Among the concerns I had when writing Imminent Dawn was, frighteningly, one pertaining to the believability of its core concept—namely that anyone would expect an internet-access brain implant to somehow permit an individual in a coma to communicate in any capacity. The adversely affected individual is in a coma, after all; what brain activity could there possibly be?
Ultimately, I decided that those truly interested in the series would simply move past this question and suspend their disbelief, but I’m relieved now to know there might be more to the brain activity of unresponsive patients than once suspected.
As Andrea Park reports in Becker’s Hospital Review, AI has now been used to detect “covert consciousness,” or brain activity on the part of unresponsive patients when prompted with verbal commands.
This is reassuring from a medical perspective, of course, and also for one of the foundational speculative elements of the EMPATHY saga. If unresponsive patients do have some degree of covert consciousness that can be detected when verbal commands are issued, imagine what might be possible if we were capable of communicating brain wave to brain wave via a device similar to EMPATHY.
Readers of Imminent Dawn and Mourning Dove know how this has played out in the EMPATHY series to date, and there’s much more to come. For those who haven’t yet had a chance to check out either of the books available in the series to date, never fear—I’ve got links to them below.