Cyberization is the process whereby a normal brain is physically integrated with electronic components to produce an augmented organ referred to as a cyberbrain. The terms were first coined in the anime and manga series Ghost in the Shell. Cyberbrain implants, in conjunction with micromachines, allow the brain to initiate and maintain a connection to computer networks or other individuals who also possess a cyberbrain. Through the use of a cyberbrain it is possible to have a direct, constant connection between the human brain and the Internet without the need for external devices. This capability results in a number of unforeseen psychosocial phenomena (including the Stand Alone Complex) whose emergence is a major plot element of the various Ghost in the Shell stories.
Overview[edit | edit source]
The anime and manga series Ghost in the Shell, focuses in part on the continued cybernetic augmentation of humans. One such procedure involves cyberization of the human central nervous system. The resulting cyberization yields what is referred to as a cyberbrain, which is a hybrid of an individual's original nervous tissue with cybernetic components. This procedure increases subject's neural abilities beyond their original biological constraints in fields such as neurokinetics and data analysis. Additionally to gain these increased abilities it is not necessary for a subject to undergo complete cyberization and acquire a body prosthesis to support the cyberized brain. Due to advances in technology and the understanding of a human being's biological processes, an individual may choose to only have their brain cyberized, leaving the rest of their body in its original state. Also, after undergoing neural cyberization an individual may easily be transferred to a new cyberbrain as conditions dictate and if integrated with a complete cyborg body an individual could increase their lifespan several fold beyond that of a normal human.
Types of Cyberisation[edit | edit source]
Within the anime series of Ghost in the Shell, three distinct types of cyberisation have been explored.
Minimal Cyberisation[edit | edit source]
This is the most common type of cyberisation, and is the least intrusive. The Cerebrum and Corpus Callosum remain essentially unchanged, while micro-machine bio-neural electronics are interfaced with the Cerebellum. The biocircuitry has a natural fall-out rate (stated within the Manga to be not less than 25%) during insertion, a natural consequence of Van Der Waal's dispersion forces with which the micro-machines penetrate neural tissue. Utimately, the micromachine matrix integrates with a larger-scale microcircuitry interface. This in turn outputs to interfaces, which are installed immediately below the cerebellum of the user, and are commonly known as Fort Plugs. Additionally, cyberbrains of 2032 AD also contain wideband wireless connections (descendants of IEEE 802.11a wireless broadband) in order to access the pervasive wireless Net. Physically, the cyberbrain differs from the natural brain with the addition of a thin metal shell (hence the title of these works, i.e. 'Ghost in the Shell'), which provides mechanical strength. These Shells are a common feature of all Cyberbrains, and may further contain additional shielding, such as lead and glass for workers in environments contaminated with radioactive material. The Shell is customized for each user, and will have apertures (in cases of minimal cyberisation) for the ocular nerves, and the olfactory bulb.
Enhanced/Advanced Cyberisation[edit | edit source]
This form of cyberisation now sees users have increasingly more of their brains replaced and/or enhanced with highly advanced and specific-application neurocircuitry. In most cases, the minimum of brain tissue retained throughout the cortex is approximately 20%, for the retention of the ghost. In addition, cyberbrains of advanced cyberisation gain many advanced technological abilities, such as the ability to address more than one cyborg body simultaneously, rapid learning capabilities, and the incorporation of computational elements not found in most normal human beings.
