Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Custom
In the near future, many envisioned a time where machines would increasingly integrate themselves into society. The lines between man and machine would blur. This division, as many expected, as machines became more and more human. The eventual fear arose when they would become so human as to confuse when humanity ended and machine began. As machines evolved into becoming more human, humanity itself could discover itself being pushed aside, first by the lack of need to exist, and finally by force. The dystopian vision people believed would occur often ended with machines rising up to take the next step on the evolutionary ladder above us.
Thankfully, this vision proved wrong, but not in the way imagined…
The alluded line between man and machine did blur, the mixing of the two did occur. People were confused as to when humanity ended and machine began. However, this crossover appeared further down the spectrum than any had thought. Machines remained as inhuman – as thoughtless – as ever. They never threatened to overrun humanity nor did they ever appear to be even close to threatening our dominance of the globe. However, the irony in the future grew from the trend of humans becoming more like machines. First the onset of cyberization occured. Then the cyberbrain appeared, and changed the course of mankind's evolution forever.
No longer were computers simply linked; now the entire network shared one massive system. One did not own computers, just terminals to the Net. Cyberbrains shared the workload. Brains became computers themselves. Humans could store their memories in their brains or in external sources and instantly recall them at any time. The answer to virtually any question say seconds away. Now every experience we encountered in our lives would be stored digitally in our brain, downloadable and even shared… and unfortunately, open to attack, deletion, or even modification. However, one aspect of humans remained outside of the realm of technology, the soul… at least, for a short time. Soon, this soul lost its spiritual definition and became something tangible, provable by science, altered by technology. They gave this a name, the Ghost – the personality of an individual. The Ghost is an aspect is largely lost on machines. Even in this future, machines can come as close to humans as possible, but can never generate their own Ghost… save for one unique specimen.
Machines have yet to emerge with their own personality. They can simulate these reactions. The definition of AI is Artificial Intelligence – recreating intelligence without really being intelligent. As the Ghost became something tangible, the technology of cyberbrains altered. Initially, those with cyberbrains could access anything on the Net, information either from their own memory devices or from external memories like anyone could three decades before. The Shell refers to one's body, where the Ghost resides. This fact would seem obvious, except that androids have become commonplace. They are Shells without Ghosts. In addition, those with cyberbrains in brain boxes could exist without Shells. The term "Ghost in the Shell" was not always true.
The next question arose of what makes one human. Is it the Ghost? So far, that appears to be the safest assumption, as machines cannot generate their own Ghost… at least not yet. Therefore, a human being – one with full rights and privileges of being human, may not even need to have any organic parts left… or even a body. This makes ethnicity and genetic inheritance somewhat pointless, and yet, even more relevant. No one is born with prosthetics and there is a minimum age before prosthetics could be applied with any significant extent. Some have tried to remove all records of who they were before cyberization. One could change everything about themselves with perfect success, including their race or sex. However, once one's family, heritage, or ethnicity could be removed, the more important it became to keep. This kept the diversity of governments, sovereign states, and ethnic groups constant. The political upheavals occurring during this technological upswing provided a catalyst for this division between people.
In fact, a cause and effect loop occurred because of the political turmoil of the age. The onset of cyberization and prosthetics that could not only supplement the organic replacement but also improve upon it as well stemmed from a medical need arising from the side effects of not one, but two world wars.
Just a little over 30 years ago, the planet became swept up in World War III. Even though a nuclear exchange did occur, it did not regress society from a technological perspective. In fact, some of the greatest strides in science occurred during this war. Cybernetics became a fast, growing technology that governments and corporations utilized to gain an edge over their adversaries.
The planet, geopolitically, changed substantially after this war. Sovereign nations altered throughout the globe. Some merged while other fractured. Paranoia, not unlike the Cold War, developed across the planet and led to the larger, non-nuclear World War IV, which fragmented the globe even more. However, throughout this turmoil, one country gained dominance. It emerged from World War III bruised, but stronger willed. World War IV further strengthened its resolve to be independent and powerful. This nation was Japan.
In this future, the political game continues, more frantic than ever. The political map remains drawn in pencil. War seems on the verge of breaking out at each turn. Paranoia continues and countries fight to keep them safe. However, with the Internet totally out of one country's control, a need arose to guard the virtual borders of a country, as well as its physical ones. Some of the greatest threats to a nation reside not in the barrel of a gun, but in the transmissions in the air…