“Hacking the human brain” was a recent topic in the tv series “Through the Wormhole” moderated by Morgan Freeman. If you’re not familiar with the series, I recommend it to you.
The show covered several studies or experiments, but I was surprised to learn that a computer can “read” what the brain is thinking just by tracking blood flow. Thousands of test subjects were shown images and a “picture” was taken of the brain for each image or concept. It appears that these blood flow patterns can be categorized into words and concepts using a computer and then another human can be asked to think of certain subjects, I.e. a beach, a forest, friendship, the computer matches the blood flow patterns and puts out words that translates what the subject is thinking.
So, using that computer program, you can read someone’s mind, or at least get an idea of what he/she is thinking.
That’s a little scary.
Another part of the show explained how false memories can be implanted into a human mind. Since our legal system uses witnesses and expert testimony to determine sentencing, this is also troubling.
Stephen Hawkings is an example of how the human brain can think of words and ideas and a computer translates them into both text and speech. By the way, his book A Brief History in Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes is a suggested non fiction read for anyone wanting to learn more about our universe.
This controlling of electronic devices through thought is the jumping off premise for a debut book of local Portland author Dan Marshall. His novel Lightcap explores this idea and takes it to the next step of controlling human behavior through a cap like device.
Adaptech made a fortune with its Mind Drive, a product enabling control of electronic devices through thought. Wildly popular, most citizens use it as a way to act more efficiently with everything from computers to coffee pots.
Now, Adaptect has come out with the Lightcap and Adam Redmon is promoted to lead a group of employees to test this new product. However, exactly what it’s function and side effects are is not fully disclosed.
As the test goes on, blackouts and strange dreams, along with a mysterious death, lead Adam to discover the frightening function of the Lightcap. It controls the human brain and makes individuals open to suggestion. Suggestions like murdering a colleague who has turned against the experiment. Adam is not the only subject who becomes suspicious of the dark side of the device. Dej and Aria have realized the danger also and together the three try to fight the hold that Adaptech has on them and the corporation’s plans to control whole populations through distributing the Lightcap.
After watching the show on brain hacking, this novel’s premise intrigued me. Dan writes well, his sentences clear and grammatically correct. However, since it is written from Adam’s point of view, the reader is subjected to the influence of the Lightcap.
“Adam felt like a deer in the headlights until he blinked and broke the spell.”
I went for a cup of coffee to clear MY mind.
The first part of the book is woozy as Adam loses chunks of his life. His fear of losing his job if he complains or quits makes the reader want to shake him and yell, “Wakeup.”
After a colleague goes missing and two others in the test group reveal their concern for the effects of the cap, Adam starts to get suspicious and investigate.
From there the action picks up to the inevitable conclusion…and possible sequel.
If you like cutting edge science type stories and movies such as “The Bourne Identity”, then you might like Lightcap by Dan Marshall. Available most places online and local Indie bookstores.