Walmart has rolled out and installed a new bar code reading machine called a SoloHealth Station. The station, apparently, is the latest manifestation of a changing infrastructure, one that will be tailor-made to usher in a “Brave New World,” which some eagerly await while others warily view with caution and disapproval. Walmart and Sam’s Club have taken steps, which could be making such a world a reality.
The devices and Walmart SoloHealth Stations are just some of the commercial and infrastructure changes which will be utilized in conjunction with the Affordable Healthcare Act. A possible connection between RFID use and the new healthcare legislation can be found in HR 3962 Section 2571 subsection (B), which discusses use of Class II & III devices alongside a “Medical Device Registry.”
By now, well into the 2000’s, everyone has seen the sci-fi movies, read the futuristic books and, at a minimum, is familiar with the vocal concerns of the far right and religious groups constantly cautioning citizens to heed the warnings in the book of Revelation. The prophetic writings of the scriptures regarding the events of the end times were written thousands of years ago, but, with the latest decision by Walmart to place futuristic health machines in stores, the prophesied events are looking more like a not-so-distant reality.
The scriptural warnings have been around for thousands of years, however we have also had some recent warnings as well. It was less than a century ago that Aldous Huxley and George Orwell wrote their novels A Brave New World and 1984, respectively. Walmart’s new move to place eye-scanning, blood-pressure taking, super data-storing machines in Walmart stores all across the country seems like a chapter out of one of their books. Huxley and Orwell detailed a “fictional” dystopia in which there was total control, constant supervision, incessant monitoring, ceaseless propaganda, and machines, perhaps, similar to Walmart’s SoloHealth Stations, which interacted with humans in every facet of their lives.
Not to be left solely to literary warnings, people have also had the luxury of being visually warned of the future that potentially awaits them if “a brave new world” is allowed to materialize. Walmart’s new superstations would have fit right into the cinematically prophetic sci-fi thriller Minority Report. Although the plot of the movie detailed the arrests of individuals for crimes they had not yet committed, dubbed “pre-crime” offenders, the type of info-grabbing technology used was eerily similar to what Walmart has decided to deploy in its stores.
The SoloHealth Station can now be found in Walmart stores all across the country. The kiosk was originally marketed only as a vision-care solution where individuals could come and test their vision in a quick, no-hassle manner. Those wary of government intrusions into individual privacy view the kiosks simply as one way to amass millions of retina scans into an ID database, in addition to their stated health objective. Today, however, the kiosks found inside of Walmart and Sam’s Club stores appear to do much more than simply test one’s vision. The SoloHealth Station can test vision, measure weight and even read blood pressure. The placing of such stations within numerous Walmart stores represents just one of the small changes that signals “a brave new world” is coming into view. What this reality might possibly mean for the individual has been detailed in Bibles, books, and big screens for quite some time. The future emergence of RFID technology, both in connection with healthcare and the economy at large, means big changes when considering a future which doesn’t appear too far away.
Walmart’s possible decision to roll out chip-reading super machines, in the future – called SoloHealth Stations – is just one step in a series of many that could signal a significant change taking place in the way society will operate. The introduction of the automobile, telephone, computer, and ATM could all pale in comparison to the potential societal changes represented by RFID. So far, the technology has been marketed for all of the positive possibilities it embodies, in terms of convenience and economic efficiency. There has been comparatively little official mention regarding some of the negative possibilities, however, with privacy and freedom concerns being voiced primarily from the political right and religious sectors of society, which are subsequently labeled as partisan, selfish, and uncooperative for resisting such “advancements.”
If Walmart, eventually, moves to install RFID chip-reading SoloHealth Stations, it could be solely a financially motivated business decision. It appears to be the responsibility of the public to become educated regarding the potential ramifications of such a decision, in conjunction with the new healthcare legislation. Positive marketing regarding the new legislation and technologies can be found nearly everywhere, while the negative criticism – along with strict warnings of what may come – can be found in Bibles (Revelation), books (1984), and big-screen productions (Minority Report). Much like the mantra of age-old merchant law, the rule today seems to be “Let the reader beware.”
Editorial By Daniel Worku