The Reckoner!

Aliens visit and they offer *one* gift. It's either the Holodeck or Interstellar Travel. Which do you want?

Let's say that tomorrow is a day the Earth stands still.  Klaatu lands in Central Park with Gort in tow, except this time we don't make asses out of ourselves and attack him out of instinct.  Instead, civilized citizens of Earth that we are, we let him speak his peace and suggest goodwill between the intelligent species of the universe.

As a token of his goodwill, and for being such good sports about his arrival on Earth, Klaatu offers us a piece of technology of our choosing.  There are two options he lays out on the menu:

  • The Holodeck

    Effectively a way to make the human imagination come alive in tactile, sensory reality.  In rooms up to the size of a Sam's Club, you can effectively create any reality you wish, any time you wish, with no great expenditure of energy (it runs on 120 V / 60 Hz AC wall current, and uses about the same amount of power as a television).  You can then interact with that reality, which is only limited by the bonds of your imagination (and its own AI capability, which can create humanoid characters that can easily pass the Turing Test).
  • Interstellar Travel

    A special engine that can take an existing spacecraft and allow to travel anywhere in space almost instantaneously.  It involves paradimensional travel, so very little time is expended in moving wherever you want to go.  The engine itself can be duplicated using technology we have here on Earth, and can be reverse engineered such that it can be mass manufactured.

Klaatu is a nice entity and all, but he's only going to let us have one of the two -- he's going to let us work out the rest on our own.

Everyone is staring at him dumbstruck, and as Official Ambassador to Extraterrestrial Entities, it's your job to come up with a decision.  He doesn't have all day.  Which of these two options do you go for?

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Reckoning Comments!

Admittedly, if Klaatu was actually offering gifts, interstellar travel seems like a whopper.  He'd need a lot of trust in us to blow the whole kit-and-kaboodle like that, since now he's exposed the whole damn universe to our unique brand of sociopathy.  But hey!  In this case we made a great first impression!  So, great!

Sure interstellar travel is nice in theory, but where are we going to go?  Holodeck for me.

Interstellar Travel

#3 is why

Without an easily followed map, interstellar travel gift is fairly useless.  There certainly are other civilizations in the universe...and I suspect they may be spectacular, yet with billions and billions of possible locations, you might spend your entire life traveling and never find one.

@T.J. Webster

That was one of the funnier points in The Dilbert Future -- once we've got the holodeck, what else do we need?  Why the heck would we keep up with this whole 'progress' thing if we already have the capability to make our imagination into reality?

But for some reason, and that reason may just be naiveté, I think we could have a holodeck and still keep progressing as a species.  If anything, we could put them to work for science, because while the holodeck has the ability to make the imagination come true, science has the ability to make that imagination even bigger.

Looking back at my previous post, the term "useless" is overstating things.  From a scientific perspective, the interstellar traveling machine would be magnificent. But as a normal Earth Dweller, the Holodeck would be more desirable for me.

Hawaii in my living room, or travel to an unknown and possibly hostile environment where I can't breathe the air? 

Not having to travel with a bunch of kids to go on a great vacation, that doesn't cost a billion dollars would be heaven to me.

The Reckoner!