Is the idea of cyberization a logical step forward?

Discuss the philosophy found in the various incarnations of Ghost in the Shell

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Purifying Flame of Justic
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Is the idea of cyberization a logical step forward?

Post by Purifying Flame of Justic »

As me and Saito got a little off topicish in another tread (the thread, we start little down on the page, ->: http://www.neomythos.com/gitsphpBB/view ... 1&start=30 ) we’ll continue here
Purifying Flame of Justic wrote:


Extreme skepticism and blind acceptance are a problem yes. As for a society’s way of dealing with the above problematic as seen in GitS, I think that it is not too surprising as fundamentally capitalism is build upon one relatively small group of people exploiting another larger group of people, this combined with the tendency in politics to, among things, look for shortsighted solutions is damageable for a society as a whole imo.

Saito wrote:
Yes, capitalism and commercialism have much to answer for when blind acceptance is concerned. People take the word of a large company as 'gospel' and are apathetic when it comes to actually challenging it's validity. I experience a lot of this in the computer industry. Companies like Apple, Sony, Dell, HP, Sun and Microsoft are constantly evangelizing their products as the best this, the greatest that. In actuality all have drawbacks, some are very great, but a lot of people blindly follow the lead of their favorite company because they believe what the Marketing tells them. Few ever bother to compare and contrast products to see what is the best for them. In this sense commercialization drives the speed of technological advancement, the fight to get the 'next great thing' is a battle fought with money and marketed reputation, not actual fact and understanding. Sure a new product will have advantages over an old one, but it might also have significant drawbacks that the adverts 'conveniently' leave out. There's nothing to suggest the same is not the case with the competing corporations turning out cybernetic products in the GiTS universe, in fact I'm very sure Shirow would see this as very much the case.
Yes I’d agree that what Shirow portrays through the GitS universe is governed by more or less the same mechanism as you describe above, but then again it’s a form of capitalistic society that’s portrayed there…

I recently saw a Danish debate program with an American society critic, Benjamin Barber, where he saw the more and more uncontrolled reign of the market forces in the US as problematic. He asserted that when religion rules a society we call it theocracy we generally view this as bad, religion is saturating through every part of society and have more or less monopoly on the *truth *.
In the same way when politics rules a society it’s called tyrannical (e.g fascism or as the communistic societies deteriorated into in Russia.)
But when the market is ruling it’s called freedom, in the US, Barber asserts that the market functions almost in a tyrannical way, The choice isn’t between a free market or totalitarian state, the choice is between a democratic state or some form of totalitarian state, he speaks for some measure of public choice not only private choice, we can do something individually but we can achieve something greater through public choices made in unison.

While Barber still saw capitalism as the optimum form for a society structure, albeit not its current form in the US, I do not really. I think it’s fundamentally hinder by its optimum view freedom, namely economic freedom. By basing a society on this, it is basically limiting an individual to live their life according to only one recipe of what the good life constitutes namely economical freedom at the expense of new spaces being created and raping its own liberal heritage at the same time.
I like what the contemporary political theorists’ Laclau and Mouffe plays around with concerning their notion radical pluralistic democracy, which ideally should be able to encompass several different ways for living ones life whether you have one view of what the good life is or another. Mixing thoughts from a liberalistic tradition, aiming to create a medium where economics isn’t the leading factor as it is in neoliberalism, and the Marxist tradition. They are though extremely abstract and theoretical about their concept for a structure and are focusing more on how to change the status quo and thus slowly paving the way for the possibility of something akin to their notion of radical pluralistic democracy...
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Purifying Flame of Justic wrote:
Pain, suffering and misery etc. on the one hand plus joy, happiness and so on, on the other definitely have an important intrinsic reciprocal function for us. Changing this relationship will have consequences for have we exist in the world and to me it isn’t really desirable, not now anyway maybe later on, I’d see it as too dangerous atm.

Saito wrote:
'Real Life' is defined by the unexpected, be it bad or good. The element of chance. Make life predictable and it stops being interesting, and loses it;'s element of reality as defined by the human psyche. A large part of 'reality' is the element of random occurrence. Changing that to make it non-random would lead to a situation where people would lose the will to live because they knew the road ahead. No one thrives on monotony, they detest it, and even those who seem to enjoy it deep down have a desire to destroy it.

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Purifying Flame of Justic wrote:
Further to pick up the Transhumanist again, I don’t like the way some of them praise chemical means to take the place of psychologist and even psychiatrist, e.g. Simon Young think it’s desirable for us to be able to turn on and off for a surge of enthusiasm, or joy and what not. Somewhat akin to “Happy Pills” (I think they’re called that in English); I don’t like them as they only deal with the problem, in a problematic way in my eyes I’d add, when it is has occurred and not with the reasons to why the problem arose in the first place.

Saito wrote:
Happy Pills don't make you happy, they just momentarily stop you being sad. Plus the mention of 'Happy Pills' stirs up sinister and dark memories from the back of my own mind about anti-depressants, and the horrible effects they have on the human mental balance.

