The flintlock brain is a primitive form of artificial intelligence loaded inside of an iron mannequin. Knots of jellied sawdust are formed around copper wires, which themselves are coated with black gunpowder. The hammer and frizzen of the firing mechanism rest between its two lobes, typically positioned so that they can remain exposed outside the android’s metal skull.
A single idea or emotion is all that the apparatus can manage, as it is entirely destroyed at the moment it is triggered. After the initial eruption of thought, the remaining gel is consumed by fire. This has led to much speculation as to what exactly the mannequin thinks about during its short life, as its thoughts exist in a total absence of precedent and external information.
The android’s skull can usually be reloaded, as long as its iron shell is durable enough to withstand the brain’s explosion. It is not clear, however, if identity is preserved from one brain to the next. Various experiments have been posed to clarify the continuity of its consciousness, from the production of multi-chambered brains to the use of slow-burning fuels. Very few of these tests have actually been carried out, however, as there is little that can be learned through mere observation.
Given their isolation from worldly experience and suffering, some believe that these androids immediately achieve enlightenment at the point of firing. Others argue that activating them is a form of murder, and that the only ethical treatment of a being with such a brain is to allow them to exist in a state of total lifelessness. There are also skeptics who do not believe that what happens inside the mannequin’s head can be classified as thought at all; even so, they often have reservations about pulling the trigger themselves.