People who "... do not have more than 65% of their brain function provided by natural human neural tissue" according to a new, pernicious and poorly thought-out law "shall cease to be legal persons and become property of the nearest family member or holder of greatest corporate interest."

Brain implants have been a wonderful new medical technology. They make Alzheimer's less aggressive and destructive, they calm seizures, they even have made addiction possible to conquer for millions of people. Some 40% of the population have some form of artificial addition or replacement in their brains. But, there have always been objectors and conspiracy theories. The lack of transparency of some companies due to IP concerns isn't helping.

Fear rises of "mind controlled" people taking over the government or changing society forever. The first law passed makes it illegal for children to receive brain implants the next targets those who hold public office, this makes the political leaders much more likely to be skeptics or worse people who believe the most outlandish conspiracies. The momentum for the "65" law gains steam and now that it is passed it must be enforced.

  • How will it be enforced?
  • How can people try to get around the law and keep their life saving implants?

(To make things more complex there are ways that those with larger proportions of machine intelligence can seem very different from the 'pure unmodified': Their uncanny memories, their ability to 'talk' to each other effectively through telepathy-- and there are some who think we should do more than just cure disease-- we should actively seek to improve the human mind-- among them is 98, so named because 98% of his brain has been replaced over about a decade. He's a lightning rod figure in the political debate, and some people who simply have one or two small implants think his rhetoric just causes trouble)

  • $\begingroup$ As for a way to get around that law, and still mindcontrol people (not the question, but might be relevant) An implant between the brain and the rest of the body. The brain is 100% original, but all signals go thorugh a filter preventing you from doing or saying anything problematic. (Effectivly rendering you a prisoner in your own body) You know, for those pesky politicians that might grow a conscience and try to prevent big-tech from taking over :D $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2023 at 8:22

4 Answers 4


Power requirements / limits

Poorly thought out laws demand poorly thought out limits.

So some "brilliant" law maker was once told that "CPU cycles demand power". One cycle equals so and so many millijoules / one in a thousand-twentyfourth calories. And one CPU cycle equals so and so much computing power.

The idea that eventually coagulated was that all implants draw power from electrical batteries, so if we set a limit to the amount of energy they may use per day, this puts a limit on the amount of usefulness you can get out of them, and provides an "interface" by which the government may poke their noses in it.

And not only did this "brilliant" congressman manage to make it a law, they made it a constitutional amendment (assuming your setting is mostly US-focused).

So, now that power requirement is frozen for a very long time.

Of course, this was obsolete even before the ink dried on the paper.

  • Power management, the "power cycle" was made much too long — a day or more — which allows people to use it cleverly, in boosts when they really need the implants.

  • The amendment was — true to style — written wrong; it specifies how much energy may be drawn from the battery pack per power cycle, but not where you put it, so that Alice can draw energy from Bob's power pack, and get a double allotment.

  • Newer designs use less power. The more expensive, the less power they draw while still providing the same functionality. Exotic elements — that make implants stupidly expensive — lower the power requirements drastically, giving you a class perspective: the filthy rich can augment themselves silly, the middle and lower classes plod along with older, conventional designs.

  • The law did not specify actual energy or wattage, it specified that common unit by which battery capacity are normally measured: milliAmpereHours. As anyone that knows their basic electrics is aware, if you then up the voltage, you get more energy for the same amount of mAh. Hence, high-voltage power packs provide yet another loop-hole. Downside is that these are pretty dangerous! Having a 400V or more socket in or on your body is associated with risk.

  • People go to shady clinics that promise to be able to sneak them extra power connections that bypass the government power meter. Sometimes it even works.

  • From Somewhere-In-The-World there is a bio-compatible fuel cell implant available that draw fuel and oxygen from the blood, though you have to inject this fuel into the blood, or eat some kind of supplement. Naturally these are completely banned in the US.

  • There is rumours about bio-energy machines, that draw power from the ATP cycle. Vastly advanced stuff, and most people claim it is nothing but a conspiracy theory.

So, how this enforced?

  • By a law / constitutional amendment that limits the amount of energy implants may use per day / two days / week / time limit of your choosing

How do people bypass this?

  • By messing with how much energy the implants use; when they are actually using them; power trading; barely or non-legal body modifications that provide extra power; non-electric power sources.
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I love this. It's just as nonsensical as the law-- so it makes sense? $\endgroup$
    – futurebird
    Jun 27, 2023 at 18:07
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @futurebird Never underestimate the ineptitude of people with an agenda. The more hysterical and nonsensical the agenda, the more ineptitude and failure to see reality. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Jun 27, 2023 at 18:43

Existing legal infrastructure is sufficient for this. Where there is a dispute on who owns the cyborg (or if the cyborg is cyborgish enough to be owned), the civil courts will take over. When owned cyborgs try not to be owned, the police will step in (and if it's a big enough problem, they'll set up a special police force for that).

