You are the the Great God Scalzi, but sadly you are not quite omnipotent. In fact you only have the ability to create five new technologies. Which 5 technologies will you bestow upon humanity in 2008?
Five seems a little much; if you choose the right five, humans won’t have to do a damn thing for themselves between now and when the race finally implodes from ennui. So, Daniel, allow me to limit myself even further and give humanity only a single technological advance, not just in 2008 but ever. That advance: Fusion.
Why fusion? Because at this point in our species’ history, we’re killing ourselves over energy; energy procurement and consumption is the driving force for pollution and climate change, and a significant factor in American and global economic and social inequality (not to mention our military involvement in the middle east). Basically, we get really really stupid in the presence of energy. Cheap, efficient and safe fusion technology won’t make us any less stupid overall, alas, but it might buy us some time to let some of the smarter and saner members of our species do a little cleanup and long-term planning before we find something else to get all stupid over. That’s worth spotting humanity a technological advance.
Note, please, that fusion doesn’t solve every problem and would create a few new ones: When petrodollars (or petroeuros these days) dry up, for example, the middle east is going to fall in on itself in really interesting and probably very scary ways. But overall I suspect cheap fusion technology would make life better for more people around the world than not, and open more doors for humanity than it would shut. On balance, it would be a nice gift. Everything else, I’d make ‘em work for.
(there’s still time to ask questions for Reader Request Week 2008: Post your question here.)