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A neural lace is a general purpose biomechanical[1] computer implant.


Biological regulation and interfacing[]

Laces may autonomously regulate the flow of gland secretions to enhance bodily responses and functions.[2] Laces may go to sleep with their host, and awaken from an adrenaline rush.[3] They may wake their host in response to urgent communications.[4]


Voice and data may be transmitted directly to and from the brain via the lace.[3][5] The communications function is optional.[6]

Laces functioned as internal versions of terminals in the Culture.[4]

A person communicating through a lace, or deeply invested in a lace-supported simulation, tend to develop a vacant look on their face[7][8], as well as being silent.[9][10]

Laces may be constructed with an entanglement facility for a one-way one-use emergency transmission from the lace.[11]

Memory storage[]

A lace improves memory retention and recall.[2] It actively manages memory to minimize losses.[12] However, it does not prevent noticeable loss or change of personality in long-lived persons.[12]

Information retrieval and display[]

A lace may be used for general information retrieval[2][10][1] and connecting to dataverses.[13] Laces may negotiate connections with dataverses of alien polities.[5]

A lace may create virtual screens over the eyes. A screen over one eye requires attention of only half the brain; the other half may continue to handle interactions with the real world.[14]

Virtual representations of dataverses may also be created, with the presented information being based on the lace's predictions of its host's needs. The representations could be near overwhelming, despite only being a fraction of the complexity and depth normally experienced by Minds.[13]

The experience provided by a lace may feel more "real" than the real world due to its detail and immersiveness.[13]

A lace also served as a timekeeping device.[3][2]

Machine interfacing[]

The lace may be used to interface with machines.[5]

Data from a spacecraft's sensors may be routed into a lace.[15] The lace allows machines to be controlled a natural extensions of the host's body.[16][17]

A Culture lace was sufficient to perform space navigation within a light year or two of an Orbital.[16]

Awareness speed enhancement[]

The lace - in conjunction with glanding[16] may raise awareness speed to at least near-AI levels.[17] This facilitates machine interfacing and control[16], and data processing.[7]

Mind-state creation[]

A full back-up-capable lace may produce high-fidelity mind-states after many years.[11] The mind-state may be quickly extracted from the lace at any time.[18][19]


A lace may monitor the health of other body implants and augmentations; this may be a security feature to guard against hostile action disabling those implants and augmentations by stealth.[5]

A Culture lace signalled its destruction - such as by effector attack - through a sensation resembling a tiny brittle wire breaking in the host's head; this was "heard" by the host.[20]

Construction and structure[]

The lace grows[5] from an implanted seed, interpenetrating and coexisting with the host.[11] An existing lace could be quickly modified with outside help, but it could take a few days for it to bed-in properly afterwards.[21]

A lace resembled a three-dimensional[5] mesh of fine wires[14][22] that was slippery and light to the touch.[14] A full lace increased the bulk of a brain by less than 0.5%.[22] The wires could appear as glisteningly blue[14] or silvery-blue in colour.[22]

Laces are mostly constructed using bioabsorbable material; only a few particles of exotic matter may be present.[1]

The largest filaments of the lace were hollow and filled with fluid or brain matter when implanted. The smallest filaments were invisible to the naked eye. Level 4 civilizations typically did not have the technology to detect laces.[22]

The largest filaments could survive heat that would incinerate organic matter, although the smallest filaments would be burned away.[22]


Laces may be removed without ill effect.[2]

One method of removing a lace takes a year. The lace gradually withers and shrinks, its minerals and metals are absorbed by the body, and the exotic matter is excreted through urine.[1]


A lace may be corrupted, possibly allowing control over its host; this may be possible under extreme conditions where the lace cannot draw support from external sources.[16]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Surface Detail, chapter 10
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Excession, chapter 5.6
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Excession, chapter 5.4
  4. 4.0 4.1 Excession, chapter 7.2
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Matter, chapter 10
  6. The Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 10
  7. 7.0 7.1 Excession, chapter 1.3
  8. Excession, chapter 6.2
  9. Excession, chapter 8.6
  10. 10.0 10.1 Look to Windward, chapter 7
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Surface Detail, chapter 5
  12. 12.0 12.1 Look to Windward, chapter 15
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Matter, chapter 5
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Excession, chapter 9.7
  15. Excession, chapter 11.7
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 Surface Detail, chapter 3
  17. 17.0 17.1 Surface Detail, chapter 22
  18. Surface Detail, chapter 21
  19. The Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 21
  20. Surface Detail, chapter 25
  21. Excession, chapter 9.9
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 Surface Detail, chapter 7