Do you know the iconic manga Ghost in the Shell, which was turned into anime several times and is one of the most important examples of science fiction manga? If you are not familiar with it: it is about a vision of the future in which many people have replaced their biological body partly or entirely with artificial implants. When Masamune Shirow published the manga in 1989, the dystopian story must have seemed far-fetched. Today, not even thirty years later, after all the advances in prosthetics, robotics, nanotechnology, medicine and many other sciences, it seems quite probable that most of us will live long enough to witness Ghost in the Shell turning into reality. For those of you who are curious: what has led me to this thought is Google’s patent for a contact lens with a built-in camera. I know that experimental automatic mind-reading procedures have been around for a while and that prototypes of thought-operated prostheses already exist – however, these are either large scanners and computers or entire limbs packed with the newest technology. Both are significantly larger than a tiny contact lens.
This extreme miniaturization is very impressive, especially if you look at the details of the patent application on Patent Bolt. On the one hand I ask myself what the future of photography is going to be like, on the other I wonder how radically our lives and our society are going to change as soon as these and similar devices are market-ready. Considering the enormous potential for abuse of such technologies, I am not sure whether I should be excited or frightened.