years because of two reasons: $\endgroup$ – theGarz Jun 4 '18 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ Misclick and i'm unable to edit my previous comment: I don't think that this can proceed unnoticed for years because of two reasons: 1) you have to cure "trivial" disease, if you decide to "cure" AIDS someone will make some questions. 2) even if you directly ask "do you want to have the whatever-disease cured?" some people could reply "i want that the whatever-disease don't exist!" and you have to make it disappear for everyone and everywhere. It's sad, but if you want/need to keep a low profile you shouldn't work in a (large) hospital. $\endgroup$ – theGarz Jun 4 '18 at 14:41
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Every evening where you didn't got an idea for a better wish to fulfill, look at the first post review queue of stackoverflow or any other stackexchange site. You will find lots of people wishing for stackexchange to fix one of their problems for the first time. Pick one and wish that they receive a good answer to their question.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Pick one and wish that they receive a good answer to their question" ... quickly ? $\endgroup$ – Kii Dec 17 '15 at 13:22
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You can choose which wish you want to fulfill, right? So, everyday, you hold an inverse auction (at some place, on the internet, whatever) where you fulfill the wish of the least demanding person. It is almost sure it will always come down to someone asking 100$ or something similar.

You can always have a failsafe by having a friend on stand-by in the case everyone in the auction asks for an atom bomb.

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Share with a loved one, who cares about the world, the economy, and you :-)

"I wish that today, Pavel would write another really awesome question in Worldbuilding".

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    $\begingroup$ So be it. (Already fulfilled :) ) $\endgroup$ – Pavel Janicek Dec 17 '15 at 12:39
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Become a professional, travelling Santa Claus.

You'll be wishing new people a Merry Christmas for the rest of your life.

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Make a website! "I am the wish genie! Email me your wish and perhaps it will come true! Limit one per person."

Post your website on Facebook, or other social media of your choice. Some people will mail you wishes on a lark; grant whatever wishes you can. Soon people will realize the website works; it will go viral and you'll get all the wishes you could ask for. Many of them will be grantable.

You might need to call up the person and have them speak their wish verbally. You might need to verify that you're not accidentally trying to grant a second wish to the same person. You can bribe people to wish for you to have these abilities if you need them.

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    $\begingroup$ The way I read the scenario, he also gets infinite wishes himself. $\endgroup$ – SuperJedi224 Dec 19 '15 at 22:07
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Step one is going to be to find a teenage rebel who is stealing bread and food from market vendors to keep himself and a cherished best friend monkey alive.

Befriend him and wait for a parade that features a beautiful princess. At this point he will become infatuated at the sight of her and wish to be a prince. While you are only required to grant one wish, you may grant more. Convince him that he only has three.

As their love blossoms and as you travel through trial and tribulation with him he will become eternally grateful to you. By his third wish, he will wish you free of your deadly bond and you will be able to grant wishes for your own reasons at your own pace for the rest of time.

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Become a Flight Attendant for CSA Czech Airlines.

If this won't do, then maybe Lufthansa or an American domestic. You will have to get one of your friends to make you young, smart, and handsome (well you probably are already). Obviously, this is a stereotype, but it could go a long way to help.

The wishes you get as a member of cabin crew are:

Plenty - you will get way more wishes than one per day

"Reasonable" - you likely won't be asked for a pile of gold, but rather "I wish that child would stop screaming," or "I'd like a ginger ale."; and

Fresh New People - it is rare you will be confronted by the same person twice, and unlikely that you will have a full airplane of the same people twice.

This may not be an optimal lifestyle, but on the days between and through your friends, you can set up something similar to the other questions being asked.

You will only have to discern whether to grant wishes like, "ugh, I wish we were there already!" Just say no to that one.

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Start a lottery company.

To enter this lottery, you pay \$1, and the prize money is some amount that's sufficiently small not to imbalance the economy, say \$10,000. There is one winner per day. You buy the ticket online, and when you do so you have to check a box saying that you agree to the terms and conditions. These include the phrase "I wish to win \$10,000."

