Large Image Display: The Stepford Wives: Merging Human and AI

This single frame is taken from the 2004 film 'The Stepford Wives'. It has been greatly reduced in size from the original, in order to meet fair use guidelines.

It shows the neuroprosthetic arrays used in The Stepford Wives, to control the brains of the wives. Obviously the placement here is wrong, to do what they do. Five ECoG ? electrocorticography ? arrays could not perform the functions of mind control demonstrated in the film, because they do not penetrate deeply into it. Thus they are symbolic of the science involved, rather than prescriptive.

Of course, they also form the foundation for the fear so many have of neuroprosthetics ? that they can grasp onto, hold and control a mind; bending it to the will of a programmer. Whilst this is by and large nonsense, the simplistic and elegant solution proposed by the film, which does not utilise a single neuroprosthetic, but rather an array of them acting as a internal network within the brain ? is not without promise.

In our world, the first steps down this path have also been taken, with Wi-Fi compatible deep brain prosthesis, that talk to another prosthesis arranged on the outer surface of the skull. That network could quite easily be expanded to embedded chips talking to other embedded chips.

That is where the second interesting part of the Stepford Wives neural network comes into focus. They use an aI running on the chips, distributed across them, to dynamically respond to changing brain activity patterns, and retain control over time. Again, an elegant solution to a problem that has been dogging actual research work for years ? maintaining signal strength and cohesiveness around the implant area. We are, of course, decades from being able to run sophisticated computer programs on wetware-embedded microprocessors, but still the direction is fascinating, and serious study on exactly that subject, has commenced.

Link: Co-Processors for the Mind: New Directions in AI

Link: The Stepford Wives: Index of Stills

Link: The Stepford Wives (2004): A Plot Overview

Link: Site Shop > The Stepford Wives (2004)