9. Evolving Trends and Patterns
9.1. Major Findings
The investigation has uncovered a number of significant evolving trends and patterns related to auto-ID innovation. First, that auto-ID devices independent of type, share a similar generic innovation process. Their journey from invention to diffusion is one that traverses like themes involving like stakeholders and infrastructures. This stands as the foundation premise for an auto-ID technology system (TS). It is therefore correct to refer to an “auto-ID industry” which collectively espouses auto-ID techniques from bar codes to biometrics. Second, that the selection environment for auto-ID is one where alternate or substitute technologies are available, specific to an application. A customer interested in card technologies for instance, can choose from a range of auto-ID card types as is the case with tag devices. Third, that over time a pattern of migration, integration and convergence has occurred between devices in the auto-ID industry- these trends are apparent in some devices more than others. When considered together these interactive forces point to a common auto-ID trajectory. Fourth, that despite the creative symbiosis taking place, the individual auto-ID technologies will continue to co-exist serving a variety of needs. The hypothesis that one super-device will render all other devices obsolete is highly unlikely given the diverse requirements of customers and their applications throughout the world. Fifth, the pervasiveness of auto-ID has acted to result in changes to mass market applications that have continued to evolve since the 1970s especially. Sixth, that the ultimate trajectory of auto-ID is electrophoresis. In the future it is likely that humans will be bearers of automatic technology for a variety of applications such as drug delivery and emergency services. Seventh, that it is possible, if not probable, that in our lifetime, neural implants will be used to enhance human functionality.
9.1.1. The Auto-ID Industry as a Technology System (TS)
The auto-ID industry is a technology system (TS) that is bringing diverse stakeholders together to innovate by enabling interaction and sharing resources. Whether it is in the establishment of new research centres that embrace multiple auto-ID techniques, the use of common network infrastructure, system integrators that are increasingly conversant with generic auto-ID topologies or the formation of associations that encourage joint collaboration, the notion of an auto-ID industry is beginning to prevail. Previous studies have mainly focused on one auto-ID technology and to this end it has been difficult to identify patterns or trends common to all techniques. Rather than seeing auto-ID as one larger structure embodying numerous technologies, usually one auto-ID device was highlighted by authors at the neglect of others. But auto-ID is more than just bar code or RF/ID. The case studies in this thesis present an unbiased and balanced view of numerous technologies from the innovation perspective, and how each plays an important role in the overall success of the auto-ID TS.
9.1.1. Auto-ID Technologies Share in the Same Trajectory
Upon their introduction, individual auto-ID technologies underwent a process of continual refinement until a dominant design materialised in each case. Once a dominant design emerged, widespread diffusion was experienced by each of the technologies, initially through niche industry applications and later through respective mass market applications. Diagram 9.1 shows the traditional way that auto-ID innovation was understood using purely separate life cycle curves to chart the path of each technology. Each curve shows the stages of evolution for each technology: embryonic, growth, maturity and aging. The pattern resembles a number of waves, depicting that each technology was a likely successor to the one before it. However, it is this type of diagram that has acted to mislead. This does not describe auto-ID evolution.
Auto-ID technologies are much more complex and do not fit the traditional life cycle curve. Roughly a five to ten year period has separated the diffusion of the auto-ID techniques studied in this thesis, starting with bar code and ending with RF/ID transponder implants. Diagram 9.2 shows that during each successive window (i.e. the period of time between one technology’s introduction and the next), companies considered new opportunities that would leverage upon their existing knowledge. Apart from incremental innovation that continued on frontline products to match market requirements, cross-pollenisation began to occur between companies specialising in different auto-ID techniques. For instance, bar codes appeared on magnetic-stripe cards, and biometrics were used in smart cards for added security, among many other examples. This recombination of existing knowledge is what sparked collaborative relationships and began a whole new set of interactions between various players and stakeholders- the auto-ID TS was born. Thus diagram 9.2 below shows overlapping life cycle curves for individual auto-ID technologies (in dotted lines) but also indicates an auto-ID industry life cycle curve that takes into consideration integration and convergence trends. It shows how the future of auto-ID technologies is closely allied. There are so many integrated solutions between the technologies depicted in diagram 9.2, that it does not make sense to think of separate life cycle curves but a more all-encompassing auto-ID industry life cycle curve.
9.1.2. The Auto-ID Innovation Process
The dimensions of innovation investigated in chapter 6 uncovered recurring themes that form the building blocks of an auto-ID innovation process. The process is not linear and does not necessarily require that some steps happen before others can take place. However, for the sake of explaining my findings in discernable order this section will try to stipulate the generic steps that occur in the auto-ID innovation process (see table 9.1). This is another important contribution of the thesis that could aid new start-up auto-ID companies or alternatively provide a path forward for existing companies.
Table 9.1 The Auto-ID Innovation Process
Generic Steps that Occur in the Auto-ID Innovation Process
1. A new idea for an auto-ID technology is conceived. A brief description of the idea is recorded.
2. The inventor, usually an employee of a manufacturing firm, develops a prototype from his/her discoveries. Meanwhile he/she searches for any existing patents that are related to the idea and have already been issued.
3. The manufacturer attempts to protect their new developments by filing for a national or international patent.
4. A patent is accepted and a patent number issued to the manufacturer.
5. The manufacturer promotes the auto-ID technology as a solution to a business problem and usually concentrates its efforts in targeting only one or two market segments specific to an industry.
6. Academic and government research grants are geared towards supporting the new technology.
7. Initial trials are conducted by the manufacturer and other affiliates, usually in closed systems such as university campuses or the military.
8. Service providers or customers purchase the auto-ID technology because it is a suitable solution for their application(s) needs.
9. By this stage resistance to the technology may have been felt internal to the business/ vertical industry; or end-user acceptance may have been overestimated. Relevant stakeholders meet to work through initial teething problems.
10. The media usually get involved at this point highlighting how the new technology may be used in the future.
11. Meanwhile, other new or existing manufacturing companies perhaps specialising in complementary technologies continually scour through registered patents and industry trade publications attempting to develop similar or add-on products.
12. Potential service providers and customers are confronted with several manufacturers who can produce very similar auto-ID technology components. Choosing between manufacturers becomes difficult but is based on differentiation. Proprietary standards are still being used by companies.
13. Physical infrastructure to support the technology quickly begins to permeate. This most likely includes physical networks, terminals such as browsers, kiosks and ATMs and other equipment.
14. New associations, forums, conferences, industry magazines come into existence to support the growth of the technology. A knowledge infrastructure begins to form.
15. By this stage the technology has either impacted consumers or business employees and advocate groups are in full swing on either side of the debate.
16. Auto-ID technology providers launch marketing campaigns targeted not only at customers but at end-users also. They attempt to clarify any misconceptions that may have eventuated during the process of diffusion.
17. As the market continues to grow for the new technology, the small number of manufacturers, realise that standards are vital if the technology is going to succeed being implemented regionally or nationally or even internationally. Large customers like the government, who usually have a vested interest in security devices, try to influence this process.
18. All suppliers are “forced” to adhere to the one standard which differs to most (if not all) current proprietary solutions. Standards bodies like ISO are usually involved in this process, which takes some years to officially complete. Industry-specific standards for particular applications like banking or telecommunications are also devised.
19. There is a growth in firms and skill sets in the industry. However, there are more customers, and technology providers have a relative bigger piece of the pie. Firms begin to collaborate with one another to promote the technology through the formation of alliances and consortiums.
20. Customers are able to purchase from any number of suppliers and know that the products are interoperable, even if some custom systems integration is required.
21. Specifications are written for particular industry applications.
22. Regulatory and legislative issues arise which require urgent attention. These are often difficult to solve because they are usually “after-the-fact”. By this time there are usually several cases and precedence on particular situations. Some laws are amended, or newly introduced but mostly at the local and state level. This is a long-winded process as most laws were enacted when computer technology was not pervasive. Substitute Acts and Statutes attempt to protect end-users from such things as breaches in privacy or liability.
23. Social issues receive widespread media attention lead by advocacy groups who may hold philosophical, cultural or religious objections to the technology’s permeance to everyday applications. There are also the economic repercussions in job losses etc.
24. Incremental technical improvements are made to the product over time. The auto-ID technology gets smaller, increases in capacity and processing power, has more security and is more reliable in an open systems environment.
25. The technology is most likely involved in a process of migration, integration or convergence. Creative symbiosis is likely to take place between other auto-ID technologies thus starting the whole innovation process again.
Of all the dimensions essential to a set of technologies, standards and specifications are perhaps the most critical. Yet a certain level of product maturation needs to occur in an industry before proprietary standards are more an impediment than an advantage. Among the other important dimensions to focus on are those related to end-user resistance, and the education of stakeholders about the facts and myths related to a given auto-ID device. All too often sweeping assumptions are made especially on behalf of the end-user by manufacturers, service providers and customers. Studies should be conducted to highlight the key areas that may inhibit widespread diffusion of a technology. If the obstacles can be addressed then a device continues along its path, otherwise a discontinuity takes place and a new prototype is developed. The innovation process is complex. Table 9.1 attempts to show the dynamism of the process but does not give any indication of the length of time that could be spent in each event. Filing for a patent and having that application accepted, could take several years, dependent on the nature of the patent and whether or not the idea/prototype is considered entirely new. Therefore individual steps that have been highlighted in table 9.1 can be iterative in themselves. There are also continual interactions between various stakeholders some of which are pictured in exhibit 9.1 below. What is increasingly apparent is that the rate of change in the industry is gathering pace. Back in the 1960s market cycles tended to be about ten years in the process, now stakeholders are not afforded that luxury, aiming for shorter innovation cycles like twelve to eighteen months.
9.1.3. The Auto-ID Selection Environment
The embedded case studies in chapter seven acted to show the diverse applicability of auto-ID technologies in their many shapes and forms. What came through these cases is just how pervasive the technologies have become, important in almost every facet of life, independent of jurisdiction. Comparisons between technologies applied to the same application also showed that some techniques were more suitable in particular situations. This however, does not mean that all service providers or customers opt for one type of solution in a given scenario. It is entirely a decision that is based on factors that go beyond the need for ‘the most secure device’ or the one device that is considered by most to be the “optimum” choice or that ‘which is the most cost-effective’. A selection environment is just that, an environment from which people can “make a selection” based on a number of criteria that are personalised to a specific problem in a specific market. In all the case studies that were conducted, it was shown that auto-ID devices can be used interchangeably with one another in any given scenario. For instance, auto-ID card solutions were in abundance, as were combinations of devices on the same card (i.e. hybrid cards). Numerous auto-ID vendor solutions were also presented, showing the subtlety of differentiation between supplier products. The market for auto-ID continues to grow replacing manual ways of performing transactions. Traditionally it has been business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions that have made use of auto-ID, but more recently, governments worldwide are beginning to realise the vast benefits auto-ID have over legacy methods in servicing an entire population (i.e. G2C). Proposals for national ID schemes using multiapplication smart cards are now commonplace. Some stakeholders are predicting the elimination of several government-centric cards for one “everything” card that is focused on social security applications and has other peripheral functions (see exhibit 9.2 on the following page). Commercial applications are set to remain separate to national ID cards however. It also looks inevitable that the banking sector will undergo major changes in the provision of services as telecommunication providers attempt to enter the same market space. It does seem probable that numerous commercial organisations will begin to form alliances with one another so that they are able to build super-brand images using smart transaction cards. Multi-purpose smart card systems, for instance, are becoming widespread, especially at the campus level. Affiliations between major players are already starting to surface as the potential returns get higher and higher (Michael 2003, pp. 135-152).
