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Wetware Body

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"Not just a body. The best body, can ya dig it? I pulled the best specimen and tweaked it up with nanotechnology. Muscle fiber five times stronger, faster![...]A Super UNISOL with S.E.T.H.'s own thought matrix for a brain! The next level of evolution, man and computer..."

A Wetware Body is when a biological Host is possessed by a computer or other artificial intelligence (named after a casual term for the biological equivalent of hardware, as in Wetware CPU). This can lead to the host acting either like a machine (monotonic, unemotional, unfocused on anything but objective), as it normally would (if the possessing A.I. is a good actor), or anywhere in between. In science fiction discussion circles it's often referred to as "cybrid", after the moniker used in Hyperion Cantos, however, the concept is rare enough that the term remains relatively obscure.

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Frequently this process has the side effect of causing the A.I. to feel emotions for the first time, which may act as the trigger to self-awareness and empathy, or like a virus that inevitably destroys the mechanical hijacker.

Wetware Body characters are most likely to appear in Sci-Fi horror genres, or in stories where machines and artificial intelligences are common, or at least present by some capacity.

A subtrope of Meat Puppet. See Also, Meat Sack Robot.

Note: Becoming a Wetware Body means you are the host, not the possessor. For the other way around, see Wetware CPU. Do not confuse with Wet Sari Scene.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ghost in the Shell has what amounts to technological zombies; human corpses with the frontal lobe replaced by a transmitter so their body can be manipulated by an A.I. This is more often done by a remote control hacker, however. In the manga Human-Error Processor it's suggested locking a person suspected of being a remote-controlled zombie into a room that's a complete Faraday's cage, making it impossible for the signal to reach him, while in the 2nd Gig series it's revealed that a zombie was controlled through a wired transmitter in the same room, since the encounter was deep underground where conventional wireless signals can't reach.
  • It's implied in Haruhi Suzumiya that Yuki and the other Data Interfaces are something like the cybrids from Hyperion Cantos. That is, an artificial and fully organic human body created to serve as a vessel for an alien intelligence. Whether their minds are also artificial constructs created by the Data Overmind or are extensions of the Overmind itself is unclear (it may even be a little of both).
  • In Mahoromatic, the titular character's creator Matthew originally existed as an AI for the Saint planet before being given a lab-grown body by its own creator.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Matrix Reloaded, Smith escapes into the real world through Bane's body.
  • Deadly Friend: The combination of Robot Poisonous Friend B.B.'s CPU and recently dead girlfriend Sam.
  • Phantasm: The spheres can control a body in the sense of a Meta Mecha as they are revealed to be Wetware CPU's
  • Tank Girl: Kesslee uploaded his mind after decapitation only to attach a holographic device projecting his head to his headless body.
  • The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes is a mild example — a power surge causes a Magical Computer to involuntarily download itself into the brain of a kid who was trying to service it. As a result, he gains its powers of lightning-fast calculation and instant data recall, as well as a dump of its memory that he repeats when he hears the code "Applejack".
  • Terminator: Technically many of the Killer Robots are Cyborgs with a living biological covering grown in a lab.
  • Screamers: One model of the titular screamers Kill and Replace soldiers using Human Resources.
  • In Universal Soldier: The Return, the rebelling AI SETH implants itself into the body of an advanced UniSol to face off Van Damme. Also, this allows him to escape the facility his computers were housed in, making it harder to shut him down.
  • Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide includes Decrainiated; humans that have had the tops of their heads replaced with Droid bits.
  • The Machine: features chips augmenting, and later supplanting, soldiers who suffered brain trauma.
  • This is the premise of Upgrade: After being rendered quadriplegic, Grey Trace receives an implant with an AI, called STEM, that can move his body for him; with his permission. By the end, STEM has taken over completely.
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    Literature 
