Sometimes it’s a good idea to have someone keeping an eye on you.
One of a 24-hour staff of nurses, maybe. Like, if you’ve suffered a catastrophic brain injury and don’t know that if you try to get out of bed to go to the bathroom your whole left side will give way and you’ll fall terrifyingly onto your wardmate – Hi, mom!
Or if you suffer a brain haemorrhage in the middle of the night, it’s probably good to have someone in near proximity. Yep, me again. Or if you’re heading out to a rehab on your own for the first time, Apple’s Find Your Friends might be invaluable. I’m sure there are other examples of why you might want people watching you.
But long-suffering readers will be familiar with reasons for being leery of surveillance (Pt. 1, Pt. 2). I’ve been interested in the surveillance society since I was in my mid-teens, and doing a Computer Studies project on the British Police National Computer. The police officer who would answer my questions at the old Lothian & Borders Police HQ was a nice bloke who liked it when I turned up with doughnuts from the nearby
A lot of things have changed since then. Fettes is now the HQ for the amalgamated Police Scotland. Safeway is a Waitrose – lovely. I’ve survived a massive stroke – not so lovely. But the Police National Computer is still a thing, apparently. And I still remember the stories I read for that project in Duncan Campbell’s On The Record (tagline – By the year 2000, there will be a government central computer network recording the name, current address, date of birth, identity number, family relationships and many other more sensitive, and sometimes inaccurate, particulars of virtually the entire population).
The stories included scenes of police officers walking around demonstrations and pickets during the Miners’ Strike and noting down number plates like a scene out of The Godfather. A guy who was repeatedly stopped in his car because his registration had been transposed with some terrible criminal’s number. And that was far from the worst of it.
And long-suffering readers will also be aware of my interest in wearable and implantable technology. I’m a huge fan of the Bioness L300 Foot Drop System, for example. And our cats both had to be chipped in order to because Scottish kitties.
So you can imagine this caught my eye this morning:
Chipping employees, like apt-to-wander pets. We are so far away from needed levels of trust for subdermal infotech. https://t.co/VvOHBXMAJj
— Pat Kane (@thoughtland) July 25, 2017
It’s interesting* to note that BBC News’s online summary – no doubt copied straight from the press release – leads on the 50 employees of Three Square Market in Wisconsin who have submitted to chipping. On BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland this morning, Gary Robertson spoke with a futurist who had a slightly different take.
If you work for a company that’s microchipping everyone and making a huge public story about it, then I suspect that there’s a quite a lot of pressure on the 85 employees to be microchipped, and the fact that 35 haven’t is the more interesting story – that they’re still resisting.
The futurist in question – Rohit Talwar – advises global firms, industries and governments on how to survive, thrive, spot and manage emerging risks and develop innovative growth strategies in the decade ahead. Yet he’s the guy who’s having to point up that there’s a little more to this than the rice grain-sized $300 (£230) chip [allowing employees] to open doors, log in to computers and even purchase food. I mean, what if Three Square Market tries to make us all into Cheeseheads?!
There’s a lot to chew over in that rice grain-sized chip, isn’t there? See you next week…
You can walk, but you can’t keep your penis. Sorry!