"He's not a doctor, he's an engineer."
"Wh-why w-would I n-need to whywouldIneedto see an engineer ?"
"Because, we're going to try to rebuild you".
"yes, medical science hasn't found a way to regenerate functional circuits, but what we can do is replace the missing tissue with a computational prosthesis"
"look, you know how if you lose an arm, we can't grow it back, but we can give you a robotic arm that approximates the original?"
"well, the damage you sustained can't be repaired. The historic medical treatments are barbaric : destroying more of the brain or causing functional lesions with pharmaceuticals. Well, compared to a computational prosthesis, these old techniques are worse than a wooden leg"
"Some altered perception, altered consciousness, but nothing worse than what you've been experiencing since the accident. You will become dependent on the prosthesis, if it becomes damaged or is turned off the symptoms will reappear".
"well, it more or less dynamically substitutes for the brain structures that were destroyed".
"primitive structures, yes, but they form part of conscious experience".
"somy-my-I w-wi llbe my-m ind-wi ll-ext end-in-into the he-comput puterprosthetic?"
"yes, you could say that".
— trying to make up disorganized dialog for the patient might have been dumb, but I also felt like if the patient seemed completely together, we'd wonder why they needed a computer to replace part of their brain. can anyone think of a better justification for a prosthesis that supplants a lost part of consciousness ?
post edit :
The science fiction concepts of cyborgs, bionic men, and brain-computer interfaces have been around for some time. The exciting thing is that these technologies might actually be set to become a reality with (some of) our lifetimes. See Andres M. Lozano for deep brain stimulation to correct movement disorders, treat obesity, and improve memory. See John Donohue, Andy Schwartz, and Krishna Shenoy for some of the big names in brain computer interfaces.
Among the many logical next steps is to pair neural recording and neural simulation. Passively forwarding spikes from recording to stimulation may be able to help with paralysis. Recording spikes, performing a computation to mimic missing brain function, and feeding the inputs back in to the brain, may be able to treat more complex movement disorders, or to better treat existing movement disorders. At some point, as such computational prosthetics increase in sophistication, we might be able to say that a portion of a person's consciousness is being supported in silico. Speculation ? yes, but not nearly as far off as we might think. The major barriers, are, of course, securing adequate funding, bio-compatible and durable materials, well trained scientists and surgeons, and an understanding of the computational role of structures commonly damaged in disease.