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This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Poor Use of Technology launched as Misapplied Phlebotinum Discussion: From YKTTW

See also Discarded YKTTW Phlebotinum Functions As The Plot Demands.

Man Called True: I have two complaints to make. One is that I got the impression that the Reapers didn't just eat the planet, they ate that stretch of time, with unpleasant consequences to the rest of the timeline. And as for The Prestige... well, I can think of other uses for that technology as well, but the gold bars example is one of the most debunked ones ever (how many times have you heard "If we made gold, gold would be worthless?).

Fast Eddie: Yeah. Let me see ... could I figure out a way to create gold and sell it for a sufficient length of time for me to get stinkin' filthy rich before my secret production method was discovered? Hard to say. Willing to give it a try, though.

Ununnilium: I'm just plain taking the Reapers out. They're not phlebotinum in that sense; they were something that the Gallifreyans protected the timeline from, "before" the Time War. Also, editing The Prestige to show the true possibilities.
  • The Reapers on Doctor Who. In-story use: to demonstrate that you really shouldn't try to change history, because they'll come and destroy the planet. Better application: Well, sometimes you might want a planet destroyed. Now anyone with a time machine can destroy any planet at will just by going back and saving someone.

arromdee: They're not used as phlebotinum now—but that's only because the characters have limited imagination, which is the whole point of the trope. They make perfect phlebotinum; someone with half a brain and a time machine can use them to make something really difficult (destroying a planet) become really easy instead. Just intentionally save someone and they'll come and wipe out the planet for you. It's like having your own personal group of planet-busters at your beck and call, for free.

Fast Eddie: The gold bars thing was funnier, in my NSHO.

Masami Phoenix: I can't resist. Harry Potter and the House Elf Wars!

Isn't the Mai Otome example lampshaded, since Aswald and Schwartz claim to be stealing technology for the good of the word?

TK3997 As I noted on the main page It's acutally a poor example IMO as while the reason aren't outright stated using your noodle a little it's rather easy to figure out why Otome are so limited. Producing even poor quality GE Ms would to me seem to be a complex and involved process it's quite possible that hiring lots of day labors is simply cheaper just ask China about that no need for bulldozer (or flying magic girl in tights)when you've got plenty of warm bodies.

Fast Eddie: pulled out ... Literature
  • House Elves in Harry Potter demonstrate the ability to teleport in and out of Hogwarts, something wizards are incapable of. Best application in story: Serve the students food, later give the main characters advice, and later help fight off the villains. Better Idea: The villains use them as assassins against the main characters.
    • It's explicitly stated that the bad guys are too arrogant about human “wand magic” to acknowledge the magical powers of other species such as elves and goblins, also, it's strongly implied that this arrogance extends throughout the wizarding world to the point where (combined with mutual tendancies toward secrecy on all sides) almost no one is aware of most powers of inhuman magical creatures (Voldemort is certainly not aware of Kreacher's survival or what happened to Regulus.

... as it has devolved into Natter.

Twin Bird: I vaguely remember a rule saying that Death Notes never run out of space, but I could be wrong.

Also, what does that have to do with this trope?

  • I don't know what it has to do with this trope but, yes, "A Death Note will never run out of pages." is one of the rules.

Fast Eddie: pulled out Comic Books
  • Superman. Essentially a Physical God. Can travel faster than the speed of light, lift entire islands, go long periods of time without food, water, or oxygen, and travel through time. Best use in story; sabotaging the plots of bank robbers, petty criminals, and the occasional Mad Scientist. Better idea: Use the powers to benefit mankind on a grand scale. The Elseworlds tale Red Son and the film Superman IV: The Quest For Peace were attempts in this direction, but almost universally, Superman's attempts at bettering the world end up making things worse. Superman is useless, apparently.)
    • Two objections. To 'better mankind on a grand scale' (by enacting significant political and societal change), Superman either has to either become a tool of the state, or take over the state (in other words, conquer the world, as he tried to do in Red Son). There are obvious disadvantages to both approaches.
    • There's also that Superman already 'benefits mankind on a grand scale' by keeping mankind alive, in the face of what is really a very hostile universe. Add up the list of potentially world-ending disasters that Superman's been an integral part of averting, and you'll get a really long list. So given that all six billion people on Earth-DCU owe him their very lives 200 times over, the least they can do is allow him some vacation time while they clean up their own damn social problems.
    • In Red Son, his rule meant everyone on Earth was fed, housed and healthy (except for the two nations holding out) but they didn't seem too sorry to see him go.
  • The same applies for the Silver Surfer, Green Lantern...
  • The caption on this page of sums this trope up quite well.

