Direct Neural Programming had been the dream of many education "reformists" and technocrats. The perfect way to teach skills, divorced almost completely from the requirement that human teach human. One single avatar of a skill could be used to propagate that skill until it became obsolete. Billions were poured into its development and marketing, thirsted for by corporations, the military, and politicians, each group wanting the surface and the sinister. The ability to remake a man's mind, this was seen as gold by those who wanted able followers.
It was known and understood as early as the late 20th century that memory, that skill, manifested itself in the connected pattern of the neurons that composed the mind. By the mid 21st, each cell could be read individually. By the late 21st, the invention of the neural regenerator gave medical science the ability to forcibly create new connections between neurons. Originally intended for the repair of the spinal cord and brain trauma, the application of this as programming was almost immediately seen, and swiftly put to the test.
The first candidate skills, complex academic abilities such as mathematics were chosen. The brain patterns of the skilled were carefully recorded, in action neuron by neuron. And then, the same patterns were forcibly generated in the candidate subjects, low intelligence volunteers that were enticed by the possibility of new employment opportunities, as well as the money offered to be those test subjects.
It succeeded, in a way. The candidates largely gained the mathematical skills of the geniuses, in a matter of weeks instead of years. But what was not forseen was the consequences of deeper interlinks between memory, thought, and emotion. The mind-patterns of the donor that were superimposed upon the recipient carried far more than mere academic skill. All things associated in the donor's brain with that skill came along for the ride, and forcibly implanted memories and emotions interrupted the recipient's mind, stressing it from the inside until it shattered.
Inevitably, the neurally programmed become madmen, lurching from one thought track to another without control. Uncontrollable rage and anxiety are common, often resulting in violence, both externally and self directed. 'Fragmentary personalities' and identity delusions are frequent, the recipient often believing himself to be the donor, or a spectrum of syntheses of the self and the donor. Self care is often forgotten, the recipient of the programming forgetting to dress, bathe, or even eat or drink, despite being on death's door. Cross-linking of learned skills or habits with the programmed skills is also frequent; with one of the original recipients unable to do algebra without singing country music, another requiring to be smoking tobacco to perform mathematically.
Officially, Direct Neural Programming is illegal. But there are always the desperate and the depraved, willing to give it a try, and not all the subjects have been willing...
Additional Ideas (2)
What if this took years to manifest. Nearly the whole planet could start to unravel, could go Walking Dead, 28 Days Later or Serenity. Great start for an Apocolypse and best idea for a zombie plague ever!