The Neural Net Interface:
A Critical Essay by Anna Friedman
by Kris Barton
A critical essay submitted on the Implant Hotwire by Anna Friedman, August 12, 2378 (wrist-view access only)
Over the last few years the technology known by its developers, the Giddens Corporation, as The Neural Net Interface has attracted a lot of controversy since its release during the autumn of 2375. However, regardless of the controversy, this new form of communication / entertainment has become increasingly popular on Earth and throughout the human colonies. Now, over 100 billion people on Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Venus utilise all of the exciting advantages that the medium has to offer.
However, not everybody can concur that this form of communication / entertainment is as safe or as usable as the Giddens Corporation suggests. Recently, there have been a number of reports concerning various problems regarding the NNI technology, and they illustrate how the technology has the potentiality to be dangerous. This critical essay will investigate these claims and weigh them up against the obvious benefits that the NNI technology allows.
Giddens Corporation’s chief scientists Professor Oliver McKenna developed the basis of the NNI in 2365, one hundred years after standard implant technology was first developed and commercialised. The Neural Net Interface utilises existing implant technology, but instead of displaying the accessed information on a user’s wrist-viewer, in the words of Professor McKenna: “the information is fed directly into the user’s brain, via highly developed neural implants.” Another benefit that the NNI exploits is the ability to “access information with a single thought.”
The technology has many practical uses. It allows “people to communicate with other people throughout the colonies, from planet to planet in a matter of seconds,” using the vast array of satellites orbiting Earth and the other colonies. The connection is so fast because it uses another Giddens Corporation invention: “Faster than Light Transmitters” (FTLT as it’s more commonly known). Simply put, the FTLT allows users to broadcast information and thought queries instantly and gain results just as quickly. The benefits of the technology are highly lucrative to say the least: anyone with family or friends on another planet will gladly testify to that notion.
However, Professor Jeff Barrett, who worked alongside McKenna during the development of the technology, indicated in his journal that “during the early stages of the development of the Neural Net Interface, the technology encountered some serious problems.” The Giddens Corporation denied such allegations, but suspiciously made the information regarding the early test stages of the technology inaccessible to anyone outside of the organisation in fear of “Unauthorised copying of Giddens Corporation technology, which could be extremely hazardous if attempted in an illegal procedure” (during an official Giddens press conference, 2375). A feeble excuse to say the least, but the Giddens Corp cannot deny or restrict access, however hard they might try, to current reports emanating from the colonies concerning NNI technology. The reports differ in substance, but all contrive to illustrate that the NNI can be extremely hazardous.
In January of this year, Sheila McQuail had her current implant technology completely updated and purchased the Neural Net Interface. From the very beginning, she had problems with the device. Every time she tried to access the NNI, she would develop a severe headache, which would consequently force her to blackout for periods of time. She went back to the Doctor who had installed it in order to determine the problem. As it turned out, the doctor had installed the device incorrectly and attempted to correct his mistake. Sheila died on the operating table and the doctor was imprisoned for life.
Predictably, the Giddens Corporation deny any blame in this matter stating that it is not their problem if surgeons cannot install the technology properly. The Giddens Corporation indicate “billions of implants have installed without a hitch; only a very few people died as a direct result of the implant.” Those “very few,” as McKenna so eloquently put it, is currently estimated to be reaching the 500-thousand mark, with approximately 1 in every 10 thousand dying due to a botched NNI procedure. Another problem that has developed since the release of NNI is the activities of hackers and viruses devised by hackers. The NNI allows an individual to access information via a twenty-digit access code. The access code is only known to the individual and is used to access both online and downloaded information. Recently, there have a number of cases in which a hacker has gained access to banking details by stealing the individual’s access codes and has consequently been able to fleece the victim out of his entire fortune. Up to now, the total losses have amounted to around 400 billion Rands, thanks to these unscrupulous hackers. Local authorities have no method of tracking or locating the hackers and thus nothing can be done about it.
The hackers did not just stop at banking details, either. A number of killings around the lower Venusian continent are currently being examined by local authorities, who have produced an initial verdict that a hacker bio-engineered a form of code that accessed the suspect’s mind via their twenty-digit access code and consequently was able to control the individual in question. The suspect killed around ten people, all high-ranking members of the Venusian army, and then committed suicide. The suspect was a lowly office worker and had previously never committed any type of crime. People close to the suspect claim that his actions came out of nowhere and he was a very happy man indeed, but such occurrences have happened before, involving mentally unstable people.
What made the Venusian police suspect that a hacker controlled the victim was that three weeks prior to the killings, a local terrorist militia force openly stated that they would kill exactly ten members of the Venusian army in a variety of different methods. The bodies of the murdered soldiers, according to Venusian police sergeant Lawrence Turner, “Distinctly follow the various descriptions the terrorist militia explicitly provided.” After the incident the Giddens Corporation declined to comment and indicated that they would do so at an official hearing that will take place later this year.
It is this author’s opinion that Neural Net Interface technology should be banned from every planet in the colonies as soon as humanly possible. The very notion of being left brain-dead after a botched operation to install the neural technology warrants such actions alone, not to mention the other long list of problems that come with the technology.
And should be noted that those are the cases that we know about. Imagine how many other problems have not been recorded because of premature death or a large payoff by the Giddens Corporation.
Indeed, the benefits of the Neural Net Interface technology are of great value to not only the individual, but also to the entire human race. However, are these benefits really worth it, considering the some of the problems a user might face? The drawbacks clearly and decisively outweigh the benefits. The Giddens Corporation can barely comprehend the problems, much less effectively combat them.
In order for the NNI to be successful in the future, the problems that come with the technology must be completely eliminated. The creation of the NNI was this generation’s greatest triumph; making the NNI safe should be the next generation’s greatest triumph.
Copyright © 2004 by Kris Barton