Conversation with a Minor about Chips and Things

Minor, Male, 16 years of age, Campbelltown, NSW, Australia

Interview conducted by Katina Michael on 19 February 2009 at the University of Wollongong

Katina Michael: As I said, my area of expertise is in the social implications of technology. My first question is whether or not you were aware that people have implanted themselves with chips that allow for instance their front door to unlock?

Interviewee: No idea.

The teen depicted here is not the interviewee. Tongue is being pierced.

The teen depicted here is not the interviewee. Tongue is being pierced.

Katina Michael: And what are your immediate reactions to learning about this practice?

Interviewee: I am amazed, actually. It’s interesting. It’s different, but … yeah. I don’t know. It’s all come as a shock to me.

Katina Michael: Okay.

Interviewee: It’s good to know more about it.

Katina Michael: Yeah. Would you ever consider getting a chip implant?

Interviewee: Yeah.

Katina Michael: You would?

Interviewee: Definitely.

Katina Michael: On what grounds?

Interviewee: To be different, and to do something, like, out of the ordinary. To have something that other people don’t.

Katina Michael: Okay. And as an older teenager, do you think you would require consent from your parents to get one, or do you think that should be your own choice?

Interviewee: I would tell them. I’d tell them beforehand, but whether they say “yes” or “no”, depending on the outcomes and possible results, I’d still do it, if it interested me.

Katina Michael: Okay. Why do you think people might not get a chip? Just say tomorrow, a scenario was that everyone was to receive one, and it wouldn’t make you different. For example, it wouldn’t be unique, or it wouldn’t be a small minority that were chipped. Do you think you’d still get a chip implant, or then you’d try and resist it if everyone had one?

Interviewee: Probably not, if everyone had one.

Katina Michael: Right- okay.

Interviewee: I’d … again, depending on what it does. Like, if it performs something amazing, then yes, but if it’s just … like, for example, just like the ID thing, then no. If, it was something really unique and amazing, definitely, but other than that, no.

 Katina Michael: Okay. Would you differentiate between a chip implant in the body and piercing, as in body piercing? Do you think there’s a difference between the two?

Interviewee: Yeah, definitely. One’s … I mean, body piercing, if you get a … what’s it called …

Katina Michael: The implant.

 Interviewee: The implant, sorry, that’d be more for a purpose of something different, whereas piercings are more for just appearance to people. Like, you wouldn’t get an implant to show off, sort of thing, whereas you get earrings to, like, look good.

Katina Michael: Okay. So you sort of think one is visible to the outsider …

Interviewee: Yeah.

Katina Michael: … the other is a hidden thing?

Interviewee: Yeah. Well, I mean you’re going to still show people, but it’s more for a purpose. Like, you’re not getting it just to please everybody, pretty much.

Katina Michael: Okay. That’s very interesting. Do you differentiate between different types of implants? For example, someone who needs a cochlear implant to hear, versus an implant for convenience that would allow you to open your car door?

Interviewee: Definitely the hearing. Yeah. The car, it’s just selfish.

Katina Michael: Okay. You said at the beginning that you might consider getting implanted because it is something cool or something different, something unique. But what kinds of applications do you think you would go for… What kind of application would convince you to go for it?

Interviewee: That’s a tough one. Something that’s … that will freak people out. Like, something that … like, I don’t know. I can’t think of anything on the spot, but, like, something that can possibly change things. I don’t know, like … I can’t explain this. Yeah, I don’t know. But something different and unique that, like, can freak people out, pretty much. Like, you know, those freaks on TV and stuff. You could do something like that. You know, maybe make part of your body grow, and then shrink, or I don’t know. It’s just … something like that.

Katina Michael: Yeah. So not just like your everyday computing, but something pretty much that we’ve not seen before. Something …

Interviewee: Yeah. Something …

Katina Michael: Advanced?

Interviewee: Yeah.

Katina Michael: Interesting. Do you think that would be … well, like, if we call these technologies enhancement technologies, or amplification, there are some guys out there that are looking at, like, a second ear function, or hearing further away, or seeing further away.

Interviewee: Yeah, something like that.

Katina Michael: So … would that be acceptable to you, do you think?

Interviewee: Yeah. Like, if you could be able to hear someone. You know …

Katina Michael: Tune in.

