The Radio Frequency Identification or RFID microchip is a miniaturised radio transmitter which can send and receive information. The chip has a multitude of uses: to track livestock on farms, monitor product inventories in warehouses, prevent theft in supermarkets, locate lost pets and stranded mountain climbers, time races, log library books and toll drivers. The technology is gradually being phased into public consciousness, with chips being installed in travelcards to board public transport, in passports to combat illegal immigration, even in school uniforms to reduce truancy and protect children from abduction.
Implantation of the 11mm ‘Verichip’ into willing human volunteers has been widely documented. The human implants have been used to provide medical information in an emergency, to replace ID cards for increased security in places of work, for scared families to protect themselves from the terrorist threat. Developers are integrating RFID with GPS satellite tracking so you could physically track a chip anywhere in the world. Miniaturisation is increasing, with chips being reduced in size to grains of powder as small as 0.05mm. RFID ink has been developed for use as an invisible information-storing tattoo.
The potential uses for this technology are almost limitless. The chip could be installed in paper money and coins to combat counterfeiting, fraud, tax evasion and money laundering. RFID equipped cards could be used to make fast transactions and physical cash could be removed from the system entirely. If an individual’s money could only be accessed by an implanted microchip, they would feel their money is safe from theft. All transactions could be monitored and illegal purchases of drugs, contraband and firearms could be recorded.
Because the business world is based on consumer trends, many companies will happily promote technology which aids the monitoring of the populace. If all the products are chipped, and the people pay for them using digitized money, a more accurate database of consumer activity can be made.
The physical implantation of RFID into the entire population need not be forced upon them by an authority. The populace can be convinced that it needs the chip for security, health issues and simple convinence. The majority would be happy to pay for their own tags. As intergration develops, the unconvinced minority will not able to function in society without the RFID chip.
Imagine a world where everything was microchipped. All the people, all the money, manufactured goods, housing, transport, computers, phones, cameras, every concievable item sending and receiving data, forming a colossal network of information. From birth a life-long profile of each person could be built up. The exact co-ordinates of every point on the globe they’ve ever been, mapped out on a digital representation of the earth. Everything they’ve ever paid for, everything they’ve ever watched on tv, the music they listen to, books they’ve read, the entire content of their social life. Logged and added to their profile.
The data wouldn’t need to be physically monitored by a human - as the information comes in the computer would update the profiles automatically and then make them easily accessible for users, flagging up specific personality traits if need be. The authority could use the technology to tackle crime by blocking access to a criminals money, preventing their travel and locating them instantly. Automatic fines could be issued and collected at the will of the computer. This system would encourage people to lead lives that are in line with the requirements of authority.
In the name of public safety, new laws and classifications are continually being put into place which give the authority more power over the individual. The phrase ‘terror-suspect’ has become an umbrella term for anyone who disagrees with the authority. The authority now have the power to detain such terror suspects without trial. Watch lists are being compiled of people who attend protests and subscribe to alternative media.
As the level of surveillance continues to increase, individual freedoms and resistance from minorities will decrease proportionally. With total surveillance, individuality could be reduced to the point that the working populace would act in perfect unison, an unthinking human machine.