The Ghost in the Shell portrays the activities of the counter-terrorist organization Public Security Section 9, a fictional intelligence department under the Japanese Ministry of Home Affairs. In the Ghost in the Shell universe, “ghost” means soul, essence, being, mind that separates humans from robots and AIs. Major Kusanagi Motoko, female protagonist, the squad leader of Section 9 has cybernetic body, and has no human brain cells, but there is a ghost present in her auxiliary brain. She expresses further angst to her trusted partner Batou about her humanity, claiming the only thing that makes her feel human is the fact that people treat her as human, her environment. If a cyber-brain can generate its own ghost, then there is no particular importance to be placed on “the human.”

A Tachikoma (タチコマ) is a spider like multi-legged combat vehicle, equipped with artificial intelligence (AI). Nine of them are assigned to Section 9's use. Tachikoma AIs have child-like demeanor and the latter's AI develop rapidly almost to the point of sentience and individuality. They possess individual artificial intelligence, every night they are synchronized, so they start the next day with identical consciousnesses that are each the sum of their total collective experience and development. Though the Tachikomas have identical memories, their personalities and opinions are distinct: one considers itself Batou's personal Tachikoma, which has a personality of a hyperactive child; the second Tachikoma is more logical, acting as the straight man to the first; the third Tachikoma appears somewhat slower than the others, and at times has difficulty keeping up with the other Tachikomas when discussing such in-depth topics as what it means to be "alive"; the fourth Tachikoma with a distinctive personality, who is a bookworm and an intellectual.

“Nothing on this Earth can stop their curiosity,” says a maintenance engineer of the Section 9. It is explained in the last episode of the first season that it is their curiosity that lets them be different from each other. Tachikomas are intensely curious about “Ghost” which is the main subject of heated discussions among Tachikomas. “We’ve got them to respect those differences as individuality, we only have to synchronize vital information now,” one Tachikoma says, “But there have been times lately when I’ve felt like my consciousness and my body were two separate things.” They understand just one “self” that’s shared between them as a group Tachikoma because synchronization is their natural state, but they get the impression that the differentiation in their individuality is even stronger than before. The Tachikomas hope that the physical sensation of disconnect between body and information that they subconsciously experienced might have some bearing on “Ghost".

We are not alone (手のひらを太陽に)

We’re all alive, every last one of us, and we can sing ‘cause we’re alive! We’re all alive, every last one of us, and we can feel sad ‘cause we’re alive! When we hold our hands up to the sun and peek through our fingers, we can see the deep red blood flowing inside!

Even earthworms, even crickets, and even water striders! We’re all alive, every last one of us, and we’re all friends!

We’re all alive, every last one of us, and we can laugh ‘cause we’re alive!

We’re all alive, every last one of us, and we can feel happy ‘cause we’re alive!

When we hold our hands up to the sun and peek through our fingers, we can see the deep red blood flowing inside! Every dragonflies, every frogs, and even honey bees! We’re all alive, every last one of us, and we’re all…

Although they knew a sense of dissociation could be simply caused by the addition of new functionality; so it might be just a hallucination, they can’t help but feel that there’s a third self somewhere, something other than the body and the spirit. The Tachikomas think “Ghost” can not be preserved just by uploading their memories to the net – described as sea of information, and without a “Ghost”, memories are nothing more than data.

Nonetheless, under threat of nuclear missile attack, the Tachikomas realize that the only way to stop the missile is to remote-maneuver the satellites including one that contains their AIs to put up flak curtain along the missile’s trajectory; they do so, saving their colleagues and refugees but sacrificing their minds in the process. “There’s no way to know why the Major would put our AI onto one of adversarial country satellites, but this really puts us in a tough spot…,”>“We’re almost out of time!”

At the last moment on burning up in the atmosphere, the Tachikomas upload “TACHIKOMA’S ALL MEMORY” to the net while singing an old but popular children’s song We are not alone (手のひらを太陽に). One of the Section 9 staff says, “I don’t believe it… You know, I bet that you guys have Ghosts…”


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