Interviewee: If they’re a long way away, and you can just do that, and you can hear what they’re talking about. Yeah, that’d be amazing.

Katina Michael: Okay.

Interviewee: Even see further, something like that.

Katina Michael: Do you think humans should go that way?

Interviewee: Well, I believe that if that does happen people are going to start getting greedy, and then … defects will start happening. Like, wrong things will happen, and then people will just … I don’t know, possibly just … things will happen computer-wise to the body, and then, you know, you … yeah, stuff like that. They might overtake the human body and, you know, God knows what will happen next.

Katina Michael: And tell me what you think … at that point, you mentioned the positive effects. Like, what are the social benefits, do you see, of this kind of implant technology?

Interviewee: Well, you’d be seen differently, obviously. Like, people would think either you’re a freak, you’re cool, or, or, yeah, you’re just pretty much different. It just depends on what crowd you’re actually targeting, or showing that to, or … like if you’re doing it strictly for computing, or research, obviously it’s important to them, but if you’re just doing it for a laugh with your friends, or just to show off, sort of thing, like, seeing further away … people might see you as a freak, or they might think, “You know, he’s cool, let’s hang out with him,” and stuff like that.

Katina Michael: And if I was to ask you about applications with the implant that you would never want to see implemented in society …

Interviewee: What do you mean?

Katina Michael: Do you believe that we should control which applications should be developed, or do you people should be free to develop whatever applications they want?

Interviewee: Yeah, I mean, if you can do it, do it. Like, if it’s possible, it would be amazing to, you know, like you said, accelerate human knowledge to science and technology. If you can, it would be amazing. But then again, you’ve got to think about the side effects and what possibly could happen. Always look at the bad things before the good, sort of thing.

Katina Michael: Okay. And do you see any social costs or risks with this kind of technology implementation in the future?

Interviewee: I’m guessing it’s really expensive to do, and then you always have to find someone that’s really keen to put themselves as a guinea pig, pretty much, like you can’t just choose some average Joe on the street and say, “Hey, do you want to get shot” you know. You can’t say, “Let’s put it in there … let’s put some piece of metal in you.” So it’s got to be someone that knows what they’re doing, possibly someone that’s really experienced with that technology, and take it from there.

Katina Michael: Okay. That’s very interesting. Do you think there are any risks to the person, even if they’re experienced?

Interviewee: Well, it depends what the implant is.

Katina Michael: Okay.

Interviewee: Well, I mean, there’s … if you were trying to change the brain with sight, for example, hearing, I guess maybe possibly it could deafen them more, or blind them even more. You know, they could lose feeling in the nervous system to any part of the body.

Katina Michael: Yes.

Interviewee: … and cause them to start growing… anything is possible I guess but, it depends what the implant is.

Katina Michael: You mentioned before that you could be considered cool or a freak, depending on which group you were in. So do you see this as cultural issues? Like, perhaps, do you think the Australian culture would be different in perception of these technologies to maybe the Chinese culture?

Interviewee: No, not really culture. I’m just saying, like, as a teenager, like, I see a lot of people being accepted and not accepted. A lot of different groups that people take different interests. So, for example, if I’m part of a group that are interested in that kind of stuff, that’d be good for me. But if I’m someone like, just, done that to sort of go into a different group, people will possibly look at me and think, you know, “What’s this freak doing?” Like I’ve seen and stuff.

Katina Michael: If I was to ask you a hypothetical, just say this was to become everyday life. Like, I’ve got my Blackberry here, my smart phone, which allows me to track and monitor my movements 24 x 7. What if everyone had one? Do you think … would your group accept it?

Interviewee: For technology-wise …

Katina Michael: The group that you’re with.

Interviewee: … I’m not too sure. I don’t think … well, I haven’t seen many groups that sort of base their friendship or their belonging together on technology. Like, whether you have the fastest computer or slowest computer, best phone, worst phone, you know, stuff like that. It’s more … it’s just more what you have to give to people is how much they take, I guess.

Katina Michael: Common interests, maybe.

Interviewee: Yeah. Like, … yeah, if, like, because if you’re hanging out for a group that’s been together for a while, they sort of act a certain way, and then an outsider comes in and you either adapt to them, or you don’t, and you move somewhere else, pretty much.

