Neo: Can you fly that thing?
Trinity: Not yet.A trope where computer files, images, databases, or abilities are downloaded into a person's brain. Powers as Programs, Exposition Beam, Fake Memories, Upgrade Artifact, Amplifier Artifact, and Neuro-Vault are fond of using this. Brain Uploading may result in this later on, but not always. May cause My Skull Runneth Over. Compare Brain–Computer Interface, which is often used to perform this.
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Anime and Manga
- In Ghost in the Shell, large amounts of the populace of developed nations have cybernetically augmented brains, allowing them read and execute files, including fire-control software, text documents, images, videos, emotions, memories, and computer viruses. One notable instance has a character theorize a cyborg is downloading fire-control software in the middle of a fight, implying that to do so is a fairly common occurrence.
- One side-character mage in Fairy Tail has this ability - he's not much good in a fight but marvellous at directing it, as he can download skills and even maps with waypoints into people's heads from a distance.
- A Certain Magical Index: This is how the Sisters clones have the knowledge and personalities they do: it is "programmed" into them via a machine soon after they come out of the Incubator. The manga goes on to explain that, when they are "born", their minds are a blank slate, like that of an infant.
- An odd version of this trope is applied in Doraemon. Nobita doesn't like to study, so Doraemon provides Nobita with "ankipan", a special form of bread that can be pressed into a book, the book's information copied to the bread, and then after eating the bread Nobita would remember everything printed on it.
- Prometheus, a villain of the DC Universe, invented a helmet that allows him to download into his mind the skills and abilities of anyone he has on record, as well as any knowledge he requires. He usually shows this off by beating the DC Universe's greatest martial artists (like Batman and Lady Shiva) by downloading their own skills and predicting their every move, while using another fighter's skills to do the job. Batman beat him by reprogramming the helmet with the fighting ability of Stephen Hawking.
- Low Life's Dirty Frank did this once to gain musical ability in order to infiltrate a rock band.
- Elspeth (Bella's daughter) in Radiance has the ability to replay her memories to anyone she touches. This later becomes more useful as she is blasted with the memories of hundreds of vampires, who each had thousands of years of experience.
- Plays an important plot-role in Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox. Specifically, this is how the nine people who would later become the Kyuushingai got their advanced intelligence. According to Naruto, by using technology geared toward this trope, the scientists who worked on the nine were able to cram ten years' worth of training into four months' time, and they were able to learn several languages, combat tactics and weapons skills by this method. However, in a variation of this trope, they had to actually practice their newly-gotten skills in order for the information to stick.
- When Maxwell summons something in The Boy With The Magic Notebook that he or someone else doesn't know how to use, this trope happens the instant they put their hands on the item. Word of God says they don't become perfect masters of the item in question, but they do easily fall in the 80th percentile.
- The Matrix tended to use this and Brain Uploading willy-nilly. Of course, when you have a giant jack in the back of your head, why not use it?
- Johnny Mnemonic has an implant in his head that he uses to covertly store data. However he cannot access it himself, it requires a password that only his client knows.
- Jobe in The Lawnmower Man initially boosted intelligence with smart drugs and virtual reality simulation/stimulation. He later also speed-read scientific research at blinding speeds, but fell back on VR programs for learning because reading wasn't fast enough for him.
- In Demolition Man inmates at the Cryo Prison are given useful skills and the desire to use them as part of their "rehabilitation". Spartan got knitting, while Phoenix got a few more practical skills.
- Carlyle in Elysium stores program code in his brain that will reboot Elysium's system. It also comes with a defense mechanism that kills anyone who attempts to execute the code without authorization.
- In Neuromancer, quite possibly the Trope Maker, people can install knowledge and skills into their brains, such a chip allowing a person to speak perfect Chinese. Amusingly, they're called "microsofts".
- The third book of the Young Wizards series combines this with Brain Uploading. Specifically, she had the Wizard's Manual uploaded into her mind. Her mind couldn't hold onto it for long, but while it lasted, she knew everything about magic.
- C. J. Cherryh's Alliance/Union universe has the Union making extensive use of "tapes" that play some sort of audio, video, and/or bioelectric feedback to rapidly educate a drugged up student. They're particularly used for azi who get very little traditional education to speak of.
- In John Scalzi's Old Man's War universe, Colonial troopers have a computer implanted in their heads which can provide information about a wide variety of subjects. The Special Forces have this to a much greater degree, as almost all of their education is via this interface.
