If you’re reading this post, chances are you’ve read the’89 Cyberpunk Manga or seen the ’95 movie of the same name. If you haven’t and still found the title compelling, then you’re a Technologist or your business is tied to Technology in such a way that you are compelled to know as much as you can about it. This post is about all of that.
I remember watching the film before even knowing there was a Manga that had originated it. I had a VHS player back then and the video quality was nothing like what we’re used to know but back then it didn’t matter. The storyline, the aesthetics and the theme were compelling enough for the 17 years old geek I was back then. As with all sci-fi and specially with the kind that touches those profound topics we all ponder about (existence, soul and future paradigms to name some), I fell for the spell this movie cast on me.
Fast forward 20 years and here I am, still pondering. Ghost in the Shell was about finding humanity (or it’s soul) lost in Technology and this couldn’t be a more fitting theme to describe what’s happening today: Technology is slowly but steadily becoming overwhelming. Not to everyone of course, you need to be in touch with it first and that still is the heart of it all.
Man minus the Machine is a slave; Man plus the Machine is a freeman.
That quote is 90 years old. The movie was not there. Manga was not there. We were not there, yet this man foresaw the future: machines, automation and new business development could set the modern man free…and here we are, stressed out because our apps don’t work properly, our smartphones batteries don’t last enough and screen resolution can’t get higher. Did something go wrong?
The Internet of Things. Thinking machines and new algorithms. Applications that know more about you than yourself and of course devices that capture information, process it and send it who knows where. Technology will not let go of you and it will only demand more and more of your time, as well as more and more of your life. If you want to know how completely screwed up you are by Technology just ask yourself: where are you reading this post? Definitely not a printed newspaper or a book.
Technology is only an extension of our senses but it goes far beyond the visible: it goes within. Now more than ever it allows us to combine content and context within our minds in such a way we unconsciously rebel in it. Technology lives within us because more than allow us to go beyond ourselves it allows us to go deeper into us…which might eventually lead to other things.
I remembered that the main theme of Ghost in the Shell was finding Humanity as something lost through the abuse of Technology. I don’t believe we’re there yet, no need to be alarmed. Masamune Shirow’s creation made me think about our never-ending quest, our eternal question: where does the Soul reside?
I can certainly say….not in my iPhone.