The only weirdness implied by any of this is in international law and foreign policy. Will Netherlands try to become a safe haven for fugitive cyborgs? Dunno. How will the United States respond, if they do? Dunno.

  • $\begingroup$ How do you know if they "do not have more than 65% of their brain function provided by natural human neural tissue" -- unless everyone is just getting their brains scanned all the time? (could be, but I don't want to make the world just obviously very evil ) $\endgroup$
    – futurebird
    Jun 27, 2023 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ @futurebird The moment you let Elon Musk install the brainchip, it becomes merely a problem of software to scan/monitor. You won't even know about it, it'll be buried on page 882 in a footnote that you permitted them to do continuous scanning. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Jun 27, 2023 at 20:13


If we look at how technology advances, one important advancement is miniaturisation. Take computers. Where we used to have a room with a wall to wall machine for some 'simple' calculations, now we have phones in our pockets who are billions of times stronger and can last a day on a battery. If you knew the old gameboy with it's simple screen you'll appreciate it kore, because it didn't last long on a battery.

Making the implants smaller can reduce the percentage of brain that is a computer. You can cram more of it into a brain before it becomes a problem!


How about just having your normal brain with 98% implants, but still being legal. What constitutes as 'part of the brain"? When it has a connection of course! So what we do is give the implant a bunch of information and close the connection. The implant is no longer seen as part of the brain, while still doing the calculations you want. It resumes the connection when it is done, giving the information back to the brain in a split second. Then closing the connection again until the implant is required again.if it is managed right, you can have the whole brain and implants operating at the same time, while still not crossing that 65% line. Even more interesting is that you can have the implants talk to each other directly, bypassing the brain for most if the time. That way you can be 98% implant man, but being classified as human. You're not in connection with most at any given time, so you're perfectly legal.

  • $\begingroup$ Is the 'who' in "phones who are stronger" a typo or subtle irony? ;-) $\endgroup$
    – Pablo H
    Jun 28, 2023 at 13:56

How is it enforced?

How is any government restriction on goods or services enforced? Paperwork.

You want an implant. The hospital files paperwork with the state health department documenting the proposed implant and how much of its brain activity it's supposed to replace (something the manufacturer ought to be able to tell them, if this has received anything like regulatory approval).

You receive permission and they pop in the chip. Now there's followup paperwork confirming that you actually got the implant, and test results backing up the estimated brain activity level.

Now you want another one. But the department looks at your proposal and notes that, with your previous implants, this would put you over the limit. If you go ahead with the procedure, they'll set in motion legal proceedings to strip your personhood. Or, you can decline and try it again some other time. Maybe you get a chip taken out (with accompanying paperwork!) or you find another manufacturer that will quote you a lower value (accepting the risk that they might be underestimating...) or the hospital can produce test results that your natural brain activity is higher than projected.

How is this backed up? Audits, audits, audits. Hospitals have to keep records of every chip they received, who it was intended for, their correspondence with the health department, whether the plan was accepted or rejected, whether the patient went ahead with it, and what happened to the chip itself afterward. If they say it's still in stock, it better darn well be in the stockroom. If they say it was returned to the manufacturer or destroyed, they'd better have paperwork to back that up.

If your hospital records can't be verified, then the department might decide that they have good enough evidence to presume you had implants put in illegally and start proceedings, forcing you to put up a brain scan proving you're 65% you or lose personhood.

How is it broken?

Better paperwork. Paperwork that says what you want it to say rather than the truth.

Manufacturer's "estimates" that are ludicrously optimistic (manufacturers do enough of this as it is!), or that describe a chip that's slightly different from the one you put in - less invasive, or less powerful. Maybe the bureaucrats won't notice the difference.

Brain scans from the wrong date and time. Trying to pass off your pre-op scans as post-op, or someone else's scans as your own. Scans with some or all of the data outright faked.

Falsified paperwork that shows that you rejected chips when you didn't, or had them removed when you didn't. Falsified paperwork that shows chips being destroyed or resold by the hospital, when they were implanted in you. Fake letters from the health department authorizing surgery.

Or, no paperwork at all. Maybe you know a fence who'll sell you chips that fell off the back of a truck. Or a crooked doctor who'll implant anything you show up with, no questions asked, no paperwork needed. Of course, they'll be in prison for a long time if they're caught, and they're expensive, and you don't know if you can trust them - and they don't know if they can trust you. But that's the life of a cyborg criminal.


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