The Artificial Brain is the 'brainchild' of Doctor Steven Winninger of the Republic of California. Winninger was a visionary, a war veteran, and a mad genius. If his work in creating replacement brains had failed, he very likely would have gone down in history as one of the great and evil doctors of cold and cruel science.
The Brain Electric
The Artificial Brain is a catch all term for a series of biomechanical devices that are able to replicate the function of a human brain. The implants are typically a combination of cultured brain cells and nano-scale metal and silicon components, and are manually inserted into the host body.
Occipital Lobe Implant
Replacing the occipital lobe, located in the rear of the cranium, this biomod handles the processing of visual data. It is not entirely uncommon for cyborgs to get upgraded occipital lobe implants in conjunction with artificial eye implants. The abilities of the OL Implant generally include photographic memory, and the ability to store visual data within the lobe cortex. This lobe is typically easy to fit with a manual data jack, so the lobe and it's data can be accessed via manual connection. This Implant can be enhanced for accelerated image processing, working as a filter for thermal and alternate modes of visual input, as well enhanced eye hand coordination.
The first Occipital Lobe implants were used on veterans who had lost their sight either through loss of their eyes or cranial trauma. After the function of the implant was standardized, it became a popular implant for holojournalists, lifestyle holobloggers, and others involved in visual media. The military followed suit with special forces cyborgs with artificial eyes and brain upgrades, their original eyes held in safe storage for when the soldier retired from active service in the special forces.
Parietal Lobe Implant
The parietal lobe is predominantly used for coordinating conscious physical activity and recognition abilities. The PL implant replaces this function of the brain with the precise control and ability of a computer system. The Skill-Soft system is based around the Parietal lobe implant,and exploits the concept of 'Muscle Memory' stored in this section of the brain. PL Implantees often have to go through a calibration period where they learn to walk and run basic recognition, though this is much quicker than the first time someone learns to walk.
Parietal Lobe Implants were one of the last implants designed, as the skill soft technology had yet to be perfected during Dr. Winninger's lifespan. The principle use of the implant was to correct physical injuries to the brain, that often left veterans almost vegetables, or crippled and unable to move do to cranial scarring. The military adopted the first SkillSoft implants, discovered that instead of taking years of training, a new recruit could be 'slotted' and after a few weeks, have twenty years of martial arts training, or twenty years of military history and tactics, or the culinary portfolio of a career chef.
Temporal Lobe Implant
The Temporal Lobe Implant is a sophisticated piece of biotechnology, mimicking the functions of processing sound information, speech, and a major part of the memory system. The first temporal lobe implants functioned as backups for artificial ears, and were heavily modified to function with a sonar ability, or to process extreme low frequency, or above human audible frequencies. Later, the implants were upgraded with the SkillSoft system to make languages 'slottable'. The memory function of the temporal lobe took years to perfect and many TL implantees suffered from memory loss issues, amnesia, and symptoms similar to Alzheimer's. Eventually the worst of these problems were worked out, and the neo-implants were able to function with eidetic memory, and had hard data storage ability that could be downloaded to a physical computer. The decoding and comprehension of temporal lobe function was one of the groundbreaking break throughs in cyberneurology that would later allow Dr. Dan Schreiber to make his fundamental leap to creating artificial personalities.
The Temporal Lobe helped deaf veterans hear again, and once the basics were sorted out, proved to be invaluable for learning and using foreign languages. It is now incredibly common for cyborgs to be fluent in as many as six languages without expending major effort. Once this lobe implant was completed, combined with the occipital lobe implant, it made for the perfect spy, not needing a camera or other device to record what sensitive information they came across.
Frontal Lobe Implant
The frontal lobe is the seat of the personality, problem solving skills, reasoning, emotions, and the rest of the things that make a person who they are. Few implants are as controversial as the Frontal Lobe implant, as it replaces human personality with an artificial personality. Frontal lobe implants first corrected psychological impairments, regulating PTSD, and reviving previously thought brain dead patients. The lobe is very dense and requires extensive programming to function on a normal human level.
We call them cymeks, cybernetic mechanisms, they look like humans but act like machines. The other end of the cyborg stick, machine and man. At first everyone was pleased, the autistic and the non-functional members of society were able to become healthy and useful members again. Then the new wore off and everyone realized that the person looked and mostly acted like their old self, but it wasn't them.Then the AISCs got in on the deal and started programming their own FL implants, making human robots that were their pawns in the non-virtual world. Timmy goes in to get that nasty case of cerebral palsy and brain damage taken care of, he comes out a week later and he's a pawn of some supercomputer devil buried in a bunker somewhere.
