New to the story? Start with part 1.
Part 2: The WishBox
"It would have been so much easier if you had just found a way to turn lead into gold," sighed Annette.
"What do you mean?" asked Dr. Barker.
"Well, that would have created an abundance of materials without disrupting the economy so much," Annette explained.
Dr. Barker chuckled. "Nothing of the sort - it actually would have changed very little," he countered. "Creating a limitless supply of gold would have just made gold very cheap. It's not like currency's been backed by gold for a long time. No, that would've been akin to making synthetic oil, and you saw how that worked out - all that changed was who made the money. What we're doing is changing how society keeps score."
Now it was Annette's turn to look confused. "I don't get it," she said after a minute.
"Well, in the old days, you could tell who was successful by how much money they made. Nowadays, money's not even a collectible like postage stamps, because everyone can create as much as they like."
"But won't digital currency survive? You can't copy that with your machine."
"Perhaps," he said, "but who cares about numbers in a database somewhere, if you can create anything you want out of thin air?"