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PG-13 | 1h 47min | Action, Crime, Drama | 31 March 2017
Plot: In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.
Director: Rupert Sanders
Writers: Shirow Masamune (based on the comic “The Ghost in the Shell” by), Jamie Moss (screenplay)
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Takeshi Kitano
“Ghost in the Shell” was in fact originally derived from the phrase “ghost in the machine” coined by Oxford philosopher Gilbert Ryle, to mock the Cartesian dualism on the mind–body problem. A “Shell” in computing, is a user interface for access to an operating system’s service: CLI or GUI. It is named a “shell” as it is a layer around the operating system kernel which, whereas, unlike Shell, cannot have direct contact with outside.
“Ghost” here represents the kernel, to distinguish it from Spirit/Soul, it is not some human-only feature “but a phenomenon that appears in a system at a certain level of complexity” (the word “sentient” might be a better explanation of this phenomenon), which makes me wonder if the thousand systems of this globe develop at a certain level of complexity, can a God (above-all consciousness) be literarily generated?
As a typical cyberpunk genre, questioning “who am I” in the face of blooming technology vs. self-existence is a common theme in GitS. If our mind/memory can be simulated by artificial intelligence (AI), our body replaced by stronger machine, “Ghost” generated automatically from the sea of information and can be duplicated even when you are dead (immortalizing), then how to identify your unique existence and be you? Who are you now? Should the organic copy be treated less than human, when Puppet Master’s random segments of code has developed to be a self-preserving program as DNA?
This also reminds us of the Resident Evil where in the end Alice finds herself one of the many copies of Alicia Marcus and in the Last Chapter she gains Alicia’s Childhood memory and becomes a complete “Alicia” or her own self? Remember when Puppet Master asking for political asylum? It said that “and life when organize into species relies upon gens to be its memory system. So man is an individual only because of its intangible memory. Memory cannot be defined but it defines mankind”. And Motoko has always been doubting about her real existence and her possibly tampered memory. Maybe she has already died in the first place with only the implanted memory unchanged. Is it the matter of memory/experience that makes you think who you are? But where would that memory be stored? People are seeking the unchangeable part of oneself, whilist the rheologic behavior of mankind denies its existance, leaving only the coherence of consciousness.
These topics: dualism, creationism, Laplace’s demon, Ship of Theseus paradox, social class barrier, humanity, gender identity issue (Motoko can have a male cyborg instead of a female one) etc have been emphasized and discussed here in the GitS franchise as a major philosophic and anthropology lines, which shape one of the 4 typical features of cyberpunk arts. The other 3 structural elements are: super-networked society, monopolized industry, and combination of slumdog & metropolis (Hongkong Kowloon Walled City).
By the way, try giving a serious thought to this dark hypothesis that the individuality of “you” (the ego) is actually generated by your body senses and mind, which might not be the real you. The real “you” is unconsciously trapped in the Shell, guarded by the ego. The more you pursue your own identity, the real “you” is more confined by it. This assumption has also been referred to by Puppet Master talking to major Motoko. Comparing with Eight Consciousnesses in Buddism, Manas and ?laya-vijñ?na are very similar to this concept also, each bringing self-consciousness and storehouse (seed) consciousness (the real you) respectively.
When asked about when will GitS era truly arrive and how similar will the near future be to that of Ghost in the Shell? “We have already been in it, it’s just a matter of time when the mobile phones will be implanted in our heads” replied Oshii. The gender identity crisis, the duplication of human memory, the social class barrier, forming of monopolization, humanity issue, and the advanced cyborgs, just look at Boston Dynamics’s Petman and other anthropomorphic robots like Bina-48 and Siri (AI) and you will be thrilled at how fast the real world is marching towards Cyberpunk universe.