- Featured in the somewhat obscure German SF series Ren Dhark in the form of 'mentcaps', small pills of alien origin that will upload information stored in them into the brain of the person who swallows them. They're used as a plot device to help the human castaway protagonists figure out all the other technology said aliens left behind on the planet they're stranded on. Noteworthy for the fact that if the implanted knowledge isn't actively used (and thereby presumably imprinted 'properly' on the user's brain through practice), it will fade over time.
- The teen novel Feed uses this as a main plot point.
- In Star Trek: String Theory, this is offered as an explanation for how Ocampa manage to function on the same level as other humanoids despite their brief (nine-year) lifespan. Because they have little time to assimilate new information and experiences, they instead "download" memories and skill sets from their ancestors through a natural process.
- In the latter part of The Forever War this is done for both physical and mental skills; muscle memory is imprinted via 'negative kinetic feedback'.
- In The Great Ship series, the Greatship's Captains make heavy use of "nexuses", data storage computers that can either be implanted in the body or part of a building. Nexuses allow Captains to remember a vast swathe of seemingly irrelevant information that could become critical, avoiding The Fog of Ages.
- This trope was the premise of an Isaac Asimov short story titled "Profession". It was a deconstruction of the trope; when you learn by uploading knowledge to your brain, you're only as good as the quality of the upload.
- George Alec Effinger's Marid Audran series features "moddies" and "daddies", both of which can be plugged into sockets in your head. The former provides personality overlays, and is primarily used for entertainment and sex games; the latter provide specific skill enhancements, like knowledge of a foreign language.
- Seen on a limited basis in the The Nexus Series.We see some software programs being run on nexus, including a dating app that makes you say the right lines, a porn VR that controls your motor cortex to help you perform, and most notably, a fight game "Bruce Lee" given to main character Kade by Rangan to help him in tough situtations. Notably, while the dating sim gets results, the porn VR glitches out at the worst time, and Bruce Lee usually get's Kade's ass kicked. The most successful app is Kade's serenity package, which modulates his neurotransmitter levels to keep his pulse under control and prevent people from knowing when he's lying.
- In Beta, clones have computer chips implanted into their brains that instruct them on things from vocabulary to emotions to ways of pleasing their human masters.
- A Fire Upon the Deep from Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought Trilogy has "godshatter", the Neural Implanting by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens of a massive Exposition Beam into a person's brain. It would probably be super helpful if the seemingly random jumble of information didn't turn the person into an erratic, drooling savant for most of the time.
- A magical example comes up in Mistborn. Feruchemists can transfer memories into copperminds which they can later retrieve with perfect clarity. They can't use this to transfer information between individuals (a Feruchemist's copperminds can only retrieve memories they stored) but they can gain a bit of information, move it to the coppermind (which erases it from their own memory) and retrieve it later. This allows Feruchemists to create massive eidetic databases well beyond what they could remember normally.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Xander Harris. After being turned into a soldier during the first Halloween episode, he still retains military knowledge, which helps out the Scoobies on more than one occasion.
- Chuck had a national intelligence database downloaded into the main character's brain. (initially via e-mail!) Later on, he gets an updated version, which also includes a number of useful skills (such as martial arts), which he temporarily receives on cue.
- In Star Trek: The Original Series, in the episode Spock's Brain, Dr. McCoy temporarily gains the ability to perform brain transplants through a "Teacher".
- Harry from 3rd Rock from the Sun had a transmitter implanted in his head that basically made him the group's space radio. Harry's a somewhat unusual example of this trope because his implant is a large piece of physical equipment which takes up a lot of space, leaving room for only half a brain. As a result, Harry's markedly disadvantaged compared to the rest of the unit; he understands almost nothing, has poor coordination (causing him to frequently hurt himself) and is completely dependent on the others for survival. However, he's more talented at artistic things than any of them, and his helpless stupidity makes him very endearing and is probably one of the reasons he got more action than the others.
Harry: Incoming message from the Big Giant Head...
- Variation: Merlin was given a mad skillz implant in his brain... through dragon magic.
- In the fourth-season The Six Million Dollar Man episode, "The Ultimate Impostor," Steve Austin's friend Joe Patton is a POW whose mind has been wiped to a blank slate by chemicals. This makes him the perfect test subject for a new OSI procedure to create the ultimate agent by downloading information and skills directly into his brain.
- Adam gets one of these in the Doctor Who episode "The Long Game". In fact, everyone in the future had an implant that allowed rapid uploading of knowledge.
- Also occurred in "Rise of the Cybermen" with the ear-pods. These were not implants, but still allowed for information to be downloaded directly into the brain. And for the baddie to mind-control the population.
- In "The Next Doctor", Infostamps were more primitive data cylinders uploaded into a Cyberman's chest.