9.1.4. Auto-ID Device Migration, Integration and Convergence
Patterns of migration and integration were prevalent throughout the case studies (see table 9.2 on the following page). Dependent on the application in question, some customers and service providers migrated from one auto-ID device to another, seeking better security, greater functionality, a reduction in fraud and counterfeit, even a smaller device that was more convenient for the end-user to carry. Convergence was also identified but predominantly at the application-level (ch. 7) rather than at the device level (ch. 5). For instance, the ability to have more than one application on a smart card is quite different to ‘true’ technological convergence, where one device becomes an intrinsic part of another. Integration is also all too often confused with convergence, although both can be considered creative symbiosis (i.e. recombinations). Integration is the ability to use two or more auto-ID techniques on the same device. Integration has proven quite popular as legacy card technology systems have changed with the times- from embossed numbers, to bar codes, to magnetic-stripe and microprocessor functionality all on the same card device. Many predictions have been made about this or that auto-ID technology becoming obsolete, however, one need only to look at the widespread diffusion of devices in the market today to consider this an unlikelihood (for the conceivable future anyway). Bar codes will for a long time yet serve their purpose, albeit in developing countries which cannot afford RF/ID devices; and magnetic-stripe cards will maintain their niche, perhaps not in banking but in other applications such as electronic ticketing. In addition, there are continual improvements being made to all auto-ID devices, of course to differing frequencies, but nevertheless the breakthroughs enable certain weaknesses in each technology to be overcome. The diversity in auto-ID techniques also allow for an end-to-end capability such as in the case of military applications.
18.104.22.168. Migration from Magnetic-stripe to Smart Cards
Joseph Sheppard (1997, p. 16f) CEO of Xico Incorporated, a magnetic-stripe equipment manufacturing company, summed up the situation well.
In short, the smart card industry assertion 10 years ago that magnetic stripes were dead was premature by at least half a century. This is graphically illustrated by the cover of the October 1997 issue of Card Technology, which tracks the trends in both magstrip and smartcard technologies and applications... “While smart card makers tout their benefits, mag-stripe card usage continues to proliferate. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.”
Murphy (1996, p. 80) also asserted that, “smart cards are the talk of the card manufacturing industry, but the magnetic stripe will be the bread and butter of card makers for the near term.” Yet, one cannot ignore the gravitational pull that is obviously occurring from magnetic-stripe to the chip card. “Visa, MasterCard and other players in the smart card business contend that an ‘evolution’ or a ‘migration’ to smart card technology is under way. The pace of that evolution, though, is anybody’s guess” (Nixon 1995, p. 22). The magnetic-stripe card was more of an enabler, a convenience card; something that would accustom people to a particular behavioural style. The smart card is being heralded as the grand solution to personalisation, tailored to the specific needs of the individual. Hybrid cards may well end up facilitating the evolution and be phased out gradually as they are not required. Already the widespread use of magnetic-stripe has ensured that the size of smart cards must maintain the same ISO standard dimensions. Hybrid cards now have a physical location for microchips, magnetic-stripes, bar codes, embossed characters, holograms and photographs. Read/write equipment is even starting to become multi-technology capable (Hendry 1997, p. 45f).
In 1987 Svigals (pp. 165-176) was undecided whether the pattern taking place was “magnetic stripe evolution or smart card migration”. Perhaps what can be said, in the case of magnetic stripe and smart card, is that the “migration” phase is part of a larger evolutionary process. What Svigals observed in the card technologies was equally applicable to tag technology over a decade later. Many ATM machines have already been upgraded to accept both magnetic-stripe and smart cards. Some smart cards have even been developed to emulate magnetic-stripe or bar code cards so that very costly card readers do not have to be entirely replaced, at least in the short term. This has posed a special challenge to card issuers who are attempting a seamless migration. McCrindle (1990, p. 72) stated:
[e]xisting equipment, such as ATMs, are not going to be discarded overnight. A smart card must, therefore, be capable of being used in the current generation of machines as well as in smart card based equipment… the two types of technology must coexist.
Murphy (1996, p. 83) also agreed that “...cards will be issued for many years with both mag stripes and computer chips.” Jerome Svigals attributed this trend to a global evolution from cash to electronic currency but admitted he could not predict how long the evolution would take to complete (Nixon 1995, p. 27). What is of interest to note however, is that the longer the migration phase continues, the more it will become ingrained into applications.
22.214.171.124. Migration from Bar Codes to RF/ID Transponders
RF/ID manufacturers are starting to make inroads into the bar code market. While some predict RF/ID will replace bar codes, it is more realistic to say (as has Phil Calderbank, general manager of Sensormatic’s RF/ID group) that RF/ID will have a market for high-cost items rather than low-cost items (Gurin 1998, p. 1). The trend is towards combining RF with EAS (electronic article surveillance), as have Sensormatic Electronics and Checkpoint Systems. Bar codes have poor readability rates in applications that are exposed to harsh environments whether it is indoors or outdoors. RF/ID can capitalise on this and other weaknesses, particularly where material handling and tracking of components is of the utmost importance. RF tags have many advantages over bar code. First, they can be placed anywhere and can store a lot of information, whereas the bar code is limited by its own label size. Second, RF/ID does not require LoS (line-of-sight) and cannot be erased by strong magnetic fields. Third, the systems have almost 100 per cent accuracy. Fourth, the tag is not affected by substances such as dirt or paint which may cover the tag from time to time. Fifth, tagged objects can be mobile, without the need to stop to be identified which speeds up the process significantly. And finally, non-metallic objects can come between the tag and the reader without interfering with the system (Automatic I.D. News 1998, p. 2). Marsh (1998, p. 2) believed that bar codes have played an incredible role in reaching widespread productivity benefits in industry but that there time is now coming to an end: “[t]he RF/ID tag to replace barcodes is about to arrive from a number of different suppliers who are all working towards this goal.” There are however, numerous counter arguments for why bar code will not be replaced altogether by RF/ID. For the time being at least, it seems impossible that every single bar coded item in existence today will have a RF/ID tag or transponder attached to it.
126.96.36.199. Integration- the Rise of Multi-Technology Cards
It is difficult to say whether “integration” was a consequence of an attempt at “migration” in some applications areas or an independent phenomenon. Initially integration of auto-ID techniques on the same device was born from the idea that each technique could serve its own function for different applications (this was particularly true of closed systems). In addition, as a consequence of migration patterns, multi-technology cards served as a way to transition from auto-ID legacy systems to future modes of operation. The requirement to include more than one technique on the card was a result of roll-out phases of the new technologies (i.e. different geographic regions transitioning at different times). New cardholders receive the latest cards while existing cardholders are transitioned prior to card expiration. This interim period usually requires hybrid cards. Hodgson (1995, p. 19) described this incidence of multi-technology cards as an evolutionary process.
When multi-technology cards first came on the scene, many saw them as a potential solution to a sticky problem- how to eliminate the need for numerous cards or keys without going to a lot of expense to integrate whole systems. Beginning with dual technology, the cards then evolved to true multi-tech capabilities, incorporating functions such as library (bar code), time and attendance (magstrip) and photo ID. Now they are much more than just a temporary solution to a non-integrated system. Their evolution is just beginning, and will include not only new applications, but also new technology- specifically the smart card.
Multi-technology cards form a strong argument and present us with a compelling reason of why individual auto-ID techniques will continue to co-exist in the future.
188.8.131.52. Converging Auto-ID Technologies
The convergence of auto-ID technologies is now starting to become evident at different levels such as standards, regulations, infrastructure and applications (see exhibit 9.3 on the following page). True convergence however at the auto-ID device level is not as common as it is often portrayed. It all depends on the definition one uses to describe what they mean by convergence. The definition that is most relevant to auto-ID is perhaps that offered by Greenstein and Khanna (1997, p. 203). In describing industry convergence they describe two primary kinds: “convergence in substitutes” and “convergence in complements.” The most authentic example in auto-ID of convergence in complements at the present is that between the contact smart card and RF/ID card capabilities (i.e. contactless). Smart cards once required to make contact with a reader, today a RF smart card can either be utilised by inserting it in a reader or by presenting it close to a RF field. Companies like AT&T and GEC have demonstrated smart cards which communicate using radio frequency signals (Monk 1998, pp. 40-41). The ability to store biometric templates on a bar code or magnetic-stripe is another example of convergence in complements. In the case of the bar code, the biometric replaces the need for a unique ID number to be stored, with an ID derived from a fingerprint or other unique human characteristic.
9.1.5. Towards a Model of Coexistence
While recombinations and mutations of auto-ID technology are occurring in the form of integrated devices and those that have converged, it does not mean that existing markets for technologies suddenly disappear. Rather the integration and convergence should be seen as one more step in the evolution of the technology, not rendering all other devices obsolete, but simply meeting the requirements of a new problem. In this manner, coexistence can be put forward as a plausible model of the future. Exhibit 9.4 on the following page shows a whole range of multi-purpose readers used for auto-ID. Some of the readers specialise in magnetic-stripe and smart cards while others in biometrics and smart cards.
Does a bank customer require better security on their ATM transaction cards? Then one can recommend a smart card solution with the added security of a stored biometric value. Does a lesser developed country (LDC) require a basic electronic ticketing system? Then recommend a magnetic-stripe solution. Do manufacturers want the ability to track their goods from destination A to destination B? Then recommend an RF/ID transponder solution. It is my prediction that independent of the auto-ID technology in question, there is or there will be a use for it, somewhere, some time, either now or in the near future. We cannot forget that economic and political conditions around the world are very different. When seventy-five percent of the world’s population is classified as living in LDCs or NICs and some fifty percent of the world’s population to be living in poverty, we cannot expect for ATMs equipped with biometric technology to suddenly appear in the middle of a starving population (where they are perhaps lucky to have one telephone per village). We have to be realistic about our predictions- and in so doing state that a framework of coexistence will prevail. Added to this very important argument is the end-to-end nature of applications today. For example, you cannot use smart cards for everything and you cannot use bar codes for everything, effectively. Seideman (1997, p. 13), for instance, reported that the use of RF/ID, smart card and bar code systems “working in concert” during the US military deployment in Bosnia.
