Cyberpunk Challenge: History with a Ghost

“It can also be argued that DNA is nothing more than a program designed to preserve itself. Life has become more complex in the overwhelming sea of information. And life, when organized into species, relies upon genes to be its memory system. So, man is an individual only because of his intangible memory… and memory cannot be defined, but it defines mankind. The advent of computers, and the subsequent accumulation of incalculable data has given rise to a new system of memory and thought parallel to your own. Humanity has underestimated the consequences of computerization.”

My first real introduction to the cyberpunk world was Ghost in the Shell. Well it was a mix of Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell. I was a little to young at the time to fully understand what Blade Runner was. I just knew I liked it lol. It wasn’t till the 90’s when I really started getting into the cyberpunk world. With movies like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Wicked City, Hackers and not to mention Shadowrun roll playing game(think D&D with computers and techno).

Ghost in the Shell was one that really got my attention and the story line was fantastic. I first saw the movie and then read the manga. I’ve always been draw to the idea of having computers and or technology worked into the human system. What I also like about the series is that it touches on ethics side of things. Forced evolution, where do we draw the line, where do stop being ourselves? Or is it an improvement on who we are or as a human society over all?

I know there is an American philosopher named Daniel Clement Dennett III. His research centered around philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. GITS(Ghost in the Shell) movie and manga both touch on many topics and ideals that Daniel has brought up time and time again over his history. Here are some quotes:

In a New Yorker bit, Daniel states/believes that the consciouness is:

“Something like the product of multiple, layered computer programs running on the hardware of the brain.”

“I’ve been arguing for years that, yes, in principle it’s possible for human consciousness to be realized in a machine. After all, that’s what we are,” he says. “We’re robots made of robots made of robots. We’re incredibly complex, trillions of moving parts. But they’re all non-miraculous robotic parts.”

“If the concept of consciousness were to fall to science, what would happen to our sense of moral agency and free will? If conscious experience were reduced somehow to mere matter in motion, what would happen to our appreciation of love and pain and dreams and joy? If conscious human beings were just animated material objects, how could anything we do to them be right or wrong?”

“If the best the roboticists can hope for is the creation of some crude, cheesy, second-rate, artificial consciousness, they still win.”

Lot of his work fits rather well into the cyberpunk world and if you ever get the chance to find Daniel’s work. I would recommend it. Cyberpunk as a whole is a vary dark and gritty theme. Normally set in a dystopia world or city or divided between two to three different classes of people. because of this theme, personally I think you get some of the best characters out there in any story. You can make them into anything you want at anytime. Look at the story of Matrix and the ability to change anything you want within the computer program. In GITS has much of the same story line, but it’s more of AI changing out bodies or being about to preserve their consciousness into a database server/hard drive . Cyberspace is it’s own things with no real set of rules.

“In the near future: Corporate networks reach out to the stars, electrons and light flow throughout the universe. – The advance of computerisation, however, has not yet wiped out nations and ethnic groups.”

I have a feeling that this challenge is going to be rather different from the ones before. I really no timeline for this to end or a ending in mind. I know I’ll be posting at least once a week, having said that I could be posting multiple topics within that said week. Also I think this going to be rather ethic/thought heavy at times. While yes some stories are just action filled and not as dramatic. There are a number of the stories that are HEAVY on the “who are we?”, “Why are we here?”,”Am I real or just a program?” topics. Aside from there themes, one main theme through out cyberpunk is the life style. The music, art, clothing, how the human body looks. But I’ll get into that at a later date.

Ghost in the Shell was written Masamune Shirow and was first serialized in Kodansha’s seinen manga magazine Weekly Young Magazine from 1989 to 1990. It was later published in one tankōbon volume. Story setting was in mid-21st-century and tells the story of the fictional counter-cyberterrorist organization Public Security Section 9. led by Major Motoko Kusanagi. Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface, which follows the story of Motoko after merging with the Puppeteer. The last volume, Ghost in the Shell 1.5: Human-Error Processor, contains four separate cases.

These books contain Shirow’s thoughts on design and philosophy, sociological issues and the consequences of technological advances. A lot of focus on themes on the nature of consciousness and identity. Several artbooks have been released to detail the concept art and the world of Ghost in the Shell.

Setting for the manga:

In this cyberpunk iteration of a possible future, computer technology has advanced to the point that many members of the public possess cyberbrains, technology that allows them to interface their biological brain with various networks. The level of cyberization varies from simple minimal interfaces to almost complete replacement of the brain with cybernetic parts, in cases of severe trauma. This can also be combined with various levels of prostheses, with a fully prosthetic body enabling a person to become a cyborg. The heroine of Ghost in the Shell, Major Motoko Kusanagi, is such a cyborg, having had a terrible accident befall her as a child that ultimately required that she use a full-body prosthesis to house her cyberbrain. This high level of cyberization, however, opens the brain up to attacks from highly skilled hackers, with the most dangerous being those who will hack a person to bend to their whims.

The Manga is a hit or a miss for most people. There seems to be no middle grown there. Lot of people seem to get lost in the story or become confused with the line of illustrations. Personally I love the manga novels and the rich story plot. But having said that I can see why some people would be come lost, specially if they aren’t use to the cyberpunk world. now the movies and TV shows, I feel do a much better job at getting to the meat of the story for everyone.

Setting for the Movie is rather much the same as the manga:

In 2029 Japan, Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg public-security agent, who hunts a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master. The narrative incorporates philosophical themes that focus on self-identity in a technologically advanced world. The music, composed by Kenji Kawai, includes elements of an ancient Japanese language.

The movie was directed by Mamoru Oshii and written by Shirow Masamune (based on the manga by) (as Masamune Shirow), Kazunori Itô (screenplay). In an interview Mamoru Oshii stated, “My intuition told me that this story about a futuristic world carried an immediate message for our present world. I am also interested in computers through my own personal experience with them. I had the same feeling about Patlabor and I thought it would be interesting to make a film that took place in the near future. There are only a few movies, even out of Hollywood, which clearly portray the influence and power of computers. I thought this theme would be more effectively conveyed through animation.” He also continued these thoughts in a later interview, noting that technology changes people and had become a part of the culture of Japan.

The TV shows and movies are something that I hold close. Personally I feel this is cyberpunk in it’s purest form of the word. Now there is a number of different stories released within the shows and movies and sadly some of them are out of order. So after digging around the interwebs, I found one of the most accurate lay outs on Reddit.

Now there is a new GITS show on Netflix called Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045. This story line follows the events of SAC: Sold State Society (2034). The plot of this show is set in the year 2045, after an economic disaster known as the Simultaneous Global Default which destroyed the value of all forms of paper and electronic currency, the “Big 4” nations of the world are engaged in a state of never-ending “Sustainable War” to keep the economy going. In this world, Motoko, Batou, and other members of Public Security Section 9 have contracted themselves out as mercenaries under the group “GHOST,” using their cybernetic enhancements and battle experience to earn a living while defusing hot-spots across the globe. However, the emergence of “Post Humans” and a conspiracy uncovered by former Chief Aramaki force Section 9 to reunite.

I just started watching this show and so far I like it. There is a lot of tones of Orwell’s 1984 within the show. I know some people didn’t care for the entry of this show and called it weak. But over all I enjoy it, I do wish they went with an illustrated look. Rather than a CGI tone, it is a little off putting at times. So there you have it for today… I’m sure I’ll be posting about Ghost in the Shell again later on haha.


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