An oppressive government entity roughly 70 years in the future has access to elite--albeit experimental--technology. One such technology is a brain chip that allows its soldiers to control simple machines. It's fairly limited to just an on/off process, like we see in some technology today (I think of games like Mindflex).

If nanobots were introduced to a victim's bloodstream, could an on/off process be able to contract nanobots in areas of the body to stop a victim's heart, deflate his lungs, or rupture a spleen? Remember, it's only an on/off process, so they wouldn't necessarily be able to control the nanobots to specific places or do specific things. Only simple actions like "contract/relax," etc.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you going for pain? Or psychological I almost died? $\endgroup$
    – Pliny
    Oct 27, 2018 at 2:20
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You can do these things by straightforward medical means (e.g. drugs, gas, electrical). Why complicate life with nanobots ? In the "near" future more sophisticated devices might be possible to implement the simple methods, but nanobots just seems overly complex to me. Also the things you mention (stopping a heart, rupturing a spleen) are likely to kill someone very quickly - they're really useless as torture as you really want the victim to live to the point they want to die (and longer). Simple electrical shocks work better. $\endgroup$ Oct 27, 2018 at 2:33
  • $\begingroup$ Hello Jay. I apologize that it's hard to describe this kind of question with a simple title, but it's type is something like this: "you're asking about whether or not a fictional technology can be used to do something. The answer is always 'yes' because it's your story. If you ask whether or not it's believable, the answer is also 'yes' because you control how your story is presented." This leads me to ask, what are you actually interested in knowing? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Oct 27, 2018 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ Garret -- probably both. Pain would be the main factor, though, since the government agency typically keeps its victims alive. $\endgroup$
    – Jay Dee
    Oct 27, 2018 at 2:39
  • $\begingroup$ StephenG -- you make a fair point, because nanobots seem to be overwhelmingly complex. I'd love to simplify it. So I guess I'm mainly looking for a way to manipulate those organs instantaneously--think of Darth Vader crushing a throat and then letting go when he's made his point. Ex: squeeze a heart until a victim thinks he may die, cause the stomach to contract so painfully a victim could vomit, etc. $\endgroup$
    – Jay Dee
    Oct 27, 2018 at 2:42

1 Answer 1


The nanotech won't try to stop someone's heart or anything that could risk the victim's life. Instead, when activated, it turns into a synthetic histamine, that bonds to the same receptors as the natural stuff, just stronger. Histamine is a chemical involved with itching, commonly from bug bites.

Imagine, if you would, the ability to make the victim feel like their entire body is covered with bug bites, at will. Well, not quite at will, as the nanotech will be floating in the bloodstream and need a moment to come across a receptor. The reverse will be instant, though, as the nanotech will no longer fit into the receptor, ending the effect.


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