Called Operation Joint Endeavour, the project uses technology elements from previous logistics systems to save distribution time and untold millions in supply costs. Individual items are bar coded and scanned into a database… information is loaded onto a smart card which is placed on the outside of each container… [and] loaded onto air pallets which are equipped with RF/ID tags…
And while some have a vision that every single non-living thing will eventually be “smart” or “intelligent” (e.g. the idea of the Electronic Product Code (EPC)), consumers will insist that some things remain “dumb”. Now having said that, it does not mean that some auto-ID technologies will not maintain a dominant position in specific vertical applications but this will not render all other devices obsolete.
9.2. Minor Findings
9.2.1. The Suitability of the SI Framework in Studying Clusters of Technologies
The systems of innovation (SI) framework applied in this study, has shown itself to be an advantageous model, useful in the pursuit of qualitative results when investigating a set of complex technologies. The framework grants the researcher the flexibility to choose which factors to include or to exclude. It also realises the importance of gathering multidisciplinary evidence so that a well-rounded holistic view is formed. This thesis has attempted to bring together a number of different disciplines. The framework thus allows the researcher to work at any unit of detail that is relevant to a particular study, without compromising on the richness of results obtained. Previously several types of socio-technical models had been chosen by researchers but most lacked the completeness that the SI model offered this auto-ID study. The approach taken here allowed for both an exploration of the innovation process and an investigation of its implications. The use of embedded case studies has also acted to make a methodological contribution to the field. Quantitative studies have long been considered to be more useful in the field of innovation/diffusion; this thesis however, has shown that qualitative studies do act to bring out important patterns and trends that would go largely unnoticed in numerical analyses.
9.2.2. The Requirement for Interaction Between Stakeholders
Auto-ID innovation requires the interaction between numerous stakeholders (see exhibit 9.5 on the following page). While this thesis presents the firm (i.e. the manufacturer) as the central focal point of the auto-ID technology, service providers and customers are equally responsible for the success of a given product innovation (as was seen especially in chapter seven). The relationships between stakeholders are so meshed at times, that it seems difficult to single out particular recurring patterns of engagement. In some instances they are planned exchanges, in other instances they are ad-hoc. The complexity is derived from ad-hoc communications. The delineation between technology and service providers; technology and infrastructure providers; and between service providers and customers is becoming less and less clear over time. Firms are moving outside their traditional space, forming alliances, creating partnerships, merging and even acquiring other firms along the value chain in an attempt to consolidate their positions and to gain more of an end-to-end capability to provide turn-key auto-ID solutions. Clusters of auto-ID companies are congregating together, and locating as close as possible to their customer base to ensure sales. Penetrating international markets has proven difficult without an immediate presence in the region. This is particularly true of European vendors trying to enter into the North American market and vice versa. Suffice to say that this thesis offers a thorough “who’s who list” of some of the most important stakeholders in auto-ID.
9.2.3. Increasing Level of Invasiveness in Auto-ID Techniques
There is a trend towards increasingly invasive technology. From devices that can be carried, to those which can be placed in our purse or clipped onto clothing, to those that are fully worn on our bodies, to those that are embedded within our body. Particular targets for the latter devices seem to be the left or right arm, but are likely to incorporate the brain (i.e. the head) as well in the future. Marketing campaigns do not shy away from this long-term view- rather they encourage this thought through advertisements which use metaphors or personified images to sell a message or idea (see exhibit 9.6). There are, however, two opposing schools of thought- one that comes from the wearable computing experts and another that comes from those who believe that technology ultimately belongs “under the skin”. Wearable computing experts are content with making computing devices to be worn transparently with everyday clothing such as eyeglasses or t-shirts. The other group of researchers are adamant that technology must fuse with the body and that if humans are to evolve to another level then the only way to do that is via chip implants that are connected to the brain. The pressing question is what has triggered this paradigm shift? Auto-ID technology was once solely used for identification purposes; it is now useful for medical applications; and in the future it might even form the basis for an evolution of the human species.
9.2.4. The Wireless Communications Advantage
One of the biggest impacts on auto-ID has been the ability for wireless transmission. Devices no longer have to touch readers, they can be metres away as in the case of RF/ID (and in motion), or in the instance of GPS, a device like the Digital Angel watch can be triggered from anywhere in the world. In fact this is the very attribute that has meant that transponders under the skin do not have to be “hard-wired” to an external reader device, nor “jacked-in”. Luggables such as mobile phones and wireless PDAs, and emerging infrastructures like 2.5G (i.e. GPRS) and 3G (i.e. UMTS) are also generating new opportunities for the auto-ID industry.
The new 3G will create a new “technological centre of gravity” and is likely to function as an aggregator towards service convergence and network integration (Ferreira 2001, pp. 351-354).
Lutz (1997, p. 145) described the advances in wireless communications as evolutionary directions that have the capacity to directly influence the diffusion of technologies such as smart cards. The rise of new mobile commerce applications, such as multimedia messaging service (MMS), mobile email, online games, online news, online calendars, and vendor machine and ticket payment all require some user identification to take place throughout the process. Smart cards provide the ability for the service provider to authenticate and subsequently bill the customer for access and usage of mobile applications.
9.2.5. The Need to Forecast Auto-ID Innovation
Forecasting and determining potential patterns and rates of change offer important insights for the future. Even if predictions turn out to be short-lived or blatantly wrong, they are still a vehicle for considering all the possibilities. It provides a stimulus for discussion and debate. In some situations forecasting may be said to be pre-emptive of actual events in the future. In other instances, the forecast depicted is considered unfavourable, and events that would have led to an expected outcome are redirected in scope and focus. Given that evolutionary theory underpins the SI framework, the forecasting or predictive nature of this thesis has been based almost solely on current research and development (i.e. history). Incremental changes in innovations have pointed to a path dependency. The shorter term the predictions are, the higher the likelihood that they will eventuate as they are based on “known” factors and not on wild assumptions. For instance, it is easier to forecast what will happen in the next year or two, rather than what will happen in twenty, fifty or one hundred years. Having said that, longer-term visions are equally important; science fiction has provided much in the way of future possibilities (see exhibit 9.7 below). Many do not acknowledge these contributions as important however few would dispute that predictions made by Arthur C. Clarke years in advance of their happening were unimportant or just coincidental.
9.2.6. Extensive Bibliography and Online Resources
In order to provide evidence that would conclusively come to the findings in this chapter, an extensive literature review was conducted. International sources were gathered dating back to the earliest auto-ID innovations to the most recent. This thesis made use of over 1600 books and articles and over 650 online resources. In itself the substantial referencing is a new contribution to the field, not only because of its size but also because of its scope. A plethora of support evidence was also included in the footnotes. The footnotes in themselves offer a rich digest of resources for potential and existing auto-ID stakeholders. In addition, the pictures and photographs used to illustrate and convey the fundamental concepts, ideas and findings in this thesis were compiled over years of research. Some of the images belong to my own personal collection taken during international business travel, others were downloaded from web sites and still others were scanned from relevant magazines. Together with the exhibits, the diagrams and tables offer overwhelming evidence to the auto-ID trajectory. The next section will now concentrate on the trends and patterns that emerged from the case studies (chs. 5-7) and the historical analysis conducted (chs. 4 and 8). It covers the predictive element of the thesis and in so doing documents a number of important issues that need to be addressed. The section is supplemented with perspectives held by people in a variety of disciplines related to the field.
9.3. Trends and Patterns Emerging from the Case Studies
As auto-ID technology has continued along a particular path it has progressively impacted people, processes and organisations. The more widespread the technology (in all its forms) has become the greater the imprint it is leaving on society. The auto-ID trajectory is having long term effects on the way we live and work and is set to continue doing so in its own right, and through subsequent paradigmatic shifts, as in the case of electrophoresis. Below are presented a number of themes that have emerged from the case studies that collectively act to summarise changes that have occurred as a result of auto-ID innovation. In each theme, the link between the auto-ID trajectory and electrophoresis is established, tying past, present and future together. The results point to an increasing reliance of humans upon auto-ID technology to the extent that some of the trends seem irreversible in nature. The prediction that humans will become “bearers of electricity” seems not only plausible but inevitable.
9.3.1. Information Centralisation- Big Brother Plays “Eyes Spy”
Over the years two main terms have been used to describe the potential for the invasion of privacy or surveillance using computing technology. At first the term Big Brother proliferated to correspond to the all-seeing eyes of government but with time it was determined that it was more accurate to speak of Many Little Brothers, given the requirement for so many separate databases. In most western countries data matching programs instead were constructed, linked to a unique citizen ID, to perform an audit function. More recently however, the trend has tended towards information centralisation between government departments based around the auspices of a national ID to reduce fraud. Looking forward, the potential for privacy issues linked to chip implants is something that has been considered but mostly granted attention by the media. Even Warwick, himself, is aware that chip implants do not promote an air of assurance:
Looking back, Warwick admits that the whole experiment [Cyborg 1.0] “smacked of Big Brother.” He insists, however, that it’s important to raise awareness of what’s already technically possible so that we can remain in the driver’s seat. “I have a sneaking suspicion,” he says, “that as long as we’re gaining things, we’ll yell ‘Let’s have Big Brother now!’ It’s when we’re locked in and the lights start going off- then Big Brother is a problem” (Masterson 2000, p. 3).
In this instance, Warwick has made an important observation. So long as individuals are “gaining” they generally will voluntarily part with a little more information. It is when they stop gaining and blatantly start being taken advantage of that the idea of Big Brother is raised. On that point, chip implants promise the convenience of not having to carry a multitude of auto-ID devices, perhaps not even a wallet or purse. According to McGinity (2000, p. 18) “[e]xperts say it [the chip] could carry all your personal information, medical background, insurance, banking information, passport information, address, phone number, social security number, birth certificate, marriage license.” This kind of data collection is considered by civil libertarians to be “crypto-fascism or high-tech slavery” (Associated Press 2002a, p. 2). The potential for abuse cannot be overstated (Mieszkowski 2000, part 2, p. 2). Salkowski (2000, p. 2) agrees pointing to the potential for abuse in the ADS VeriChip system, stating that police, parents and ADS employees could abuse their power. Hackers too, could try their hand at collecting data without the knowledge of the individual, given that wireless transmission is susceptible to interception. At the same time, the chip implant may become a prerequisite to health insurance and other services. As Chris Hoofnagle, an attorney for the Electronic Privacy Information Centre in Washington, D.C., pointed out, “[y]ou always have to think about what the device will be used for tomorrow” (Black 2002, p.1). In many ways, this is exactly the void this thesis has tried to fill.
