Lend Me Your Arms: Use and Implications of RFID Implants

Abstract

Recent developments in the area of RFID have seen the technology expand from its role in industrial and animal tagging applications, to being implantable in humans. With a gap in literature identified between current technological development and future humancentric possibility, little has been previously known about the nature of contemporary humancentric applications. By employing usability context analyses in control, convenience and care-related application areas, we begin to piece together a cohesive view of the current development state of humancentric RFID, as detached from predictive conjecture. This is supplemented by an understanding of the market-based, social and ethical concerns which plague the technology.

1. Introduction

Over the past three decades, Radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems have evolved to become cornerstones of many complex applications. From first beginnings, RFID has been promoted as an innovation in convenience and monitoring efficiencies. Indeed, with RFID supporters predicting the growth of key medical services and security systems, manufacturers are representing the devices as ‘life-enhancing’. Though the lifestyle benefits have long been known, only recently have humans become both integral and interactive components in RFID systems. Where we once carried smart cards or embedded devices interwoven in clothing, RFID technology is now at a point where humans can safely be implanted with small transponders.

This paper aims to explore the current state of development for humancentric applications of RFID. The current state is defined by the intersection of existing development for the subjects and objects of RFID – namely humans and implants. The need for such a study has been identified by a gap in knowledge between present applications and future possibility. This study aims to overcome forecast and provide a cohesive examination of existing humancentric RFID applications. Analysis of future possibility is outside the scope of this study. Instead, a discussion will be provided on present applications, their feasibility, use and social implications.

2. Literature review

The literature review is organized into three main areas – control, convenience, and care. In each of these contexts, literature will be reviewed chronologically.

2.1. The context of control

A control-related humancentric application of RFID is any human use of an implanted RFID transponder that allows an implantee to have power over an aspect of their lives, or, that allows a third party to have power over an implantee. Substantial literature on humancentric control applications begins in 1997 with United States patent 5629678 for a ‘Personal Tracking and Recovery System’. Though the literature scientifically describes the theoretical tracking system for recovery of RFID-implanted humans, no further evidence is available to ascertain whether it has since been developed. Questions as to feasibility of use are not necessarily answered by succeeding literature. Reports of the implantation of British soldiers [1] for example lack the evidentiary support needed to assuage doubts. Further, many articles highlight the technological obstacles besieging humancentric RFID systems. These include GPS hardware miniaturization [2] and creating active RFID tags capable of being safely recharged from within the body. Further adding to reservation, much literature is speculative in nature. Eng [3], for example, predicts that tags will be melded into children to advise parents of their location.

Despite concerns and conjecture, actual implementations of humancentric control applications of RFID have been identified. Both Murray [4] and Eng documented the implantation of Richard Seelig who had tags placed in his hip and arm in response to the September 11 tragedy of 2001. This sophisticated technology was employed to provide security and control over personal identification information. Wilson [5] also provides the example of 11-year old Danielle Duval who has had 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.

2.2. The context of convenience

A convenience-related humancentric application of RFID is any human use of an implanted RFID transponder that increases the ease with which tasks are performed. The first major documented experiment into the use of human-implantable RFID was within this context. Sanchez-Klein [6] and Witt [7] both journalize on the self-implantation of Kevin Warwick, Director of Cybernetics at the University of Reading. They describe results of Warwick’s research by his having doors open, lights switch on and computers respond to the presence of the microchip. Warwick himself gives a review of the research in his article ‘Cyborg 1.0’, however this report is informal and contains emotive descriptions of “fantastic” experiences [8].

Woolnaugh [9], Holden [10], and Vogel [11] all published accounts of the lead-up to Warwick’s second ‘Cyborg 2.0’ experiment and although Woolnaugh’s work involves the documentation of an interview, all three are narrative descriptions of proposed events rather than a critical analysis within definitive research frameworks. Though the commotion surrounding Warwick later died down, speculation did not with Eng proposing a future where credit card features will be available in implanted RFID devices. The result would see commercial transactions made more convenient.

2.3. The context of care

A care-related humancentric application of RFID is any human use of an implanted RFID transponder where function is associated with medicine, health or wellbeing. In initial literature, after the Cyborg 1.0 trial, Kevin Warwick envisioned that with RFID implants paraplegics would walk [7]. Building incrementally on this notion then is the work of Kobetic, Triolo and Uhlir who documented the study of a paraplegic male who had muscular stimuli delivered via an implanted RFID controlled electrical simulation system [12]. Though not allowing the mobility which Warwick dreamt of, results did include increased energy and fitness for the patient.

