Do you recall the opening narration to the 1970s science fiction television series “The Six Million Dollar Man?” “Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.” Pretty far-fetched, huh? Fast forward a half-a-century, and perhaps not.
Welcome to the rapidly expanding world of microchip implants. According to an article on govtech.com, the question “Have you been chipped?” may be the question that separates millions of Americans in the coming decade and perhaps billions worldwide over the next 20 to 30 years. The process consists of implanting an RFID (short-range radio frequency identification device) under the skin at the base of your thumb. The RFID chip is basically a tiny two-way radio, roughly the size of a grain of rice that when scanned can provide information such as a person’s ID number linking to a database with more detailed information about the wearer. Consequently, you can walk into a grocery store and pick up a carton of eggs; swipe your hand across a scanner with your bank account being debited as you walk out the door.
If that sounds like the distant future, you haven’t been to Sweden lately, where a company called Biohax has already installed around 4,000 chips in customers at a cost of $180 each. Inserted just below the thumb, this chip about the size of a Tylenol pill can open secure doors, pay for tickets and share emergency information with medical personnel. “The chip implant is a secure way of ensuring that a person’s digital identity is linked to their physical identity. It enables access management in a way that protects individual self-sovereignty and allows users to control the privacy of their online activity,” Dr. Stewart Southey, the Chief Medical Officer at Biohax International, told Fox News in an interview. “Privacy” and “online activity” are two concepts seldom strung together.
The RFID chip has been around since 1998 and received FDA approval in 2004. They are already widely implemented in pacemakers and insulin pumps for diabetics. And many of us have chips implanted in our pets so if lost they can be returned. Combine that with the fact you’ll never again have to worry about losing your wallet; will be able to control many of your electronic devices; you’ll never have to show an ID or driver’s license; no need for cash or credit cards; you can keep track of your children and your personal medical information would be readily available in an emergency — what could be the rub?
The rub lies in the fact that the health consequences of microchip implants has not been adequately studied and the world is full of bad-actors who may be able to hack into the microchips in our body. Combine that with privacy concerns and the possibility of getting chipped becoming mandatory and the wisdom of getting micro chipped is quite the hot topic.
Some of the questions asked on govtech.com are:
• Is implanting chips physically and emotionally safe?
• Who owns the data and who has access and when?
• Do the chips communicate with outside networks?
• How are chips updated when flaws are found?
• Can they be hacked and assuming yes, what security is in place to stop unauthorized access to and manipulation of data?
• And will microchips remain voluntary?
As this technology moves forward, rest assured the debate will become even more passionate centering not only on the efficacy of being microchipped but what you believe might happen in the future regarding their use.
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post-Re-hab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437, email@example.com. Visit cordprettyman.com for more information.