184.108.40.206. Preserving Privacy in a Technological Society
Wearable computing designer Steve Mann (1998) believes that “[s]urveillance and mass media have become the new instruments for social control.” Public surveillance cameras especially can pose a serious threat to privacy. Originally cameras were used in private enterprises, like banks, then they made there way into department stores, and now they have made there way into foyers and train station exits and city streets outside popular venues and even sporting arenas. The last pictures of Princess Diana alive were beamed throughout the world shortly after her fatal car accident. She was probably oblivious to the fact that a camera was taping her final movements, let alone that the footage would be continually replayed on news flashes all over the world for weeks to come. To counter-act surveillance camera ‘spying’, some wearable computing experts have said that we should all carry computing devices that possess the ability to record audio and video (S. Mann 1997a, p. 177). Rather than having global “eyes” everywhere, each individual carries his own, thus protecting himself/herself. Steve Mann considers a community of networked wearable computing users who would look out for one another as suggested by Brin in his novel Earth (S. Mann 1997d, p. 30). Pentland believes that it is the networking aspect that is the problem, not so much the cameras themselves. “Who cares if your house’s door knows you came home at 2 a.m., unless it can tell your neighbour?” (Pentland 2000, p. 117). The types of miniature auto-ID devices being proposed, with the capability to record information, will most likely have to overcome legal barriers in the future (Martin et al. 2000, p. 44).
9.3.2. Mandatory Proof of Identity
Few government and commercial applications that require the identification of an individual allow for true voluntary participation (though they are not exactly compulsory either). Access to a particular service, usually requires proof of identity in the form of an auto-ID device. In most cases, without proof of identity, services are denied. So it is in this context that the requirement for a card, biometric or tag can be considered mandatory. For instance, if I wish to drive a vehicle, I must possess a license. If I choose not to carry my license with me when I drive I would be fined accordingly. If I request medical services from a general practitioner (GP) in Australia and I do not provide my Medicare card, then I would most likely have to pay the full amount up-front. If I would like to withdraw money from a bank and do not possess a card or passbook then I would be denied access to my funds. If I would like to travel overseas and do not provide my passport, then I will not be allowed to board a plane. As democratic as some nations believe they are the notion of something being voluntary or mandatory is directly linked to its perceived value- whether this is based on money or any other verifiable measure. An application which allows voluntary participation for its members, without the use of identification, is probably not linked to basic human needs and wants, and it could be forgone by the citizen with a relative low impact on the individual or their family. Non-living things undergo the same type of treatment. No one demands that a product possess a UPC bar code but if it does not, then the chances that it will end up in a large supermarket chain in the U.S. are near impossible (with the exclusion of perishable items). So we can see even from these few examples, that there are repercussions for non-compliance which in most cases equates to outright exclusion for that living or non-living thing, or at least diminished returns. In fact, there are very few government-to-consumer (G2C) applications that a citizen would be willing to forgo for the sake of remaining anonymous and not having to carry an auto-ID device. That person who refuses to carry and use auto-ID devices or to be identified by a unique ID code would become dysfunctional within society within a short period of time.
220.127.116.11. The Prospect of National ID Chip Implants
With the growing prospect of chip implants for identification purposes, it is not an impossible scenario to consider that one day these devices may be incorporated into national identification schemes by governments. Already governments worldwide are moving toward the introduction of a single unique ID to cater for a diversity of citizen applications (see exhibit 9.8 below on the proposed 1987 Australian national ID card). Opinions on the possibility of widespread chip implants in humans, range from “it would be a good idea,” to “it would be a good idea, but only for commercial applications not government applications,” to “this should never be allowed to happen”. Leslie Jacobs, who was one of the first to receive a VeriChip told Scheeres (2002b, p. 2), “[t]he world would be a safer place if authorities had a tamper-proof way of identifying people… I have nothing to hide, so I wouldn’t mind having the chip for verification… I already have an ID card, so why not have a chip?”
Applied Digital Solutions have claimed on a number of occasions that it has received more than two thousand emails from teenagers volunteering to be the next to be “chipped” (Scheeres 2002a, p. 2). Cunha Lima a government official who also has a chip implant is not ignorant of the potential for invasion of privacy but believes the benefits outweigh the costs and that so long as the new technology is voluntary and not mandatory there is nothing to worry about. He has said, “[i]f one chooses to ‘be chipped,’ then one has considered the consequences of that action” (Scheeres 2002c, p. 2). Professor Brad Meyers of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University believes that the chip implant technology has a place but should not be used by governments. Yet the overriding sentiment is that chip implants will be used by government before too long. Salkowski (2000, p. 3) has said, “[i]f you doubt there are governments that would force at least some of their citizens to carry tracking implants, you need to start reading the news a little more often.” Black (2002, p. 2) echoes these sentiments: “Strictly voluntary? So far so good. But now imagine that same chip being used by a totalitarian government to keep track of or round up political activists or others who are considered enemies of the state. In the wrong hands, the VeriChip could empower the wrong people.” Bob Gellman, a Washington privacy consultant, likens this to “a sort of modern version of tattooing people, something that for obvious reasons- the Nazis tattooed numbers of people- no one proposes” (Mieszkowski 2000, part 3, p. 1). The real issue at hand as Gellman sees it is “who will be able to demand that a chip be implanted in another person…” Professor Chris Hables Gray uses the example of prospective military chip implant applications. How can a marine, for instance, resist implantation? Mieszkowski (2000, part 3, p. 2) supports Gray by observing how quickly a new technological “option” can become a requirement. Resistance after the voluntary adoption stage can be rather futile if momentum is leading the device towards a mandatory role.
9.3.3. Regulating an Unexplored Technology
There are numerous arguments for why implanting a chip in a person is outright unconstitutional as was discovered in section 6.5.5. But perhaps the totally unexplored area as Gellman puts it are the legal and social issues of who would have power over the chip and the information gathered by its means (Mieszkowski 2000, part 3, p. 1). Gellman is correct in his summation of the problem but science has a proven way of going into uncharted territory first, then asking the questions about implications later. Applied Digital Solutions, for instance, have already launched the VeriChip solution. Sullivan, a spokesperson for ADS told Salkowski (2000, p. 3):
“I’m certainly not a believer in the abuse of power,” he offered, suggesting that Congress could always ban export of his company’s device. Of course, he admits he wouldn’t exactly lobby for that law. “I’m a businessman,” he said.
Black (2002, p. 2) makes the observation that the US government might well indeed place constraints on international sales of the VeriChip if it felt it could be used against them by an enemy. From a different angle, Rummler (2001, p. 2) points out that the monitoring and tracking of individuals raises serious legal implications regarding the individual’s capacity to maintain their right to freedom. He wrote: “[o]nce implanted with bio-implant electronic devices, humans might become highly dependent on the creators of these devices for their repair, recharge, and maintenance. It could be possible to modify the person technologically…thus placing them under the absolute control of the designers of the technology.” FDA’s Dr. David Feigal has been vocal about the need for such devices as the VeriChip not to take medical applications lightly and that companies wishing to specialise in health-related implants need to be in close consultation with the FDA. There is also the possibility that such developments, i.e. regulating chip implants, may ultimately be used against an individual. The Freedom of Information Act for instance, already allows U.S. authorities to access automatic vehicle toll-passes to provide evidence in court (Starner 2001b p. 58); there is nothing to suggest this will not happen with RF/ID transponder implants as well, despite the myriad of promises made by ADS. Professor Gray is adamant that there is no stopping technological evolution no matter how sinister some technologies may appear, and that we need to become accustomed to the fact that new technologies will continually infringe upon the constitution (Mieszkowski 2000, part 3, p. 2).
9.3.4. Social Consequences
Advances in auto-ID have had numerous social implications. Ever since bar codes acted to make particular job roles obsolete or less in demand, and magnetic-stripe and smart cards diminished the requirement for so many bank tellers, auto-ID has had its share of controversy. Maybury (1990, p. 12) makes the comparison between blue collar workers having been replaced by robots, and forthcoming white collar positions now also being relinquished by intelligent programs and machinery such as ATMs. Another concern has been that of privacy. Auto-ID itself is supposed to ensure privacy, especially more sophisticated techniques like smart cards and biometrics. Yet, it is the ease with which auto-ID devices can collect information (i.e. data capture) that has some advocates concerned about the ultimate use of personal information. Data mining through geographic information systems can pinpoint behaviours at the most incredible level of detail. Citizens are also concerned with the ultimate trajectory of auto-ID. Worldwide terrorist attacks for instance, have seen governments introduce new laws regarding security and individual identification. Pet ID implants are now commonplace, many believe that it is just a matter of time before humans are implanted as well. In fact, some humans have been implanted for medical reasons. As was shown in chapter eight, many deaf people are using cochlear implants to hear. But even these medical marvels are not without their controversy.
Some deaf activists… are critical of parents who subject children to such surgery [cochlear implants] because, as one charged, the prosthesis imparts “the nonhealthy self-concept of having had something wrong with one’s body” rather than the “healthy self-concept of [being] a proud Deaf” (Weber 2000, p. 2).
Putting this delicate debate aside it is here that some delineation can be made between implants that are used to treat an ailment or disability (i.e. giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf), and implants that may be used for enhancing human function (i.e. memory). Some citizens are concerned about the direction of the human species as future predictions of fully functional neural implants are being made by credible scientists. “[Q]uestions are raised as to how society as a whole will relate to people walking around with plugs and wires sprouting out of their heads. And who will decide which segments of the society become the wire-heads” (Branwyn 1993, p. 4)? Those who can afford the procedures perhaps? And what of the possibility of brain viruses that could be fatal and technological obsolescence that may require people to undergo frequent operations? Maybury (1990, p. 13) believes that humans are already beginning to suffer from a type of “mental atrophy” worse than that which occurred during the industrial revolution and that the only way to fight it is to hang on to those essential skills which are required for human survival.
9.3.5. The Potential for Health Risks
Public concern about electromagnetic fields from cellular phones was a contentious issue in the late 1990s. Now it seems that the majority of people in MDCs have become so dependent on mobile phones that they are disregarding the potentially harmful health risks associated by this technology. Though very little has been proven concretely, most terminal manufacturers do include a warning with their packaging, encouraging users not to touch the antenna of the phone during voice transmission. Salonen (1999, p. 96) puts forward the idea of directing wearable computing antenna away from the head where “there may be either a thermal insult produced by power deposition in tissue (acute effects) or other (long-term) effects” to midway between the shoulder and elbow where radiation can be pushed outward from the body. Yet chip implants may also pose problems, particularly if they are active implants that contain batteries and are prone to leakage if transponders are accidentally broken. Surgical implantation, it must also be stated, causes some degree of stress in an animal and it takes between four to seven days for the animal to return to equilibrium (Geers et al. 1997, p. 77). In the Cyborg 1.0 project, Warwick was advised to leave the implant under his skin for only ten days. According to Trull (1998, p. 3), Warwick was taking antibiotics to fight the possibility of infection. Warwick also reportedly told his son while playing squash during Cyborg 1.0: “Whatever you do, don’t hit my arm. The implant could just shatter, and you’ll have ruined your father’s arm for life” (Witt 1999, p. 3).
