Week 3/Media and technology/Connor Petty

Virtual and reality have always been separated by a thin line that has become the subject in many films and media. Most notable I would like to mention are The Matrix, Ghost in the Shell, and Serial Experiments Lain. In The Matrix, the concept of a virtual world was viewed as a cage to the mind, not as a realm of unlimited possibilities. While that concept was the foundation of the storyline that focused on trying to escape the matrix, in Ghost in the Shell and Serial Experiments Lain the storyline would focus on the problems of a virtual world or rather a world that is heavily influenced by the internet.

Ghost in the Shell takes place sometime in the future where the development and production of cyber brains and cybernetics is common place. The issues that the show touches upon stem from the mystery of the Laughing Man, a hacker that was the cause of several deaths and a few assassination attempts against a few political figures. The reason that the Laughing Man is able to get away with such things is due to the fact that he never leaves any evidence by hacking into random people’s cyber brains and either modifying their memories or taking total control of them in order to commit some heinous act. What this series portrays so well is the consequences of advanced cybernetic technology. Cybernetics is a very real technology that is being developed and will likely become a very large industry in the near future. The advantages to cyberdization (increased mental capacities such as memory, and internet access directly from your brain) is so great that is it no surprise that it is common place in Ghost in the Shell. A reoccurring theme in Ghost in the Shell shows the consequences of such technology by always asking the questions, “What are memories and how much of memories are real?” This is indeed a good question because the answer becomes very wishy-washy once you begin to store memories in a digital format. Because memories become digital, they can be created, changed, or destroyed if they are hacked, which is what the Laughing Man is known best for. I don’t know if I should look forward to this future or not, but either way, these are issues that should try to be solved as early as possible.

An alternative semi-futuristic setting in Serial Experiments Lain depicts the evolution of the internet into something called the “wired”. Wires are a very big theme in show because every other scene seems to be showing cables, telephone wires, or large electrical transformers. But the premise of the show is that with the growth of technology, the ease at which the internet can be accessed and the influence that the internet has upon society greatly increases. Serial Experiments Lain however, took that premise to the extreme by somehow proposing the idea that the internet evolved so much that it could affect reality itself, which meant that the boundary between virtual and reality became nonexistent. The show further proposed that it would be possible to become an entity of the internet and a physical body would no longer be needed. The problem with Serial Experiments Lain is that one would have to suspend their disbelief over the course of most of the events that took place in the show. In the end, the show did come full circle and shows that having a physical body is proof of existence. It’s a bit of a summary, but if you have any interest you could watch it yourself.

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