I am fascinated by the idea of the link between human consciousness and the human body, and what I percieve to be the potential malleability of this link. As our technology gets more and more sophisticated, the idea of a brain transplant seems ever more plausible. This introduces all kinds of issues regarding the connection that we make between someone’s body and their mind, and the idea that someone can occupy another body but be the same person.
I can’t stress enough how much this issue intrigues me. I think about it all the time. I dream about it. I’ve had dreams where people’s heads have been replaced by mechanical brain casings, and where a man was mutated into a torso and leg (and nothing else) but somehow but remained conscious and fully the same person as he was before. In both cases these people are still people, still human, and still conscious, but their physical forms are so drastically altered that to others they would be percieved as completely different and moreover as not human. Right now I’m writing a story in which a military officer in the future is punished by his superiors by having his brain removed and installed into a robotic walking vending machine. He is doomed to walk up and down the street, having people push buttons on him and dispense drinks and snacks, and be fully conscious but completely unable to express himself or to let anyone know that there is a brain inside the machine.
Or, more importantly, that there is a man inside the machine.
If technology progressed to the point where someone’s brain could be removed and their entire consciousness transplanted into a completely different person or even an inanimate object, and this happened to someone that you loved, could you still love them? If it happened to your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife, could you continue having a relationship with them?
Say someone’s brain could be transplanted, via a biomechanical procedure, into a two-foot-long, two-foot-wide metal box with wheels and a computer screen. Let’s say this happens to your significant other, for whatever reason. The box can move around (in a limited way,) and whatever it was thinking would be displayed in text on the computer screen. It could see and hear, and perhaps also speak via some kind of speaker system. You are to take care of the box (more accurately, your loved one, who has been transplanted into the box.) Could you continue to love this person, and to not be unfaithful? Your loved one’s consciousness is still there, one hundred percent - it just no longer has any kind of physical body. You can still talk to it, and it can still talk to you, but the body is gone.
Would this situation drive you insane? Would it drive you to commit suicide? Would you destroy the mechanical box and kill the brain to free the person inside from being trapped, if he/she requested that you do so?