Another excellent and stimulating Tweet from Anders Jangbrand. When my sons were too small to appreciate the inflexible logic of fairy tales, they used to ask similar questions. Can't we have more wishes? Can't we have some kind of blanket security wish (nothing-bad-ever-happens)? In other words, can we trick the good fairy into granting more than the story intends? Can intelligence divert the inevitability of the story?
From the perspective of creativity and innovation, questions like these count as thinking "outside the box". The fairy tale describes a closed world (box) in which only certain kinds of wishes are valid: like desires, they need to be concrete and specific. In the context of a fairy story, general-purpose or open-ended wishes would be too vague and abstract, would lack the necessary psychological force and might suggest moral weakness as well (avarice or greed). In fairy stories, character always triumphs over intelligence, and the selfishly or cleverly deployed wish typically rebounds in unexpected ways.
Technology promises a similar escape from the limitations of the physical world. Mary Catherine Bateson, in her brilliant essay The Revenge of the Good Fairy (originally published in the Whole Earth Review), shows how simplistic technological projects are doomed to find failure, and puts in a plea for ambivalence.
"Ambivalence is the mirrorimage within the person of certain characteristics of hierarchically organized systems, where the individual is a subsystem in some larger system. When the individual wishes too efficiently, he may disrupt the larger system-- and his entire wish-mechanism may have evolved to push against environmental constraints, but not to succeed. When the individual who has matured under these circumstances finds himself suddenly able to make wishes come true, he may subvert that possibility. Phrasing it rather differently, we could say that ambivalence is not only a neurotic residue of childhood but a form of wisdom, a memory of what it is to be a part of a larger whole. Kierkegaard once said, "purity is to will one thing,' but it seems possible that a divided will is the beginning of wisdom."
The moral of the fairy story is be careful what you wish for, and do not try to be too clever. Innovation may entail thinking outside the box - but it also entails deep appreciation and respect for the logic of the box.