Replacing the 'little brain' was relatively easy compared to the cerebrum implants. The new implant regulates posture, and is typically associated with physical enhancements such as accelerated nervous systems for enhanced speed and agility, or boosted strength for controlling that strength when it is not being used. A finely tuned neo-cerebellum and a physically aligned SkillSoft can turn a soldier into a master of almost any martial art or other disciplined physical ability.
The first robo-brains were built from human cerebellums, allowing for androids and other robots to walk around and do mundane physical actions without requiring the processing power of a 21st century super computer. The first generation of true androids actually had neo-cerebellums to make their movement human and relaxed rather than the deliberate metal stomp of a computer system executing a walk command. Later models no longer required human brains to function.Thankfully.
Replacing the Brainstem, and by default, the spinal cord, was the first major breakthrough in cyberneurology. Replacing this regulatory system allowed for para and quadrapalegics to walk again, and eventually allowed for regulating metabolic and other systemic maladies of the body. Despite being the first, few consider Brainstem Implants to be 'artificial brains' despite the fact that the technology and the implants are virtually the same.
Replacing brainstems is no longer considered in the same realm as artificial brain implants as almost every brainstem implantee showed no change in psychological or emotional profile. Considering that the limbic system has yet to be replaced by the function of a machine, many artificial brain implantees show marked emotional changes, psychological disorders, or suffer from emotional instability, or complete lack of emotion.
Full brain transplants are almost impossible to perform, unless the implants are done over a period of time allowing for the patient to adjust to each implant and psychological profiling to ensure that they remain viable candidates for continued implanting. But full brain transplants have been done. Those that survived the process ended up emotionally dead individuals who had the memories of the people they were before but their personalities were caricatures of their old selves. Cymeks as a form of continued life were eventually discouraged as almost no one was happy with the result. But the process continued, with the Artificially Intelligent super computers finding the concept fascinating. The AISCs would develop their own 'personas' to download into a prepared cymek body, typically a blank clone with a near full artificial brain. Then, the resulting cymek would function as the hand of a virtual being in the real world. Cymeks are not popular, and more than one movie villain has been a secret cymek, slave of a dastardly evil megacomputer.
Communications and Fabrications
Artificial brains are mechanical devices and at times, they need to be diagnosed and repaired for degradation of programming and other problems that come from being inside someone's skull. Considered barbaric in the modern cosmic age, the Wachowski Cerebral Probe remains the main method of interacting with the subroutines of artificial brains. A Wachowski Cerebral probe is a seven inch long semi-conductor coated metal spike that is inserted into a socket that runs from the Frontal lobe, along the groove between the hemispheres of the cerebrum and through the middle of the occipital lobe. The Wachowski functions in a similar fashion to a headphone jack. Prior to the development of the Neurohelmet, and then the perfection of the S3 unit, the Wachowski probe was the only way to experience the CogNet. It was expensive, required regular hygiene to prevent brain infections, and was simply horrific to use, or even see used.
The Neo Rap group Tu Trang regularly rapped about the horrors of cyberneurology. All the members of the band had Wachowski sockets, and were pioneers in the CogNet media entertainment. They routinely referred to logging into the CogNet as getting Steel dick in the Dome, cyber-raped by the man'chine, and a variety of other terms that related the Wachowski Probe to the realm of rape and violation. In modern parlance, getting Wachowski'ed is the same as getting 'skull fucked' or otherwise being violated. This is almost entirely in the context of CogNet interactions. Wowchowing is the act of perpetrating said violating of a victim.
Modern implants no longer require something as primitive as the Wachowski Probe and are able to be diagnosed and updated via a S3 unit a commercial neuro-helmet, or through Cy-Fi networks.
People with Artificial Brains do run the risk of having their hardware hacked, it is a simple fact that any sufficiently sophisticated machine that can be connected to the CogNet can be hacked. The main thing that makes brain hacking difficult is that most people are almost always instantly aware when an attack is being mounted on their brain hardware. When this happens, isolating their brain from the offending signal is usually enough to stop an attack. This usually involved logging out of the CogNet, or moving to a signal dead zone.
Victims of Brain Jacking can be affected as if they were under full hypnosis and provided they have the proper implants, their memories can be altered, emotional responses can be changed, and suggestions can be planted. Very skilled hackers can use the connection to 'skinride' an artificial brain recipient (this is usually only near full transplants, seldom someone with a single implant). This ability was discovered first by AISCs, who kept the secret to themselves for years before the extent of human hijacking that could occur was made known in upper level circles. The fact that humans with artificial brains are vulnerable to being literally taken over is nothing more than a popular paranoid conspiracy theory.