Outside the research sphere, much literature centers on eight volunteers who were implanted with commercial VeriChip RFID devices in 2002 trials. Murray [13], Black [14], Grossman [15] and Gengler [16] all document medical reasons behind the implantation of four subjects. Supplemented by press releases however, all reports of the trials were journalistic, rather than research-based. In contrast, non-trivial research is found in the work of Michael [17]. Her thesis uses a case study methodology, and a systems of innovation framework, to discuss the adaptation of auto-ID for medical implants.

2.4. Critical response to literature

More recent publications on humancentric RFID include the works of Masters [18], Michael and Michael [19], Perusco and Michael [20], Johnston [21], and Perakslis and Wolk [22]. Masters approaches the subject from the perspective of usability contexts, while Perusco and Michael use document analysis to categorise location services into tag, track and trace applications. Johnston uses content analysis to identify important themes in the literature, supplemented by a small-scale sample survey on the social acceptance of chip implants. Perakslis and Wolk also follow this latter methodology. Of the other (earlier) landmark studies, the majority are concerned with non-humancentric applications. Gerdeman [23], Finkinzeller [24] and Geers [25] all use case studies to investigate non-humancentric RFID and hence our methodological precedent is set here. The bulk of the remaining literature is newstype in nature and the absence of research frameworks is evident. The few exceptions to this include Woolnaugh [9] who conducted an interview and Murray [13] and Eng [3]who provide small case studies. In further criticism the news articles do not demonstrate technological trajectories but speculate on utopian implementations unlikely to be achieved by incremental development in the short to medium-term. Thus, any real value in these news articles can only be found in the documentation of events.

3. Research methodology

Several modes of academic inquiry were used in this study, though usability context analyses were the focal means of research. These analyses are similar to case studies as they investigate “a contemporary phenomenon within its real life context when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident” [26]. They also similarly use multiple sources of evidence, however are differentiated on the basis of the unit of analysis. In a usability context analysis methodology, units are not individuals, groups or organizations but are applications or application areas for a product, where ‘product’ is defined as “any interactive system or device designed to support the performance of users’ tasks” [27]. The results of multiple analyses are more convincing than a singular study, and the broad themes identified cover the major fields of current humancentric RFID development.

Further defining the research framework, the primary question to be answered – ‘what is the current state of application development in the field of humancentric RFID devices?’ – is justifiably exploratory. It entails investigation into contemporary technology usage and seeks to clarify boundaries within the research area. As such, this is a largely qualitative study that uses some elements of descriptive research to enhance the central usability context analyses. The usability context analyses are also supplemented by a discussion of surrounding social, legal and ethical ambiguities. By this means, the addition of a narrative analysis to the methodology ensures a thorough investigation of usage and context.

4. Usability context analysis: control

The usability context analysis for control is divided into three main sub-contexts – security, management, and social controls.

4.1. Security controls

The most basic security application involves controlling personal identification through identifying data stored on a transponder. In theory, the limit to the amount of information stored is subject only to the capacity of the embedded device or associated database. Further, being secured within the body, the loss of the identifier is near impossible even though, as has occurred in herd animals, there are some concerns over possible dislodgement. Accordingly, the main usability drawback lies with reading the information. Implanted identification is useless if it is inaccessible.

Numerous applications have been proposed to assist individuals who depend solely on carers for support. This group consists of newly-born babies, sufferers of mental illness, persons with disabilities and the elderly. One use involves taking existing infant protection systems at birthing centres and internalizing the RFID devices worn by newborns. This would aid in identifying those who cannot identify themselves. Further, when connected to security sensors and alarms, the technology can alert staff to the “unauthorized removal of children” [28]. The South Tyneside Healthcare Trust Trial in the UK is a typical external-use example case. Early in 1995, Eagle Tracer installed an electronic tagging system at the hospital using TIRIS electronic tags and readers from Texas Instruments. Detection aerials were hidden at exit points so that if any baby was taken away without authorisation, its identity would be known and an alarm raised immediately. The trial was so successful that the hospital was considering expanding the system to include the children’s ward. [29] Notably, a number of other institutions have already begun targeting RFID applications toward adolescents. In Japan students are being tagged in a bid to keep them safe. RFID transponders are being placed inside their backpacks and are used to advise parents when their child has arrived at school [30]. A similar practice is being conducted in California where children are being asked to “wear” RFID tags around their necks when on school grounds [31].