Katina Michael: Okay. Do you think there are any … we’ve mentioned social issues, cultural issues. Do you think there are any religious issues that people might have concerns with the technology-

Interviewee: Definitely. Well, I mean, me coming from a Greek Orthodox background, like, for example, earrings and tattoos and stuff like that are considered not allowed, against our religion to do it. But then again, people still do it, a lot of Orthodox people do tattoos... I’ve got earrings. It’s just … it’s just up to you. I mean, it depends how religious you are, and I mean, it’s not like, you know, the religion’s going to stop you from living your life, because you only live once, so you might as well try to experience as much as you can.

Katina Michael: With respect to your faith, has anyone ever told you why you should or should not be getting body piercing done or tattoos or the like?

Interviewee:  No, it’s just the norm … it’s just the standard “You just shouldn’t do it.”  

Katina Michael: An etiquette?

Interviewee: That’s all.

Katina Michael: With no explanation?

Interviewee: … that’s all you hear. And then you’re getting, “It’s just against the religion.” It’s like my mum says, “Don’t do it, because it’s against your religion. Don’t do it because it’s against your religion.” But it’s only happened, like, once or twice. I mentioned getting a tattoo, and she’s like, “You know, you’re not allowed to get it. You’re not allowed, because it’s against the Bible,” and stuff like that. So…

Katina Michael: Very interesting.

Interviewee: … whether I do or not, it’s something different.

Katina Michael: Thank you for that. Would you get implanted if it made your life easier at home, so that you could switch on your radio, or your computer, or your TV?

Interviewee: No. That’s just lazy.

Katina Michael: Okay.

Interviewee: I mean, that’s what they created the remotes for, pretty much.

Katina Michael: A remote for a remote possibility… [laughing]

Interviewee: Pretty much, yeah.

Katina Michael: Yeah. Would you accept an implant for prosthesis if you got sick? For example, if you had diabetes and you had to have drug delivery, automated insulin delivery in your body, would you accept an implant for that… to help you with diabetes, to regulate the diabetes?

Interviewee: Well, it depends how serious the disease I had was… like, if there was a potential cause to harm, say, my family, my mum, my dad, possibly a future wife, my kids… I would try to obviously avoid any damage as possible.

Katina Michael: If the government tomorrow said, “We’re introducing a national ID scheme, and it’s based on a chip implant,” would you accept the ID chip?

Interviewee: Depends on what I’d do. Like, it depends on my hobbies, it depends on my job, sort of thing. If I’m working in a company that requires that, then I guess so, but if it’s just, like, just for the sake of it, then probably not. I wouldn’t change or get something added to me for no …

Katina Michael: For no purpose.

Interviewee: … specific reason, yeah, or an important reason.

Katina Michael: What if school said they wanted to track your attendance at school? What would you say then? Even between periods?

Interviewee: Definitely not. They’re dreaming.

Katina Michael: I like it.

Interviewee: Typical answer from any teenager.

Katina Michael: Do you think in the future everyone might be carrying an implant for identification purposes?

Interviewee: No, I don’t think they will for … like I said, unless they need to, pretty much. I mean, it’s not that hard to carry a little card and swipe it, or to scan it, pretty much.

Katina Michael: Yeah. Have you seen any sort of sci-fi movies that you’ve been influenced by in the area that we’ve been talking about?

Interviewee: I’ve actually never heard of implants ever …

Katina Michael: Okay.

Interviewee: … apart from today …

Katina Michael: Okay. So I just want to say thank you for this very interesting conversation, and for your time and to reaffirm that this interview will not be published with identifying information given you are under the age of 18.

Definitions:

Amplification: The act or result of amplifying, enlarging, or extending the capabilities of the human body. May be to correct a dysfunctional organ or grant more ability to a working function.

Cochlear implant: is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.

Cool dude: is a person who is always calm, sociable, and usually has a great sense in music and can talk to anyone who approaches him/her. Ultra-confident person who does not mind being bothered but is always willing to help. Usually, but not always, up with the latest trends.

Faith: is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Freak: is commonly used to refer to a person with something strikingly unusual about their appearance or behaviour.

Piercing: is a form of body modification. It is the practice of puncturing or cutting a part of the human body, creating an opening in which jewelery may be worn.

Prosthetics: is the provision of cosmetic and/or functional artificial limbs (prostheses) for people who have had an amputation or have a congenital deficiency.

Tattoos: a form of body modification, made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment.