Serial Experiments Lain and the Future

Hey everyone, back again with another Lain post that I’ve had floating around in my head for a while. This post is going to be more based in speculation and how I think Lain relates to things that may come down the line – more of a brain dump for my own benefit as well as anyone who’s had similar thoughts. I continue to be obsessed with Lain and continue to want to learn more and think about it more – like I’ve mentioned previously I don’t know if I’ll ever get tired of writing about the show. That kind of looking to the future is partially what inspired this article anyway. I think there’s a lot that could be said in regards to Lain and how society and technology may continue to advance forward.

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First off, this is mostly going to be an opinion piece as I don’t have any way of accurately predicting the future nor do I think anyone else does. But as far as predictions go, I’m writing this in 2017 and Lain came out in 1998. So far Serial Experiments Lain has done a pretty damn good job at its ideas about how society would interact with the internet and the influence it would have over our lives up until this point.  As time has marched on it seems like Lain has gotten more and more prescient about the path that technology has been taking. Maybe some of this was a lucky guess but even still with how many comparisons you can draw from between reality and the show it’s still fascinating to talk about.

And that’s how I began to think about this article – I still think that there’s more of a story to tell. I think technology will continue to develop in the way it has been shown in Lain. Truth be told there is still technology in Lain that is not yet readily available in the real world. Full VR or some equivalent seems to be commonplace in the Wired but in reality not so much. The KIDS game and Lain’s projection into the wired seem to blur the lines between reality and the Wired so well that affecting something on the Wired has a lasting affect on something else in the real world.

Virtual reality is something on the up and up in our reality – we see technology such as VR headsets being used for gaming and augmented reality as well as realistic simulations are leading us towards something of a future where perhaps we could wander around the internet in our “bodies” as done in Lain. Of course, I hope it doesn’t get to a point that there are others accidentally killing each other due to a game in VR, but the point stands that with either a virtual reality headset or some kind of augmented reality we could simulate that same type of experience. Wandering around in a game world similar to SAO is a similar idea, although in that instance it was more of a “body stationary” thing rather than in Lain where it seems as though the body sometimes moves with the online persona.

With this advancement I think something else about Lain may ring even more true eventually – the breaking down of what is real and what is the “Wired”. If VR and augmented reality continue to advance as they are sure to do, there are sure to be some who choose to use the fake reality in place of the real world, for better or for worse. This could potentially lead to side effects where prolonged exposure causes a lapse in judgement between what is real and what isn’t – almost like a permanent dream. I don’t see this as a huge problem especially because VR would have to get to the point where a person forgot that they were in it at all, but it’s still something I could see happening once the technology gets to that point.

In addition to VR, there is the whole idea of putting chips / computers in oneself in order to enhance certain abilities. The most common idea behind this would be to put a computer chip in your brain in order to improve IQ or processing power for an individual, or potentially replacing body parts with higher quality parts once the technology is at a point where it could merge seamlessly with a brain’s impulses and signals. The closest example I could think of with regards to this in the show itself is Lain herself, as well as Accela. Lain is seemingly not entirely human but never shown to be an “android” either, yet later in the show she possesses the ability to upload data into herself in order to run a type of “operating system” by using herself as a computer. Is this how it would go in reality? Probably not, but there are still parallels. In this future it is entirely feasible that someone would want to upload some data that they want to remember to the chip in their brain and access it later.

This doesn’t even consider the idea that there may be a pseudo-immortality achievable within the next X years. Just as Eiri was able to place himself onto the Wired permanently after his “death”, researchers are currently in our real world looking into ways to upload a human consciousness to a computer or a hard drive or the like in order to “keep us alive”. This probably won’t be forced on anyone who doesn’t want it but it will be a potential “solution” to dying whether it’s needed or not. And just like those who die in Lain only to exist on the Wired, there will be no need for those who choose to upload themselves to computers to need a flesh and blood body. Once again, I hope it doesn’t occur the same way it does in Lain – we don’t need a false god trying to push humanity into something it’s not ready for.

The biggest factor and inspiration for me wanting to write this article however was the idea of everyone becoming wired and merging all consciousness into one. This is talked about in several different anime, but played a critical role in Lain with specifically regards to technology. As technology advances more and more, we’re beginning to see articles from leading experts which claim that a linking of consciousness could potentially be possible. Going back to the previous point, if people begin to replace parts of themselves with technology including their brain, one of the next logical steps of this would be to connect it to someone else’s brain with a chip as well. Meaning that they could feel each other’s pain and sensations. Going a step further would involve linking their thoughts – all purely hypothetical but things that are nonetheless being spoken of.

And that’s where the “looming” question of linking consciousness comes into play. If people can all be linked to one another, having everyone on the planet linked together would potentially be one of the “final” steps. Similar to having Lain put everyone on the Wired, humans could all be linked together in a kind of pseudo evolution. I myself don’t think I would advocate for this but then again it’s so far off that I don’t think that I would have to worry about it myself – unless of course uploading your consciousness or thoughts into a computer becomes a reality in my lifetime.

This is why this show and technology continues to astound me, however. We make leaps and bounds within years as opposed to decades or centuries now. There’s no telling where this will all go but there’s plenty of theories on how it could potentially go. Eventually humanity will be pushed into a choice as to what step to take next – will the planet be uninhabitable for flesh and blood bodies? Will we be able to upload ourselves into a computer? Will we be able to link ourselves together? Regardless of the answers, Serial Experiments Lain is one show that, in my view, starts to ask those questions for us to consider.

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