Knowsofts Now

Being able to load a knowledge skill or language, or even an active skill such as SMG, has been a staple of the Shadowrun game, and the cyberpunk fiction, ever since the beginning. But obviously, it's always been just that – fiction.

So imagine my surprise on reading New Scientist on 7 June 2014, and finding that a scientist, Sam Deadwyler, has been carrying out exactly this kind of research with success on rats, in a bid to help those with brain injury. He has recorded memories from one rat, stored it, and played it back to another, using an implant. He's even managed to record from one rat to another live. Not only is this the basis for knowsofts and lingusofts, but it is potentially the beginning of sim!

It seems that neuroscience has been aware of memories firing, and being able to monitor them for some time – but this is the first time that someone has been able to isolate specific memories, relating to individual concepts and events. Typically the brain is awash with activity, but by using a certain technique, Deadwyler is now able to read and write isolated memory signals.

The biggest barrier at the moment seems to be creating implants which can make contact with the recipient's brain neurones, without causing damage.

The tactics for this are:

Shrink: Smaller and more flexible and yes, some are now monofilaments.

Camouflage: To prevent rejection, using wrappings and gels to fool the body's defence mechanisms.

Infiltrate: Use organic material for the implant – yes, biotech. Currently these materials are found in contact lenses.

Seduce: Have implants which actively signal to the brain to say they are alive, and requiring connection. This encourages the brain to build the required network itself.

Deadwyler is not the only neuroscientist engaged in this type of work, his is simply the latest in a series of intriguing experiements.

I've been fascinated with the cyberpunk genre for years, and Shadowrun is probably one of the most up to date expression of this genre as things stand at the moment. Although somewhat specialized (black ops agents fighting a shadow war), the RPG gives us a chance to test drive the technology and see the results, before it arrives, whether it's for us, our children or our grandchildren.

But one thing's for sure – it's certainly on its way.

The Shadowrun Wiki

This vital resource should be the Alexandrian library of the Shadowrun world, but is unfortunately neglected. So, the next time you're looking for a snippet of information, look here first. And if you don't find it here - add it in, once you have found it

The Shadowrun Wiki