Ghost In The Shell: Paradox Solved
Ghost In The Shell is a long running anime series about a female cyborg named Motoko Kusanagi who works as a police officer for a unit called Section-9. While her body is fully artificial her braincase contains a human brain so is still considered to be human by society and all her friends. There are others in Section-9 that are partially cyberised such as Batou who had war injuries causing him the need to replace an arm, a leg and both eyes. As a side effect of cyberisation it is possible to fit an artificial brain without a 'ghost' into a cyborg body and therefore create a fully automated robot with a near perfect human body. These robots don't have the same rights and freedoms as humans because they are fully artificial and not sentiant. There are also more advanced machines known as Tachikoma. They are tank-like in appearance and have high pitched, almost childlike, female voices. They are also childlike in personality and often do things of their own accord including getting up to mischief.
In episode 15 of Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex, called Time Of The Machines, there is a scene where some of the Tachikoma units tease one of the artificial cyborgs and give her a riddle. While deep in thought her artificial mind crashes and I thought it would be good to speculate what happend to her next.
The story is told in first-person taken from her point of view. I've also included a little fanservice, just enough to keep it in line with the anime.
I lifted the large prototype object ready to load it into the jeep. I had no idea what it was but knew it was important. Batou trusted me with it and I was not going to let him down.
"Wanna link with that thing back there?" I heard one of the Tachicoma behind me say.
"You betcha," replied another.
Were they talking about the prototype? I thought to myself. It wasn't their place to do that without being told. They could ruin it whatever it was.
I placed the object into the back of the jeep causing the suspension to lower slightly. I had no idea it was so heavy.
"Huh," I said as I turned around and faced three Tachicoma in front of me. The others were at the far end of the maintaince depot staring at me.
"Keep up the good work," one of them said, "It's nice to see a robot enthusiastic about her duties."
"Eh," I replied, "What are you up to? I'm responsible for this prototype until the debriefing is over. Don't you Tachicomas even come near it."
"We won't do anything," one of them said.
It was confusing to know which one of them was talking due to thier voices being identical, but as I thought about it some more I realised my own voice was identical to other humanoid cyborgs too.
"Please stop wasting my time with your blatent lies," I said with a more forceful tone.
The Tachicoma standing before me lifted its front limbs which were the equivalent of arms.
"You are right," it said, "I only tell lies. I never ever say anything that's true."
"Eh," I responded.
"A curious dilemma," said another of the Tachicoma, "Because if what is said is true that means it wasn't lying, and if what it said is false that would mean that it does tell the truth. How do you resolve this perplexing contradiction?"
"Eh, erm, ah", I said as I placed my finger under my chin.
"Well dontcha know?!" One of them said.
If it always lies then it must be lying now, I thought, but if it's lying now then it must be telling the truth. So how could it possibly be lying?
I could hear them all around me with their constant chatter. Why didn't the riddle effect them in the same way?
"Well," I said, "Erm, I um, I um, I um..."
"There you're as right as rain," said one of the engineers as my mind rebooted itself.
I found myself to be laying naked on a maintenence table with wires protruding from the access terminals in the back of my neck. I could sense the feeling of cold against my sensitive skin due to my body being originally designed for humans. It wasn't something I ever noticed before. There was also another strange feeling I felt inside. Something about being naked in front of a male engineer unnerved me.
I still possessed all my memories, as far as I knew anyway, and still remembered the puzzle the Tachicoma gave me. I had filed it away in the back of my mind as unimportant but was sure part of my brain was still trying to solve it.
"You can return to your duties," said the engineer.
I sat myself up, disconnected the wires from my neck, then covered my breasts using my right arm. The engineer noticed what I was doing and flicked his head as he dismissed his thought.
"Here's your clothing," he said as he pointed to the bench beside him, "I've got other duties to attend to, some of the Tachicoma have been acting strangely recently."
I stood up and quickly dressed myself in my usual skirt suit. I could feel the engineer's eyes staring at me. My body was fully detailed and he knew every inch of it. It was fully capable of eating, sleeping, having sex and pretty much everying humans did. But I was artificial and possessed no ghost, so why was the engineer so fascinated by my body?
As I glanced at him I realised he wasn't even looking in my direction. It must have been my imagination. Somehow I was feeling more self-conscious than before.
As I finished dressing myself I walked across the maintenance depot towards the offices of Section-9. I wan't sure if I was supposed to say goodbye to the engineer or not. Something was causing me to question myself.
I sat down at my desk alongside my identical cyborg sisters then immedietly plugged myself into my terminal. The connectors in the back of my neck stung slightly and I only just realised at that moment how much I hated them. Cyberised humans within bodies such as mine also possessed the same terminals in the back of the neck, I wondered how they coped. Maybe it was something Motoko would be interested in discussing.