9.3.6. Religious Advocates Object to the “Mark”
Ever since the UPC bar code became widespread some Christian groups linked auto-ID to the “mark” in the Book of Revelation (13:18): “…the number of the beast… is 666”. Since it became a standard for every non-perishable item to be bar coded the UPC was closely associated with the prophecy: “so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark” (Rev 13:17). According to some Christians, this reference would appear to be alluding to a mark on or in the human body, the prediction being made that the UPC would eventually end up on human skin. As the selection environment of auto-ID devices grew, the interpretation of the prophecy further developed as to the actual guise of the mark. It was no longer considered to be ‘just’ the bar code (see exhibit 9.9). Card technology became the next focus as a technique that would pave the way for a permanent ID for all citizens in the globe: “He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark…” (Rev 13:16).
Biometrics were then introduced and immediately the association was made that the mark would appear on the “right hand” (i.e. palmprint or fingerprint) or on the “forehead” (facial/ iris recognition) as was prophesied (Rev. 13:16). Finally RF/ID transponders made their way into pets and livestock for identification, and that is when some Christian groups announced that the ‘authentic’ mark was now possible, and that it was only a matter of time before it would find its way into citizen applications. Christians who take this mark, for whatever reason, are said to be denouncing the seal of baptism, and accepting the Antichrist in place of Christ. Horn (2000, pp. 1f) explains:
[m]any Christians believe that, before long, an antichrist system will appear. It will be a New World Order, under which national boundaries dissolve, and ethnic groups, ideologies, religions, and economics from around the world, orchestrate a single and dominant sovereignty… According to popular Biblical interpretation, a single personality will surface at the head of the utopian administration… With imperious decree the Antichrist will facilitate a one-world government, universal religion, and globally monitored socialism. Those who refuse his New World Order will inevitably be imprisoned or destroyed.
Companies that specialise in the manufacture of chip implant solutions, whether for animals or for humans, have been targeted by some religious advocates. The bad publicity has not been welcomed by these companies- some have even notably “toned down” the graphic visuals on their web sites so that they do not attract the ‘wrong type of web surfers’. While they are trying to promote an image of safety and security, some advocates have associated company brands and products with apocalyptic labels. Perhaps the interesting thing to note is that religious advocates and civil libertarians agree that ultimately the chip implant technology will be used by governments to control citizens. ADS is one of the companies that have publicly stated that they do not want adverse publicity after pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into research and development and the multi-million dollar purchase of the Destron Fearing company. So concerned were they that they even appeared on the Christian talk show The 700 Club, emphasising that the device would create a lot of benefits and was not meant to fulfil prophecy (Scheeres 2002c, p. 2). According to Gary Wohlscheid, the president of The Last Day Ministries, the VeriChip could well be the mark. Wohlscheid believes that out of all the auto-ID technologies with the potential to be the mark, the VeriChip is the closest. About the VeriChip he says however, “[i]t’s definitely not the final product, but it’s a step toward it. Within three to four years, people will be required to use it. Those that reject it will be put to death” (Scheeres 2002b, p. 3). With respect to the potential of brain chips in the quest for immortality, many Christians see this as trying to replace the Eternal Life as promised by God, through Jesus Christ. Just like in the case of human cloning, scientists are accused of trying to play God with brain implants too. However, the area is grey here, when do implants for medical breakthroughs become acceptable versus those required for pure identification purposes?- the future might end up merging the two functions onto the same device.
9.3.7. From the ENIAC to High-Tech Gadgetry
When the ENIAC was first made known to the public in February of 1946 reporters used “anthropomorphic” and “awesome characterisations” to describe the computer. The news was received with scepticism by citizens who feared the unknown. In an article titled ‘The Myth of the Awesome Thinking Machine’, Martin (1993, p. 126) stated that the ENIAC was referred to in headlines as “a child, a Frankenstein, a whiz kid, a predictor and controller of weather, and a wizard”. Photographs of the ENIAC used in publications usually depicted the computer to completely fill a small room, from wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling. People are usually shown interacting with the machine, feeding it with instructions, waiting for results and monitoring its behaviour. One could almost imagine that the persons in the photographs are ‘inside the body’ of the ENIAC (K. Michael 2002c, p. 131). Sweeping changes have taken place since that time, particularly since the mid 1980s. Consumers now own PCs in their homes (these are increasingly being networked), they carry laptop computers and mobile phones and chip cards and closely interact with public automated kiosks. Relatively speaking, it has not taken long for people to adapt to the changes that this new technology has heralded. Today we speak of a Net Generation (N-Geners) who never knew a world without computers or the Internet (Tapscott 1998, p. 38); for them the digital world is like the air they breathe. What is important to N-Geners is not how they got to where they are today but what digital prospects the future holds. “[O]ur increasing cultural acceptance of high-tech gadgetry has led to a new way of thinking: robotic implants could be so advantageous that people might actually want to become cybernetic organisms, by choice. The popularisation of the cyberpunk genre has demonstrated that it can be hip to have a chip in your head” (Trull 1998, p. 1).
18.104.22.168. Shifting Cultural Values
Auto-ID has influenced changes in language, art, music and film. Apart from the plethora of new terms that have been born from the widespread use of IT&T and more specifically from extropians (much of which have religious connotations or allusions), it is art, especially body art that is being heavily influenced by chip implant technology. Mieszkowski (2000, part 2, p. 4) believes that “chipification” will be the next big wave in place of tattoos, piercing and scarification (see exhibit 9.10 below). In the U.S. it was estimated in 2001 that about two hundred Americans had permanently changed their bodies at around nine hundred dollars an implant, following a method developed by Steve Hayworth and Jon Cobb (Millanvoye 2001, p. 1). Canadian artist Nancy Nisbet has implanted microchips in her hands to better understand how implant technology may affect the human identity. The artist told Scheeres (2002d, pp. 1f), “I am expecting the merger between human and machines to proceed whether we want it to or not…” However, other artists like Natasha Vita More and Stelarc have ventured beyond localised chip implants. Their vision is of a complete prosthetic body that will comprise of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, cloning and even nanobots (I. Walker 2001, p. 9). More calls her future body design Primo 3M Plus. Stelarc’s live performances however, have been heralded as the closest thing there is to imagining a world where the human body will become obsolete.
A Stelarc performance is not something you’d recommend for the kiddies before bedtime. It usually involves a disturbing mix of amplified sounds of human organs and techno beats, an internal camera projecting images of his innards, perhaps a set of robotic legs or an extra arm, or maybe tubes and wires connecting the performer’s body to the internet with people in another country manipulating the sensors, jerking him into a spastic dance. It’s a dark vision, but it definitely makes you think (I. Walker 2001, p. 6).
Warwick believes that the new technologies “will dramatically change [art], but not destroy it.”
9.3.8. Ethics and a Growing Moral Dilemma
In an attempt to make our world a safer place we have inadvertently infringed on our privacy and our freedom through the use of surveillance cameras and the like. We equip our children with mobile phones, attach tracking devices to them or make them carry them in their bags and soon we might even be implanting them with microchips. This all comes at a price- yet it seems more and more people are willing to pay this price as heinous crimes become common events in a society that should know better. Take the example of 11-year old Danielle Duval who is about to have an active chip (i.e. containing a rechargeable battery) implanted in her. Her mother believes that it is no different to tracking a stolen car, simply that it is being used for another more important application (Wilson 2002, p. 1). Warwick has said that an urgent debate is required on this matter (i.e. whether every child should be implanted by law), and whether or not signals from the chips should be emitted on a 24x7 basis or just triggered during emergencies. Warwick holds the position that “we cannot prejudge ethics”. He believes that ethics can only be debated and conclusions reached only after people become aware of the technical possibilities when they have been demonstrated. He admits that ethics may differ between countries and cultures. The main ethical problem related to chip implants seems to be that they are under the skin (Trull 1998, p. 2) and cannot just be removed by the user at their convenience. In fact there is nothing to stop anyone from getting multiple implants all over their body rendering some applications useless. Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is convinced that if a technology is there to be abused, whether it is chip implants or national ID cards, then it will because that is just human nature (Eng. 2002). Similarly, Kidscape, a charity that is aimed at reducing the incidence of sexual abuse in children believe that implants will not act to curb crime. Kidscape hold the position that rather than giving children a false sense of security because they are implanted with a tracking device that could be tampered with by an offender, they should be educated on the possible dangers. Implanted tracking devices may sound entirely full-proof but deployment of emergency personnel, whether police or ambulance, cannot just magically appear at the scene of a crime in time to stop an offender from committing violence against a hostage.
22.214.171.124. Beyond Chip Implants
Beyond chip implants for tracking there are the possibilities associated with neural prosthetics and the potential to directly link computers to humans as explored in sections 8.4 and 8.5. Rummler (2001, p. 1) asks whether it is ethical to be linking computers to humans in the first place and whether or not limitations should be placed on what procedures can be conducted even if they are possible. For instance, could this be considered a violation of human rights? And more to the point what will it mean in the future to call oneself “human”. McGrath (2001, p. 2) asks “how human”?
As technology fills you up with synthetic parts, at what point do you cease to be fully human? One quarter? One third?... At bottom lies one critical issue for a technological age: are some kinds of knowledge so terrible they simply should not be pursued? If there can be such a thing as a philosophical crisis, this will be it. These questions, says Rushworth Kidder, president of the Institute for Global Ethics in Camden, Maine, are especially vexing because they lie at “the convergence of three domains- technology, politics and ethics- that are so far hardly on speaking terms.
At the point of electrophoresis “[y]ou are not just a human linked with technology; you are something different and your values and judgement will change.” Some suspect that it will even become possible to alter behaviour in people with brain implants (LoBaido 2001, part 2, p. 2), whether they will it or not. Maybury (1990, p. 7) believes that “[t]he advent of machine intelligence raises social and ethical issues that may ultimately challenge human existence on earth.”