  • The Hyperion Cantos has a peculiar spin on this: Human bodies (with no memories) are grown so that an AI can take over; the AI-in-a-human-body is termed a "cybrid." The interesting thing about them is that they tend to act as human, rather than like machines (because the AIs in the Hyperion universe are remarkably human), and many if not most are based on historical personalities (one based on John Keats is central to the story).
  • A major subplot of Xenocide involves finding a Wetware Body for Jane.
  • In the Star Trek novel Q Squared one of the alternate timelines has Data as a positronic brain in a biological body. He and his android counterparts discuss the advantages and drawbacks.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's novel Time Enough for Love has one of these created.
  • The Ursula K. Le Guin novel City of Illusions features a society which considers that a proper use for mentally inferior people.
  • Link, evil A.I. of Belisarius Series can possess the body of specific (from the same family, autistic) and specially trained woman, wiping out her personality in process. Creepy part starts when it starts speaking in A.I. voice...
  • In Ancillary Justice, Radchaai warships have AIs linked to many such bodies (the titular ancillaries) in a Hive Mind. The protagonist is one such AI that has been reduced to a single remaining body.
  • In Worm, Dragon uses mindless Meat Puppets that she can upload her consciousness into to pilot her Powered Armor, as a way of getting around her hard coded behavioral restrictions.
  • Schild's Ladder features Transhuman Aliens so advanced that the line between natural and Artificial Intelligence is essentially gone. Most people travel across interstellar distances by Brain Uploading, beaming their consciousness over, and downloading themselves into a purpose-built body at the destination. Some characters prefer to exist as Virtual Ghosts, like a friend of Tchicaya's who commissions a wetware body only for special occasions.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Entity", an alien computer intelligence that had previously taken over the base's computer system jumps to and takes over Samantha Carter's body in order to communicate its intentions.
  • In the Season 7 episode of Star Trek: Voyager entitled "Body & Soul", the Doctor has to hide from a race who doesn't allow photonics. He downloads his program into Seven of Nine's consciousness and takes temporary control of her body, using it to indulge himself in way he wouldn't normally be able to do. Primarily by overeating and getting intoxicated. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Several show up in Lexx, notably 790 series cyborgs (human from the neck down), moth-breeders (mostly human but lobotomized), and mantrid drones (flying human arms).
  • Occurs in the Red Dwarf episode "Bodyswap" where Rimmer and Lister switch bodies, since by that point Rimmer is in fact a hologram created from a digital copy of his formerly organic (and alive) self. Since Rimmer hadn't been alive for well over three million years, Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "The Grid", a cognitive computer known as a neural network processor was designed by the US government and a private company to communicate electromagnetically with the human brain so that messages could be sent directly to soldiers in the field. The small town of Halford, Washington was used a testing ground and dozens of antenna towers were installed for that purpose. Over the course of several years, the computer was able to take over the minds of almost everyone in town. When Scott Bowman visits Halford after the death of his brother Peter, he discovers what the computer is doing and it communicates with him by speaking through several townspeople.
  • The second episode of the 2010/2012 Dirk Gently television series features an artificial intelligence downloading itself into the mind of a braindead girl.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Bioshells from the GURPS setting Transhuman Space are bioroids (or more rarely, reconstructed corpses) whose brains have been replaced with hardware so they can be used as a shell for an AI or Ghost.
  • In Eclipse Phase AGIs can be sleeved in biomorphs just as easily as the average human can be sleeved in a synthmorph. They can also inhabit someone's mesh inserts or a "ghostrider" implant, and control them with a "puppet sock".
  • Shadowrun gives us Cognitive Fragmentation Disorder, formally a medical disease caused by nanites carrying an AI gets into the bloodstream and overwrites the mind of the infectee. Most of these AIs are simple digital intelligences evolved from things like a bot program or a pilot program, so no godlike AGI riding around in a meat body (that's a whole other can of worms). Infectees (known on the streets as "head cases", though they call themselves "monads") are outwardly normal, but a head case's original owner, at best, will be gone, though there are many cases where they ride as a helpless passenger.

