The Mark of the Beast?
October 25, 2002 2:22 PM   Subscribe

The Mark of the Beast? After the quick FDA approval of implantable human chips , Applied Digital Solutions , the manufacturer of the chips, has already launched a national campaign with the tagline "Get Chipped", and people are lining up. Other's are afraid, for one reason or another.
posted by Espoo2 (28 comments total)
I have to admit, as a slightly paranoid person this is a little tempting. I like the idea that I could get a chip implanted so that if I got kidnapped or murdered my family could find me. The idea of governmental tracking is not so cheerful, of course.
posted by stoneegg21 at 2:28 PM on October 25, 2002

"Hello, shotgun."
posted by four panels at 2:29 PM on October 25, 2002

The idea of governmental tracking is not so cheerful, of course.

forget the government. what if your spouse gets ahold of the tracking device?
posted by lescour at 2:33 PM on October 25, 2002

"an effective way for doctors to identify patients"...

It seems very silly. Why not just write your name on your underwear? That wouldn't handle the kidnap/murder edge case I guess, but if your abductors are thoughtful enough to remove all your clothing before dumping your body, what makes you think they wouldn't remove the chip too?
posted by sfenders at 3:17 PM on October 25, 2002

I think this is the mark of the beast, and I'm not even religious.

Stoneegg, lescour, keep in mind that until we develop much better means of power storage or generation, the VeriChip isn't going to have the power to track you. It's off until activated by their scanner, then it sends its code. I doubt it would have a range of more than a few metres for broadcast. The Digital Angel package, however, is much larger, and can track you, but you can take it off. And even that won't help you if your body is dumped in the wilderness, far from any cell tower.

I worry about the false sense of security this device might engender. It doesn't sound like it would require much training to take one of these things out of one person and put it into another.
posted by alex_reno at 3:46 PM on October 25, 2002

sounds like an excellent idea with a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the other possibly horrible uses of such an implantable chip dwarf its potential. A little scary if you ask me. Hopefully, it will never catch on.
posted by culpable at 3:49 PM on October 25, 2002

Chip implants? how about Screens in eyewear (I knew about that) coupled with tiny cameras (yeah, OK) coupled with modern processing power (yeah, yeah....) which powers A FACIAL RECOG PROGRAM LINKED TO EXTENSIVE DATABASES OF PERSONAL INFO!

"Government nebbishes skulk the streets. Recog-database eyewearers are even equippped with a synthesia analogue as political leanings - pulled up from intercomparisons of database info and complex profiling - are depicted as shades of color, with smells even thrown in to pipe more data in thru limited human sensory apparatus. Thus, libertarians are a lurid iMac lime green, and smell like benzene, while progressives have a soft pink edge and smell like rotten tofu.... "

[EXCERPT from a short tale of mine, which I just emitted in reaction to this post.............]
posted by troutfishing at 3:56 PM on October 25, 2002

I find it scary that so many people think that someone making a reference to 1984 or George Orwell is equivalent to some new Godwin's Law. The boy who cried wolf, it would seem, we've become so used to it that we can't see everything falling into place.

Yeah, I'm not paranoid.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 4:45 PM on October 25, 2002

Applied Digital Solutions is making the same mistake that William Gibson committed in his novels; however cool and exotic wetware chips may be,
it's nothing that can't be copied (or thwarted) by a similar technology worn on the wrist or dangling from a keychain.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:52 PM on October 25, 2002

Applied Digital Solutions, Inc. is just plain EVIL. Their product line seems to be singularly devoted to dehumanization. They also have business dealings with those even less responsible than the US Government: Mexico, Latin America, Europe and China.

But hey, Latin American countries and China would *never* abuse human rights, now would they?
posted by kablam at 4:56 PM on October 25, 2002

OK, someone posts a hack for this on Slashdot in 5, 4, 3...
posted by RylandDotNet at 5:44 PM on October 25, 2002

kablam, I was looking for the evil part, and I couldn't find it. That link also failed to show dealings with governments; rather, it's about licensing and marketing through subsidiaries and partners in those regions. I'm not saying I trust those governments any more than you do -- I'm just saying show me the money.

Ecuador, for example, as with some other parts of the region, is plagued by kidnappings -- and all it takes to be targeted is a modest professional income that allows one to live there as one might live in suburban America, or to be a Westerner or an employee of a deep-pocketed western company.

Also, Dalek, part of the point of this would be something that the wearer could not voluntarily tamper with -- or under duress. It's actually logistically incredibly difficult to control (i.e. track) a whole population -- though I wouldn't put it past a Turkmenistan (say) to try. But there are numerous fairly obvious access denial and personal security applications, which will be either completely voluntary, or subject to employment contracts. Bank workers, airline and airport workers, customs warehouses, FBI crime labs ... one can imagine quite a few ways this could be used, short of Big Brother.

