Is it possible to bug someone’s brain?

In the novel 2089, the Orwellian features of the surveillance society are made possible by bugging the brain of everyone in society. Everything that people see and hear is detected and then published on the internet. Society as a whole positively chose to put this in place as a reaction to the secret kleptocracy of the rich and powerful which was exposed in the 2030s and led to an apocalyptic meltdown of societies across the globe. People had suffered so much during those Times of Malthus that were willing to go to extraordinary lengths to stop it being possible in the future.

But is it actually feasible to bug someone’s brain? Arguably, it might be better to about wire-tapping their brains. Or maybe neither word works, because the technological or scientific system I suggest works as follows:

  • The eyes and ears send signals to the brain along the optic and auditory nerves.
  • The nerve signals are tiny electric currents in nerve fibres, although there can be 1.5 million of these … for each eye!
  • Electric currents generate radio waves.
  • The sensitivity and capacity of the mobile phone towers is improved to the extent that they can detect these signals.
  • Smartphones are also improved to be able to pick up these radio signals as well, the phones and towers work together to pick up everything.
  • Computing power becomes good enough to decipher these signals and display the sound and vision on a screen.
  • So everything you see and hear can be detected and then displayed on a computer screen. And recorded forever. Or published on the internet….
  • Because of the interception of the signals in the AUDItory and OPTic nerves, the published livestream is known as the ‘audiopt’ feeds.

It might take quantum computing power to be able to manage the processing of all these signals for all humans all the time, but probably the bigger technological hurdle is the individual detection of the 1.5 million tiny radio signals from each optic nerve fibre.

But hey, when CERN signed off the budget to build the Large Hadron Collider, they knew that a lot of the incredibly fine detection systems that would be needed were not technically possible at the time. They shrugged and said, “Fuck it, we’re CERN, we’ll invent them.” I paraphrase. But they did.

Tin foil hat time.

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