#AtoZChallenge – Brain implants, both fictional and real


It’s Day 2 of my Sci-Fi Themed A-to-Z-Challenge

For B, I’ll talk about brain implants – neurological devices intended to record information or enhance mental capabilities.

Brain implants exist in the real world, and are used in animal research studies. Such implants have been used to record brain activity far more directly than external electrodes. Animal implants have been used in very scary ways, allowing scientists to control rats! Other research has focused on allowing animals to control devices with their brains – and this technology has made its way to human trials.

Brain implants also have the potential to improve upon the brain. Research is going on now into treating depression with neurological implants, and there may even be ways to improve human memory.

Science-fiction asks “Why stop there?”

One of my favorite uses of brain implants in fiction is in John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. In the story, genetically superior supersoldiers are implanted with implants that have their own Artificial Intelligence. With these implants, you would have an internet-connected computer in your brain! There goes all hope for human productivity!

The most common way brain implants manifest in sci-fi is alongside cybernetic technology. Such implants allow for network connectivity, total memory recall, and vastly improved memory and mental capabilities.  Of course there are just as many downsides – the scariest being the possibility that implants could be used to reduce people to zombie slaves.

Whatever we may think of brain implants, they will likely become an everyday reality – this technology isn’t an if, it’s a when. The rules of who can receive brain implants and what uses are acceptable will have to be decided, and soon!


In my current fiction:

I decided my main character in Far Flung would have a brain implant, and had the first alien that he met figure out how to use it to communicate. I hoped to have my own way of dealing with the “universal translator” problem in space exploration sci-fi.


More about brain implants:





Old Man’s War

Ghost in the Shell

Locutus of Borg, Star Trek: The Next Generation