9.4. The Evolution of the Electrophoresis Trajectory
9.4.1. Towards Ubiquitous Computing
From PCs to laptops to PDAs and from landline phones to cellular phones to wireless wristwatches, miniaturisation and mobility have acted to shift the way in which computing is perceived by humans. Once a stationary medium, computers are now portable, they go wherever humans go. This can be described as technology becoming more ‘human-centric’, “where products are designed to work for us, and not us for them” (Stephan n.d., p. 2). Thus, the paradigm shift is from desktop computing to wearable computing (Sheridan et al. 2000, p. 195). The amazing thing is that in the pursuit of miniaturisation, little has been lost in terms of processing power. And despite the rapid pace of change, prices for devices keep falling. This transition phase will see wearable computing devices become an integral part of our daily lives. Whether noticeable or not by users, the change has already begun. Technology is increasingly becoming an extension of the human body, whether it is by carrying smart cards or electronic tags (Millanvoye 2001, p. 1). Furui (2000, p. 3735) predicts that “[p]eople will actually walk through their day-to-day lives wearing several computers at a time.” Cochrane described this phenomenon as technology being an omnipresent part of our lives. Not only will devices become small and compact but they will be embedded in our bodies, invisible to anyone else (Pickering 1999, p. 1). For the time being however, we are witnessing the transition period in which auto-ID devices especially are being trialled upon those who either i) desperately require their use for medical purposes or ii) who cannot challenge their application, such as in the case of armed forces or prisoners. Eventually, the new technology will be opened to the wider market in a voluntary nature but will most likely become a de facto compulsory standard (i.e. such as in the case of the mobile phone today), and inevitably mandatory as it is linked to some kind of requirement for survival. On analysis, this is the pattern that most successful high-tech innovations throughout history have followed.
Mark Weiser first conceived the term “ubiquitous computing” to espouse all those small IS devices, including calculators, electronic calendars and communicators that users would carry with them every day (Sydänheimo et al. 1999, p. 2013). The term today has come to mean much more. Kaku (1998, p. 27) stated that ubiquitous computing, is the time “when computers are all connected to each other and the ratio of computers to people flips the other way, with as many as one hundred computers for every person.” This latter definition implies a ubiquitous environment that allows the user to seamlessly interface with computer systems around them. Environments of the future are predicted to be context-aware so that users are not disturbed in every context, save for when it is suitable (Laerhoven & Cakmakci 2000, p. 77). Kortuem (1998, p. 58) stated that “[s]uch environments might be found at the home, at the office, at factory floors, or even vehicles.”
126.96.36.199. The Human as Electrophorus
Luggables, like mobile phones, do create a sense of attachment between the user and the device but the devices are still physically separate; they can accidentally be left behind. Wearable computers on the other hand are a part of the user, they are worn, and they “create an intimate human-computer-symbiosis in which respective strengths combine” (Billinghurst & Starner 1999, p. 58). S. Mann calls this human-computer-symbiosis, “human interaction” (HI) as opposed to HCI.
[W]e prefer not to think of the wearer and the computer with its associated I/O apparatus as separate entities. Instead, we regard the computer as a second brain and its sensory modalities as additional senses, which synthetic synesthesia merges with the wearer’s senses (S. Mann 2001, p. 10).
Electrophoresis is set to make this bond between human-computer irrevocable (see exhibit 9.11). Once on that path there is no turning back. If at the present all this seems impossible, a myth, unlikely, a prediction far gone, due to end-user resistance and other similar obstacles facing the industry today, history should teach us otherwise.
This year alone, millions of babies will be born into a world where there are companies on the New York Stock Exchange specialising in chip implant devices for humans. “They” will grow up believing that these technologies are not only “normal” but quite useful, just like other high-tech technologies before them such as the Internet, PCs, magnetic-stripe cards etc. But you don’t have to be a new-born baby to adapt to technological change. Even grandmothers and grandfathers surf the web these days and send emails as a cheaper alternative to post or telephone (Tapscott 1998, pp. 52-54). And migrants struggling with a foreign language will even memorise key combinations to withdraw money even if they do not actually fully perceive the actions they are commanding throughout the process. Schiele et al. (2001, p. 44) believes that our personal habits are shaped by technological change and that over time new technologies that seem only appropriate for technophiles eventually find themselves being used by the average person. “[O]ver time our culture will adjust to incorporate the devices.” What is apparent regardless of how far electrophoresis is taken, is that the once irreconcilable gap between human and machine is closing.
9.4.2. Have We Really Thought About the Consequences?
The drivers for change and innovation are always important to understand. Realistically however, today, it is dollars that drives invention, not so much the requirement for a technology. It is more a sense of technology-push by the manufacturers rather than technology-pull by the market. Recently we have witnessed the bandwidth boom and bust; telecommunications manufacturers trying to sell more product vastly overstating demand, only for service providers to see their investments come crumbling down before them. The ironic thing was that the customers using the telecommunications infrastructure were the very same shareholders who lost life-long savings in these stock crashes. Now, the question is who or what is it that drives new technologies such as chip implants? Is it high powered executives? Is it scientists with grand imaginations? Is it the citizens who are now potential shareholders and out to make a quick dollar? Is it circumstance? Is it dynamism in the innovation process? Is it partially a need to survive? Whatever it may be (probably a little bit of all), Bill Joy the chief technologist of Sun Microsystems, feels a sense of unease about such predictions made by Ray Kurzweil in The Age of Spiritual Machines. Not only because Kurzweil has proven technically competent in the past but because of his ultimate vision for humanity- “a near immortality by becoming one with robotic technology” (Joy 2000, p. 1). Joy was severely criticised for being narrow-sighted, even a fundamentalist of sorts, after publishing his paper in Wired, but all he did was dare to ask the questions- ‘do we know what we are doing? Has anyone really carefully thought about this?’
We are being propelled into this new century with no plan, no control, no brakes. Have we already gone too far down the path to alter course? I don’t believe so, but we aren’t trying yet, and the last chance to assert control- the fail-safe point- is rapidly approaching” (Joy 2000, p. 14).
It seems today that anyone who holds a position questioning whether or not something is ‘progress’ is put into one of two categories: a neo-Luddite or just technologically ignorant. But it is each individual’s duty to ask the questions regardless, because they and generations after them will have to live with the answers. One need only look at the Atomic Bomb and the Chernobyl disaster for what is possible, if not inevitable once a technology is set on its ultimate trajectory. To some degree the versatility of auto-ID makes its trajectory susceptible to changes in the broader IT&T sectoral innovation system (SIS).
 For an understanding of sectoral studies in technological change see Rosenberg (1994, part III, pp. 159-250). In chapter 11 (pp. 203-232), Rosenberg describes “telecommunications” as “complex, uncertain, and path dependent”. Consider the “auto-ID industry” as a subset “technology system” within the information technology sectoral innovation system (SIS).
 For a generic overview of the generation of innovations and the innovation-decision process see chapters four and five of Rogers (1995, pp. 131-201).
 “Timing” is of great significance in the process of auto-ID innovation. For instance, the widespread use of bar code technology could delay the introduction of RF/ID tags and transponders. Similarly the widespread use of smart cards in France for instance, may mean that the “substitute” technologies of magnetic-stripe and bar code cards never enjoy widespread use in that country, even though smart cards are battling to break into the U.S. market. See Rosenberg et al. (1994, pp. 68-72) regarding timing and how complementary, supplementary and substitute technologies affect one another’s adoption. See also (Yoffie et al. 1997, p. 38).
 “To say the infiltration of machines into our lives is becoming pervasive is like saying the world is round” (McGinity 2000, pp. 17f).
 This has been precisely and clearly stated by Kripalani, “[a]s we look across the globe, we perceive a dynamically changing global communications environment, fuelled by changes in the way we live, changes in regulatory policies, new developments in standards and rapid technological improvements. The blending of these factors is opening up new opportunities in many heretofore unaddressed markets” (Kripalani 1994, p. 25).
 See Council of Europe (1983).
 This ‘everything card’ as it is termed by Keenan et al. (1997, p. 31) has the potential to literally change the world, for better or for worse. Of the four most important functions that the card will perform for consumers are: “(1) to make payments, (2) to gain rewards, (3) to gain access to an electronic network or a physical structure, and (4) to store and manage information” (Keenan et al. 1997, p. 23).
 Shoales (1996, p. 72) asks the question: “[a]nd when everything in our lives- insurance, transportation, passport- is reduced to one card, what happens if it gets lost or stolen? Do we disappear too?...”
 For instance, some have predicted that card technologies are ultimately going to be replaced by biometric techniques that do not require the end-user to carry any device whatsoever. But others disagree vehemently “[c]ards are not going to go away, and one thing that should be dispelled is that biometrics is a replacement for cards. It’s an adjunct to the card technology” (http://www.nextstep.com/stepback/cycle10/130/biometrix.html, p. 3).
 See Farrell (1996), “smart cards have earned their stripes”.
 For the evolution of smart cards see Zoreda and Otón (1994, p. 165).
 It is incorrect to state that the magnetic-stripe card was evolving into a smart card because the two techniques were invented separately and require different physical components.
 For instance, suppliers of card readers are now making their products capable of reading several different card types. Mobile Data Processing boast of their “all in one integrated system” DAT400 and DAT500 which can act as a bar code laser scanner, magnetic card reader, smart card reader, with a touch and pen screen and printer.
 “The mere mention of the term “radio frequency identification” causes a ripple through the Auto-ID industry. What was once seen as a ‘blue-sky’ technology now is viewed by many as a logical progression in automated tracking and identification applications” (Gurin 1998, p. 1).
 “Convergence is about the coming together of diverse technologies and capabilities” (Yoffie et al. 1997, p. 26). Conferences and exhibitions focused on “convergence” are being held all over the world. In Australia the “Convergence” conference in 2003 included Cards Australasia, Information Security World, Mobile Commerce World and Automatic Data Capture Association, all under the same roof during common dates. Once stakeholders from each of these associations would attend separate conferences, now it makes sense to have them coming together as they increasingly begin to rely on one another for application solutions.
 See Lindley (1997, pp. 90-91) who described technological convergence in smart cards at different levels, albeit cautiously. Lindley is respectful of the weighted meaning that “convergence” at the device level carries.
 Compare this definition with Covell’s (2000) very broad definition of “digital convergence”. He stated (p. 49): “digital convergence is the merging of these improved computing capabilities, new digital multimedia technologies and content, and new digital communications technologies. This combination of computing power and functionality, digital networked interconnectedness, and multimedia capability enables new forms of human interaction, collaboration, and information sharing.” Convergence at a device level however is somewhat different to “digital” convergence which is all-encompassing. Covell (2000) spends the whole of his chapter seven discussing the latter (pp. 161-200). Baldwin et al. (1996, pp. 104-159) discuss technological convergence in the same context that Covell describes digital convergence (Yoffie et al. 1997, p. 4).
 Swartz (1999, p. 21) also sees auto-ID technologies as being “complementary”.
 In another example, see also Schneider and Efthymiou (1996) who discuss the PC Card standard, the PCMCIA (PC Memory Card Industry Association) interface and regular smart cards. See also Lindley (1997, pp. 42-46).
 For instance, why are there so many different biometric technologies? Is it because the human body is made up of such a diverse number of unique characteristics or is because developers envisage the use of particular biometrics in particular circumstances? The latter seems the more appropriate response and the only plausible reason why so many different researchers would be painstakingly trying to optimise algorithms to meet commercial needs.
