Annalee Newitz writes for io9:
Inception cleaned up in the effects categories at the Academy Awards because they go to movies built around cool ideas. In this case, literally. The centerpiece of the film is a machine that allows clever intruders to enter other people’s dreams and steal their ideas – or implant new ones. Inception is the latest standout example of the mind-manipulation movie, following in the tracks of Memento and classics like George Cukor’s Gaslight. Call them neurothrillers.
What makes neurothrillers relevant now? Sure, we’ve always had psychological suspense flicks, but over the past decade they’ve been coming fast and thick. The Bourne Identity series is one long neurothriller. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind brought the subgenre into the realm of art, while the stinker Johnny Mnemonic did the opposite. Liam Neeson’s new movie Unknown is about a man whose mind has been tampered with, while the much-anticipated Source Code is about Jake Gyllenhaal using futuristic brain tech to jump inside somebody else’s head. And these are just a few of the dozens of movies out there dealing with people whose memories are altered or blocked off – or whose entire identities are fabrications.
The question is, why have our minds become crime scenes?
There’s a simple answer to start with, which is that many of these stories are just giving us futuristic snapshots of technologies that have evolved over the past decade. Using brain implants such as Braingate, or just an Emotiv headset, you can interface with your computer using just the power of your brain. “Neural pacemakers” implanted under the skin can stimulate specific nerves, delivering jolts that relieve depression or give orgasms.
With weird brain tech making the headlines, it’s no wonder that we’re awash in movies like Inception or Eternal Sunshine. These film’s genius lies in their ability to extrapolate what the world will be like when brain-tweaking comes in the form a gadget you can pick up at Best Buy. What happens to identity when you can choose what you want to remember, or edit your child’s memories? And can you ever really dream up a new idea, when you live in a world where even the act of personal creation can be manipulated by some guy on the other end of a brain-to-brain firewire setup?
This is the world we’re about to live in, and so it’s no wonder that our science fiction about it is moving into overdrive…
For more information, see original article.