- The use of this for communication purposes is quite commonplace in Doctor Who. Even the TARDIS does it.
- Clara has "mad hacking skills" downloaded into her brain in "The Bells of Saint John".
- On Angel Charles Gunn becomes an expert on human and demonic law, fluency in demonic languages, golf techniques and Gilbert and Sullivan in a few hours thanks to Wolfram and Hart.
- Part of the main premise of Dollhouse, with the dolls regularly having new memories and personalities downloaded, along with various abilities, such as Sierra turning into an expert with gunwoman to rescue Echo.
- In the post-apocalyptic conclusion of the series, several of them had memory sticks loaded with programming so they quickly download skill sets (usually combative in nature) at the expense of other less important (at the moment) skills, like "Mercy".
- In the 1980's television adaptation of The Tripods, an undercover Freeman is infiltrating the Master's city and successfully gains admittance to the Power Elite who run the machines. Unfortunately he's connected to a learning machine that downloads all the advanced knowledge he needs through his Cap — a Mind Control device which (in his case) has been disconnected. Fortunately he's able to convince the Masters that allowing him to learn naturally would increase his initiative.
- In Joe 90, a computer is used to download recordings of other people's skills into Joe's brain.
- Shadowrun has Skillsofts, chips that can be inserted into implanted slots in the head to give characters skills.
- Cyberpunk 2020 too. They have some limitations, however.
- Instaskill nano from GURPS: Ultra-Tech rapidly reorganizes a person's brain to give them basic knowledge of a new skill.
- Traveller, or at least the Mongoose edition, has Expert Programs that mimic skills and can be run on practically any computer or a specialized Wafer Jack implant.
- In the Gurps version there is a social stigma against such things.
- Eclipse Phase has both "skillsofts" that run on nanites in the brain, and psychosurgery skill imprints.
- In Hc Svnt Dracones the only way to improve skills within the timeframe covered by a campaign is a device called a "neuroplex" that beams data into your subconscious while sleeping. At the rate of one point every two weeks.
- Serious Sam has an AI surgically implanted in the titular character's brain, which allows for later downloading of things such as maps and guides.
- System Shock, System Shock 2, BioShock, and Bioshock 2, all based on the Cyber Punk genre started by Neuromancer, make use of this trope.
- The Bioshock games frame it as LEGO Genetics, but the end result is pretty much the same.
- The I-Patch in Black Market is described as an implant drilled into the brain through the optic nerve. It presumably has quite a lot of memory space, since it stores a personality that can interface with other machines.
- Deus Ex and its sequel Deus Ex: Invisible War both have character with chips in their head and a radio link to receive info.
- Ditto for the Deus Ex: Human Revolution prequel.
- X-Com: Terror From the Deep: The aliens have implants in their skulls that are part of a communication/mind control network that is based on a strange technology called "Molecular Control". Aliens can download information, via their implants, from special Learning Arrays, and your soldiers can also view information stored in the implants of other aliens by using M.C. Readers.
- The original game also has this, but it's not explicitly pointed out: the psi-labs note that humans have psionic potential, but to make use of it, they need to have implants drilled into their heads, and connect with the psi-amp device. It doesn't negatively affect performance of the soldiers. The reboot makes the activation of psionic potential a purely genetic sequence.
- In StarCraft the Terran Confederacy and Dominion often add some combat skills when performing neural resocialization on convicts conscripted into the military.
- Grunt from Mass Effect 2 was taught how to fight, speak, and how the world works in this way, but he dislikes this because it all lacked context. He never knew why any of this stuff was important, nor why he should care about it. His personal story arc is all about him trying to find a place in the universe.
Grunt: Like holding a book for a child. Just "remember this," picture after picture. No help with finding a reason to care.
- Space Colony has the training pod to give employees new skills in seconds.
- Building 12 played this for laughs. Peoni steals the memories of one of Joe's one-night stands and implants the memory of the encounter into her own brain—and it turns out the girl is into some strange, disturbing fetish, squicking Peoni out.
- Schlock Mercenary had brain backup nanobots technology quickly tweaked to add Fake Memories and mask real ones.
- When "The Gavs" discovered that being about 950 millions of the same man's copies stays funny only for a short while and started The Diversity Engineering Institute, which eventually introduced a randomized set of differences, both anatomical and mental. That's when they discovered that fake memories give theoretical knowledge and superficial skills properly, but miss some little things — like habits ensuring basic work safety.
- In Quantum Vibe Nicole receives an upgraded brain implant that allows her to know how to fly a sun-skimmer without training, Seamus still makes her go through several hours of simulation before allowing her in the cockpit though.