... as it has deovled into natter
Citizen: The Sylar example looks like a massive Fan Wank, even after I removed the part about understanding god from studying the main organized religions. It's far more intuitive that the power works by understanding how a physical object physically works by studying it, not studying a book and being able to somehow fill in the gaps—that could be spun into inherent omniscience. Trimming it into a more reasonable example.
Fast Eddie: Just pulling some discussion out to the discussion page where it belongs. This is about Willie Wonka.

  • Except that the television device obviously shouldn't be used for people. And, as Charlie points out, "Candy doesn't have to have a point. That's why it's candy."
  • It's true that Mike is shrunk to miniscule size by his trip throught the TV teleporter machine. But what if they'd used a larger screen? And while they were at it, they could use a movie-theatre sized screen to create gigantic pieces of bread and end world hunger. But no, the distribution of candy is the only cause worthy of such technology.
  • Although the money required to end world hunger in that manner would be better applied to actually buying the food.
  • Actually, is it certain that he can make it larger? He only intended to send it to other T Vs like the one he was using to demonstrate, so maybe it can ONLY be made smaller. For that matter, could you really get a TV big enough to cause the image to be enlarged to "end world hunger" levels?
    • Maybe not, but if you were able to send a normal bread through the machine and pop it out from a cinema screen (with appropriate size increase), you could end world hunger by running the machine several time son different pieces of bread. As long as the taste and nutrients aren't diluted when the bread grows, of course.

Moving over some natter
  • Nukes. Hey, don't look at me like that. Current use: gathering dust, selling on the black market, making sure your enemies don't use theirs. Better use: Interstellar propulsion. Its political viability is best described as "laughable," it violates international treaties prohibiting atmospheric nuclear testing and there are a lot of environmental and collateral damage issues to work out (among other things, it would fry any satellites within a thousand feet of its launch path), but 10% of the speed of light and a manned mission to Proxima Centauri using currently available technology? Hell yes!
    • Or we can just use them to make nice glass surfaced car parks out of most of the world's deserts...
    • How exactly is the crew supposed to Survive to 10% of Light Speed? Just the acceleration would have to be done through a few months, and it would still take 40 years to reach Proxima Centaury, how are they supposed to survive it all?
      • 40 years of our time, or theirs? Remember time dilation; the effects of time are significantly reduced when you travel at a significant fraction of lightspeed. And if you can accelerate your ship to 10% of lightspeed by setting off a nuke once, why not double your speed by setting off another one?
      • You misunderstand; the idea behind Project Orion, which I believe is what the grandparent referred to, is using nukes to provide a constant acceleration by detonating nukes at a rate of 1-3 per second, which would provide maybe 3g of acceleration. Also, given a speed of .10c, you can expect a time dilation factor of .005 or so. Over the course of 40 years, the travelers would lose two months relative to their Earthbound friend.

Noaqiyeum: Okay, look, just remove the natter and not the entire example. The examples themselves are perfectly valid. (I don't know if it's just one person running antinatter on this whole page, but the same goes for the previous examples as well.)
natter dump
  • Also in Star Wars, the force is frequently used for telekinesis. Example: Used offensively to choke, grab, or throw around people. Better idea: Give a little nudge to a nervous ganglion and instantaneously kill, paralyze, or send your target into paroxisms of pain.
    • Assuming the Force works that way. If it did, the Sith would have surely found ways to do those things by now, so we can safely assume it doesn't.
    • Presumably The Force establishes some sort of Force Field (jup) around a person, that can be manipulated on the outside (e.g. pushed, grabbed) but makes surgical intrusions like squeezing the articulation center of your brain rather hard.
    • And why not use the Force to make your lightsabers fight from a distance without placing yourself in harm's way? In fact, why use lightsabers at all when a machine gun would work just as well? It's true that a lightsaber can deflect a blast from one of the lasers in the Star Wars universe, but modern-day gun bullets move a lot faster.
    • You can use the Force to make walls to deflect the bullets. Bullets don't have much kinetic energy, after all.
    • Knights of the Old Republic II had the final boss fight with three flying lightsabers, it seemed to take alot of concentration.
    • People are forgetting that Jedi can counter telekinesis. Otherwise they'd just force pull their opponent's lightsaber out of their hand. You can fight with floating lightsabers... just don't be annoyed when your opponent then counters it to a dead stop or pushes it back at you.

