Manual Override
A Synopsis
by Daniel Tsadok

By 2002, laboratory researchers demonstrated complete control over cockaroaches by using a radio-controlled microchip planted in the insect's brain. The next step, trying this on higher animals, was taken shortly afterward. In a private laboratory in California, researchers began sending signals to a crude device wired into a mouse's brain. The researchers were able to get the mouse to twitch its leg, but they could not control which leg, and they could not define more precise movement.

In 2005, nanotechnology changed all that. The Zyvex Corporation, a nanotechnology research pioneer, developed a system that let researchers build the computer directly on the subject's brain. Instead of placing individual wires in specific parts of the brain, the brain could now be completely covered with millions of probes and sensors, each designated for a different part of the brain. The brain could now be controlled merely by activating the appropriate device. This gave researchers unprecedented precision, as well as new insights into the specific functions of the brain. They quickly mastered the motor system of the mouse, and developed a program that let them control the mouse as if it were a robot. This program was a massive success, and captured the public's attention. Dozens of laboratories were opened across the country to continue and extend the research.

At the same time, the same nanotechnology was used to grow computers on humans - not on their brains, but on patients paralyzed with spinal cord injuries. These computers would act as bridges between a severed spinal cord and a limb. In effect, these computers replaced the damaged sections of the spinal cord. The only drawback was that these mini-computers were not powerful enough to do the necessary computations. An external computer was therefore used as a central driver for the actual system. It would send instructions via radio to a microcontroller inside the patient's body, and that in turn would directly control the nanocomputers. Patients would then carry around this computer with them, which was relatively cumbersome. Eventually, however, the external computer was rendered obsolete when a company called Lineo developed an advanced microcontroller that was powerful enough to handle all the necessary computations. This microcontroller, called uClinux, contained the entire Linux operating system. It also included complete Internet access, and a whole gamut of applications designed to let technicians access the system in the event of failure without reopening the patient.

This technology was paired with cybernetic developments as well. A lost limb could now be replaced with a metal arm paired with a computer that interpreted the brain's signals to the arm. Nanotechnology was used to fuse the robotic arm to the nerve ending. Artificial nerve sensors were placed at the end of the arm to simulate feeling, giving the patient the perception of actually having the arm. At the same time that researchers were using machines to control the brains of animals, they were giving humans the power to use their brains to control machines.

All this progress continued at breakneck speed, and by 2007, research was being extended to rhesus monkeys. An accurate count of animal subjects was not available, but estimates ranged from 100,000 to 400,000 monkeys being used for this research in the United States. Within the year, scientists were able to acheive near-total control of monkey movement using a "puppet" program.

There were some unusual cases, however. Not every monkey could be controlled. Some went insane, some simply did not respond. Some, however, seemed to increase in strength and intelligence. At first these specimens were simply destroyed and dismissed as failures. However, eventually, in an attempt to reduce the failure rate, researchers decided to study these unusual cases.

Jerry, a particularly intelligent monkey before he was modified, became super-intelligent on November 2, 2008, after scientists injected the nanocompound into his body. This is Jerry's story.