 Swartz (1999, p. 21) highlights: “[n]ot long ago, I recall the heated debates about which technology was the best- which would bring the most benefits, prove to be the most reliable or the cheapest… I believe the “competitive” framework asked all the wrong questions and clouded a better understanding of how the technologies could exist side-by-side.”
 According to Brock (2001, p. 5), EPC will aid the vision of a “smart world” where everything is active, components, assemblies and systems.
 “Mobile computing is multidisciplinary in nature, it involves many issues in computer science and electrical engineering” (Gupta & Srimani 2000, p. S1C-6). “Because designers of wearable computers must consider social science issues and be willing to experiment with a variety of approaches, a multidisciplinary research community evolved that includes electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, materials scientists, computer scientists and industrial designers” (Siewiorek 1999, p. 82).
 Industries and information technologies are beginning to converge to create new business opportunities spurred on by the demand for electronic delivery to the consumer (Allen & Kutler 1997, p. 15-16).
 See Lindley (1997, pp. 88-90) who describes smart card clustering.
 Brodsky (1995) was one of the first authors to write on the wireless revolution in personal telecommunications. Her chapter 8 on “PDAs, Personal Communicators and Mobile Companions” was way ahead of its time. A fascinating study that helps support the findings of this thesis.
 That is, we are being basically reminded that “[t]he issues surrounding evolutionary directions today primarily involve wireless telecommunications... Evolution issues are not limited to mobile telephony... Evolution of fixed telephones, cable-TV set-top boxes, and computers could also include plans to incorporate smart cards for convenience of users and protection of information” (Lutz 1997, p. 147).
 See Fardoulis (2003, pp. 18-23).
 See Addison and Thimbleby (1997, pp. 6/2-6/3). Question nine asks: “[h]ow will network computers be tied to other social developments? For example, national IDs could be used to identify users. Network computers might become ubiquitous… Who will own this information?... We note that Rheingold’s enthusiastic book ends with a dark analysis of social issues. His issues weren’t hypothetical; they were already happening- in 1994.”
 Marshall McLuhan was one of the first explorers to probe how the psycho-social complex was influenced by electricity. “Electricity continually transforms everything, especially the way people think, and confirms the power of uncertainty in the quest for absolute knowledge. That is revolutionary” (McLuhan, E. & Zingrone 1995, p. 2). “The main effect of electric process, McLuhan discovered, is to retribalise the structure of psychic and social awareness” (p. 4).
 Starner (2001b, p. 57) makes the distinction between privacy and security concerns. “Security involves the protection of information from unauthorised users; privacy is the individual’s right to control the collection and use of personal information.”
 Mills (1997, p. 177) is of the opinion that some technology, like communications, is not non-neutral but totalitarian in nature and that it can make citizens passive. “These glamorous technologies extend and integrate cradle-to-grave surveillance, annihilating all concept of a right to personal privacy, and help consolidate the power of the national security state… every technology, being a form of power, has implicit values and politics…” See also Michael, K. (2002e, pp. 259-262) regarding online privacy.
 Privacy advocates warn that such a chip would impact civil liberties in a disastrous way (Newton 2002, p. 1).
 It should be noted that the chip referred to here is one that can store a lot more information than the VeriChip made by ADS.
 “It might even be possible for estranged spouses, employers and anyone else with a grudge to get their hands on tracking data through a civil subpoena” (Salkowski 2000, p. 2).
 Another case in point, “[y]ou could have a scenario where insurance companies refuse to insure you unless you agree to have a chip implant to monitor the level of physical activity you do” says Pearson (BT) (LoBaido 2001, part 2, p. 2). “Cost-conscious insurance companies are sure to be impressed, because the portability of biomems would allow even a seriously ill patient to be monitored after surgery or treatment on an outpatient basis” (Swissler 2000, p. 1).
 Pentland (2000, p. 116) acknowledges the advantages of making machines that are aware of people but also realises the potential perils. “The idea is that machines should know who we are, see our expressions and gestures, and hear the tone and emphasis of our voice. However, when such perceptually-aware machines are tightly networked together, as in proposals for ubiquitous or pervasive computing environments, we obtain a capacity to concentrate information about people that closely resembles George Orwell’s dark vision of a government that can monitor and control your every move.”
 Some tracking and monitoring systems can be turned off and on by the wearer, making monitoring theoretically voluntary. Sullivan a spokesperson for ADS, said: “[i]t will not intrude on personal privacy except in applications applied to the tracking of criminals” (Mieszkowski 2000, part 2, p. 2).
 Meyers said, “[i]f the chips are wirelessly connected to networks, that opens up a whole new set of issues” (LoBaido 2001, part 1, p. 2). See also Tan (2002) and McConnell (2003).
 “Microchip implantation is currently introduced as a voluntary procedure. But a report written by Elaine M. Ramish for the Franklin Pierce Law Centre says, “A [mandatory] national identification system via microchip implants could be achieved in two stages: Upon introduction as a voluntary system, the microchip implantation will appear to be palatable. After there is a familiarity with the procedure and a knowledge of its benefits, implantation would be mandatory” (Horn 2000, p. 3).
 McClimans (1998 pp. 1-4) believes that everyone should get chipped.
 Some cyberpunks have attempted to counteract the possibility of enforced implantation. One punk known by the name of “Z.L” is an avid reader of MIT specialist publications like open|DOOR MIT magazine on bioengineering and beyond. Z.L.’s research has indicated that: “[i]t is only a matter of time… before technology is integrated within the body. Anticipating the revolution, he has already taught himself how to do surgical implants and other operations. “The state uses technology to strengthen its control over us,” he says. “By opposing this control, I remain a punk. When the first electronic tags are implanted in the bodies of criminals, maybe in the next five years, I’ll know how to remove them, deactivate them and spread viruses to roll over Big Brother” (Millanvoye 2001, p. 2).
 See also Nairne (2000, p. 2). Timothy McVeigh, convicted Oklahoma bomber, claimed that during the Gulf War, he was implanted with a microchip against his will. The claims have been denied by the U.S. military however, it is not entirely impossible that this happened. See the British Army APRIL project (LoBaido 2001, pp. 1-2).
 McMurchie (1999, p. 11) reveals the subtle progression toward embedded devices: “as we look at wearable computers, it’s not a big jump to say, ‘OK, you have a wearable, why not just embed the device?’… And no one can rule out the possibility that employees might one day be asked to sport embedded chips for ultimate access control and security…”
 Consider the issues surrounding GPS technology that has been in operation a lot longer. “Good, neutral, or perhaps undesirable outcomes are now possible… Tension arises between some of the civil/commercial applications and the desire to preclude an adversary’s use of GPS. It is extremely difficult (technically, institutionally, politically, and economically) to combine the nonmilitary benefits of the system that require universality of access, ease of use, and low cost with military requirements for denial of the system to adversaries. Practical considerations require civil/commercial applications to have relatively easy access” (Pace et al. 1996, pp. 196f). This is a governance issue.
 See Thomas (2003), http://www.detnews.com/2002/technology/0204/05/technology-457686.htm (2002) and http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/2002/04/04/implant-chip.htm (2002).
 See ‘On travelling incognito’, Herzberg et al. (1995, pp. 205-211).
 See also Hutchins (2000, p. 3) for a summary of social and economic impacts. For long-range cyclic changes and how smart cards will affect society see Svigals (1987, pp. 177-184).
 See chapter eight, “Technology, employment, and livelihood”, in Mills ed. (1997, pp. 142-162). See also Zuboff (1988).
 While the devices are secure, breaches in privacy can happen at any level- especially at the database level where information is ultimately stored after it is collected. How this information is used, how it is matched with other data, who has access to it, is what has caused many citizens to be cautious about auto-ID in general.
 Rothfeder (1995, p. 152) states: “[m]edical files, financial and personnel records, Social Security numbers, and telephone call histories- as well as information about our lifestyle preferences, where we shop, and even what car we drive- are available quickly and cheaply.” See SearchSoftwareAmerica (1998) and Shaver (1996) for data mining and database marketing techniques.
 Assistant Professor Scott Bally of Audiology at Gallaudet University has said: “Many deaf people feel as though deafness is not a handicap. They are culturally deaf individuals who have successfully adapted themselves to being deaf and feel as though things like cochlear implants would take them out of their deaf culture, a culture which provides a significant degree of support” (Branwyn 1993, p. 4).
 See also Manning (2000a, p. 19; 2000b, p. 7D).
 “Gray says it’s our duty as ‘cyborg citizens’ to confront the Mad Scientists and talk about the implications of just what kind of future the new Dr Frankensteins are busy trying to create for us” (I. Walker 2001, p. 13).
 With reference to wearable computing devices Mann, S. (1997d, p. 29) stated: “[t]he early prototypes were quite obtrusive and often made people ill at ease, but more recently the apparatus has been gaining social acceptance. I attribute this partly to miniaturisation, which has allowed me to build smaller units, and partly to dramatic changes in people’s attitudes towards personal electronics.”
 The location of base station antennae is still a topic of contention. Lobby groups muster local council support to ensure that antennae do not appear on top of schools, churches or shops, not only because they are unsightly in most cases, but because of the health concern.
 “Another important aspect is the potential toxic effect of the battery when using active transponders. Although it should be clear that pieces of glass or copper from passive tags are not allowed to enter the food chain. When using electronic monitoring with the current available technology, a battery is necessary to guarantee correct functioning of sensors when the transponder is outside the antenna field. If the transponder should break in the animal’s body, battery fluid may escape, and the question of toxological effects has to be answered” (Geers et al. 1997, p. 68). In fact, we need only consider the very real problems that women with failed silicon breast implants have had to suffer. Will individuals with chip implants, ten years down the track, be tied up in similar court battles and with severe medical problems? See also http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/view/112 (2002) and Magee (2003).
 It is also worthwhile noting Warwick’s appearance after the Cyborg 2.0 experiment (refer back to exhibit 8.6). He looks pale, like someone who has undergone a major operation.
 Coincidentally the start, middle and end bars of the UPC are encoded 6, 6, 6 (see exhibit 9.7). See Father Paisios comment on the number from the perspective of an Eastern Orthodox monastic (Hristodoulou 1994). See also Michael, M. G. (1998).
 One of the most outspoken commentators and authors on the topic is Terry L. Cook. Cook “worries the identification chip could be the ‘mark of the beast’, an identifying mark that all people will be forced to wear just before the end times, according to the Bible” (Newton 2002, p. 2). See also Cook (1999).
 “Religious advocates say it represents ‘the mark of the Beast’, or the anti-Christ” (Associated Press 2002a, p. 2). For a Christian discussion see http://www.thefalcononline.com//story/2270 (2002). See also Michael, M.G. for a more sober historical and analytical discussion on the “mark” (2000a; 2000b).
