Before Their Time: Ghost in the Shell SAC and King of Thorn

Talking about the future is hard when the technologies you’re talking about are still in development…

Meta context: The Gutenberg editor’s scheduler uses some timezone completely different to my own, so when I schedule stuff now, I run the risk of putting it out at 10 pm the day before. This is what hit the No Game, No Life post and since that got a comment on it, I needed to replace it. Thankfully, I have posts for emergencies like this…

Futuristic works are hard to get right when you don’t have a DeLorean or other time machine. Even still, it’s fun to analyse what people wrote in the past to make sense of the future…and there might even be an author’s “told you so” along the way.

Ghost in the Shell (2002 – 2005)

In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (henceforth GitS: SAC) manga volume 4, which apparently corresponds to episode 14, there is a currency which combines the yen, dollar and euro (the YES), plus a currency controlled by Asian states and named as such. These two particular variants don’t exist in the real world yet, but we do have things that could operate similarly – the Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The Bitcoin in particular is something to keep an eye on as people push to make it and blockchain technology in general a “thing”. Bitcoin started being a thing in 2009 and is only now becoming popular, so to have GitS tackle such a concept a few years early is a big piece of foresight into what could happen to people who trust in such a volatile currency later on.

As for the more iconic Tachikomas, there isn’t the technology required for brain uploads and so on, but there are certain prosthetic limbs which react to brain signals…which is as close as one can get to that for the moment.

Also, real-life-sized model Tachikomas are cool. Impractical, but cool.

King of Thorn (2010)

King of Thorn is noted to be set in 2012 for the opening scene and 2015 for the rest. However, 2018 is probably a better approximation in real life as for how it matches up, so we’ll keep comparing with 2018.

King of Thorn’s plot is made possible by the Venus Gate Corporation, which hosts rooms full of cryogenic chambers run by a mostly self-serving computer called Alice. Cryogenic chambers aren’t really a thing yet in the real world, but if you’ve done any poking about regarding Tesla and the nature of self-driving cars or even for similar topics, you’ll know AI is already becoming a thing.

Back to the corporation though – there are some science-oriented TNCs (transnational corporations) such as Glaxo Smith Kline which produce immunisations and medicines for the world, so hypothetically a Venus Gate Corporation could exist if there was a pandemic that required such a corporation. The World Health Organisation, which is meant to deal with similar kinds of problems to the one Venus Gate was created for, operates much like a TNC, but since the WHO’s an non-governmental organisation (i.e. the main purpose of the organisation is not money, but aid), it doesn’t count as something that could operate in Venus Gate’s exact position as it is in the movie.

For the Medusa virus specifically, even Ebola doesn’t have a 100% fatality rate if the right immunisation and treatment is provided but there are superbugs. It’ll be a while before superbugs are able to petrify us though…if they even become able to do that at all…

So there you have it – that’s two works which deal with futuristic concepts and how they match with the present, or how they could become legitimate in the future. So, what’s your favourite show/movie that deals with the future and do you think the technology in that would be plausible in real life?


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