We live in a world where the line between ourselves and our technology is increasingly blurred. We already allow microchip implants in our pets, but are we as a society ready to e-tag our children as well?
Genre writer Elizabeth Moon ignited a debate on just that topic during an interview with the BBC radio show The Forum, according to the Daily News.
“I would insist on every individual having a unique ID permanently attached — a barcode if you will — an implanted chip to provide an easy, fast inexpensive way to identify individuals,” argued Moon.
By Moon’s primarily economic estimation, barcoding human beings with subdermal microchips would be a faster, more effective and less costly means of identification and tracking individual citizens. On the other hand, opponents of the concept claim it would be the first step towards Orwellian dystopia.
“To have a record of everywhere you go and everything you do would be a frightening thing,” said a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union. “Once we let the government and businesses go down the road of nosing around in our lives we’re going to lose all our privacy.”
The idea proposed by Moon is not as farfetched as it may seem. The government is already employing electronic means for tracking people. All United States passports issued since 2006 include RFID identification tags that send radio frequency transmissions to government agencies. Sex offenders and other felons are already tracked with electronic wrist and ankle bracelets, though these convicts haven’t yet been implanted with chips.
Perhaps, most telling is the Food and Drug Administrations’ 2002 approval of an implantable ID chip technology known only as “VeriChip.”
According to the FDA, VeriChip could be implanted in a person’s body and scanned for electronic information.
Production of VeriChip was mysteriously discontinued in 2010 amid vague questions about privacy and medical safety, but surely the patent offices are brimming with pending plans to turn electronic human barcoding from science fiction into science fact.
One biotech company, MicroCHIPS, claims to have already created a new subdermal computer chip designed to deliver medicine to sick people on a timed schedule. The technology is touted to eliminate the need for repeated, painful injections.
One thing is for sure: technological plans to put electronic gadgets inside our bodies are well under way. The only question that remains: do we even want them?