I’d agree that Happy Pills and the like aren’t desirable. However the capitalistic society pretty much thrives on this kind of, in my eyes unethical, quantitatively accumulation of cash. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that for instance a theoretical school as behaviorism have originated in a, in my eyes extreme, capitalistic society, with its focus on quantitative methods which are easily transferred to fit into a consumer and commerce order, to accumulate cash, and example of this would be the medical industry and for instance happy pills. Capitalism have been frighteningly good at co-opting various discourse such as positivism and utilitarianism to fit their ideal of generating more and more money through milking the majority for the benefit of a few imo.

Sometimes it cross my mind that maybe some form of enlightened oligarchy would be desirable.... But meh.
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The issue isn't whether it's logical.

Post by skoobydoo »

There are two points that I'd like to comment on.

First is the question in the title of your post, "Is Cybernetics the next logical step?" I would say that the real issue here isn't about whether or not it's the most logical step, it's about whether or not it's the most desirable step. I mean, in the future, cybernetics will undoubtedly start with the handicapped, who will not only regaining the original functions that they lost or never possessed in the first place, but will gain functions that normal human beings could never possess. I know its kind of a crude example, but those prosthetic legs they make that look like a strip of bent iron are more efficient to run with than a human leg, which looses energy when we are forced to use our ankle instead of maintaining energy in the bent curve towards the bottom of the prosthetic leg. Once the handicapped being to gain special advantages, others will want them too. Now, it will probably depend a lot on the prevailing culture and on the prevailing laws (could be considered illegal or unethical to undergo "unnecessary surgery" just to get cool abilities), but if its available to the masses, a subculture will undoubtedly form, sort of like the "body mod" subculture we have today where certain people get into tattoos, piercings, dyes, fingernails, weird makeup, etc. today. Its a "scene" so to speak, and if you can purchase body modifications, some people will. Once that happens, it will again be a matter of prevailing culture to determine if most people undergo the surgery. If you have a free market, which is the most efficient and wide spread form of market, cybernetics will take at least a slice of the population.

The issue worth discussing revolves around the consequences and ethical implications of such enhancements, which is what makes GitS such a cool little universe. It takes you around one man's vision of the future and lets you stop and think about what this really means. I really don't have much to say about the topic at the moment, except that I think people will be disappointed with cybernetics. It looks to become just another facet of consumerism. "If you buy this, you'll be happier." But someone will always have a better body, and, although we might frequently deceive ourselves, our bodies rarely cause us to be unhappy. Its the way that we view our selves, its the way we feel about the actions we take and the opportunities that we missed. Its all in our heads, not our beer bellies, weak arms, and poor eyesight. Sure, it'd be nice to have a better body, but it matters less than we think.

Which leads me to my second point, messing with our heads. Taking pills to "adjust" the chemical balance is a bad idea and should only be used in the most extreme situations, which, even then, electrode therapy looks more promising. I've been on antidepressants, and let me tell you, they're awful. I'd rather be miserable and dysfunctional than a) living a lie by artificially altering my consciousness, and b) addressing the symptoms and not the source. If I exercise, eat right, socialize, and meditate/pray, I do well. When I don't, I start to loose it. A society of unnecessarily medicated people who think they're happy now would suck. It'd be the biggest lie we ever collectively told ourselves.

I suppose it all depends on your point of view. If you believe humanity has no real goal, or technological progress is its goal, then cybernetics are a nice distraction/progression. But I believe the point of human life is to come to terms with ourselves, with each other, with our environment, and with our universe and our place in it. You don't need cybernetics to reach that goal. Infact, they'd probably be distracting.
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Post by sonic »

b) addressing the symptoms and not the source
Ack, that's my huuuggge problem with how the TV advertises all of it's crazy medications...
But I believe the point of human life is to come to terms with ourselves, with each other, with our environment, and with our universe and our place in it. You don't need cybernetics to reach that goal. Infact, they'd probably be distracting.
I think we should keep pushing to evolve, yet taking on cybernetics unnecessarily bothers me. Perhaps it's because I'm thinking a tiny bit of your point...? I like your point. I can see the side too where it would only make empty people with something missing continue to remain as they are, just with a different distraction.
Last edited by sonic on Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by skoobydoo »

Sylphisonic wrote:
That's a point with a wonderful sense of calm and philosophical-ness. Interesting outlook- in that case you are right the cybernetics would be a bad thing. I think we should keep pushing to evolve, yet taking on cybernetics unnecessarily bothers me. Perhaps it's because I'm thinking a tiny bit of your point...? I can see the side too where it would only make empty people with something missing continue to remain as they are, just with a different distraction.
Well, I don't know if I'd even go so far as to label them "bad". For certain cases, like amputees, most people would agree that artificial limbs are a "good" thing. They help the person to re-enter society with all/most of their previous functions (in GitS, enhanced functions). This makes day to day life easier. This makes dealing with the loss of limb(s) easier. And what do we call things that make our lives easier? Conveniences. Prosthetic limbs are wonderful conveniences, and ones that I myself would certainly desire if I ever lost a limb.