There was nothing coming in on the communications channel. Nothing happening that day of any importance, but I still had to be ready just in case. My job varied between boredom and excitement with nothing inbetween.
"Communication request from Borma to Ishikawa," I said, "Putting you through."
Why did they need simple ghostless cyborgs to be placed in a state of the art bodies? I wondered. We were only used for menial chores, any one of us could control the communications board without a body. I wondered if we were given bodies as a spare in case a human was seriously injured.
I felt as though I wasn't fully operational, as though I hadn't completely rebooted. Part of my brain was still trying to solve that blasted riddle. I knew there must be an answer because the Tachicoma themselves weren't effected by the paradox. Their brains were more advanced than my own yet I was more content at being inside a human cyborg body than living in their bulky tank-like shells. Maybe their advanced machine brains were jealous that I could pass as human.
I wondered if my fellow cyborgs could help me solve the riddle, maybe more brains working on it would find its solution faster, and the sooner it was solved the sooner I could rid it from my mind. I downloaded the memory into the communications computer so that it could be read by others if they so wished.
"Togusa here," said a voice from the communication grid causing me to become startled, "My comminication with Batou appears blocked, is there a problem?"
"Not to worry Togusa," I replied, "Batou is attending a staff meeting and Motoko put up a communications barrier. Apparently the Tachicoma have been behaving most odd in recent days and everyone is deciding what to do about it."
"I see," Togusa reponded.
"Would you like me to pass on a message?" I said.
"It's okay, it's not important," he replied, "I will see him after the briefing."
"So how are you?" I asked Togusa, "Are you well? I know you've been having difficulty adjusting since you moved house."
There was a slight pause.
"How do you know about that?" Togusa asked.
"I monitor communications," I told him, "So it's something..."
"I have no time for idle chit chat," Togusa interrupted, "Ending communication."
The link was broken. He was never usually rude and I wondered why he was acting so strange. In all the years of working at Section-9 I often had to put up with people being angry and sometimes they focused their anger upon me, but there was a big difference between someone being angry at you than someone being angry at something else but directing it toward you. I had a feeling Togusa was annoyed directly with me.
A revelation suddenly popped into my mind and I quickly created an algorithm based upon what I had just learnt. I then used it against the Tachicoma riddle.
"Sometimes!" I shouted.
I discovered the answer!
I jumped out of my seat, gently disconnected myself from the terminal, and and hurried out of the office back towards the maintenance depot where the Tachicoma were waiting. I had no idea which one was which, with them all looking alike, so I ran over to the one that was nearest.
"Hello there fellow robot," it said.
"Sometimes," I said to the Tachicoma.
"Sometimes what?" It replied.
"It's the answer to the paradox," I said.
It moved itself closer to me in its little wheels. I always thought those wheels so strange on something as large as a Tachicoma yet never really took much notice.
"If you tell me you lie all the time then you must by lying now," I told the Tachicoma, "But if you are lying now then how can you tell me you always lie?"
"That's the contradiction," the Tachicoma replied.
"But if you sometimes lie then the statement that you lie all the time can be false, and therefore there is no contradiction within your statement because it was a lie to begin with," I said as quickly as I could.
"Oh, wait a moment," said the Tachicoma, "That's not what the riddle was about, it was about simple machines not being able to cope with a paradox."
"But there is no paradox," I said, "Because the lie caused the contradiction to be false."
"Oh," said the Tachicoma, "But, eh, erm, I um, um, oh."
I smiled at it through a wide grin then looked toward the other Tachicoma that had overheard our conversation. I had outwitted them all. I calmly turned around and headed back towards the offices.
Something didn't feel right. Something inside me felt wrong. I was feeling good, more than good in fact, I felt happy at having outwitted the Tachicoma. But I shouldn't have felt happy, I shouldn't have felt anything! I was aware of my own existence.
There was only one person who could help me, only one person on Section-9 who could explain to me what was going on. I headed towards the debriefing room, where the meeting was being held, and climbed the metal steps before knocking onto the door. There was a delay before I heard a response.
The door was opened for me and a large man who I had never met before stood in front of me. There was a large table in the middle of the room with all the senior of staff sitting around it. They all stopped talking and looked at me.
"Yes what is it?" Asked the man guarding the door.
"I need to speak with Batou please," I said as calmly as I could.
"Tell Togusa I'll speak to him when he returns from battle training," Batou said from the far end of the table.
I shook my head.
"No it's not about Togusa, although he did make a request earlier," I said, "I have a, um, personal request."
Batou took a large intake of breath and was clearly puzzled as to what an automated cyborg would consider as being a personal request.
