Don't get "chipped"
You are being watched
Within a decade, RFID chips could replace universal product codes, meaning every item on Earth would have its own unique identifier. We might find ourselves "covered with tags shouting out information about the clothing you're wearing, or what's in your purse or wallet," says Scassa.
Workers already carry RFIDs in the access cards they use to enter and exit their workplaces. Some employers deploy readers throughout the building, Scassa says. "So the employer knows when you go to the bathroom, how long you're in there, how long your cigarette break was. That happens all the time."
Within a human lifetime, RFIDs will likely be routinely embedded in everyone alive, Haggerty predicts. The process will start in developing world countries, then spread to stigmatized groups in the West, such as pedophiles and those on social assistance. Employers will start making implants a condition of employment. Chipped individuals will get discounts and other privileges. Eventually, having a chip will be essential for everything from voting and driving to shopping and medical care.
An implant society need not be a nightmare, Haggerty maintains. Making people and processes more visible makes them easier to regulate, he says. And that can be a good thing. The flip side, though, is that you might wake up one day and find you're on the wrong side of some new definition of normal.
Technologies are morally neutral, but their potential uses are not. During the Second World War, the Nazis used IBM punch cards to identify Jews. "If the government project is coercive, if it's totalitarian," says Haggerty, "it makes for a more perfect coercive, totalitarian governance. You can get more than the trains running on time."
For ages, he says, we've tried to track and monitor people by putting numbers on things like shirts and bracelets. But those can be removed. "What this does," Haggerty says of RFID implants, "is it ultimately reproduces the Nazi tattoo on the body."