Recently, a Wisconsin snack food technology company by the name of Three Square Marketing, announced that it was going to be micro-chipping its employees, or at least those who volunteer for the procedure. According to the company spokesperson, the concept is to reduced the need to memorize passwords to access their computers or phone system as well as entry into certain secure rooms, not to mention paying for snacks and so forth for as little as swipe of the hand. The procedure is actually quite simple. It's just a minor insertion of a tiny microchip (about the size of a single grain of rice) called a RFID, or "Radio Frequency Identification" transmitter chip, in the loose skin portion of your hand between your thumb and forefinger. In fact, several companies have begun to offer similar procedures (my bank has started offering retinal scans in order to have access to safety deposit boxes).
Three Square Marketing is not the first company to offer this procedure. In fact, several companies have made this security measure available. Epicenter , a high tech company in Stockholm Sweden hopes to have all of its 700 employees micro-chipped shortly. But these aren't the only companies to venture forth with this new technology. Several other, mostly technology based companies, are at least dipping their toe in the water. In fact, back in 2003, Mexico's top prosecutor, Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha, along with 160 members of his staff were implanted with a micro-chip at a cost of (US) $125.00 each (the average cost is approximately $300 per person, depending on the purpose of the chip). Other members of the Mexican government and military were "chipped" as well. The reason was for security purposes given the power, wealth, and brutal means the drug cartels are willing to go in order to gain access to this information.. No more memorized security codes or passwords and no more magnetic security ID cards. In short, nothing to steal, lose, or forget. Of course, other governments and their militaries are doubtlessly taking the same steps...and for the same reasons.
Domestically, the U.S. military is looking into implanting chips in soldiers, sailors, and airmen for similar reasons---security. No one wants to forget a password or security ID, especially while under combat conditions (especially when the military changes password and code frequently...and they never---ever--- involve your dog's name, your birthday, or your mother's maiden name). In addition, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a high tech R&D center which officially operates out of the Pentagon, is working on a unique program called "Electronic Prescriptions" or more simply, "ElectRx". The objective is to implant a chip called a "nanosensor", which will monitor a soldier's bodily vitals and administer specific medication if required.
A similar program could monitor a soldier's blood pressure, respiration, pulse, temperature or other factors and through the use of biofeedback, electromagnetic devises, as well as perhaps administer a stimulant or sedative to help ensure they are at peak performance in every combat situation. As an aside, the Germans did something similar to this during WWII. Each combat soldier, sailor, or airman was provided with a regular stream of "Pervitin", a stimulant similar to crystal meth. This helped the soldier to stay awake longer and remain in the fight longer. Later, they were provided with a cocaine based drug with sinister sounding code name of "D-IX". Studies showed that with D-IX, individuals could hike 70 miles carrying a 45 pound backpack without a single rest break. No doubt had the micro technology been available, Nazi scientists would have found a use for it (of course, like so many other things, they were indeed working on the problem).
So, what are we to make of this? Would you be willing to be "chipped" for your employer? Let's look at it from another angle before you answer. Let's say that you, along with most Babyboomers, either are or will be facing the issue of ageing parents. One of the key problems is their tendency to get lost (especially if they suffer from dementia or some other neuro disease). A micro-chip equipped with GPS could be implanted to monitor their whereabouts. The same goes for those with small children who have the same tendency of wondering off. It would also help to prevent child disappearances. In addition, as pointed out above, it could monitor any medical needs either your parents or child requires.
Now, let's take it one step further. What if, by micro-chipping your hand, you could forgo your house key(s), car key, work security card or password? In addition, it would have all your medical information on it, from your childhood shots through your current medication, health concerns, your doctor and next of kin contact information as well as your insurance information. In case of a serious accident, wouldn't that be helpful? All EMS would have to do is scan your hand and your complete medical history is right there. No more guessing.