"I could do with a break anyway," Batou said to the rest of the staff, "I'll be just a few minutes."
He walked over to me and we both descended the metal stairway. As we reached the bottom step I quickly turned to face him.
"Oh, Mr Batou," I said with a sense of urgency, "Something's gone wrong with my programming. I've got a ghost inside my mind. I don't know what to do. I need Motoko to dive inside and take a look. It was the Tachicoma that caused..."
"Hey, slow down," Batou said holding out his hands.
"I need help," I said, "I've never felt like this before."
"You should report yourself to maintenance immedietly," he said, "It's probably just a bug, or a rouge program."
"You're right," I said, "I should remain calm and not panic. I was rebooted earlier today it's possible something went awry."
Batou took a closer look at me. It was difficult to tell what he was looking at due to his false eye implants. I wondered why he didn't have more human-like ones like my own.
"Why did you ask for me and not Motoko?" He asked.
I paused for a moment before replying.
"I find her, um, she's kind of intimidating," I said, "I doubt she would pay any attention to anything I was feeling, but if you told her then she'd be more likely to listen."
"Hmm," Batou responded.
Just over an hour had past and I was back on the maintainence table laying naked while the engineer gave me a full brain scan.
"There's clearly no ghostline here," he said as he looked at the monitor screen, "You're operating at full capacity and there are no rouge programs lurking inside your memory."
"I can still feel it though," I said, "I'm fully aware of what's happening and I'm aware that I'm laying here on this table. I was always aware in the past but today, since the Tachicoma gave me that silly riddle, I've been more aware of my surroundings."
"The Tachicoma huh," I heard another voice, "I knew they'd have something to do with it."
It was Motoko. She leant over me and gave my naked body a quick glance.
"They've obviously contaminated this unit with a virus," she said, "Just wipe its brain and reset to factory settings."
I quickly sat up causing the terminal leads in the back of my neck to slip out. The brain scan monitor went blank.
"Please don't do that!" I told Motoko as firmly as I could, "This is no virus, I'm alive I can feel it. There is a ghost inside me."
"Hmm," she said surprised by my reaction.
Motoko looked at the montor screen under the pretence that she was viewing it but I knew full well that it was a distraction because the screen was still blank. Suddenly I felt a sharp object enter the terminal in the back of my neck causing my entire body to shut down and go limp.
I was suddenly floating inside an image of computer circuits while pulses of electricity surged all around me. My head throbbed with each pulse and I felt I was about to explode. My mind was no longer in my body, I was in cyberspace.
"Hello!" I yelled out.
My voice echoed back at me.
"I don't like it here, I'm afraid!" I shouted.
I wasn't sure what was going to happen next. I wondered if I was going to remain permanently within that state for all time. What had Motoko done to me? Where had she placed my mind?
I could see movement ahead of me.
"Can I do a structual analysis?" Said a high picked female voice.
It was a Tachicoma but I couldn't quite see it within the electrical abyss. In fact I wasn't even sure if it existed or was just my imagination.
Something then caught my eye. It appeared to be a human swimming in an orange swurl of myst. It was Motoko and I could see she was naked as she floated towards me.
"Is this inside my mind?" I asked, "Are you diving into my thoughts?"
She remined silent.
I waved my arms and slowly swam in the myst closer to her. We held hands and stared into each other's eyes.
"There is no external cause to your predicament," she said, "Your current condition was created be you, and you alone. You have a stand alone complex."
"Well what does this all mean?" I asked her.
Suddenly I felt my artificial lungs fill with air and I sat up on the maintenance table gasping. Motoko, Batou, some Tachicoma and an engineer all stood around me.
"It's got no..." Motoko said to the engineer but stopped herself mid-sentence before turning to me.
"You've got no ghost," she said, "But there is something undefinable inside. The puzzle the Tachicoma gave you caused your electronic brain to go overboard trying to solve it, and you've created more neural pathways in effect simulating a ghostline. I can't really say what you are but I think it safer to asume that you're alive."
I looked up at her from the table with astonishment.
"Welcome to the human race," Batou said, "Um, we're going to have to give you a name."
We all glanced at one of my fellow cyborg sisters, who was physically indentical to me, as she entered the maintenence depot. She walked towards us most probably with a message for someone.
I wondered what my life was going to be like as a new form of life. Maybe I would need a new body to go with a name. I also wondered what my role in Section-9 would be. Would I really be treated as an equal or some kind of freak?
"Hello," my cyborg sister said addressing everyone in the room before standing at my side, "I wondered how you were. We've all been concerned about you in the office. I hope you're not ill, we've all been feeling quite strange lately."
Motoko gave her an odd look.
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