How soon could Ghost In The Shell’s fantasy technology become a reality?

In Ghost In The Shell, director Rupert Sanders has laid out his vision for a world which is at once mind-bendingly futuristic and utterly foreseeable.

But how close are we to seeing this society realised by science? And how scared should we be when that day comes?

Thermoptic camouflage

Harry Potter’s cloak is pure fantasy. If we’re ever to achieve invisibility in the real world, it will be via a much more practical means known as “active” or “thermoptic” camouflage. This technology uses heat and light inputs to quickly and continuously adapt to changing surroundings. If this happens quickly enough, the camouflaged object is effectively rendered invisible. The phenomenon already occurs in nature; think of a chameleon, only sexier and with more martial art skills.

ETA: 15-20 years. Some conspiracy theorists will tell you the US military has been utilising active camouflage technology for years, but you don’t need top-level security clearance to see this tech in action. Susumu Tachi, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo, has already pioneered the design of fabrics made using “retroreflective projection” technology.

Networked brains

Deep-brain implants, known as “brain pacemakers”, already alleviate the symptoms of 30,000 Parkinson’s sufferers worldwide, while in the UK, neurobridge technology has allowed paraplegics to move their limbs again. What’s to stop scientists connecting one of these brain chips to the internet? Well, more knowledge of how the brain works for a start, although it seems at least possible in theory.

ETA: “Decades from now” according to neurobridge inventor Chad Bouton.

Body enhancements

Some might consider any form of prosthetics a “body enhancement”, but it is the activities of modern-day bio-hackers which most resemble the enhancement culture depicted in the film. Bio-hackers believe that DIY technology implants represent the next stage of human evolution. For instance,…

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