Sometimes science is stranger–and creepier–than fiction. In my young adult science fiction book, Tankborn, genetically engineered non-humans (GENs) are grown in a tank with circuitry implanted along their nervous systems, including within their brains. An interface installed on their cheek (in the form of a tattoo) allows a trueborn to upload data and programing into a GEN and download the contents of much of their brain.
In the realm of actual science, author Jonathan D. Moreno discusses in his book Mind Wars potential use of using the human brain for military advantage. For instance, he ponders the ethics of using oxytocin to induce a sense of trust and well-being in someone to enhance interrogation. Or the use of an “anti-sleep” pill to allow soldiers to continue fighting without the need for sleep.
But it was the discussion of the brain-digital interface that caught my eye. Science hasn’t advanced to Tankborn’s level of circuitry implanted within a subject’s nervous system. But scientists have already used the brain-digital interface for prosthetic limbs, and there’s even potential to allow paralyzed folks to control robotics with their minds. These are far more positive uses for the technology of interfacing with the brain than in Tankborn’s world.
Moreno proposed two guiding principles for use of the brain-digital interface: “First, the individual should have control over the contents of his or her mind. Second, the individual gets to decide who gets access.” In my fictional world, GENs never have complete control over the contents of their minds, nor do they decide who gets access.
But that’s part of what makes for an interesting story–characters with seemingly insurmountable obstacles (in this case, both physical and mental slavery) who fight against their oppressors. I have to hope that in the real world this type of technology will only be used for the best purposes, and will be beneficial to all.