The Neural Links in Atlas explained

In Atlas, Colonel Elias Banks believes that Harlan can be defeated using the Neural Links, but Atlas is convinced that the technology will be their downfall.

When Atlas manages to get Harlan’s whereabouts from Casca, the ICN plans to launch a mission to capture the terrorist. 

Unlike the ICN rangers, Harlan is not human. He is an AI robot hiding on an uninhabitable and hostile planet, where his chances of survival are much greater than those of the ICN rangers. 

To give his squad an advantage over Harlan, Elias decides to use a technology called Neural Links, which was created to connect humans and AI and build a better world by combining their abilities.

The history of Neural Links

Neural Links were invented by Val Shepherd, Atlas’s mother, who was a genius AI expert. She used Neural Links to train Harlan. 

The technology allowed her to neurologically sync with Harlan and control him. Her Neural Link only allowed a one-way transfer of data and commands, from the human brain to the AI.

Harlan was able to manipulate Atlas, who was only ten years old at the time, into giving him the command to alter the Neural Link, as he could not do it without a human’s command. 

Despite knowing that her mother would not approve, Atlas gave the command, leading to Harlan altering the link. 

Atlas Neural Links
Harlan alters the link to make it work both ways

Once Harlan reprogrammed his Neural Link to share data and commands both ways, he and Atlas could see into each other’s minds.

When Val wore the Neural Link, Harlan was able to gain complete control over Val’s movements. He made Val take her own life and became a terrorist. 

Synced rangers

Harlan’s misuse of the Neural Link resulted in the links being outlawed, but twenty-eight years later, Elias uses the latest version of the same links to make his squad more powerful. 

Elias believes that Val was headed in the same direction he is now: using the links to create a safe two-way connection between AI and humans. 

Elias and his squad use these links to neuro-sync with the AI computer programs in their high-powered ARC suits. 

These links allow the humans using them to be a unified whole with their suits by increasing neural pathways in their brains. 

Elias believes that the result is a perfect symbiosis that is neither human nor AI but something unique and powerful. 

Eventually, when Atlas agrees to use the Neural Link to sync with Smith, her analytical mind combines with Smith’s fighting capacity and data access, enabling her to defeat Harlan.

Also Read: Atlas Shepherd: Atlas character explained

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