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By Paul Meekin
“Out with the old spiritual mumbo jumbo, the superstitions, and the backward ways. We’re gonna see a brave new world where they run everybody a wire and hook us all up to a grid. Yes, sir, a veritable age of reason.” – O Brother, Where Art Thou
Is this how privacy ends? Not with a bang, but with an NFC implant? It’s a possibility, and Epicenter, a ‘digital innovation’ company in Stockholm, Sweden, could be ground zero.
Its website is rife with buzzwords that sound exciting but don’t explicitly state what, exactly, they do. Probably Skynet… Making Skynet is probably what they do.
In the meantime they’ve started tagging employees’ palms with chips that allow them to open doors, access various network connected devices, and purchase goods from vending machines, without the need for a password, key card, wallet, or cash – and in the future? anything goes – gym memberships, grocery shopping, and many other wonders of convenience and terror.
“The small implants use Near Field Communication (NFC) technology…When activated by a reader a few centimeters (inches) away, a small amount of data flows between the two devices via electromagnetic waves. The implants are “passive,” meaning they contain information that other devices can read, but cannot read information themselves.” reports The Associated Press.
About 150 employees at Epicenter have the implants. In fact, the program is so popular Epicenter is actually having ‘implant parties’. Thus, if you use the most basic definition, Epicenter has about 150 cyborgs walking around.
Contained in that implant is the data of what doors they open – and when, what drinks they buy, what printer they use and possibly what they print. Essentially where you go, what you do, how you do it, how much you paid, and how long you stayed can be tracked.
And its all just the start. 150 people try out this new technology, see how neat it is. Epicenter makes a deal with a local coffee shop to let their cyborgs buy coffee with their chips. The coffee shop sees how convenient this is and talks about it. Then another business signs on, and on and on and on.
The employees who want to pay with cash or credit see how much longer it takes, and opt for an implant, too. Soon, a major chain starts to accept them. It catches on with the public. Epicenter offers them for an affordable price. It’s creepy, sure, but look at how much *easier* it makes our lives.
Soon it’s omnipresent. Then we don’t need wallets or cash – everything would be digital and connected to a little tiny device in our hand we can’t see or manipulate and remove.
Then the justice department gets involved, and gain the ability to subpoena any and all data associated with implant activity to track accused criminals.
Suddenly, no matter where you go, there you are, recognized by a chip reader or electronic device by a little tiny device in the palm of your hand. Removing it requiring self surgery. Removing it preventing you from buying goods and services, opening locked doors or connecting to local wifi.
And God forbid the thing goes bad.
This sounds crazy.
Another crazy thing: the iPhone is only 10 years old. Look how quickly that technology has come to dominate and control our lives. It’s nearly unheard of to not have a smartphone.
Sure, you’re not required to have a smartphone, and its doubtful it’ll ever be mandatory to have a NFC implant. But folks will be left behind and there will be a gap between people willing to be on the cutting edge of this technology and those who refuse. The workforce and employment market and the basic of idea of human capability may never be the same again.
The Epicenter CEO states in a video, this isn’t really anything new. Citing pacemakers as a form of electronic implant we’ve had for years. Which is true, but a pacemaker doesn’t open doors for you and send data to third party sources.
You may recall an article on this noble publication forewarning of synthetic embryo research and what that could mean for the future of humanity. That was a biological concern. This is a technological one – and scarier.
Scarier because there is nothing to be done. No Libertarian would stop someone from getting an implant like this if they wanted one. This is progress. Progress in the right or wrong direction?
If you are skeptical of the government, big data, and big business?
Well, to quote screenwriter Max Landis: “Hold on to your suspension of disbelief, because it’s about to take a f****** beating.”