Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The Mark of the Consumer

Applied Digital Solutions of Florida is developing a system whereby people can buy merchandise with an RFID microchip embedded underneath their skin. Since all products will have RFID tags on them in the near future, it only makes sense that the consumers have a tag on them as well... then Big Brother can keep an eye on you in much the same way Walmart keeps an eye on its stock. The biggest advantage will be that you could just walk out of the store carrying your items... the stuff gets scanned, you get scanned, and your credit is automagically charged for the purchase.

There are some valid concerns about privacy when using these devices. And then, of course, there are some simply idiotic concerns as well. About a microsecond after the press release, a bunch of Christian wackos started yapping about how RFID is the apocalyptic manifestation of the 'mark of the beast'. I'm delighted when I see how far we've come scientifically, how far technology has developed... I'd like to think that someday we could use technology to make things better. But then I see the ignorance and fear with which people react to the technology, and I know that we are still absurdly primitive.

All of the knowledge gained in the last 2500 years, all of the social and philosophical and technological progress, and the majority of people in my country still live their lives according to the prejudices, fears, and superstitions of a small group of goatherders who existed in the Middle East a few thousand years ago.