Ghost in the Shell

Next month see’s the UK release of the complete second series of Ghost in the Shell – Standalone Complex 2nd Gig. I already own the complete first series as well as both movies. Over the last month I’ve tried to re-watch the first series although I’m well aware that the second series isnt a continuation from the first or even the two movies.

However it’s gotten me thinking about the pervasiveness of technology in society and how the works of contemporary visionaries such as Masamune Shirow the creator of the original Ghost in the Shell manga, and Kenji Kamiyama who dramatised it into the anime series, as well as other sci-fi writers who have touched upon this genre, most noticeably writers such William Gibson, Theodore Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick etc. are all slowly being translated into reality. Shirow’s work however is focused more tightly on the ethical and philosophical ramifications of the widespread merging of humanity and technology. The development of artificial intelligence and an omnipresent computer network set the stage for a reevaluation of human identity and our sense of uniqueness … which has me hooked!

One of the overriding themes in Ghost in the shell, is how in the future the human race has been cyberized with most humans choosing to have some degree of cyberization, whether that is as little as having a cyber brain case installed to trading their human body for a cyber body free from the weaknesses of our natural form. In Shirow’s vision this cyberizations means human beings are wired into a massive connected network, with information out there in the net accessed directly by the brain. When someone isn’t connected to the net they are often referred to as being in autistic mode.

So where am I headed with all this?…

Well … with the growing popularity of existing services such as Second Life which is one of several virtual worlds that have been inspired by the science fiction novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, it makes me wonder just what is the appeal with the idea of living in an artificial world.

Besides Second Life isn’t a game! It’s a virtual world where some users have gone as far as setting up real monetary businesses and are earning a living from it, for others its simply an escape from their First life. In either case its an interesting phenomenon, I’m not sure what it means for the human race, or even if it means anything at all, personally my First Life far too complicated enough without adding to it the pressures of a Second Life.

Or maybe its just my ghost whispering to me

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