  • Your personal computer. Chances are, over 80% of your CPU cycles are going to waste. Instead, you could put that unused computing power to good use by participating in a distributed computing project and helping scientific research.
    • Counter-Argument: When your computer is idle it is using less power, by running it at 100% all the time you are contributing more to global warming.

Supposedly it takes a phenomenal amount of storage to record this "quantum-resolution" information, but it'd be worth it. (This page proposes lots of other possible applications.)
  • You bet it takes a phenomenal amount of storage. Any medium capable of storing information to the quantum level (ignoring for a minute the problem of obtaining said accurate information) about even a single atom has to be many times larger than the atom itself, and this scales up accordingly. There is one medium which does not suffer from these problems: the object itself. So if you want the data to reconstitute a DS9 at will, you have to carry around a copy of DS9 for your template.
    • Dude, what are you using right now? Teh internetz! You can just send the data over an encrypted network to any server that hasn't been filled. Worst case scenario: It costs 10 Billion dollars. Then again, it's a series about space, so obviously it's going to be expensive.
    • Only for our present-day, real-world technology. In the Star Trek 'verse it's been conclusively proven that a sentient being can be stored in a form no bigger than a softball (By Any Other Name), and the mind of a sentient being can be stored in a device the size of a Razor phone (the mobile emitter of the Holodoc from Voyager).
    • ...How does that not violate mathematics?
    • Because it only stores the vital information, and generalizes the rest. There's no need to store the location of every molecule when a generic, genetic code that says "wall here, wire there" works just as well in a millionth the storage space. Also, they store it in subspace.
    • Sure, for a macro-scale device like that, but something as complex, intricate, and dense (in complexity/volume terms) as a human brain? That's pushing it.
    • Let's improve this discussion with some math. Assuming that a human brain has 10^11 neurons (100,000,000,000), then just giving them all 39 digit serial numbers would take, of course, 10^11*2^39 = 54 zettabits or 6.871 zettabytes. Assume we use some of the address space for special characters (we could just use ASCII for the first 128 bits, making this a superset of Unicode, humorously enough.) then 39 bits of address space allows us to address a 5.49*10^11 (-128) neuron brain, or a brain with 549,755,813,888 neurons, about five and a half times more complex than a human. Now, assuming that the structure of our file is the serial number of a neuron followed by the numbers of the neurons it's addressing, a line feed, the next block, etc; and assuming that each neuron addresses ten others, then we get a final total of 68.71 exabytes. The brain might be more complicated than this, and each neuron might interconnect more, but handwave handwave, let's keep moving. Using Stross memory diamond, which has a density of 6.022*10^23 bits per 25 grams, we end up with a final encoded mass of 22.8 grams, which is 6.48 cubic centimeters of diamond. 23 grams, six and a half cubic centimeters. Roughly two orders of magnitude smaller than its organic equivalent. The brain is complicated, but it isn't magical.

Zeke: An observation on this item...
  • The Trek 'verse is remarkably organic-human-centric and anti-A-Life. Not to mention anti-genentech, so improving humans or uploading is right out. Growing up, you never realize just how essentially Luddite Trek was, when it came to turning technological progress inward. Some basic cybernetics, sure, but the two regular AI characters were token minorities Hell, the Doctor was basically one of a Slave Race who lucked out. The one genentech-boosted regular had to hide it for fear of arrest and ruin. The other cyborg characters were clanking Body Horror / The Virus monstrosities, while the genentech characters were Psycho For Hire Darwinist Super Soldiers. The new perspective kind of hurts my enjoyment.
Fair enough — if that's your opinion, enjoy Ghost in the Shell or whatever. But y'know, there are very good reasons to be "Luddite" about some kinds of technology... especially with the idea of "improving humans" invoked.

Count Spatula: Again, with all the examples that were taken out for natter, wouldn't it make more sense to put the examples back, and just leave the natter here?

Ethereal Mutation: Natter does not reflect well on the goal of creating something at least vaguely encyclopedic.
Ethereal Mutation: Moved all these contested examples here. Go over them, figure out whether or not they actually fit, re-edit them, and then put them back in. (On a personal note; holy shit at the Star Trek entry.)

