Even as time has moved forward, global culture has found a perpetual fascination with the supernatural, otherworldly, mysterious and captivating. Part of that fascination has landed on the grounds of technological development, and the human race has always been pushing invention and engineering forward. NASA is essentially a combination of humans’ curiosity and the gift to be able to construct whatever the mind can conceive. The passion for creative development within how technology can interact with humans has found a home in movies like the Terminator series, and even movies like A Beautiful Mind.
As people have witnessed powerful advancements in this field, the possibility of microchips eventually surfaced. Now, in the 21st century, human microchipping is forming its debut steps, and it has far-reaching effects that even the designers of the chips may not have thought of.
Usually when the topic of microchips arises, people gravitate to the concerns of privacy, as well as health. These are legitimate concerns, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the development and production of technology is moving forward at a rate that its own designers and builders are making no effort to inhibit, at least in a big-picture sense. Technology serves many purposes, but without a designated destination for the final product, gadgets can begin to overtake their purpose and become void of meaning before they are fully produced.
Secondly, the human body and the ways in which it operates is built very differently from technology, and when the two are combined in a synergistic, biological sense, there is not enough knowledge and research currently available in order to maintain that such a combination is beneficial in the long-term. In fact, most of the research currently circulating points in the direction that combining a biological structure with an ultimately inanimate one is detrimental. Even more far-reaching effects have yet to be discovered with human microchipping, which has the potential to usurp the convenience and simplicity of human life, the very groundwork it may seem to uphold.
Dr. Katharine Albrecht, a consumer privacy and microchip expert, reported findings of VeriChip’s work in 2007. VeriChip at the time was the only human-implantable microchip that was approved by the FDA, before they changed their name to PositiveID in 2010. What Dr. Albrecht and her colleagues found in 2007 was that when VeriChip was being tested on lab animals, a portion of the animals ended up contracting cancer. Even though the studies only revealed cancer in 10 percent or less of the animals, the results were enough to have VeriChip’s work suspended until further decisions were made by higher authorities.
That has not stopped technology and microchip enthusiasts from pushing forward with their own ideas and experiments. Dr. Mark Gasson, a cybernetics scientist from the UK, implanted a microchip into his hand in 2009, allowing him to open doors and turn his phone on just with the swipe of his hand. This undoubtedly made everyday moments of life more convenient for Gasson, but his experiment did not end there.
Gasson purposefully loaded a virus into his microchip and continued to use it throughout the University of Reading, pointing out that he was able to spread his virus simply through the power of technological networks. Gasson’s virus went on to affect the access cards of other staff entering and exiting the building of his office, and later affected the university’s database. Dr. Gasson was seemingly proud of this, however, and commented publicly that he was the first human to ever be infected with a computer virus.
Even as strange experiments and bewildering conversations unfold, there are highly beneficial uses of human microchipping already taking place. In certain parts of the world where greater medical attention is needed, such as Africa, doctors and field administrators are using the power of microchips to keep track of which individuals have received vaccines and which have not. The unilateral advantage that this provides could hardly be argued against. This is a small, quick and effective solution for real-world problems that can save time, money and energy.
Government institutions appear to be keen on the capabilities that microchips hold, and there is much dialogue throughout the Internet of eventual plans to do away with components of society such as traditional cell phones, money and cameras. On the surface this seems to be a logical move, if one’s desired result is to simplify and minimize the effort required in life in order to complete basic tasks. On a deeper level, these types of advancements would eventually diminish areas of human and social existence that are vital – equally valuable institutions such as trust, privacy, community, independence and love. So as the developments surrounding human microchipping press forward, global society will discover that only its people hold the decisions of the microchip’s far-reaching effects.
Opinion by Brad Johnson