攻殻機動隊が描くすぐそこの未来 Anime technology in real-life:The digital prophecy of Ghost in the Shell

今年2月、アニメ攻殻機動隊の世界観を目指すテクノロジーを表彰する『攻殻機動隊 Realize Project the Award』が渋谷ヒカリエで開催された。これは、攻殻機動隊で表現される技術の実現を目指すプロジェクトである。攻殻機動隊(以下、攻殻)は、25年前に始まった漫画・アニメシリーズで、近未来の2029年を舞台にし、ある警察組織がネットやハイテク技術により複雑化する事件に立ち向かい、解決していく物語である。リメイクが重ねられ去年新しいシリーズが公開されたので、記憶に新しい人も多いだろう。

This February, a showcase of real examples of the technology featured in popular anime ‘Ghost in the Shell’ opened at Shibuya’s Hikarie building, in an exhibition entitled ‘Ghost in the Shell: Realize Project the Award’. For those of you who have been living under a rock, Ghost in the Shell is an award-winning post-cyberpunk anime series that begun over twenty-five years ago. Set in the near future of 2029, the story centres on a police force that uses advanced technology to counter terrorism, corruption and crime. Remakes over the years have kept the story current, with the latest version being released last year.



I first became a Ghost in the Shell fan during the 2002 ‘Stand Alone Complex’ series. At the time, it was nothing more than a science fiction anime in my mind. It certainly didn’t seem realistic - not like now. Things that feature in the anime, like artificial intelligence and mega computers are becoming more and more believable. Wireless Internet – something that seemed like a far off concept when the original story was released back in the early nineties – is already here. In the news just this year was the launch of Japanese phone carrier Softbank’s AI robot ‘Pepper’ – a life-size humanoid that mimics human emotions.

Not to mention, the digital brain. Try to picture it: a device that you can control not with your hands like a smartphone, but instead through your mind. Technology worn not on the outside of your body, but literally a part of you. It’s an idea that repeatedly runs through the Ghost in the Shell series. Members not in attendance at meetings are sent messages through brainwaves. People watch video data in their head. When one person plugs their own personal terminal into somebody else’s brain computer, they are able to read and alter their personal data to prevent state secrets from being exposed.

こちらも実際、現実を可能にする取り組みが携帯電話業界で行われている。より膨大なデータ通信を可能にする新しい通信方式、5Gだ。2020年の実現に向けて開発が進められている。5Gは、現在の4G(別名LTE)より通信速度が数十倍改善される。それで可能になるのが、IoT(Internet of Things)という理論である。これは、電話だけではなくモノ(例えばテレビや車とか)にも通信機能を持たせ、自動制御や通信を実現するものである。このように膨大なデータをさばくことができる技術が生まれようとしている。そして、スマホが必需品となった私たちが、モノだけでなくヒトに通信機能を持たせたらもっといいじゃないか、と思う時、まさに電脳の始まりが…アイディア的にも技術的にも実現する日が、そう遠くないのかもしれない。

It’s all very cool (and slightly scary) stuff, but what makes it even cooler is the fact that it could become reality. Phone carriers are said to be currently working on 5G technology due for release in 2020. The system works over ten times faster than 4G / LTE, and thanks to its sheer power and speed, it is believed it will be able to unlock the so-called ‘Internet of Things’, or IoT. The IoT would enable not only phones, but also physical objects like cars, electronics and buildings to be equipped with networks, sensors and software to allow exchange of data and automatic or remote control. If it reaches the stage where humans become to depend on this IoT technology just like we’ve come to depend on smartphones, the next plausible step forward may be the digital brain. When there’s nothing left to automate or upgrade or roboticise, we may end up digitalising ourselves.