6 Pieces Of ‘Ghost In The Shell’ Tech We Can’t Wait For
More than anything, Ghost In The Shell is a story about technology. Despite the many changes the narrative has undergone through its various adaptations – from the original 1989 manga to this year’s live action film starring Scarlett Johansson – the tale of “The Major “and “Section 9” has always centred on the line between humanity and technology, and what questions about our selves might be raised by the blurring of that line.
The result of this is two-fold. Firstly, it means the story always features characters mulling over complex philosophical questions of their own existence. Secondly, it means we also get to see these characters playing around with the kind of fantasy sci-fi tech that gets nerds like me all hot under the collar. And I do mean a lot of it.
In order to help spread our excitement about the film’s upcoming release on 4K UHD, 3D, Blu-ray & DVD – and instead of focussing on how sweaty the film’s Cyberpunk vision of Neo-Tokyo got me – we’ve decided to put together a little list of 6 Pieces Of Ghost In The Shell Tech We Can’t Wait For.
Who hasn’t ever wished they could turn invisible on a whim? Well, the Active Camouflage used in the movie by both Scar Jo/The Major (in exoskeleton form) and the mind controlled sanitation workers (in poncho form) could let you do just that. Beautifully rendered in the film’s amazing chase sequence between The Major and the mind controlled minions – which I have to point out is perhaps one of the best live action anime action sequences yet to grace our screens – it doesn’t take much to imagine all the fun you could have or havoc you could wreak with such tech. Good thing there are already some basic prototypes out there then, although it might take another two decades or so before anyone outside the military gets to play around with it.
Imagine if you needed help on a project for work or school and instead of having to ask for someone to explain something to you, you could just link brains and share understanding and knowledge like that. This is what learning might be like if the “Cyber-Brains” from Ghost In The Shell ever become a reality. And it just looks like it might, with huge advancements in neural link technology in the past decade or so allowing amputees to control prosthetics with their mind, with some even building them themselves out of junk. Meanwhile, others have shown how that technology, when linked to another person’s limb, can be used as a rudimentary form of mind control. Take this a couple of steps further and connect two of these kinds of interfaces through the internet and you’ve pretty much got a Ghost In The Shell Cyber-Brain, capable of the kind of “deep dive” mind sharing we see in the film. Don’t hold your breath on this one though, as we still need to learn a lot more about how the human brain works before we can hope to start plugging them into each other.
I may be in a minority here, but I have been wanting a cyborg body ever since The Terminator and Robocop came to dominate my childhood imagination. And while the superhuman cyborg bodies of Ghost In The Shell might not yet be a reality, the advancements in the fields of robotic prosthetics in the last decade have brought us pretty damn close. Of all the different developments, the one most closely related to the body-mod culture depicted in the film would have to be modern day “bio-hackers” like Amal Graafstra – the US citizen who recently implanted micro chips into his own hand so he can enter and leave his house without having to use a pesky key. It’s not exactly Batou’s X-ray eyes from the film, I know, but the fact that someone out there is surgically inserting tech into their bodies is just so much more sci-fi than robotic arms and legs.
We all remember the vaguely unsettling Tupac hologram from Coachella a couple of years ago, not to mention some rather embarrassing attempts to do something similar since. The holograms in Ghost In The Shell, however, blow that kind of fare out of the water. Being the size of skyscrapers, they loom over Neo-Tokyo like Godzilla if he were spruiking the latest in Cyberpunk consumer goods and services. Still, even this scale is closer than you think, with projects like the Kickstarter-funded Holovect platform already letting people draw 3D images in the air with light. Still a ways away from being able to bring to life the kind of complex corporate totems we see in the film, the development of this kind of tech, along with advances in augmented reality, means we might only be as much as five years away from having holograms festooned around the major metropolises of the world like Christmas lights.
I don’t think I can ever truly describe how disappointing the reality of an Omnibot was for a child with The Jetsons inspired dreams of the future like mine. Compared to that callous late ’80s attempt to ruin my childhood, the drink serving – and later neck breaking – cyborg geisha featured in Ghost In The Shell are amazing… their murderous rampage aside. Unfortunately, though, this level of Robo-service is still very far off apparently, because despite the fact we already have robots that stack shelves, milk cows and construct cars, serving food and drink is curiously difficult for AI to master. So just think on that next time you are complaining about bad service at a restaurant.
The question of the possibility – or rather the reality – of immortality underscores the entire premise of Ghost In The Shell. If the human mind can be downloaded into an entirely synthetic body, what is stopping someone from jumping from body to body for the rest of eternity and thereby become functionally immortal? Nothing that’s what. Especially when you add in the prospect of the internet acting as a giant ephemeral host body for any number of minds, or should I say ‘ghosts’. As for how soon we might be able to get our hands on this one, surprisingly it seems closer than you would think with noted futurist Ray Kurzweil predicting we will be able to upload our brains into computers by 2030, while Russian tech millionaire Dmitry Itskov is hoping to let us all live forever by 2045 as part of his 2045 Initiative. Who knows, maybe we will all live long enough to have Robot Butlers after all?
‘Ghost in the Shell’, new to 4K UHD, 3D, Blu-ray & DVD.