In REM sleep, the human brain, in concert with a sufficiently advanced AISC can process data at 20 times the normal speed. While this is done under the limitation of unconsciousness, it comes with the advantage of malleability. In the dream state, the human mind retains it's capability for transcendental thought, intuitive leaps, and other mental tricks that ultimately place the organic brain superior to the mechanical brain.
The Dream Tank
During the Petroleum Era, the 'think tank' was a tool of corporations and world governments, and consisted of putting together groups of like minded people for the purpose of thinking up problems and solutions to those problems. This would become sophisticated and advanced, and the last great creations of the Think Tanks were the Artificial Intelligence Super Computers, and the precursors to the modern CogNet. The premise of the Dream Tank is simple, much like the Think Tank it replaced, the Dream Tank is a collection of specialists, experts, and other relevant personnel who are brought together for the purpose of solving problems, anticipating problems, and the like. They have two distinct advantages over their predecessors. The Dream Tank runs 20 times faster, gaining weeks of experience and progress for each day that passes. The second advantage of the Dream Tank is more nefarious.
The Dream Tank groups seldom know they are actually involved in a CogNet simulation. These individuals are at varying points in their initiation or interviewing process are 'abducted' and placed into the Dream Tank. Through this method, the parameters of the scenario can pre-programmed into the system, and the entire team is brought together under the consensual crisis. This has ranged from global viral outbreaks, alien invasions requiring the development of viral weapons, planetary engineering, and pretty much whatever scenario is required to generate a desired outcome. The ethical Dream Tanks will unplug and greet those who 'perished' in the simulation while those less scrupulous operations let the chips fall where they may, often using illegal software or psychotronic devices to preserve human minds as computer constructs.
The keyword of every Dream Tank is control, both within the simulation and outside of it. There are two independent tiers of leadership. The main leadership of the Dream Tank is rather contrary to thought, external. The leadership of each Dream Tank is internal, with power structures and pecking orders developing out between the members of the team that is involved in the simulation. The external leadership is bound by the fact that an excessive amount of outside interference in a simulation has the effect of rupturing the 'suspension of disbelief' because it only takes a very small segment of a dream tank group to realize that they are in a simulation to compromise said simulation.
In many ways the operation of a Dream Tank is like the production of a holodrama, or action stream. The core 'cast' of professionals and experts do the heavy lifting and the fighting, and as the case calls for, the murdering and manufacturing of tools of death, while the outside control merely aims the flow of events.
A Dream Tank is carefully selected to have a certain percentage of members who are there for the sole purpose of facing the desired scenario and producing the desired end product. These are usually at absolute most, half of a simulation group. The rest of the group will be composed of 'controllers' and 'leaders' who are only there to by their own nature, keep things on track, entertainers and distracters to keep the group from becoming overcome by melancholy, depression, or otherwise negatively deviating from it's course, and 'red shirts' who are variables, expendables, and otherwise part players. These part players are typically the largest segment of a Dream Tank, and while only considered 'extras' they will have some relationship with the subject matter, such as being students, engineering grads, or more blue collar types with experience in the matter.
The ad you answer isn't always the ad you think it is.
One of the most easily overlooked advantages of the Dream Tank is the malleability of the resources available. The scarcity or abundance of anything is controllable, and the suggestibility of the dream state often allows for some exceptional stretching of what is plausible.
Each Dream Tank operation has it's own objective. Contrary to the picture painted above, the majority of Dream Tanks are relatively mundane, the design and construction of arcanotech equipment, sub-component engineering, and the fabrication of scenarios. These scenarios are played out over a period of days or even weeks, with the participants being maintained in a suspended animation. Their bodies are provided sustenance, and other care, while their minds are occupied elsewhere.
Sample Dream Tanks
USS Ascension - From the SyFy movie of the same name, the Ascension Dream Tank was composed of a very large 600 member local area CogNet with the entire system being closed to outside input. The purpose of the simulation is to study the effects of long term space travel and generational space travel. While there is still plenty of room in the Solar System, certain paranoid elements are interested in the potential for launching such missions to other star systems. The Ascension Program is a pet of the Atlantic Federation
LOST - A psychological experiment in creating emergent parapsychic abilities, the LOST program was designed to push the limits of what is acceptable in Dream Tank simulations. As a meta program, the LOST program has proven that the human mind is willing to accept a very large amount of irrational information, and accept some ludicrous situations so long as there is a central continuity.
St. Elsewhere - A medical simulation, St. Elsewhere is a synthetic hospital used to train new surgeons, as well as experiment with prototype technologies and techniques in a simulated environment. The hospital simulation is well designed and has been used for a number of non-medical simulations, such as withstanding a viral outbreak, a zombie outbreak, and a variety of other disaster scenarios.
First Contact - A trainer/primer for exonauts and space explorers, the First Contact simulation involves high end arcanotech, as well as a variety of first contact simulations with alien intelligences. The variations on the simulation are well known with the Kobiyoshi Maru scenario being legendary for it's no survival ending.
The Dream Tanks are a logical extension of research and development technology and the corporations and the governments that don't use them are going to be fighting a constant uphill battle to keep up with technological development. Normal technicians, engineers and designers are not just working at 1/20th the speed of their dream tank rivals, they are only devoting 6 to 12 hours in a working day, with the rest of that time being spent on things like sleeping, socializing, and consuming entertainment, not counting days out, holidays, weekends, etc.
The Tank Life
The PCs are part of a dream tank scenario, and everything is up for grabs. They have been sedated and captured, and the tank is being used to study their shadowrunning techniques. The PCs are drafted as extras in a violent underground tank fighting off a bug invasion for a black data feed entertainment stream. The PCs are working in a desperate situation to save the unknowing world from pending doom, until the simulation is turned off.
Search and Rescue
A VIP has gone missing, an expert, a genius or savant, or someone else that an illicit dream tank group would love to abduct and plant into their own underground program to push their agendas. The PCs are tasked with locating the dream tank, and extracting the VIP, bonus points if they have to go into the simulation Inception style to retrieve the VIP, and convince them they are in a simulation so it can be unplugged without killing everyone tapped into it. Seriously, who designs these things, and do they have no idea of personal safety???
Research and Sub-Development
The PCs work for a Dream Tank group, and do many of the above thing, abducting VIPs for scenarios, operate as controllers inside a simulation, and protect the operation from outsiders who want to disrupt it. This can be as legit as a government tank, a shady corporate group, or a completely underground and illegal entertainment tank.