Neo: Can you fly that thing?
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.
- It also failed miserably when he tried it on Captain America in JLA/Avengers, whose reaction was to perform a quick Sherlock Scan on him, then beat the crap out of him with his shield.
- 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'.
- Nexuses in Robert Reed's Great Ship series. The nexuses are small computers, which are implanted into one's body, or in the surroundings (such as in your house), and they are accessed for archived information or skills when needed.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Several of the devisers in the Whateley Universe have done this. Jericho has a jack in his head for easier uploading, while Techno-Devil has two jacks, one on each side of his head, and a shaved mullet so they both show.
- In Next Breed Of Thief, Acrylic engages in this.