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Electronic Telepathy, or e-telepathy, is a sub-trope of Telepathy. In most cases, characters using telepathic powers will do so by using some kind of supernatural force or a highly evolved biological mechanism that comes thanks to being a Sufficiently Advanced Alien. However, in some cases, a character will have no natural or supernatural telepathic ability and instead use a Neural Interface to gain this power. In this form of telepathy, thoughts are converted from impulses in the brain (electric activity produced by neuron reaction potentials) into digital signals that can then be broadcast artificially to another e-telepath using radio waves or some other form of wireless communication. Obviously, this can lead to Mental Fusion or even a Hive Mind, just as non-technological telepathy can.

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This form of telepathy is different from others in that it does not allow Mind Reading, since a person must be actively transmitting a signal in order for another to receive it. However, it is possible for an enterprising cyborg to "mind hack" another user of an implant and monitor their thoughts without their permission, similar to infecting a computer with spyware.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Ghost in the Shell this is one of the many advantages of having a cyberbrain. Characters can communicate with each other without physically speaking, which is useful if you are trying to keep quiet to avoid detection or eavesdroppers. Of course, wirelessly broadcast connections are open to being spied on, so for very important conversations cyborgs sometimes directly connect to one another using cables. In one episode of Stand Alone Complex, Batou and the Major even keep a conversation hidden from the Tachikomas by hiding their cyber-telepathic communication and using their actual lips to have a completely different conversation — at the same time!
  • This is how the MISAKA clones maintain their Hive Mind in A Certain Magical Index, using their inherent electricity-manipulation powers to act as living radio transceivers. While Mikoto (who they were cloned from) is theoretically able to do it as well since she is stronger and has far greater control than them, she doesn't have the proper training to be able to interface with the network.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam and its many sequels has the Psycommu ("Psychic Communicator") system, a machine designed to pick up the psychic emanations from Newtypes and use them as a means of communication. This allows a Newtype to control a properly equipped machine by thought alone, and is usually used to explain how the pilots are able to control the various kinds of Attack Drones.
  • Electric Pokémon are sometimes shown to communicate this way, such as Pikachu and Zapdos, or Pikachu and Dedenne.

    Comic Books 
  • The Authority uses "radiotelepathy", a communications network of nanoscale radio implants that allow brain-to-brain communication.
  • In Supergirl (Rebirth), the DEO develops a device which allows Supergirl's mind to access Lar-On's comatose brain and find a way to heal his psychological damage.
  • Steve Dayton developed a helmet that granted him telepathic and telekinetic abilities to become the superhero Mento. The helmet initially had negative effects.
  • Early iterations of Wonder Woman had a "mental radio" that allowed Diana to communicate telepathically with the Amazons on Paradise Island. As shown repeatedly in Wonder Woman (1942) Di could make "calls" without a radio due to her own mild telepathy, but with the radio even normal humans like Etta Candy and Steve Trevor could use telepathic communications, so long as whoever they were contacting picked up on their own mental radio.
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    Fanfic 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Demolition Man: In the future, people use this for having sex. The idea of doing it the normal way disgusts them (partly out of prudishness, and partly because there were apparently numerous additional HIV-type outbreaks in the intervening decades).
  • Flash Gordon (1980) had devices that allowed for long-distance telepathic communication.