  • Even if nobody has the knowledge needed to reconfigure the Robes and Elements in Mai-Otome (which means they can't materialise arbitrary objects), there are still better applications of Otome than mostly-wasted weapons of war. Namely, other areas where flight and superhuman speed can be required, like construction or rapid transit. Why didn't Garderobe send the Corals to help with the castle and thus avoid the whole "it ruined the Windbloom economy" subplot, or just mass-produce underpowered GEMs that don't come with weapons, for civilian purposes?
    • Because they are excessively afraid of the slippery slope of technology-use that would result. This is, in fact, the entire point of the overarching plot - though telling you how it ends would be telling.

  • In Jack Chick's anti-D&D tract "Dark Dungeons," at least one girl learns how to cast real spells by playing the game, and the best use she can find for her new-found power is to mind-control her father into buying her more D&D books. At the very least she should've figured out how to ditch the Cindy Brady haircut.
    • Especially Dn D 3rd edition has spells that do everything from creating fireballs and Cosmic Horror-esq tentacles to the reality-warping power of "Wish". You'd think that if Chick wanted to demonize Dn D, he would have the girl do something more "Evil", like opening a portal to hell or something.
      • Yes, there is a spell that can concevibly do that. I looked it up.
      • Weaksauce. Gate just opens a portal. Theres a spell out there that tears a hole in the ground that leads to the Abyss (much worse than Hell). Then, giant tentacles come out and drag everyone nearby into the hole. then the hole closes, sending anyone who is somehow still alive to the Abyss. I say "somehow still alive" because the whole time, demonic fires pour through, burning everything.
      • Not only this but she has the capability to resurrect her friend, and the same logic applies for his anti Harry Potter Tract, and taking this far enough why hasn't Ernest Gygax or J.K. Rowling taken over the earth instead of spreading the info in games and books. thats like selling guns out of an ice cream truck.

  • The droids in the Star Wars prequels, though they're cheap mass produced highly advanced battle robots, they have all the battle tactics and intelligence of an NES console. One game programmer for a game like Halo or Half-Life could have quadrupled their effectiveness. Better idea: Cheaply mass produce an army of clones. No, wait. That's not really any better. This one's in trouble.
    • While we're in Star Wars, the Force. The best they do with it is shooting lightning, lifting stuff, and making improbable jumps. You never see them lightsaber fighting from ten meters apart or hitting anybody with a Force Cardiac Arrest of a Force Stroke.
      • To be fair, the Revised Star Wars d20 RPG (not sure if it's in Saga edition) had a feat called Kinetic Combat, which let characters fight with lightsabers from up to 10 meters away via telekinesis. It was beautifully effective.
      • And in Clone Wars, Mace Windu beats hundreds of droids empty handed, with judicious use of the Force. Incidentally, during the part of the Battle of Coruscant displayed in that series, there's a point where he's beating up droids bare-handed, one approaches his blind side-and his lightsaber leaps off his belt to cut it in half before he grabs it.

