Project Concordia: Personal Tech

The next logical iteration of the computer-in-your-pocket (which we still call a “phone”) is a computer implanted into you. This I think will be the basis of personal technology for Concordia: a chip planted into the skull, that acts as the personal computer/communication device for each citizen.

It would be inherently wireless, able to access the internet and interface with other devices. It would have voice and sound modules in the jaw, and probably some kind of heads-up-display. Would that be able to be displayed directly on the eyeball with nanoprojectors, or would it need something a little more device-y over the eye?

There would need to be a way to interface with it as well, beyond what would likely have to be simple brain controls. Perhaps a touch-screen-like environment that gets projected onto a surface in front of you? Or if you’re interfacing with an existing terminal, you can use its screen?

Of course, real tech-heads would go all out with this thing, and similar implanted techs, extending their cybernetic abilities. But there would probably be legal regulations against going too far, for safety reasons – I imagine as much as technology has advanced, it’s certainly not perfect yet. Major enhancements would also be expensive – since each requires surgery.

These may be a little more common in the technological underworld. I love the cyberpunk criminal tech world of Neuromancer, and imagine similar things, with black market hospitals for the surgery, experimental chips and programs, etc.

But at the same time, where an iphone might be stolen from someone or a computer accessed from a public terminal, these personal computers would have to be implanted surgically. And while they might be ubiquitous enough that basically everyone has one by tweenhood, there would be one exception: people who grew up outside of the normal societal structure.

Sure, someone on the streets in the undercity would have access to the black market clinics, but if they never had the money to get it, they would be completely cut off from “normal” cultural awareness, cut off from the communications grid, and in a way cut off from each other. What a divide that would create.

Would there still be computer terminals that people could access without a chip? What purpose would they serve? Who would be expected to use them? Or are they relics of the last generation, before the chips were so ubiquitous? Ah, but they would still have had something personal, the beginnings of a chip, perhaps linked to a handheld device closer to what we have today.

I like the possibilities here, but there are still a lot of questions to answer. What do you think?

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  1. Which organization gets the rights to slap their label on the chip which melds with humanity ?

  2. Emma

    Reading what a few authors and tech observers are saying, it looking less and less like physical implantation of technology will be the future and more towards augmentation like contact lenses and portable flexible screens.

    • That actually makes a lot of sense to me. There are some nice plot reasons why I’d like implants though. Perhaps lenses were the step between phones and implants? Perhaps some are still around, they just don’t offer quite the same instant brain-wireless connectivity? Maybe contact lenses are the HUD mechanism…?

  3. Emma

    That’s the question I’d ask really, because aesthetically its a super attractrive concept and there’s a lot of interesting story ideas that come along with it, but as an interface outside of full body prosthetics like Ghost in the Shell or remote controlled proxies like The Surrogates it’s a logistical and medical nightmare relative to emergent technologies. For one thing, I feel like you’d almost have to be working in a setting where computing has either slowed remarkably or plateaued/backslid because the lifecycle of your implants would be so short as to be pointless because how many people could/would want to have invasive brain surgery every three, six, or nine months say nothing about maintenance.

    Depending on how rigorous you want to be, I only really see it working in a really brutal dystopia somewhere on the level of the Epitaph One/Two episodes of Dollhouse or at least a situation where basic healthcare delivery has been severely compromised in pursuit of profit driven cybernetics. You’d probably be dealing with epidemic levels of opiate tolerance/addiction as a consequence of the sharp increase in amount and frequency of surgical procedures, making pharmaceutical companies and detox/rehab facilities very powerful entities.

    • It would work well then for the zaibatsus, if I was going for a true cyberpunk, then, but a little harder if I also want the regular citizenship with government. Now, it’s reasonable to assume that even those citizens are the wealthiest, and thus everyone who’s anyone could afford multiple medical procedures. But I think we can also safely assume that advanced technology a couple hundred years in the future is going to make the lifecycle of chips/devices significantly higher. Part of the original procedure could also make it much easier to go back in later for replacements, but say every 5-10 years rather than every 6 months.

      A lot of people certainly slip through the cracks, and that’s how we end up with the undercity (which perhaps is bigger than I was originally conceiving). It also adds an interesting element of people who don’t get the replacements going a little batshit or the like.

      Perhaps the government is wealthy enough also to subsidize the procedure for its citizens.

      Altogether though, there might have to be an additional benefit to the implant that you couldn’t get with an external device to justify it in the first place.

  4. I believe that this chip would be able to send electrical impulses directly into the optic nerve, bypassing the need for heads-up or nano projectors. Maybe not initially but eventually that will be how it’s done. This would also be able to give sight to blind people.

    It would need to pull information OUT from the nerve – the real-time human input from the eye, commingle that with the information that needs to be displayed from the communications system, and then feed that back into the nerve for the brain to process as a complete image – reality + network overlay.

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