Technology of the Lunar Reckoning – Mindlink Implant

March 12, 2011 in Lunar Reckoning 69

Mindlink implants were first tested by paraplegics as a supplement to then-current cybernetic prosthetic technology. Military use of mindlink implants followed soon after, the standardized ‘needle’ plug being developed for ATLAS military use. Later, colony workers were provided mindlink implants for use with new work mechs, allowing them to use the mech as they would their own body, after some training.

The first mindlink implants were very primitive. They were only able to read limited information; namely, that information produced by body movements. It could not ‘redirect’ movements, meaning that it could only be used for two purposes – cybernetics control, and ‘control scan’, the act of predicting control movements in order to increase response times. The next generation implants allowed the ability to recieve movements in such a way to control vehicles directly…but only vehicles that had a humanoid configuration (namely, the new version of the GPWS).

By the time of the Lunar Independence War, mindlink implants were standard equipment for military personnel and colony workers. This help paved the way for mass rollouts of the new APUs, which required mindlink implants for operation. The Jovians, who did not use mindlink regularly, were forced to install the implant on their troops to stay competitive in the APU arms race.

The earliest APUs did not have the features of their modern counterparts. As the implants couldn’t send information back into their pilot, APUs were far less ‘automatic’ than they are today. ESD visors were used for display purposes, and the control grips were used not only for weapon triggers, but HOTAS-styled control operations. Secondary operations were integrated into a keypad, and voice control was necessary for many operations. The mass production of APUs spurred better solutions.

The first mindlink implants that could send image and aural data came later, and tactile information followed shortly. Training costs for APU pilots fell considerably. Initial issues were quickly corrected, and this technology has little differences with modern versions. Around this time, integral plugs were developed, initially to provide non-mechanized special forces with IWACS information sharing; these prototypes were fraught with problems, but the integral plug concept became very successful for civilian applications, such as portable music players.

Civilian trials for entertainment purposes brought in moral questions – would the human race survive the capability to direct images directly into the brain? As it happened, such issues were unwarranted, and even later augmented reality developments showed that the human brain was not prone to being addicted to simulations, at least not any more than other forms of entertainment. With this assured, mindlink became nearly universal.

It is known as the Unreality Problem. Essentially, through mindlink simulation, even if every other aspect is perfect – which is rare – the brain cannot ever fully accept what it is seeing, as, even when there is no indication that it is so (such as when they are forced into a mindlink simulation while asleep), the human brain realizes that what it is seeing is not ‘real’. Any kind of interaction in real terms – particularly sexuality – becomes unsatisfying compared to the real thing.

Of course, virtual reality remains popular for the ‘impossible’ things, though augmented reality is far more popular than pure VR. And while addiction issues exist, the personalities that are prone to addiction in VR simulations are of a more general addictive personality, often brought on by an extreme dissatisfaction with the ‘real world’.

Mindlink wasn’t as fully successful as thought, despite its near-universal use. For security purposes, Mindlink works very well. Integral plugs offer consumers with a wide variety of useful computing functions. However, the act of projecting information on the visual cortex, overlaid on the ‘real’ world, is considered highly disconcerting. APU pilots generally get over it, but larger vehicles use holographic overlays, and consumers prefer proper proper 2D or 3D displays over VR displays. Aural information is more successful; techniques can be used to ensure the sound is as natural as possible, and most personal music players use an integral plug rather than the older headphones. (Audiophiles, being who they are, insist that headphones are they only way to get a ‘natural’ sound, though many in the general population agree that pre-mindlink music does sound better on speakers or headphones.) Military trials in ‘remote mindlink’ were extraordinarily unsuccessful, due to the need for extremely low latency and feedback.

Though mindlink is not capable of ‘mindreading’, security issues do exist. Dissident groups are known to use mindlink simulations as a form of torture for enemy POWs, in direct contravention with the Colonial War Protocols. Malicious integral plugs can create subliminal suggestions or other harmful effects, though physical security ensures that the program will end when the plugs are removed. And rumors of the potential use of a tortured, drugged human as a ‘biological computer’ for an APU persist…