Tuesday, December 06, 2005

This one's for Pony Express

According to Blogging Baby, human implantation technology has been approved by the FDA. You know those chips that are like Lo-Jack for your pets? This is the same thing only for Alzheimer's patients.

It's not exclusively for Alzheimer's patients. Given that it's a computer chip you can put all manner of information on there, so if you have a serious medical condition that might cause you to be unable to communicate when medical personnel arrive then they could scan your ass and find out what the trouble is.

The writer on Blogging Baby speculates about how long it will be before people want to use the technology on children (I'm looking at you TomKat) in the event of baby snatching or running away or I guess even getting misplaced in the supermarket. They just run your kid over the scanner and call mommy and daddy's names over the loudspeaker.

Pony Express was crushed by the elimination of subway tokens. She was sure that Big Brother was tracking her travels. At one point she even came up with a genius but difficult to implement system where we should get a small group of people together and all buy the same type of metrocard and then switch them before we activated them so that the purchase info wouldn't match the travel info. We never actually made the swap but much was made of it at the time.

I'm pretty sure that as soon as she reads this her number one fear will be replaced with a recurring nightmare of being implanted with a tracking chip without her knowledge. Now she'll be going off the grid for sure.


  1. Anonymous4:20 PM

    Are you KIDDING ME!?! I'm the FIRST one to say that, if they figured out how to LoJack my kids, I'd be RIGHT up front in line. My worst nightmare, worse than having my children come down with some fatal illness or something, is that they'd be kidnapped and tortured or something. It's to the point where I'm pretty sure I'd rather have a body than think that they're out there suffering God only knows what and that I might never see them again. If there could be a homing device implanted in them somewhere, or even an earring or something they could wear, that could be triggered by the cops in the event they go missing, I'd TOTALLY sign up for it.

    I know, I know, there are PROFOUND drawbacks. DadChili has pointed out that, "what if someone else gets hold of the code for that chip? You might be GIVING the kid away to some sicko who's going to do precisely what you're so afraid of." Of course, he's right. But I'd still SERIOUSLY consider it....

  2. DadChili has a point there that I hadn't even thought of.

    I'm thinking, so you have one of these jiggers implanted in your kid, when do you take it out? Is it kosher to take it out at 21? 18? 16? When are they their own person? And by that point how much of their information has been passed on to how many other people? What's to keep people from programming other stuff into it, sexual preference, spending habits, etc. How long before technology catches up so you can activate the chip and monitor your kid from your gizzy phone or your home computer? That creeps me out on a number of levels. Why do you need to know where your kid is every second of the day (after a certain age)? If they sneak off to go to McDonalds even though they aren't supposed to, isn't that their right and isn't it teaching them some life skills, something about having their own mind? There's also a dark part of me that pictures kids going all Riley in Season 4 of Buffy on themselves and cutting these buggers out of them with half a coke bottle, just to be free and that's no good. If the point is to raise intelligent, responsible, independent human beings I can see a lot of ways that this technology would hinder that.

    On the other hand I get being ready to do everything to keep one's kid safe and untortured, I'm just not convinced this would do the job.

    Next we can move on to how this technology becomes the new pre-nup requirement and how creepy THAT is.

  3. This jibes with the current effort to digitalize healthcare and move into the future of personalized medicine—ie discovering and developing drugs for specific patient populations or individual people. Kind of a twisted Utopia, I think. Gurus predict you will have a record, maybe even an implanted chip, with your medical history, and all any doctor has to do is scan it and a globally wired healthcare system kicks in. The relationship is “personalized,” rather than “personal.” Norman Rockwell will no longer want to paint the doctor. Another downside—people, it is envisioned, will know rather young which specific disease they are genetically bound to have. Do you want to know when you’re 20 that you will have Alzheimer’s? The first time you forget a phone number, you’ll panic.
    The upside—Herceptin and a handful of other drugs that can be genetically targeted to the patients they will help are already helping.
    Big ethical questions ahead as information technology starts propelling the future of medicine.
    By the way, I was prompted by the e-mail I sent you on Johnny Cash to launch my own “blog”, which I guess will be clickable from this post.

  4. And, of course, if you go a few steps further with the personalized medical issue you figure that certain information can be used to choose who NOT to treat. Triage in emergencies may be very different. "Well, even if we fix the leg he's still gonna have Parkinson's in a couple of years. Look for someone who's worth it." And that can then move on to include who to serve in your restaurants and who you'll rent or sell to. It could get very ugly.