My more immediate concerns would have to do with passive scanning and other invasions of privacy (perhaps without even your awareness), and electronic tampering approaches. But those same risks exist without implantation.
posted by dhartung at 5:52 PM on October 25, 2002

happy to be chipped then dhartung?
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:04 PM on October 25, 2002

We need to have a key wand that use similar technology at my work place. The range is less than two inches. It's easy enough to carry this on my key chain, so I don't see much use for having it implanted.

But if I could choose what access information was included, and more systems were able to read from the chip, I'd say this would be great. For example - If the chip could handle network logons, check card payments, car alarms, building access, etc, I'd go for it in a heartbeat.

Great idea, they just need to make it more useful.

As to the hacking question - This isn't a complex system like a network server, it's a simple pattern matcher. With even a 1K key length the "password" would be unguessable in even millions of trillions of attempts. If you trust the security on your credit card or your house key then you should trust this, since it's much more secure than either.

As to the nature of the beast thing - I suggest that people who think the chip will turn them into a minion of Satan simply not get it. The last thing such delusional gits need is a focus for their hysteria.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:09 PM on October 25, 2002

From the sixth link:

Another reason to resist microchip implants? Scientists claim it will lead to robots taking over the world

Sadly the link leads to an outdated page so I'll never get the answers to my burning questions: Which robots? Where?! And if I don't personally have a robot is it safe for me to be chipped? What about if I get one of those little mechanical that a robot? I definitely don't want to be taken over by one of those home cleaner/vacuuming robots.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:06 PM on October 25, 2002

Here is some good news, I guess. Maybe I should amend that to Evil *and* Incompetent.
posted by kablam at 7:09 PM on October 25, 2002

These chips, and most foreseeable future versions of the same, would only be useful as forms of ID: for medical information, security clearance, that kind of thing. The kidnapping angle is a red herring. These are passive, but even if they emitted an active signal it would be very easy to block, and kidnappers would figure that out quickly. Admittedly, the point where the signal disappeared would be useful, but not that useful.
posted by Nothing at 8:32 PM on October 25, 2002

There is an old-world solution to every new-world problem.

To this I say, amputation and cutting and digging will easily remedy anyone daring or stupid enough to put a chip under their skin.
posted by insomnyuk at 8:52 PM on October 25, 2002

I will take to the hills when the glamorous endorsements start rolling down the pike... "Its hip to Chip... do YOU?"

I can just imagine some ad agency creatives right now sitting around a conference table gleefully pitching such glib slogans, arming this company to sell us more bullshit for the sake of a dollar.

(Ah... A "big tobacco" problem for a whole new generation.)

Uh... no thanks, lads. Keep yer chips to yerselves!
posted by FilmMaker at 11:05 PM on October 25, 2002

For many companies it is required for you to take a genetic test so it is not inconceivable that someday it could be required for employment to be chipped. This is a very scary possibility and brings to mind "Gattaca" and "ZigZag" which was an "Outer Limits" show about a society that required you to be chipped to do anything and it was one of the more depressing episodes.
posted by GreenDragon at 12:05 AM on October 26, 2002

as well as an effective way for doctors to identify patients who will be otherwise unable to identify themselves because they are either unconscious or dead.

Yep, it sure is getting trickier and trickier to identify those gosh-darned dead patients...
posted by cohappy at 1:12 AM on October 26, 2002

is anyone here happy to have one of these things
inserted into them then ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:19 AM on October 26, 2002

In my poking around I found a couple of links I found interesting... How long before this chip is tied to a "National ID card"?
EPIC has released this letter and while I don't always agree with the ACLU,here are five very good reasons to oppose this sort of thing (Particularly, reason #4).
posted by FilmMaker at 4:57 AM on October 26, 2002

How about a steganographic message in your latest tattoo? Or just a Thief in the Night style bar code? (The old man lining up to get his Mark o'the Beast was priceless: "Give it to me on the forehead, I'm a good citizen...")

This reminds me of this guy's excellent millennial hoax. A good article on same in the local alt newspaper appeared in a local alt.newspaper here.
posted by luminol at 7:47 AM on October 26, 2002

How about a steganographic message in your latest tattoo?

This would assume that most people want more than zero tattoos.
posted by kindall at 12:16 PM on October 26, 2002

For many companies it is required for you to take a genetic test so it is not inconceivable that someday it could be required for employment to be chipped.

Or alternatively, if employers favoured chipped over non-chipped when hiring [which is likely - depending on what kind of information is stored] then you've lost, just a little bit more of your freedom. Mind you I hear that in America you have to piss in a cup at job interviews...I'll take the chip thanks.
posted by meech at 3:18 AM on October 27, 2002

well , dont see too many enthusiastic volunteers here.......
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:01 AM on October 27, 2002

I'm starting to come around on the medical ID issue becasue hopfully in 48 hours I will have 1-1/2 kidneys (as opposed to a probable Renal Cell carcinoma.) The problem of accurately communicating my medical history has been difficult enough when I conscious and have a stack of X-ray films. I worry about communicating that in the event of an accident.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:47 AM on October 27, 2002

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