Crook or Monster?
Below I pose to you a quandary. In the end you must choose, what is more plausible, is such a person a crook or a monster?
Imagine, for a moment, that you read about someone who says they have developed a cure for cancer. They have worked for years on developing such a cure and at last, with the help of numerous supporting individuals this person now states that they have discovered a cure.
Wonderful we say. Great! Now show us proof.
So this person prepares elaborate demonstrations, under tight control, of how their cure proceeds to eliminate the disease. They hire scientists who privately witness these demonstrations and then write up their findings. These findings, such as they are, are released to the public. Rejoice! A cure for cancer has been found.
At this point I would have you pause and reflect for a moment. Here we have a person who has developed the cure for cancer. Hundreds of millions of lives can avoid the trauma of ancient cancer treatments and be cured of this wicked disease with little to no pain. What should the moral discoverer do at this point? What would you do? Is this cure not a godsend? Is it not a blessing on humanity? Is it not the ethical obligation of any such a person to bequeath such a discovery upon the whole of humankind? Or does one hold this cure for ransom? Retain it under lock and key with the designs to profit as greatly as possible from its licensing and dividends? After all one has spent years working on this cure. Isn’t one due some reward? Or is there a threshold here that might be breached? An immoral line that would be crossed in the demand for excessive recompense for such a globally significant discovery? Is it not true that were a cure for cancer to be discovered and bestowed upon humanity by the inventor would such a person not live in infamy for centuries? Would not the rewards and acolades surpass anyone’s wildest dreams? Would the world not celebrate and cherish this person and their accomplishment? Would not libraries and medical centers be built to honor them? Would such a reaction not be more than enough reward for any inventor of such a monumental achievement?
And inversely, would such a person who withheld such a treatment for personal gain not be reviled? Vilified? Considered monstrous?
Years go by.
It seems that this cure was not quite ready for trials. But work continues diligently and we hear of progress daily. The final cure is just around the corner we’re told. But this research is expensive and so the inventor petitions investors to help offset the costs. For not a nominal amount this person sells the rights for distribution of the new cure to various parties whom he/she has convinced that this cure is the real deal.
More research and more private demonstrations and more innuendo regarding what is to come transpires.
A few more years go by.
And still no cure is forthcoming from the inventor. Doubt is high now and climbing as each promise of the past is dashed. Each calendar projection delayed or dismissed. And news now of the inventor’s prior record of medical miracles leaks out. It seems they had announced and even sold a cure for malaria some years back. Yet it turns out that this past client was duped — no malarial cure was ever created or delivered. It seems that this cure for cancer may also be just a ruse played at our expense.
We ask you now, does this person’s intentions not sound dubious? Scandalous perhaps? Crooked even?
But let’s not stop there.
Imagine instead of a cure for cancer this person has created an invention with vastly greater world impact. A creation that would literally affect, for the better, every human on the planet. But not just humans, it would affect and improve the life of every life form. Every living creature on the surface of the Earth. This discovery would interrupt all known behavior, all future endeavors and set the stage for the next golden age of humankind. It would be an engineering manifestation that would drastically alter the course of the biosphere for millennia to come. A new source of energy unlike any we have experienced before. An energy source that is powerful, inexhaustible and nearly free. The fervor, excitement and celebration for such a discovery would shower the inventor with more honor, prestige and financial reward than they ever dream they would receive.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This same inventor has lead us through years of broken promises, questionable demonstrations and research papers posted to industry sub-standard publications. Yet the implications of their discovery are so incredible, so transformative that we ache to see it come to fruition. And so we could ask that you pose the same sequence of events as outlined in the scenario of announcement and delay above to this enormously substantial discovery. The stakes are critically high now. Higher than any one human has ever pushed them.
With such a story told comes the question: at this point, given what we know of the situation, can this person, who has claimed to have discovered a new source of life-changing energy, be anything but a crook or a monster?
Are they playing us and our desires for a better world in the hopes of scamming us for thousands of dollars?
Or are they coveting a monumental, earth shattering discovery for personal gain?
Crook or monster?