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Illusion Chasers

Illusions, Delusions, and Everyday Deceptions
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Neuroscience in Fiction: Nexus (Mankind Gets an Upgrade)

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Naam, Ramez (2012-12-18). Nexus (Kindle Locations 5434-5437). Osprey Publishing. Kindle Edition.

“Nexus’s ability to satisfy widespread human desires, combined with its innocuous perception, suggests that were the technology to ever enter the mainstream, the genie would prove very difficult to put back into the bottle. Nexus: A Risk Assessment (2033), ERD Library Series, 2039   [Classified: SECRET]”

This sophisticated page-turning techno-thriller is one of my favorite stories of all time. It combines a plot of massive scope—worthy of Michael Crichton or Daniel Suarez—with advanced concepts in neuroscience. Nexus, a nano-sized, wireless, ingestible device, is the ultimate brain-machine interface. The virus-like nexus particles attach to all of the host’s neurons and form a wireless network that communicates with other human-embedded networks. So far so good, but for a tiny little problem: Nexus can take over its host brain as techno mind-control.

In the world of Nexus, the technology is outlawed due to its obvious nefarious uses. But an intrepid, if slightly naive, group of young neuroscientists have secretly taken the tech to the next level. They seek to improve inter-human communication, but when the government finds out, our protagonist must choose between his moral stand and a potential techno-war.

Naam is remarkable in his ability to address deep philosophical concepts while keeping the story line light, fast, and action-packed.


Stephen L. Macknik About the Author: Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik are laboratory directors at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Follow on Twitter @illusionchasers.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. tuned 12:41 pm 03/23/2013

    D.A. was right in “Hitch Hikers’ Guide To The Galaxy”.
    A curse upon people would be telepathy. Worse yet would be transmit without receive.

    Link to this

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