Paragons - Next Gen
Modern technology depends on the application of a tremendous body of known scientific information. When the paranormal threatens to throw all that out the window, what does it mean for technology? As it turns out, a tremendous amount of potential, tempered with a lot of risk, and more than a few false starts.
Paranormals influence technology in a number of different ways: Designing and creating new technologies or applications of existing technology, producing and manufacturing technology, and in
the not yet clearly understood field of “paratechnology,” devices as impossible as their paranormal makers.Some paragons have impressive intellectual abilities and technical skills, making them well suited for developing and designing new technology. Of course, the line between “talented engineer” and “paranormal savant” remains unclear, but most paranormals follow the same steps when it comes to creating new technologies.
Paranormals get an edge in other areas of technological development. For example, abilities like tremendous mental processing speed and acuity allow paragons to do complex design work incredibly fast. Likewise, a super-fast paranormal can potentially build a prototype in record time. Sensory abilities allow some paranormals to directly observe phenomena undetectable to others, which can be useful in the creation of micro- or nano-scale technology.
Powers can also affect manufacturing. A great many technologies might be viable if only some particular problem could be solved. A paranormal able to solve that problem could make a great deal of money doing it. For example, transmutation could mass-produce sufficient quantities of particular elements of raw materials required in the manufacture of one device or another. Telekinesis and similar matter manipulation can perform fine work beyond the capabilities of even precision tools and robots.
As of 2012, it’s unclear to most people just how much of their current science and technology has been shaped and altered by the existence of paranormals. Some point to the advances of technology like the internet, smart phones, and other global communication systems as evidence that the influence of paranormals on the technological progress of humanity is inevitable, while others suggest that such advances would’ve came about regardless of the Wave and the events that followed.
While the world of Paragons is still very much akin to the one outside your window, the fact remains that the existence of super-geniuses and paratechnological wonders has changed things, and people no longer have the same sense of disbelief or shock when something truly futuristic and seemingly unthinkable debuts. What was impossible yesterday can very well be possible today.
The most spectacular paranormal inventors actually have the least impact on technological development due to something called “paratechnology” Essentially, many paranormal inventions simply shouldn’t work from a design standpoint, and in fact often don’t work for anyone other than their designer, or sometimes other paranormals. Attempts to reverse-engineer the technology are fruitless; sometimes even just looking inside is enough to make technicians wonder how the thing works at all.
Paratechnology has led to some scientific oddities, devices that are to ordinary technology as paranormals are to ordinary human beings, but has little overall effect on the world. Many are frustrated by the inability to replicate the creations of many paragons, and dismiss anything labeled “paratechnology” almost out of hand. An interesting side effect of this prejudice allows paranormal inventors who want to keep their developments secret to claim they are paratechnology, even when they’re not, in order to deflect any outside interest in them, at least until they can be successfully patented.
Direct healing is the power with the greatest potential to impact the practice of medicine. Paranormal healers can treat wounds, injuries, and even disease and poisoning with little more than a touch and a moment’s concentration. However, there’s no way for paranormal healers to treat all the patients in need of their care; even dozens of them wouldn’t be enough. Economics make it likely for at least some healers to provide their services to the highest bidder; even the most charitable might do so occasionally in order to raise money to cover pro bono work healing the less fortunate.
Beyond direct healing powers there are other paranormal abilities useful to medicine. Super-senses can provide more accurate diagnoses, particularly if a paragon can actually see, or otherwise sense, inside a patient’s body. Telepathy allows a paranormal doctor to literally know how a patient is feeling, without the need to describe symptoms. The ability to induce unconsciousness or to control sensations can substitute for anesthesia, while some paranormals have built-in scalpels (in the form of claws or the like) or even the power to reach inside someone using telekinesis or becoming incorporeal, obviating the need for some surgical procedures.
However, the fact remains that paranormal powers are not a substitute for medical knowledge, and paranormal healers who recklessly and constantly use their powers to heal not only expose the people they’re trying to help to risks from a lack of understanding of what they are doing, they also expose themselves to potential litigation and liability if something goes awry.
Although the claims of someone being harmed by the actions of a parnormal healer can be difficult to substantiate in a court of law, paranormal who wishes to use their power to help heal the sick and injured are intensely pressured to take real medical education and oversight.
Because the usage and even existence of paranormal powers can be very difficult if not impossible to detect in most cases, a great many con-artists take advantage of people claiming to be paranormals or have powers they do not have in order to heal or help people. People believed in faith-healing and “alternative medicine” even before the Wave, and it can be incredibly difficult nowadays to tell the difference between a legitimate paranormal healer and a trickster trying to take advantage of the gullible. This is especially true in medical conditions where a person’s symptoms are difficult to measure objectively (like chronic pain disorders) and placebo effects could be just as likely responsible for any improvement as any kind of paranormal power.
Paranormal sensory and mental powers can have a huge impact on psychology and mental health. Telepathic paranormal healers can know first-hand what a patient is experiencing, gaining a much deeper understanding of mental disorders. There may be unforeseen risks to this approach, however: are mental illnesses contagious to telepaths? Do they suffer stress or shock from reading a disturbed mind? These things can limit their effectiveness in the field.
The potential for mental and psychological healing via paranormal “reprogramming” is both vast and disturbing. On the one hand, paragons could cure people of mental illness as easily as their counterparts heal physical injuries. On the other hand the mind is even more complex and less understood than the physical systems of the body. Who knows what side effects might come from paranormal tampering?
Worse yet, who defines exactly what constitutes a “mental illness” suitable for treatment? While ethical paranormals might limit themselves to disorders identified by reputable professional groups and associations (like the American Psychological Association), diagnoses are often unclear, and not everyone agrees as to what is, or is not, a “disorder.” Should paranormal “brainwashing” be used to cure things like Attention Deficit Disorder or anti-social behavior? What about disorders leading to criminal behavior? Then what about behaviors some people consider immoral? Such treatments can quickly become a slippery slope.
Similar to conventional medicine, mental health professionals generally find paranormal treatments threatening and seek to curtail and license them at the very least. Many may claim “parapsychiatry” doesn’t work at all and bring lawsuits against paragons claiming they can heal and change minds with their powers.