Regardless of the obvious and exploited cons of integrating human biology with technology, there are still millions of supporters for implantable microchips – some which even allow the user to unlock houses, cars, computers, and phones with a swipe of their hand.
Although this might seem like an appealing opportunity for human advancement on the surface, there are some serious consequences that come with having a microchip implanted into your body.
These “bio-hackers,” as they call themselves, use a hypodermic needle to easily place a tiny RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) chip under their skin, in an effort to become a little more superhuman.
This is the same equipment that is used to track lost pets and stolen cars. Indeed RFID chips are a pretty cool option for tech lovers, and their use is definitely a breakthrough for mankind.
Still, like with anything else in technological realm, the same benefits can be had by the powers that be. Governments, medical authorities, police, and security forces all have access to this little technological advancement too.
RFID chips are programmed with a one-of-a-kind ID number, and that number is commonly used to activate and deactivate electronic devices.
The microchips are also linked to a limitless database which includes quite personal information like names, addresses, health and legal records, and more.
Perhaps the most intriguing part about this new trend is the fact that RFID chips are already used nearly everywhere, from passports and IDs to credit cards and cell phones. In fact, there are even some RFID tags that come equipped with their own power source, making it possible for tracking to be done even when the subject is out of the sight of the reader.
Interestingly,British cybernetics scientist, Dr. Mark Gasson, became the first recorded human to become infected with a computer virus.
How is that possible, you ask? Well, it all started in 2009 when he implanted himself with an RFID chip in an effort to control the electronic devices in his office. Luckily, the malfunction did not cost him much, though it did lay precedence for some rather unpredictable events in the future.
Moreover, since the standard RFID chip is made with a material that allows it to bond with the tissues in the body, removal of it can be painful and dangerous.
Regardless of Gasson’s sci-fi-inspired infection, he still believes that implantable chips have “the potential to change the very essence of what it is to be human.” He actually went on to claim, “It be such a disadvantage not to have the implant that it will essentially not be optional.”
As the line between man and machine becomes more and more blurry, the average citizen has to wonder where it’s all going. It gets even more interesting when you consider how Stanford University recently unveiled a new creation – a transistor that is comprised entirely of genetic material.
For those who don’t quite understand what that means, it’s a biologically based computer that has the ability to operate within the living cells of its host, literally reprogramming body systems.
Just the idea of microchipping the masses gets under the skin of Dr. Katrina Michael from the University of Wollongong.
She specializes in understanding the socio-ethical effects of new technologies, and she worries that RFID chips could be hacked by less-than-honest people or governments in the future. “Bringing one’s external computer problems into the human body is fraught with dangers,” she advises.
Michael went on to say, “They (RFID chips) point to an uber-surveillance society that is big brother on the inside looking out. Governments or large corporations would have the ability to track people’s actions and movements, categorize them into different groups and ultimately even control them.”
The chips are often marketed under the guise of offering more robust medical care, religious salvation, and personal security, but those who consider more than simply how cool it is to start their car with their hand or access records quickly will see the validity in the concerns.
In fact, at least nine U.S. states have banned forced microchipping of its citizens for those very reasons.
Solusat, a distributor of VeriChip, recently announced that it had reached a business agreement with Mexico’s National Foundation for the Investigation of Lost and Kidnapped Children.
The campaign is an effort to microchip all children in the Mexican population. However, some skeptics are wondering how the VeriChip implants could help find missing kids when they don’t even have GPS tracking technology. After a lot of bad press, VeriChip actually changed its name and now calls itself a developer of “biological detection systems.”
As more companies work to develop microchips that do have GPS technology, the existing products are being advertised to an international market that is filled with people who are otherwise ignorant of the dangers involved.
Think about it this way: if your kid is easily tracked by you because of a microchip, then what is stopping someone else from tracking them using them same thing?
Perhaps Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation put it best when he said, “It’s a double-edged sword.” Indeed, the desire for human beings to play with the boundaries between man and machine could be our greatest downfall; as the birth of the cyborg might end up being the death of humanity as we know it.