Extreme Cyberisation[edit | edit source]
As noted above, advanced cyberisation generally does not exceed 80% of the brain's volume in the process of optimisation, for the purposes of retaining the Ghost. But in some very rare cases, far more of the brain may be replaced, and in almost all cases, this will be as the result of disease and medical treatment, as opposed to personal preference. The ratio of replacement can approach up to 97.5% of the brain with neurocircuitry. People with this form of cyberisation show a strong tendency to drift away from normal humanity in terms of their skills in interfacing with technology, and yet perversely display heightened emotions, as with the very high level of cyberisation, the brain is less responsive to physiological dampening of emotion. Such people are also given to spreading pervasive memes when connected to the Net, and also may appear to display psychological disorders such as Closed Shell Syndrome
Philosophical Implications[edit | edit source]
The concept of the cyberbrain could be considered an idea out of Transhumanism a philosophy that believes in the usage of technology to remove the negative aspects of humanity such as disease, genetic abnormalities, or physical impairments. Dichotomously, such benefits continue the theme of the series on Existentialism. Due to the ability to transfer an individual's consciousness into a cyberbrain and thus preserving the "ghost/soul" of the person the burden of humanity is no longer carried by the physical body. However, due to the proliferation of these processes and their widespread integration into the fictional world of "Ghost in the Shell" many individuals have relegated human consciousness to nothing more than mere data which can be transferred and copied thereby cheapening the concepts of identity and individuality.
How a cyberbrain works[edit | edit source]
A cyberbrain works, "similar" to a human brain, to make the body respond to the brain it shoots off an electrical signal through a mass of wiring, (similar to nerves) that's the basics on motion. The thought process is (in theory) close to the same as a fully organic brain.
Drawbacks[edit | edit source]
Drawbacks include possible hacking and alteration of one's memories or sensory input, as was witnessed in the Laughing Man incident, where the visual sensory input of an entire crowd was altered so that the perpetrator could escape from the police.
Closed Shell Syndrome[edit | edit source]
Closed Shell Syndrome is a disease in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Closed Shell Syndrome is a form of cyberbrain-induced autism (not to be confused with the "Autistic Mode" used by the cyberbrains of soldiers, which merely fully shuts down their networking functions). It occurs when users who are too compatible with cyberbrain technology eventually shut themselves off from the outside world to avoid harming others or themselves by forcibly accessing their cyberbrains. CSS patients tend to be savants with extremely high computer skills, and are often used to build and deconstruct network barriers.
Cyberbrain Sclerosis[edit | edit source]
▶ Main article: Cyberbrain Sclerosis Cyberbrain sclerosis is a disease introduced in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. The disease is characterized by hardening of the brain tissues precipitated by the cyberization process. As, officially, no cure exists, cyberbrain sclerosis is always fatal. Although the odds of symptoms manifesting are exceedingly low, anyone that has a cyberbrain (which in the world of Stand Alone Complex are as ubiquitous as cellular phones are in reality) is potentially at risk.
A major part of the plot in GitS:SAC is the suppression of the Murai Vaccine in favor of Micromachine treatment. Although the Murai vaccine worked, and worked well, the mechanism by which it worked could not be identified. Additionally, its creator, Chitose Murai, was not actively involved in cyberbrain sclerosis research at the time-he merely discovered the vaccine by accident while caring for cyberbrain scelerosis patients. Micromachines, however, held great promise as a highly versatile technology, although it was still in its infancy at the time. The development of micromachine technology in search of a cure for cyberbrain sclerosis eventually led to the development of many highly important (not to mention highly profitable) technologies- the Japanese Miracle (a micromachine that can remove radioactive fallout from an area affected by nuclear weapons) and Intercepters (symbiotic micromachines that turn their unwitting hosts into living surveillance devices), just to name two. However, despite all of its other capabilities, micromachine technology was entirely ineffective as a treatment for cyberbrain sclerosis.
Later, it is revealed that Hisashi Imakurusu, the man who personally denied approval for the vaccine was himself in the final stages of the disease, and was being kept alive using the vaccine he himself worked to keep from the public-along with countless other well-known public servants. Imakurusu had dedicated his life to finding a cure for cyberbrain sclerosis, only to have Murai usurp him unexpectedly. Although Imakurusu had privately felt that he would have approved the vaccine if Murai had been able to discover why it worked, the Laughing Man believed that the dual motivations of greed and jealousy led him to suppress the vaccine. The existence of a custom-crafted 'approval denied' stamp would lead one to agree with him.