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Laughing Man
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Imagine you are a code-wizard, an uber hacker. What would you do?

laughing_man

You may have seen this logo before, floating around the net, and if you haven’t, you will. Like the fist of solidarity, it represents a set of beliefs and a philosophy of action, much like Anonymous. Here’s the scoop.

The anime film Ghost in the Shell (1995, manga 1989) is renowned for its on screen exploration of such topics as cyber ethics, emergent development of AI, and the existence of the soul. Its follow up television series—Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, First Gig—takes a look at the ethics of cyber terrorism.

The antagonist of the series is a “wizard class” hacker knows as The Laughing Man—a reference to a character in a short story by J.D. Salinger I have never read. The Laughing Man is effectively unstoppable, able to accomplish such feats as hacking the robotic eyes of his perusers so as to erase his image from their view field.

Why does he do it?

Summer 2010: An individual under the title of The Laughing Man hacks numerous private facebook accounts in order to spread his message around cyber-space. Here they are: video #1, video #2 (I prefer the 2nd personally).

In the final episode of the show, the protagonist encounters the Laughing Man, a soft spoken youth, working in the national library archiving an archaic form of media: books. It seems that his mastery of data had taught the Laughing Man the existent of its susceptibility to tampering and wholesale obliteration. Having discovered information detailing the depths of corporate and government corruption, he resolved to fight back. Several acts of cyber-terrorism later, he has found a new way to change the world—he became a librarian. I wonder what will become of our Laughing Man, or men.

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