Duration 22 years (02003-02025)
Douglas C Hewes
Technology is a wonderful thing. So is Freedom. In many circumstances these are mutually exclusive concepts. Ironically many advances have been made in the name of freedom. Cryptography, wireless networking, miniaturization of IC?s, biotechnologies, perpetuating energy sources, global positioning systems, information storage and retrieval systems ? all developed to some extent in an effort to afford us greater freedoms through the application of technology. These same technologies however, will one day erode that very freedom.
Despite our outward social and technological advancements, even evolutions, we are still driven by the eon old concepts of survival and protection. This is, as it has always been and always will be, human nature. Combine these driving forces with technology and a revenue-driven industrial complex ? mix with a healthy dose of fear (both real and manufactured) and a bleaker reality emerges.
It began with systems such as LoJack, a vehicle recovery system. As technology improved, smaller tracking devices began to be implanted in pets. In 2000, Applied Digital Solutions, Inc. formed a partnership with Princeton University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology to design a miniature, implantable digital transceiver that can send and receive data, monitor body functions, store information and utilize GPS tracking. Within a decade or so a device small enough and efficient enough to be permanently implanted in the human body that provides this functionality will be on the market. The technology exists ? all that remains is to overcome logic, social responsibility, ethics and common sense.
Fear. Fear is a highly motivating emotion. Societies will perform virtually unthinkable acts out of fear. It will begin with people electing to have others implanted. Parents, afraid for the safety of their children, will have them implanted with these devices in case of abduction (or more evil motives during those teen years). The elderly will find themselves implanted in case of accidents, cardiac arrest or Alzheimer's disease. These are the cases where our humanity allows us to alleviate some of our fears through the use of technology ? for purely ethical and good-hearted reasons. Then it will begin in earnest: the involuntary implantations. Technology will have to evolve to a device that can not be tampered with or removed. Congress, through the use of an effective fear campaign, will have to enact legislation. The military will then be early adopters, under the pretense of body identification; locating MIA/POW?s and troop tracking/performance monitoring (Adds a whole new twist to SNMP, huh?). It will be the military applications, due both to enormous funding and the perpetual utilitarian need to incorporate as many functions into a single device as possible that will drive the advancement and universal adoption of these technologies. At this point convicted criminals will almost certainly find themselves with such implants. Ethnic profiling and a fear of terrorism will also lead to a number of mandatory implants. The final stage of this assault on freedom will culminate with what today would sound incredulous ? voluntarily implanting oneself. People will implant themselves in case of a natural disaster, severe accident or even in case of finding themselves lost on the Appalachian Trail?does it really matter? The commonality throughout these stages ? the driving force ? is fear.
From here it is simply a chronological issue ? how long will it take for 50% of the population of the United States to receive these implants?
Technology is a wonderful thing. So is Freedom.
Douglas C Hewes is negotiating the terms of a bet about this prediction. It will soon be added to Bets on the Record.
This bet states that by the year 2025, 50% of all citizens of the United States living within the 50 states, as determined by some relevant census information, will have some form of technology that is either implanted in, or used to modify their person such that they can be tracked, located and/or identified solely based on that technology along with whatever external devices and technology are required to read and interpret the embedded technology. The embedded technology can be active or passive, can be an electronic device, a chemical marker, a genetic marker/manipulation or passive technologies such as RFID. The technology itself may be active ? in that it transmits some form of signal (electronic, quantum, etc.) or it can be passive ? in that it requires some external device to scan the person in some manner.
Since my prediction indicates that a number of persons with such embedded technologies will have this voluntarily, the technology itself does not necessarily have to be impervious to attempts to disable it. While I believe the majority of the technologies used will in fact be tamper-resistant, the voluntary implantations do not need to be.