One thing is certain: money cannot buy happiness, but it can fund research into new, fundamental ways to achieve happiness.
I sat across a long table with roughly a dozen empty chairs while a young scientist presented her work on a projector. Traditionally, this room was used for meetings with the most prestigious members of the board, and because the room was designed for a very specific, elite purpose, very few people would enter without permission. For this reason, I would also regularly use the room for meetings I did not want others to know about. Meetings like this one.
While she was speaking, I found myself drifting off a bit and inspecting her features. A strong jaw. Stunning blue eyes. Dark, wavy hair that seemed to bounce whenever she pointed to the board. She was smart, charming, and kind. Nothing short of a perfect woman.
She suddenly became quiet before asking, "Did you hear me?"
I shook myself out of whatever trance I had fallen into before responding, "I think so. You are saying that with the right equipment, you could monitor an embryo and ensure that its brain develops neural connections that mimic another individual?"
"Yes. Effectively, making the baby 'remember everything from their past life,' if you want to put it that way." She then paused before moving on to the next slide, "The issue is with the concept of individual perception. It is unclear if you could transfer your consciousness to the new individual or not."
I nodded slightly, "I see. Going back to a previous point: you mentioned that you could also modify the genome so that the baby would be completely customizable?"
"Yes, but you are missing the point. Right now, the new person would simply be a carbon copy of the old one put into a new body. It would not be 'reincarnation' without the ability to also perceive the world from that new body. More than that, there is a huge ethical dilemma with this concept because we would be effectively killing a child and taking over their body."
I tapped my finger on the table. "If the child is modified since their before birth to be a shell for a new person, then there is no ethical issue, so far as I'm concerned."
"Maybe." The researcher took a deep breath before continuing, "What I am trying to say is that we are close, but not there yet. We need more funding for this last step."
I knew this was coming and had saved up for it. "How much more funding?"
"At least enough for another decade of research." She tried to look me in the eye, but failed and instead looked down to the table.
"So 100 million USD?" I asked.
"About that, I believe." She replied.
"And how much would the procedure cost?"
"I don't know."
"Probably 1 billion?
"1 billion dollars?" I took a deep breath and sighed. I didn't have the money yet, but I might in 10 years at the current rate of business. "I'll pay it."
I saw a wave of relief wash over the researcher's face. "Thank you. We won't let you down."
"You better not." I still needed time to get the funding, myself.
Twenty years later, I woke up in a rather small bedroom. The walls were a soft lavender color, and my sheets were a subtle blue. Across from me was a large vanity.
I jumped out of bed and looked at myself in the mirror. I was a small girl with a strong jaw, clear skin, and dazzling blue eyes. I engineered myself to be as smart, athletic, and beautiful as I could, using my old research lead as a model. I had to sell everything I owned, including my old business, but it was worth it.
For the first time, I was excited to wake up in the morning and live my best life.
Money couldn't buy happiness, but it could buy me a new life. A new chance to be happy.