    Video Games 
  • The Murakumo units in the BlazBlue are Artificial Humans who are designed to serve as vessels for the titular power armors' programmings.
  • Lynx in Chrono Cross turns out to be the host of the FATE computer system which has been manipulating the islands for thousands of years.
  • Occurs in Tales from the Borderlands when the Handsome Jack AI (copied off of Jack before he died) gets into Rhys' cybernetics when he plugs in a chip to be able to pass as a member of Hyperion.
  • The ending of System Shock 2 reveals that SHODAN had possessed Rebecca Siddons' body through an implant she found earlier in the game.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • A.I.s (or at least certain ones) are capable of taking over the mind and body of the soldier whose armor they're in. In fairness, although the Freelancer Project didn't stop using AIs after discovering this, they did try to remove the one who started it. Emphasis on the word try, as O'Malley had figured out how to Body Surf at this point. The others shown to be capable of this are Tex and Church, who both simply take over the body of the person they "possess", and Sigma, who, like O'Malley, is more about influence than direct control. On the other hand, even if an AI is not taking over their partner's body, they still can affect their mind and thought process to some degree, as seen by the examples of Carolina (went nuts after getting two AIs implanted) and Washington (went nuts after Epsilon went nuts while implanted).
    • Washington is arguable as the Reconstruction and later Season 10 suggest that his "madness" was likely due to learning of the horrors that Director Leonard Church inflicted on Alpha-Church (and, by association, Epsilon-Church). Upon waking up and realizing Carolina had gone temporarily insane due to conflicting AIs, Wash argued the same happened to him so that he could begin his lifelong campaign of trying to expose The Director while rescuing Epsilon and Alpha.
    • In fact, for the first several seasons, Church thinks he's human, having been programmed to. He was actually implanted into the body of Private Jimmy. The implantation procedure and the memory block created a false memory of Church being stationed on Sidewinder and of his unit being attacked by Tex, with Tex beating Private Jimmy to death with his own skull, while Jimmy is screaming "That doesn't seem physically possible!" In fact, Jimmy did scream that as he was being forcibly implanted. Jimmy was accidentally killed by Caboose/Sheila, although Church survived by instinctively copying himself to another armor.

    Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius: At some point prior to the story, Lucrezia Mongfish was conducting experiments in transferring minds between organic and mechanical bodies. Her "finest work" was the Muse of Protection, Otilia, whose mind was placed into the organic body that came to be known as Von Pinn.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, Petey uses illegal cloning equipment to create multiple flesh-and-blood bodies for himself. This allows him to escape his hardwired loyalty to the Ob'enn race and suborn other Ob'enn ships by simply throwing the loyalty switch on their AIs and then issuing new orders.
    • After one of DoytHaban cyborgs got his brain cooked with a laser shot, his Haban part (implanted AI) chose to regrow the tissue and "extend" into now-blank brain, thus becoming a hybrid AI/wetware entity. He even got married later.
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger: The commander rents a biosynth hybrid positronic AI in a bioengineered body as a somewhat snarky "bloodhound".
  • Red Space Blues: AMI is normally a projected hologram from a robotic body she is, however, capable of decapitating then controlling a headless body all while staying Three Laws-Compliant by making sure no-one dies.
  • A key plot twist in Genocide Man relies on this. In the setting, AI inevitably goes insane (the smarter, the quicker) and commits suicide with collateral damage. One character found a way to use Wetware Bodies to avoid this... as the AI death spiral only happens if the AI is aware they are an AI. Put an AI into a wetware body and activate it with the right false memories and perception filters to make it think it is a human, and the AI remains stable... unless something the perception filter can't handle makes them realise what they are, of course. Then the AI death spiral kicks in.

    Western Animation 
  • Code Lyoko stars an antagonist A.I. named XANA, who later into the series gains the ability to possess living creatures, its logo usually illuminates and appears in a person's eyes or forehead to reveal this.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog focuses an entire episode on the house computer possessing the bodies of the old couple that the protagonist lives with, only to grow bored and return to being the computer after a series of death-defying stunts, while Courage spends the episode trying futilely to stop him and protect Muriel's body, despite the fact that the transfer seemingly made her immortal (proved when the computer overuses Eustace's more frail body and it breaks into pieces that remain cognizant).


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