Lessons from Anime and Big Data (Ghost in the Shell) by James Locus.
From the post:
What lessons might the anime (Japanese animation) “Ghost in the Shell” teach us about the future of big data? The show, originally a graphic novel from creator Masamune Shirow, explores the consequences of a “hyper”-connected society so advanced one is able to download one’s consciousness temporarily into human-like android shells (hence the work’s title). If this sounds familiar, it’s because Ghost in the Shell was a major point of inspiration for the Wachowski brothers, the creators of the Matrix Trilogy.
The ability to handle, process, and manipulate big data is a major theme of the show and focuses on the challenges of a high tech police unit in thwarting potential cyber crimes. The graphic novel was originally created in 1991, long before the concept of big data had grown to prominence (and for-all-intents-and-purposes even before what we now think of as the internet…)
Visions of a “Big Data” Future
While such visions of an interconnected techno-future are common in anime, what makes Ghost in the Shell special is its treatment of the power of big data. Technology is not used simply for its exploitative value, but as a means to create a greater, more capable society. Data becomes the engine that drives an entire civilization towards achieving taller buildings, faster cars, and yes – even androids.
Big data puts many of Ghost in the Shell’s “technological advances” just within reach. The show features almost instantaneous transfers of petabyte hard drives and facial recognition searches about as fast as a Google search. (emphasis added)
A big +1! to technological advances being on the cusp of something transformative, but I am less certain about what that transformation will lead to. While cutting edge research is underway to help amputees, I fully expect the first commercially viable application to be safe, virtual sex (if they are not there already).
We are talking about us. We have a long history of using technology for its exploitative value. In fact, I can’t think of a single example of where technology has not been used for its exploitative value? Can you?
Although Snow Crash is a novel, there is a kernel (sorry) of truth to the proposition that the results of analysis will become items for exchange. That is true now but we lack the exchange mechanisms to make it currency.
People write books, articles, posts, but for the most part, all of those are at too large a level to be reused. We need information libraries that operate like software libraries, that are called for a particular operation. The creator of an information library gets a “credit” for your use of the information.
Not a reality today but overcoming semantic barriers to re-use is a start in that direction. Can settle the question of use of technology for its exploitative value or not, with its use in fact. I know where my money is riding. Yours?