Then your job is simply to get up in the morning, look at the name of the randomly selected winner, and say "so be it." Since the winnings are generated by magic, your company doesn't actually have to pay them out, and thus you will make a nice profit.

Of course there are issues with how to set such a company up, whether it's legal, whether you'd be found out if it is, and what to do if the server goes down or if no-one buys a ticket - but if you have someone willing to wish these problems away in exchange for a share of the profits then they are hardly problems at all.

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Get that boy who's always singing "I wish I was an Oscar-Meyer weiner". He's annoying.

Since this wish doesn't specify a time range, fulfill it for 23 hours and 59 minutes. Then that stupid kid starts singing again (he'll never stop!).

Repeat and save the world from that scrumptious, delicious all meat never-ending commercial (My 3y old girl just found it in youtube and replays it over and over) :-)

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Have a friend of yours wish that you can recognize wishes for things that are going to happen anyway when you hear them. Then you can easily "so be it" no-op :p Then just go to Cano64's hospital or where ever there are lots of wishing people that have a good chance of their wish coming true naturally, like casinos or such, and grant a no-op to someone.

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  • $\begingroup$ "no-op" is an interesting idea. Because this is a relatively old question with a lot of answers it would be nice if you could elaborate your idea a bit more detailed to differentiate your answer from some of the other low-vote-answers. You could write about more easy qays for no-ops and how to exactly formulate the wish of the friend as examples. Welcome to WorldBuilding by the way! If you got questions about the site please take the tour and visit the help center. +1 from me anyway, keep it up and have fun! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Mar 27 '17 at 10:30
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You could hangout around the local jail, people visiting love one would be wishing their love ones were out of jail, or wishing they didn't do what ended them up in jail (ie quit drinking / doing drugs, getting in fights, stealing). Since you can only grant one wish per-person you are granting only second chances, if a person is in lockup a second time they will have to improve on their own.

Along the idea of working with addicts you should be able to find a large supply of AA meetings to attend finding people trying to help them selves you could just be adding the extra supernatural help. You would need to cycle through meetings since most are pretty small, but there is a lot of meetings in a large city. There are other group sessions similar to AA you could find to frequent.

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    $\begingroup$ Not bad ideas, but at the same time you're not really exploring the consequences. Those people did something to get them put away. Simply releasing them and hoping they don't do it again is a really poor approach. Maybe something else that might help them out? Like inspiring them to get an education, or wishing that rehabilitating them becomes a higher social priority? idk $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Dec 17 '15 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ I see your point but I was thinking the wish would be more like "I wish my friend would quit driving drunk" "stealing cars" "shoplifting". This also drove me to the drug / alcohol idea since many crimes are a side effect of substance abuse stealing to pay for drugs, getting drunk and getting into a fight. . $\endgroup$ – wnordmann Dec 18 '15 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ Many, yes, but not all. Some people have much bigger underlying issues, even if they're drunks on top of everything else. Also, when you wish for someone to "Stop drinking/taking drugs/self-harming" etc. what you're really doing is screwing with their minds. If that person is an addict that means they have both a physical and a psychological issue. Wishing that away means you are changing their personality on a very deep level. Are you ok with blatantly rewriting people's personalities? How about wishing your quiet friend was more outgoing, or your meek friend more aggressive? Slippery slope. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Dec 18 '15 at 20:31
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The genie said "So be it" before he gave any stipulations. And "you will die if you don't grant a wish" is not implied in the wish for infinite wishes. So I think you can stop granting those wishes now.

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I'll help you!

"I wish Pavel has the magic ability of hearing the wish of any person he wants whenever he wants to hear it"

Then you can just "listen" to anyone wishes on the planet whenever you want and grant one of them, without ever meeting the person. - we can test if this works without a high risk, and if it works the world will just be a little better, with a miracle happening every day somewhere on the planet.

You can filter and just grant reasonable wishes, and no one will ever trace it back to you ;-)

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    $\begingroup$ Clearly you've never seen Bruce Almighty. $\endgroup$ – Cronax Dec 18 '15 at 15:04

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