    Literature 
  • In Animorphs the Chee, a race of alien androids, basically have their own private internet so that they can communicate with each other over distances. This proves useful in book #27 when they're all paralyzed at once, since Erek can at least tell the Animorphs what the others know about the situation.
  • The soldiers in Old Man's War have a computer embedded in their brain which lets them do this.
  • This form of telepathy is used in The History of the Galaxy novel series by cybreakers to enter the mind of another person via implants that everyone has in their brains. They can read thoughts, conduct Mind Rape, and even fry the victim's brain. Actual telepathy exists in this 'verse but is natural only to the Insect race. Certain brain scanners are also able to translate EEG scans into roughly-approximated thoughts based on a chart developed for all humans.
  • In Heart of Steel, Alistair Mechanus has a mental link with his robots and his computer network through his cybernetic implants.
  • In MARZENA, when entering Dr. Sam's mind thanks to drugs and Virtual Reality, Lauren and Kristen communicates with each other using digital telepathy, thanks to nanobots reading their brain activity by sending wireless signals when entering inside dilated brain vessels acting therefore like mini MRI machines.
  • Eldraeverse: The Precursors genetically engineered the eldrae to have organic radio transmitters in their brains.
  • In Ancillary Justice, this is used to link the cybernetic ancillaries to their ship’s Hive Mind and used in a similar manner by the emporer, who is a Hive Mind of linked clones. To a lesser extent, Radchaai ships and station can also use this to read the perceptions and emotions sent by implants in their human inhabitants, and ability Breq keeps from her time as a ship.
  • In The Empress Game, Dolan's speciality using technology to replicate, enhance, and deploy Wyrd telepathy. The things he did with it, though, caused him to be stripped of his own psi powers and exiled. They didn't seem to consider that his technology might allow him to regain his powers.
  • In the short story "Tableau" by James White, one side in an interstellar war develops a "mentacom" device that allows a ship's crew to communicate mentally, after finding battle noise too disruptive to vocal communication. When two pilots, one from each side, end up marooned together after a battle, the mentacom makes it possible for them to communicate with each other and make the first steps toward a peace.
  • Revelation Space Series by Alastair Reynolds: The Conjoiners have this. In an early war against unaltered humans, they would forcibly implant the equipment into their prisoners, who generally thought "I am everyone! I know everything! Awesome!"
  • In The Maze Runner series, Thomas, Teresa, Rachel and Aris acquired their telepathic abilities via devices which were implanted in their brains (along with the devices which WICKED use to control their subjects and wipe their memories) when they were pre-adolescents.
  • The Murderbot Diaries: This is effectively a feature of the ubiquitous communication implants that let people transmit multimedia messages directly; and collectively this background communication field is referred to as "the feed". It's actually one of the least-defined parts of the world, but ever-present (much like how a story set in the modern day would not stop to explain the underpinning of smartphones), with the characters or narrator never stopping to explain it, but occasionally discussing it's limitations, such as the inability to deliver software or remotely hack bots over the feed. Messages in the feed are usually akin to text messages or emails, but Murderbot once drops a complex decision tree into its conversation partners' feeds for debate, leaving them squinting. Murderbot also discusses how humans and bots use the feed differently, with humans sub-vocalizing spoken words and "speaking" in the feed, but bots use images and strings of text data to communicate.
  • In My Teacher Is an Alien, Kreeblim captures Duncan and paralyzes him with some sort of force field, then puts a machine on his head that allows her to hear his thoughts. Shortly after, he's able to communicate with Peter (who chose to Stay with the Aliens) while he's also using alien technology.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Borg in the various Star Trek series have built-in "neural transceivers" to connect their minds into the Collective. Each Borg ship contains a device called a "vinculum" which transmits, receives and edits thoughts to and from connected Borg drones so as to suppress their individuality and direct them in performing their designated functions.
  • In Supergirl (2015) episode "Legion of Super-Heroes", a piece of 31st century technology is used to allow Brainiac 5 to enter Kara's mind. He's even able to do that while far from Kara's physical location.
  • In The Flash (2014), the team creates a device to let them access the mind of someone to get some critical information. Harry later modifies it so he can transmit his thoughts and feelings about his late wife to their daughter, since he's notoriously bad regarding talking about his emotions.
  • In Dollhouse, the Rossum Corporation developed a breed of Hive Mind-ed supersoldiers who communicated this way. However, the hive mind had a weakness in that if someone else could tap into it, they could royally screw up the mental communication between soldiers.