Organic Memory Cores
OMCs are replica brains that are used in creating high end Limited AIs. The LAIs are typically used in creating military drones, androids, and other machines that interact with people on a regular basis or have a need for the ability to make decisions and think in a non-linear, non-code based fashion. Legal OMCs are made from vat grown heavily modified and upgraded brains. These organs are 'blank' and are grown in the same fashion as replacement kidneys or livers. Unfortunately there is an underground market for OMCs, and few non-megacorp operations can afford their own OMC production facility. It is simply cheaper and more viable for them to kill people and steal their brains for conversion into OMCs for gang affiliated robots and cymeks. This is a major problem in the Great Lakes Republic, an irony considering that OmniConsumer Products is the largest producer of OMCs.
Low End Artificial Brains
The Tycho convention specifically states that sub-humans cannot be genetically engineered to do degrading and slave labor. Nothing says that people can be programmed for it. The above article deals with high end artificial brains that easily replicated the function of a normal human brain. There is a market for shoddy knock off and cheap artificial brains and brain implants. These low end brains leave the recipient with a drastically lowered intelligence, low coordination, bad memory, and a variety of physical and psychological tics.
The Standard Artificial Brain has the following Stats:
Intelligence is standard, or whatever the systems considers average. This means that above average people will be dumbed down by an artificial brain, while below average will be brought up to average.
Benefits gained: Lightning calculator, photographic or eidetic memory, other attributes are tied to non-brain implants or upgrades.
Flaws gained: vulnerable to hacking, vulnerable to EM radiation (causes disorientation or extreme irritability), 1 psychological disorder (suggested: germaphobia, ADHD, or Emotional detachment)
The Sub-Standard Artificial Brain has the following stats:
Intelligence is lowered to the low end of functional, just above drooling idiot. This is effectively a robo-lobotomy, also known as a robotomy.
Benefits gained: Pain receptors reduced.
Flaws gained: Easily distracted, rage and anger disordered, perversion disorders, 3-5 psychological disorders. (suggested: Tourettes, paranoia, schizophrenia, sexual perversion, etc)
I can't claim credit for the artificial brain, that goes to the 1993 Mayfair game Underground. They did not go into any great detail other than explaining brain stealing, and poor people selling their real brains for organic data drives and buying artificial brains to be stupid and happy. I felt the idea had greater merit than just the graphic horror of the decapatron brain stealing robot. Shadowrun has dealt with brain implants, but not in the context of replacing the brain, just adding things to it. Mixing the two creates the customizable artificial brain. This creates a 'nothing is sacred' theme to the game. Everything is now replaceable by technology and life instead of being enriched by it, has been cheapened. Humans can be cloned, their brains copied, their brains stolen, their bodies stolen while they are still present. The list horror goes on and on.
Additional Ideas (2)
The reward centers of the brain are well known and easy ti stimulate. Rats given the choice between stimulation and food will starve.
While you don't want your employees to spend their life in orgasmic bliss until they die, a certain push towards happiness and 'doing the right thing' is a very desirable feature for the employer.
Some less than ethical corporations will implant the tiny chip, well hidden in the cranial base, wired usually to the visual cortex and the hypothalamus.
Referencing the individual's work-to-do, the chip will reward him with a subtle contentedness, bliss and feeling of work well done when he submits that report, or finishes a task.
Reward may be delivered after listening to motivational speeches of the management, etc.
As unethical as this may be, far more sinister uses of the reward chip can be conceived; malfunctioning ones are also horrible.
One of the central ideas about the Artificial Brain is in the vein of Body Horror. It is a largely uncontested idea that the brain is the seat of the consciousness, the one most vital part of the body that cannot be replaced. In a sense the brain has a sort of sacred position. Hearts can be replaced with mechanical units, donor hearts, or even pieced together with animal valves and such. This is not the case with the brain, once it's damaged, it never comes back, or if it does recover, the victim is never quite the same.
The Artificial Brain takes this core self concept and throws it out the window. The brain is ultimately replaceable, like any other part of the body. Thus, what was once considered sacred, sacrosanct, is rendered disposable like any other component in a vehicle. With high end computers and bioscience, the thoughts and memories of one brain can be transferred to another.
The how is through arcanotechnology, hidden science, aka magic. And this magic has it's roots in the River of Sorrow, and is thus innately tainted. Human life is made cheaper, more disposable, and ultimately, more miserable.