What if we pushed it just a bit further? What if this same micro-chip, which is capable of holding billions of bits of information, included your driver's license and car registration information on it? It would make life more manageable. Less digging through the glove box or business drawer or cabinet. You could even have a feature on it which includes your resume as well as financial information like your savings or checking account. You could even pay your groceries simply by scanning your hand the same way your groceries are scanned. As it is, some people use their smart phone much the same way, except now the information is right at your finger tips, well, close to your finger tips.
The companies implanting these micro-chips like VeriChip Corporation, a subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions, Inc of Palm Beach Florida or Swedish Biohacking Group of Stockholm all claim that the information is extremely secure, although nothing is entirely foolproof. Nevertheless, they insist that the information encoded on the chip is at least as secure as it would be conventionally, with the key difference being that primary factor for secure breaches, namely hard documents such as security cards, passwords or pass codes written down on a piece of paper, are eliminated. By the way, the FDA has approved the use of microchips in humans as of 2004. Specifically, they approved its use for introducing medicine into humans. Microchipping for animals, which collects not just medical monitoring information, but also their migratory movements. For pets, they've long been essentially in tracking them when they go missing.
Ok, we've discussed all the pros, so let's talk about some possible negatives shall we? First, do you really want to share your personal medical issues with potentially everyone? Now, I know I said earlier that the information would be available for EMS, the hospital, the doctors and nurses, and perhaps the police. However, there is always the possibility that the built in security wall could be breached by a hacker or mistakenly by your employer. Then again, if you have employer provided insurance (or coverage underwritten by the federal government such as Veteran Administration, Medicare, or Medicaid), sharing personal medical information might become mandatory. Your financial information might also be hacked, but that would only come through a direct attack rather than someone stealing a card or stealing a password. Admittedly, this type of hack on your end will be the most difficult. Thus any potential cyber attack would be on the bank's end. Nevertheless, a quick change in security could solve that problem without you initially even knowing about it. Employee or work information nowadays exists within the company's digital world and is protected through a password, electromagnetic strip, or maybe a retinal scan. Sharing it on a microchip wouldn't really make that much difference, and unless it's going to allow you access to read it, wouldn't be a necessity, whereas security access to your work area, entry, etc would be a plus. The same goes with a resume---not useful, although things like gym passes, driver license, car registration, insurance information would obviously be useful. The same with your medical history and medication. If coupled with a medical devise, a chip could monitor things like blood sugar, a insulin plump, blood pressure, heart implant, and so on.
Finally (and in response to a dare), I'm posting the obvious negative to a microchipping---the "Mark of the Beast". Yelp, on a dare about me not mentioning it, here I go. As most people have been taught, the biblical Book of Revelations, Chapter 13, verses 16 -18, makes mention of a mysterious "mark" which equates to the "number of a Man" which equals 666 (or depending on how its calculated, 616) and unless you have it on either your right hand or forehead, your are forbidden to "buy or sell" anything. In the early years of Christianity, members of this new "sect" as they were called were being systematically harassed and often, killed for sport, either in the arena or for private entertainment of the ruling Emperor (one such occasion was when Caesar Nero had several Christians beaten, then nailed to a cross in various positions, dowsed with oil and then set on fire in order to provide lighting for one of Caesar's late night parties).
Therefore, it goes without saying, that early Christian writers had to be very careful about what they wrote when it came to Rome, Roman law, or any of Rome's leaders; especially Caesar himself. One way to do this was encoding key names, such as a number stood for a particular letter (this technique, called a "gematria", was used by other groups with their own letter/numbering system.). Thus, the number 666 was produced using the name of the Emperor at the time, Nero Caesar (vowels were always excluded) using Greek and 616 using Latin. So there you have it! What would you do? Would you embrace modern technology and have a microchip implanted? What if it was a job you really wanted and they required being micro-chipped? Would you set limits as to what you would have encoded on the chip? What about app updates? What if you bought a newly built house and it was fully automated and could be operated by using passwords and/or security codes... or a by using a couple of different remotes...or a single chip in your hand?
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