A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
"I do think there is a link in that in both cases, writing fiction or writing a computer program, at any given moment you're focusing on a very specific and particular thing—one word, one line of code, whatever."
- Neal Stephenson
|Using insects for surveillance.
|“It’s a South American flower beetle-its territory ends four thousand miles south of here.” She plucked it from the raven’s beak. Huginn didn’t put up too much fuss. She examined the beetle as its wings beat furiously to escape. But McKinney was an old hand at handling live insects. The others gathered around her, and she pointed at what appeared to be a large third eye in the center of its head. “How did it get here?”
Odin leaned close to it.
“Someone get me a knife…”
McKinney moved over to the bar, as Foxy started rooting around through drawers.
“Get me some tweezers and a couple pins if you can find them.”
“Right.” He handed her a loose razor blade he found in a utility drawer and kept searching. McKinney held up the huge beetle to the light as Odin sat on the barstool next to her.
It was immediately apparent that the bug had been “altered.” McKinney pointed with the razor blade tip at two plastic objects underneath each wing. “I’ve seen this before.”
“What do you mean you’ve seen it before? Where?”
“At an entomology conference a couple years ago. These are tiny generators, capturing the wing movement to power microelectronics.”
Odin looked incredulous.
“It wasn’t classified-it was brain research. They were looking for a research grant.”
Foxy handed her several sewing needles in a mug and a pair of tweezers.
“Thanks.” She put the razor blade down and grabbed a needle-sticking it straight through the beetle’s brain, killing it, as she anchored the beetle to the bar top. Though dead, the insect’s legs were still scrabbling at the wood.
“Hard core, Professor.”
“We’ll see…” She then took the razor blade and started dissecting the beetle, peeling back the carapace to get at the brain. Almost immediately, she noticed fine fiber-optic threads leading from a tiny camera lens into an electronic device the size of a grain of rice. She used the tweezers to tease it away from the brain and up into the light.
It looked like a tiny CCTV camera and antenna assembly, with Asian characters printed on it.
Odin studied it. “We’re through the looking glass, people.”
Odin pushed away from the bar. “That’s just the camera’s manufacturer, Foxy.”
McKinney nodded. “The conference presentation was on ‘brain-jacking.’ They insert the transmitter directly into the insect’s brain-adding it at the larval stage so the insect grows around it. They leverage an existing nervous system to make a remote-controlled minidrone out of a living thing. All you do is activate the neurons that handle flying, turning, crawling, whatever, and the bug’s own nervous system handles the rest. We all thought the guy was sick. Apparently he found a receptive audience in the military.”
|Technovelgy from Kill Decision,
by Daniel Suarez.
Published by Penguin in 2012
Additional resources -
Read the article on HI-MEMS: Cyborg Beetle Microsystem for information about how this is actually being done, as well as other science fiction antecedents.
Compare to the Roachster from Sparrowhawk (1990) by Thomas A. Easton and the housefly monitor from Lies, Inc. (1964) by Philip K. Dick.
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