States Of Mind - Real Worlds


2016070720180410 (R4)

Jane Rogers drama imagines a future in which virtual and real world boundaries blur.

Radio 4 drama

It is 2030, and for the past fourteen years Charlie's mother Ella has been confined to her hospital room following a brain injury. Although Ella has remained behaviourally unresponsive, she is conscious and able to communicate using Virtual Reality (VR) and a Brain Computer Interface (BCI) which controls a speech synthesiser. Charlie has struggled growing up without the support of her mother and is reluctant to communicate with her mother in VR. Charlie has her own problems with a new baby, a husband who spends all his time in VR and a young son Kieran who she fears is heading the same way. But will Kieran be the key for Charlie to reconnect with her mother?

Real Worlds was developed through Wellcome Experimental Stories in consultation with Anil Seth (Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience and co-director at Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, University of Sussex). The drama was inspired by the themes of the current States of Mind exhibition at Wellcome Collection in London which explores the nature of consciousness and runs until 16th October 2016.

The drama imagines a time when advances in neuroscience have made interaction through VR and BCI not only possible but fluent. Even today, new research is able to decode some aspects of people's mental states by combining brain imaging with machine learning: 'brain reading'. The technologies of brain implantation and VR are advancing rapidly. Fourteen years provides a plausible horizon for when these technologies could provide new opportunities for immersive interactions in VR without relying on the physical body.

Written by Jane Rogers
Directed by Nadia Molinari
Sound Design by Steve Brooke
Programme Consultant Anil Seth.