To Live Forever

The old man was fabulously rich, having acquired his wealth making puzzles and riddles. In the few weeks (or was it hours?) that the old man had left, he summoned the brightest inventors in the world to his deathbed and said he had one last riddle, or was it a request?

The old man was fabulously rich, having acquired his wealth making puzzles and riddles.

In the few weeks (or was it hours?) that the old man had left, he summoned the brightest inventors in the world to his deathbed and said he had one last riddle, or was it a request?

What the old man wanted was to create something self-perpetuating that never died.

So that it could survive, this thing would have no morals. It would exist only to perpetuate its values. And the values? They were a little hard to pin down. Essentially, the thing would have a prime directive to grow and acquire power.

At its pleasure, it could create other entities like it. For the overall good of the thing it wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about the people that worked for it. If necessary it would chew them up whole and spit out their bones.

The thing would not shed a single tear if it destroyed any creature in its path. It would have more legal power than any creature on earth.

The inventors had never been presented with such a challenge.

Between final gulps of oxygen the old riddle maker said this entity might require a bit of nourishment but it could go for decades, even centuries, without being fed. “One more thing, my dear inventors, authorities may try to tax this entity so figure out a way it can avoid taxes, and when taxes have to be paid, those taxes can be postponed almost indefinitely. When they are finally paid, they will only be a small percentage of what any normal human has to cough up.”

The inventors shook their heads in dismay. No one had an answer. Then a small boy (whom the old man loved with all his heart) entered the room and said, “Grampa, you sly old fox. No one has to invent such an entity. It’s a corporation.”

The old man was dead. He had left his estate to his corporation that instantly placed his only living relative in an orphanage.

And a cheap one at that.

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jaron

Jaron Summers wrote dozens of primetime television and radio programs, including those for HBO, CBS, ACCESS TV and CBC. He conceived the TV and Film Institute of Canada. Funded by the University of Alberta and ITV, Jaron ran the Institute for 12 years, donating his services for a decade.

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