 The description of an implant procedure for sows that Geers et al. (1997, p. 49) gives, especially the section about an incision being made on the skin, is what some religious advocates fear may happen to humans as well in the future. “When the thermistor was implanted the sows were restrained with a lasso. The implantation site was locally anaesthetised with a procaine (2%) injection, shaved and disinfected. After making a small incision in the skin, the thermistor was implanted subcutaneously, and the incision was closed by sewing. The position of the thermistor (accuracy 0.1C) was wire-connected to a data acquisition system linked to a personal computer.”
 A spokesperson for ADS said: “[w]e don’t want the adverse publicity. There are a number of privacy concerns and religious implications- fundamentalist Christian groups regard [i.e., implanting computer chips] as the Devil’s work” (LoBaido 2001, part 1, p. 2). This idea of fundamentalism seems to be a common label today, for anyone who questions technological advancement.
 For a religious advocate who is for “composite humans” see Roper (2001) who writes on the “evolution of belief”.
 See Ermann et al. (1997, pp. 304-306) for an explanation on “anthropomorphising the computational system”.
 See King (2001, pp. 1-2) on robots and art.
 “Recent albums by digital artists Brian Eno, Clock DVA, and Frontline Assembly sport names like Nerve Net, Man Amplified and Tactical Neural Implant” (Branwyn 1993, p. 1).
 Chris Hables Gray tells his students “…that a lot of the best cyborgology has been done in the mass media and in fiction by science fiction writers, and science fiction movie producers, because they’re thinking through these things.” E.g. Star Trek: the Next Generation (Walker 2001, p. 5). The popular 1970s series of Six Million Dollar Man began as follows: “We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first Bionic man.” Today bionic limbs are a reality and no longer science fiction. See http://physicsweb.org/article/world/14/7/11 (2001).
 “Computer network and hacker slang is filled with references to “being wired” or “jacking in” (to a computer network), “wetware” (the brain), and “meat” the body. Science fiction films, from Robocop to the recent Japanese cult film Tetsuo: The Iron Man, imprint our imaginations with images of the new…” (Branwyn 1993, p. 1).
 See Dery (1996, p. 66).
 See also chapter nine, “Consciousness and technology” in Mills (1997, pp. 163-176).
 As far back as 1997, Eduardo Kac “inserted a chip into his ankle during a live performance in Sao Paulo, then registered himself in an online pet database as both owner and animal” (Scheeres 2002d, p. 2). Perhaps the actual implant ceremony was not Kac’s main contribution but the subsequent registration onto a pet database.
 See also Tysome (2001, p. 35) and Gunn (n.d.).
 For ethical questions related to the Digital Angel product see Raimundo (2002).
 Mrs Duvall is considering implanting her younger daughter age 7 as well but will wait until the child is a bit older: “so that she fully understands what’s happening…” (Wilson 2002, p. 2). One could be excused for asking whether Danielle at the age of 11 actually can fully comprehend the implications of the procedure she is about to undergo. It seems that the age of consent would be a more appropriate age.
 For an excellent introduction into computers, ethics and society, see Ermann et al. (1997).
 Warwick is also well aware that one of the major obstacles of cyber-humans are the associated moral issues (Irwin 1998, p. 2)- who gives anyone the right to be conducting complex procedures on a perfectly healthy person, and who will take responsibility for any complications that present themselves?
 See Brown (1998, p. 301) for ethics and bioengineering.
 See Lemonick (1995, pp. 44f) who describes the pace of change since the first computer. “It took humanity more than 2 million years to invent wheels but only about 5,000 years more to drive those wheels with a steam engine. The first computers filled entire rooms, and it took 35 years to make the machines fit on a desk- but the leap from desktop to laptop took less than a decade… What will the next decade bring, as we move into a new millennium? That’s getting harder and harder to predict.” Lemonick puts perspective on technology evolution.
 See McGinity (2000, pp. 17f). See also Furui (2000, pp. 3735f) who described two major computing patterns in the last fifty years. The first is that of the mainframe- where one machine was used by many users; the second is that of the PC- where each machine was used by only one user. Perhaps the next fifty years will signify a third pattern- multiple machines for each user.
 “Our new aim is to provide an interface that can take on the responsibility of locating and serving the user” (Abowd et al. 1997, pp. 179-180).
 “The enormous progress in electronic miniaturisation make is possible to fit many components and complex interconnection structures into an extremely small area using high-density printed circuit and multichip substrates” (Lukowicz et al. 2001, p. 22). We now have so-named Matchbox PCs which are “fully functional PC[s] not much larger than a box of matches yet able to run popular operating systems…” (Defouw & Pratt 1998, p. 1). See also Mann, S. (1997d, p. 25) on how miniaturisation has allowed rapid change in wearable computing.
 “The development of wearable computer systems has been rapid. They are becoming more and more lightweight and quite soon we will see a wide range of unobtrusive wearable and ubiquitous computing equipment integrated into our everyday wear” (Salonen 1999, p. 95).
 “The new era of biomedical and genetic research merges the worlds of engineering, computer and information technology with traditional medical research. Some of the most significant and far-reaching discoveries are being made at the interface of these disciplines” (Boehringer 2001, p.1). This was shown in section 8.3.
 See also LoBaido (2001, part 1, p. 2).
 It is important to make the distinction between ubiquitous and wearable computing. They “have been posed as polar opposites even though they are often applied in very similar applications” (Rhodes et al. 1999, p. 141).
 There is some debate however of where to place sensors in these environments. E.g. should they be located around the room or should they be located on the individual. Locating sensors around the room enforces certain conditions on an individual, while locating sensors on an individual means that that person is actually in control of their context. The latter case also requires less localised infrastructure and a greater degree of freedom. Rhodes et al. (1999, p. 141) argue that by “properly combining wearable computing and ubiquitous computing, a system can have the advantages of both.”
 Consider Cynthia Tam, aged two, who is an avid computer user: “[i]t took a couple of days for her to understand the connection between the mouse in her hand and the cursor on the screen and then she was off… The biggest problem for Cynthia’s parents is how to get her to stop… for Cynthia, the computer is already a part of her environment… Cynthia’s generation will not think twice about buying things on the Internet, just like most people today don’t think twice when paying credit card, or using cash points for withdrawals and deposits” (Chan 2001, p. 38).
 See also Wakefield (2001, part 1, p. 1).
 “[M]ost science-fiction feeds on science-fact” (Connor & Butler 1998).
 Ellul (1964, pp. 52-60) explained that in prehistoric times invention was a necessity, a movement to ensure humans could survive the elements. By the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, he noticed an obvious shift in the reason for invention: from necessity to that of the special interest of the state. In the nineteenth century again the reason for invention changed to that of the special interest of the bourgeoisie who could see the profits. By the 1900s, the masses (i.e. society) had also gone over to the side of technique, to share in a portion of the profits.
 Consider the following excerpt and why these large companies are involved in drug delivery implant devices. Is it because they are simply evolving a current technology to do something completely different? “The potential of various devices for genetics research and drug discovery caught the eye of established high-tech firms like Motorola, Hitachi, Corning, and Agilent Technologies. In often novel ways, each of these firms is adapting existing tools- semiconductors, inkjet printers, flat panel displays- the manufacture of microarrays...” (Moore 2001, p. 54).
 Guarded positions such as those expressed by Rummler, must not be left on the margins of the dialogue which is increasingly conducted on the mass level, “[t]he critics of bioelectronics and bio computing foresee numerous potential negative social consequences from the technology. One is that the human race will divide along the lines of biological haves and have-nots. People with enough money will be able to augment their personal attributes as they see fit… as well as utilise cloning, organ replacement, etc. to stave off death for as long as they wish, while the majority of humanity will continue to suffer from plague, hunger, ‘bad genes’, and infirmity. It’s hard not to see the biological ‘haves’ advocating separation and/or extinction inevitably for their unmodified peers” (Rummler 2001, p. 2).
 For a summary of the main themes in The Age of Spiritual Machines, see ‘The coming merging of mind and machine’ published in Scientific American, at http://www.sciam.com/specialissues/0999bionic/0999kurzweil.html (2001).
 Much deliberation has gone into the question of what constitutes technical progress. Westrum (1991, p. 160) stated that “[t]echnical progress occurs when better devices replace less adequate ones, and such replacement takes place through innovation… However, it does not follow that innovation is always progress, that it is a transition to something better… It all depends… on what [you] wish to call progress.” There are some researchers who understand technical progress within a social context (Zerzan & Carnes 1988; Mills 1997). Others like Mumford (1961) question the ‘progress’ of certain developments like cybernetics and artificial insemination on the human race. And there are those researchers like Innis who believe that a given innovation cannot be judged as progressive or regressive. That such a question is meaningless to begin with because they view “…[t]echnological change as an almost necessary historical and ecological development” instead (Kuhns 1971, p. 11). See also Allaby (1996, ch. 4), ‘The denial of progress’, where he writes: “The ‘p’ word is out of fashion… Indeed, the word itself has largely fallen into disuse… It is meaningless” (p. 43). Mills (1997) would tend to disagree with Allaby. In this book Norberg-Hodge is quoted (p. 5): “[i]t’s vital that we also understand the economic paradigm, which, together with technological innovation, constitutes what we call development in the South and progress in the North. What’s so frightening is that most people have a completely passive view of progress. There is a sense that you can’t stop progress. It’s seen as an evolutionary force… People interpret the changes that have been wrought by technology as part of cycles of change that are life.” See also, Mumford (1934, pp. 182-185) ‘The doctrine of progress’; Ellul (1964, pp. 190-193); and Russell (1995, ch. 7).
 “The essential question facing critics of technology is to determine the point at which this human trait of invention goes astray and does harm” (Mills ed. 1997, p. 142). Nelkin (1997, pp. 25-26) asks the question “why no resistance?” Pool (1997, p. 279) questions: “[i]s it time to rethink our approach to technology?” His response is that “[e]ngineers should pay more attention to the larger world in which their devices will function, and they should consciously take the world into account in their designs” (pp. 279f).
 See the section “Building the Bomb” in the “History and Momentum” chapter in Pool (1997, pp. 31-40). Pool’s notion of “momentum” is very much linked to that of evolutionary change.
 See Pool (1997, pp. 279-281). Among other technological disasters Pool mentions: Three Mile Island, Bhopal, the Challenger, Exxon Valdez, and the “downing of a commercial airliner by a missile from the U.S.S. Vincennes”. It seems that the frequency of such disasters is increasing rapidly as a plethora of recent examples could be added to this list. See also Mumford’s (1963) Technics and Civilisation. In fact one does not only have to look to high-tech for the possibilities; one need only consider what was possible with manual IDs in World War Two and then ponder what is possible with auto-ID technology placed in the wrong hands. No one can deny the possibility.