  • The Star Trek Transporter. You can store people and materials as data, then transmit them and reconstitute them at will. Best application in-story: fancy elevator. Better idea: Send out a ship large enough to carry a transporter and its data, with the capability to reconstitute something the size of Deep Space 9 wherever it is needed. It doesn't even have to big enough to hold the data needed for replication, as long as we have interstellar internet. Which we do.
    • Hell, combine that with a virtual reality for the stored people to exist in, a door-shaped replicator/dematerializer, and some mechanism for time travel and you've got a TARDIS.
    • Best idea: create an army of Picards. After all, we're sure that a teleporter can double someone without side effects (with Riker). Just scan Picard and the Federation will have an army of crossbow-wielding, smooth-talking archeologists of DOOM! Even better, create an army of sentient Datas.
    • Just use the technology used to transfer consciousness from a human to Data's positronic brain and voila!
    • Or just train a person to command an army of bots via telepresence.
      • All the other stuff you mentioned in the domain of guys like Kurzweil. The Trek 'verse is remarkably organic-human-centric and anti-A-Life. Not to mention anti-genentech, so improving humans or uploading is right out. Growing up, you never realize just how essentially Luddite Trek was, when it came to turning technological progress inward. Some basic cybernetics, sure, but the two regular AI characters were token minorities. Hell, the Doctor was basically one of a Slave Race who lucked out. The one genentech-boosted regular had to hide it for fear of arrest and ruin. The other cyborg characters were clanking Body Horror / The Virus monstrosities, while the genentech characters were Psycho for Hire Darwinist Super Soldiers. The new perspective kind of hurts my enjoyment.
      • Even if there's no technological reason not to make armies of Picard or Data, there are moral reasons. The right question is why the bad guys never used their transporters that way.
    • On the other hand, they did eventually hypothesize the Replicator out of it.
    • Arguably the best use in story is actually Montgomery Scott's making a virtual lifepod out of it by storing his own pattern in a transporter pattern buffer for 75 years after the USS Jenolan crashed on the Dyson sphere by means of a clever conjunction of Techno Babble.
      • Take into account, the transporter lifepod was used with another person there too, and his transporter pattern degraded too badly to be revived, with Scotty getting some damage too. Long story short? Long term storage, not a good idea.
      • So in the 23rd century, a brilliant engineer who is not in immediate danger (the environment was still stable even 80 years later) could not find a non-volatile memory storage medium to convert their patterns over to for long term storage?
      • Keep in mind, however, that truly long term non-volatile memory storage is probably against the laws of physics. The only real mitigating factor would be active backups using many and various systems and a lot of comparative analysis to lessen the impact of one system going bad due to mechanical failure or (given a timeframe of centuries) random quantum corruption, for which no amount of engineering prowess can defeat. None of that excuses the fact that the technical limit for transporter storage is something like seven minutes, which is ludicrous...
      • It wasn't stable, it ate Scotty's buddy.
    • They used the transporter to cure Dr. Pulaski of a premature aging disease in Unnatural Selection. So why does anybody need to get old, ever? Can't the transporter cure all diseases and repair all injuries?
    • Yes. Yes it can. In fact, in one of ST:TNG's fun episodes, Picard and three other people end up being turned into children. If I were Picard, and someone just rolled back 50 of my years, there's no way in Hell I'd undo the process. Even if it did mean rooming with Wesley.
    • Except that you suddenly lose your career because people can't take you seriously. Happened to Jack O'Neill
    • And then there are weapons. DS9 took this approach once, with a rifle hooked up to a teleporter. If a teleporter can transport a bullet and preserve its velocity, it can do anything.
    • The Expanded Universe Voyager novel, "Echoes", involved a planet that kept spontaneously jumping one universe to the left. Except that after a certain point, there was no planet. That universe's Voyager nearly destroyed itself trying to save as many as possible before the Torreses realized they could just keep the billions of people in the transporter pattern buffer.

  • Anyone with telekinetic powers ought to be able to kill their enemies by applying a strong force to the throat and crushing the windpipe ("Vader, release him!"), or creating two opposing forces on the neck to snap it, or crushing the heart, and so on and so forth. Likewise, with teleportation of other objects, why doesn't the character teleport one/some/all of the opponent's vital organs out of their body?
    • Maybe you can't teleport things that are fixed somehow to another thing, and thus anything inside one's body, that's ideally totally connected, couldn't be teleported to somewhere else without the rest of the body. Still teleporting some sharp and pointy object — say, a knife or a nail — into someone's vital organs would be a probably right kill.
      • This was averted in, of all things, Eldest. Eragon can kill you with his brain.
      • Actually, while Nightcrawler doesn't do that, I remember reading about a mutant that once teleported someone's head away.
      • Actually, this WAS Nightcrawler... Just an alternate universe version, in The Age of Apocalypse.
      • Kurt doesn't do it... but is well aware that he could.
      • Teleporting nasty things into people is all the Shokk attack gun is about.
      • There is a power in the teleportation based school of Psionic powers in Dungeons and Dragons called Decerebrate, which teleports a chunk of the opponents brain stem out of their incapacitates instantly, and kills within a short while, predictably.
      • Averted in Gantz, as this is the two physic characters preferred method of killing the aliens.
      • Blink from Exiles, on the other hand, has, among other things, teleported a Nigh Invulnerable enemy's deadly Eye Beams into the villain's own spine, teleported some nasty-tough enemies into space, teleported people into pieces, teleported an anesthetic into a bad guy's brain, and teleported a ton of sand into the above-mentioned Nigh Invulnerable bad guy during their rematch. Do NOT mess with Blink.
      • This sort of thing is possible to a small extent in the True20 tabletop RPG. One of the powers available to a caster-type is "Gastral Importation", or the ability to teleport an object or substance at hand into the target's stomach, causing them to vomit. Deadly? Possibly. Hilarious? Always.
      • Kevin Smith wrote a six-issue limited series starring Spiderman and the Black Cat. The whole deal was the Big Bad figures he has the mutant abillity to teleport a little bit of something just a little distance. He refines the abillity to teleprt heroin into someone's bloodstream. Cue the monies as people can get high with no needle tracks. Cue Spider-Man being defeated when a piece of fabric is teleported into his neck (he healed, because he is awesome).
    • A character in one of Philip K. Dick's books discovered he could kill people with psychic powers when he accidentally switched the places of a glass on a table and another character's vital organs.
    • In Heroes, telekinesis basically is the win button power. Almost no one can beat being pinned to a wall by a force they can't break free of since it doesn't physically exist. Or just having their head cut off/open or neck snapped. Really, it's the only power Sylar should need.
      • Actually, Hiro possesses THE win button power. He could stab Sylar before he could conceive the thought of performing hideously traumatic TK on him. but he's too much of a hero to do it.

  • Concerning the subject of Time Travel: one would think, if time travel itself were possible, that the moment the human race first gained sentience, a pod from the future would have shown up, bearing all manner of wondrous technology and life-saving devices that would have made all of human history from that moment on one long, uninterrupted stretch of safety and happiness. The fact that this has never happened in real life means that (a) time travel isn't possible, (b) time travel is possible, but humankind for some reason have decided that it would be too dangerous to meddle with the past or (c) time travel will be possible in the future, but time machines—due to their technology or some physical constraint— aren't able to travel to any point before the invention of the machine itself. (Which means that the "wondrous time travelling pods bearing miraculous gifts from the future " scenario might still happen, but only after the first time machine gets invented.)
    • Orson Scott Card dealt with this in his book "Pastwatch"—it wasn't until humanity was on the brink of extinction that it was deemed moral to go back in time to try and fix the problem. The issue was that as you landed in your little pod or whatever, you've changed everything and pretty much wiped generations out of existence.
      • Yeah, but the point is, they can travel to any time they want, once they have it. So it doesn't matter if they wait until 250,000 AD to come back and fix things; we should still have seen them.

    • Honest livings, though; even robbing a bank is an incredibly stupid use of superpowers. Spider-man, for instance, could make about twenty times as much, have more time free for heroin', and avoid JJJ forever if he just started a courier business.
    • Hell, there are chemical engineering corporations that would pay very well for synthetic spider-silk, even with its current limited lifespan.
    • In all the continuities, Spidey did try to make an honest living off his powers. First as a wrestler and a celebrity, then by selling his spiderweb formula to an adhesive company, then trying to get a paid job with the Fantastic Four, and so forth. Each effort got sunk by a single threadbare justification (he couldn't reveal his face or name to cash his wrestling check— or the wrestling manager cheated him, depending on the version; the chemists weren't interested in a temporary glue; the Fantastic Four didn't have a paying gig—badly accounted for as it was later revealed that Reed Richards paid for everything they had with patents on tinkertoy inventions—which could have been bypassed with a little application of that nerd-genius intellect.
    • The comics in general (and Brand New Day in particular) make it abundantly clear that the only career available to a supernaturally gifted chemist, Olympic-class martial artist/gymnast, brilliant photojournalist, and all-around nice guy with a PHD is to sell photos of himself in spandex to the abusive editor of a supermarket tabloid.

Antheia: Not using something as a Weapon of Mass Destruction is "misapplication"? That's... cynical, to say the least.
Shrikesnest: This page is a lot of fun, but I think a lot of people fail to realize just how realistic it is for people in fantasy not to use their fantastic powers to their fullest potential. In Real Life, people own guns and bulletproof vests, which gives them the power to kill anyone they come across in seconds, with little to no training, and be almost invulnerable to all forms of immediate retribution. They own personal computers that can access the internet, which gives them access to almost all of the relevant information in the entire world. They have access to automobiles that can travel hundreds of miles per hour or travel almost anywhere in the continent they live on within a couple of weeks maximum. The fact is, compared to our forebears, we have almost limitless superpowers. It still doesn't mean that someone smart or Genre Savvy enough could "rule the world" though. I think people really overestimate how much you could do with heat vision or flight.