  • While being interrogated in the Doctor Who series, "The Space Museum", the Doctor is put up against a device that can transmit his thoughts onto a screen. The intent is to get answers based on what the Doctor thinks when asked a question, regardless of what he says out loud. It fails, as the Doctor just transmits images of random things such as an old-style big-wheeled bicycle when asked how he got there.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In the episode "Living Hell", a doctor saves a wounded man's life by implanting an experimental neutral transmitter in his brain. A side effect of this is that he can now see the thoughts of an elusive serial killer who was given the same implant and had faked his own death afterwards.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Eclipse Phase most people have access to the setting's internet successor via implants that make telepathy about as common as talking. The fiction notes "mesh communication" via Rainbow Speak.
  • Shadowrun has had this roughly since 4th edition onwards.
    • In almost all cases, it's pretty much sending text or voice messages through the Matrix in a world where Direct Neural Interface is easily achieved. One just needs a set of trodes to wear on the head (preferably worked into a fashionable piece of headwear), and either a commlink (smartphone) or cyberdeck (tablet/laptop), and you're ready to go. Technomancers can just skip the hardware.
    • Means to achieve DNI are pretty diverse, too.
      • The most common are trodes, a commercially available net of electrodes for the head, workable into items of clothing. Recent innovations have miniaturized this into a single patch about the size of a quarter, usually flesh colored so that you can inconspicuously put it on the forehead instead of keeping a patch of your scalp shaved.
      • Old fashioned datajacks are increasingly uncommon, but are still loved by enthusiasts and pros. They also have the benefits of a wired connection which can't be sniffed out or tampered with by hackers, come with hardware which gives slight signal compensation, and can connect two people who can communicate with no further hardware needed.
      • Implanted links and decks are considered cool in concept, but stupid in practice, both in and out of the universe. It renders the hardware virtually inaccessible, meaning each time you need a repair or a routine upgrade (roughly every one or two years), you need to get brain surgery, a risky and distasteful proposition even with the advanced medicine in the cyberpunk future. It might be an acceptable tradeoff for the average working joe, but for shadowrunners who need to replace and repair gear regularly, this is incredibly impractical. There are workarounds, though. Repair nanites can be used as an addon, but can get expensive. Additionally, they can by incorporated into a cybernetic skull or half-skull, keeping the connections to the brain, but allowing easier access to the hardware for repair or replacing. In general though, it's probably best to plug an external commlink into a datajack unless you have a reason to keep the commlink concealed.
    • Technomancers have a mind that access the Matrix naturally, and hence can do everything that a link or deck does, and much more. They also have the ability to upgrade their powers to interact with other devices with a touch, and hence communicate "electroically" through skin-on-skin contact with other technos with the skinlink ability. They can also get an ability to have a true, one-way telepathic link to other technos, which can be used in the opposite direction for a full telepathic link.
  • Mindjammer has a whole list of "technopsi" abilities that are used through the Mindscape.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • It's never spelled out, but this appears to be how the Martians' collective consciousness works in A Miracle of Science: faster-than-light communications gear (which may or may not be the same thing as the radio communication demonstrated on numerous occasions) incorporated into the nanotech that suffuses their bodies.
  • One of the "upgrades" that CORE soldiers in S.S.D.D can get.
  • Relays in Alien Dice allow this.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • One of the relatively minor characters is from a species that evolved a natural form of this, specifically an organic radio transmitter/receiver. The one shown has a single consciousness split across two bodies, and with a little added hardware to enable communication via hyperspace nodes his range is extended to the point where he can pilot two separate tanks simultaneously with a level of tactical co-ordination that normally only an AI can manage.
    • Essperin are a mechorganic cyborg species that developed radio communication by necessity of their space-based lifestyle.
    • Some human characters with backgrounds in espionage have "bone phones" implanted in their ears.
  • In A Girl and Her Fed, Agents can communicate this way via their implant.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Referenced when Annie impersonates a robot to infiltrate a robot-run administration centre and has a conversation with the receptionist:
    Receptionist: You realize I could have told you all this in about 1/25th of a second if You'd had a communications port installed.

    Web Original 
  • Limetown: The scientists in Limetown were trying to figure out how to do this.
  • In Darwin's Soldiers, Dragonstorm has an entire "thought network" which is exactly this. Mole Shelton brings some of the chips for the main characters to use.

    Western Animation 
  • The Mindnet device in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. It was used mostly to crank up the abilities of existing psychics (The Queen and Niko), but was used by Nimrod during "Battle of the Bandits" to stupefy an audience already ensnared by The Power of Rock.
  • In Voltron: Legendary Defender the five lions that form voltorn are explicitly said to be able to link with their pilot's minds allowing for more fluid control and the ability for the pilot to see through their lion's eyes.

    Real Life 

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