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Folding Left-Handed Cranes: The Tech in Ghost in the Shell

Curt_Hopkins

From Ghost in the ShellFrom Ghost in the Shell

The latest movie to collaborate with Hewlett Packard Labs researchers and find inspiration in HPE’s vanguard technology is the live-action version of the anime classic Ghost in the Shell.

This story of the first cyber-enhanced soldier fighting terrorism in Ghost in the Shell joins a list of top filmmakers who, in a drive to balance realism and futurism, have sought out information on the imminent technologies theorized by Labs researchers like Chief Architect Kirk Bresniker, and based on real technical innovations and ongoing scientific investigations. (The development of several additional movies, including Star Trek Beyond, Real Steel, Shrek and Madagascar, benefited from technologies pioneered by Labs.)

In 2015, Bresniker; Rich Friedrich, senior director of high performance data analytics; technical communicator Richard Lewington; marketing manager Christina Lee; and other Labs representatives had a series of conversations with the filmmakers about the direction of technology with the aim of being as realistic as possible while keeping faith with the Japanese Manga origins of the story.

“They wanted to talk to us about how we saw [technology] evolving,” said Bresniker, who was already a fan of the original Ghost in the Shell manga. “At the time we were working on The Machine advanced development program and really understanding data and the relationship of people to information, how you process it, how you make decisions. It all seemed to really fit their ideas about the trajectories of technologies.”

The end result of these conversations was a vision of the Ghost in the Shell universe which utilizes The Machine’s built-in security functions, edge computing, and raw computing power to add realistic texture and to power plot points.

“We had [some recommendations on] the way pervasive and immersive data analytics would affect the characters and the way they interact with the world and each other,” said Friedrich.

The world of Ghost in the Shell is one where cybernetic bio-augmentation is available to extend capabilities of the body, mind and senses, but that augmentation comes at the price of placing potentially vulnerable technology between the mind and the world.

Kirk Bresniker, Elena Chacko, Christina Lee, Martina Trucco, Marissa Freeman, Richard LewingtonKirk Bresniker, Elena Chacko, Christina Lee, Martina Trucco, Marissa Freeman, Richard Lewington

Intelligent edge computing also adds to the realism of this unreal world. The researchers familiarized the film’s director with the idea of distributed mesh computing. As Bresniker noted, The Ghost in the Shell world “encompasses just about everything around you, including the body you happen to be inhabiting at the time.”

Science fiction can be more science than fiction or more fiction than science, but the best of the genre fires from both engines. Ghost in the Shell derives from a strong narrative property and with the help of some of the best scientists in the business, it should fly true.

Check out Ghost in the Shell, now in theaters. 

In the near future, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen. She will stop at nothing to recover her past, find out who did this to her and stop them before they do it to others. Based on the internationally acclaimed Japanese Manga, 'The Ghost in the Shell.'
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About the Author

Curt_Hopkins

Managing Editor, Hewlett Packard Labs

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