The gray area is "unnecessary" enhancement. Again, I wouldn't gloss over the entire category and call it bad, but I would be very cautious as to how to approach the field. The body is intricately related to the mind and (if you believe in some form of spirituality) the soul. A healthy body helps people to feel better, it helps give people a sense of control over their lives, it facilitates certain activities such as sexual intercourse and competitive sports. The body plays a vital role in our lives. However, synthetic enhancements cannot lead to the same kind of satisfaction and fulfillment as naturally attaining the body you desire. Synthetic bodies cannot make us comfortable with ourselves, and cannot let us be satisfied with ourselves. Synthetic bodies that we purchase are an act of consumerism, and consumerism revolves around the obsolete (the old business saying: if you want to be rich, sell something disposable). Every business cycle we will again become unsatisfied as better models appear on the market and make us look bad. Every time we look at a high fashion "custom body" magazine or whatever, we stare at the unattainable perfection of the elite upper class bodies. Purchasing a body does not facilitate self-acceptance. Self acceptance in tomorrow's world will be just as difficult as self acceptance in today's world.

This still wouldn't make me say that unnecessary enhancements are always bad. They are simply distracting. Almost everything we buy today is more distracting than anything else, but I wouldn't tell a person who bought a new ipod that they made a bad choice, or that ipods are bad because they distract you from the path that ultimately leads to total and lifelong satisfaction. iPod or prosthetic limb, a person buys it thinking it will enhance their life, it sort of does while they think of it as new and novel, that wears off, they're back at where they were before the purchase. At some point, an individual will realize that they aren't becoming more happy, will look at what will lead to a happier life, and will go about donating, serving others, meditating, praying, exercising, learning, etc. until they reach some of their new goals that they created with their new values, or, perhaps, newly emphasized values. Tomorrow will be a lot like today, just with different stuff.
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Post by Colmy_DD »

Every business cycle we will again become unsatisfied as better models appear on the market and make us look bad. Every time we look at a high fashion "custom body" magazine or whatever, we stare at the unattainable perfection of the elite upper class bodies. Purchasing a body does not facilitate self-acceptance. Self acceptance in tomorrow's world will be just as difficult as self acceptance in today's world.
this already exists in todays society with magazines like vogue and cosmopolitain but is relevant to cosmetic sugerary, so basiclly we are almost at prostetics just its not as techniqual yet.


I've noticed here that you have concentrated on one aspect of cyberiseation, that being prosthetics and modifications but what also needs to be considered is how in GitS, we see that it is seen as the 'norm' and that there is a syncronisation between organic and mechanical as to access the net from any point on the earth. The thing is that like us, technology is evoling, but at a faster rate than we are and so soon we will become an obsolete model at some point. There are boundries we do not cross, like the creation of self-aware AI's and genetic/techonological hybridity but we are begining to move towards cyberiseation as the military will always develop more effective methods of killing and thus we will enevitabily go to cyberiseation as it is the next logical step but as we monitor the media, things seen as morally/ethically wrong change with society and so we have lower socially acceptable morals than 100 years ago. The thing of equality has caused this change, im not saying its bad but it is the minority that has caused the change and so prothetics and modifications will enevitabily be seen as socially acceptable but what we must consider is whether companies/corparations and the media will abuse this change to profit themselves.
What i'd thought i'd do is pretend to be one of those individuals... or should i??
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Post by Locke »

To respond to the large amount of talk of enhancements:

I think that, while the "enhancement" market will undoubtedly make its billions, cyberization will probably affect your average human the most--at least, the person that doesn't particularly feel like dying after eighty years or so.

I'm talking about the concept of "cybernetic immortality." (Forgive me if someone has already said this, but blocks of text scare me to death sometimes.)
I am willing to bet that, since cybernetic immortality will have the advantage of being something physical, of being "there," rather than pursue the enormous (and in my opinion, poorly-founded) gamble of metaphysical immortality, consumers will probably save money their entire lives just to guarantee that they live however much longer the body they can afford will provide. I can see a new loan consumer base spawning from this, as well.

Thoughts?
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Post by Freitag »

We've had some recent breakthroughs in genomics and there might be a race between the mechanics and the biologists for who gets to deliver the first round of enhancements.

As for what can come from those unnecessary enhancements, some those concepts were explored in two stories that I know of. One is the movie Gattaca and the other is the short story Blind Sight (can't find the link just now, but the story is about some guy that theorizes that if you can rewire the part of the brain that is responsible for image processing so that it can be used for thought processing that you'd get a really smart person, that can no longer see. His hypotheses proves correct and at first it is an illegal elective surgery, and then later, every company wants at least one guy like this working for them)

There are a ton of DNA recipes out there already that might be adapted to humans. See like a cat (a reflective layer behind the retina gives you twice the chance to catch any given photon). Hear like a bat (ultra frequency range). See like a mosquito (compound eyes and extended range into infra-red). Echolocate (bat, dolphin). Live a long time, resist disease

Some of this is already happening

And then there is the whole pairing that is collected under the heading of "cyberized". This covers both the physical enhancements described above, but as spectacular as the fights between cyborgs are in GitS (I'm thinking '¥€$') the connection to a vast information network dwarfs the physical enhancements (IMHO)

And then the eyes...
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