Commentators are using this lack of objection to external electronic tagging for minors to highlight the idea that a national identity system based on implants is not impossible. Some believe that there will come a time when it will be common for different groups in the population to have tags implanted at birth. In Britain, chip implantation was suggested for illegal immigrants, asylum seekers and even travellers. Smet [32] argued the following, “[i]f you look to our societies, we are already registered from birth until death. Our governments know who we are and what we are. But one of the basic problems is the numbers of people in the world who are not registered, who do not have a set identity, and when people move with real or fake passports, you cannot identify them.”

4.2. Management controls

Many smart card access systems use RFID technology to associate a cardholder with access permissions to particular locations. Replacing cards with RFID implants alters the form of the ‘key’ but does not require great changes to verification systems. This is because information stored on a RFID microchip in a smart card can be stored on an implanted transponder. Readers are similarly triggered when the transponder is nearby. This application would have greatest value in ‘mission critical’ workplaces or for persons whose role hinges upon access to a particular location. The implanted access pass has the added benefit of being permanently attached to its owner.

Access provision translates easily into employee monitoring. In making the implanted RFID transponder the access pass to certain locations or resources, times of access can be recorded to ensure that the right people are in the right place at the right time. Control in this instance then moves away from ideals of permission and embraces the notion of supervision. A company’s security policy may stipulate that staff badges be secured onto clothing or that employees must wear tags woven into their uniforms. Some employers require their staff to wear RFID tags in a visible location for both identification purposes and access control [33]. In this regard, Olivetti’s “active badge” was ahead of its time when it was first launched [34].

4.3. Social controls

In the military, transponders may serve as an alternative to dog tags. Using RFID, in addition to the standard name, rank and serial number, information ranging from allergies and dietary needs to shoe size can be stored. This purports to ease local administrative burdens, and can eliminate the need to carry identification documents in the field allowing for accurate, immediate identification of Prisoners-Of-War.

Just as humancentric applications of RFID exist for those who enforce law, so too do applications exist for people who have broken it. The concept of ‘electronic jails’ for low-risk offenders is starting to be considered more seriously. In most cases, parolees wear wireless wrist or ankle bracelets and carry small boxes containing the vital tracking technology. Sweden and Australia have implemented this concept and trials are taking place in the UK, US, Netherlands and Canada. In 2002, 27 American states had tested or were using some form of satellite surveillance to monitor parolees [14]. In 2005 there were an estimated 120,000 tracked parolees in the United States alone [35]. Whilst tagging low-risk offenders is not popular in many countries it is far more economical than the conventional jail. Social benefits are also present as there is a level of certainty involved in identifying and monitoring so-called ‘threats’ to society. In a more sinister scenario in South America, chip implants are marketed toward victims of crime rather than offenders. They are seen as a way “to identify kidnapping victims who are drugged, unconscious or dead” [36].

5. Usability context analysis: convenience

The usability context analysis for convenience is divided into three main sub-contexts – assistance, financial services and interactivity.

5.1. Assistance

Automation is the repeated control of a process through technological means. Implied in the process is a relationship, the most common of which involves linking an implantee with appropriate data. Such information in convenience contexts can however be extended to encompass goods or physical objects with which the implantee has an association of ownership or bailment. VeriChip for example, a manufacturer of human-implantable RFID transponders, have developed VeriTag for use in travel. This device allows “personnel to link a VeriChip subscriber to his or her luggage… flight manifest logs and airline or law enforcement software databases” [37]. Convenience is provided for the implantee who receives greater assurance that they and their luggage will arrive at the correct destination, and also for the transport operator who is able to streamline processes using better identification and sorting measures.

Advancing the notion of timing, a period of movement leads to applications that can locate an implantee or find an entity relative to them [38]. This includes “find me”, “find a friend”, “where am I” and “guide me to” solutions. Integrating RFID and GPS technologies with a geographic information systems (GIS) portal such as the Internet-based mapquest.com would also allow users to find destinations based on their current GPS location. The nature of this application lends itself toward roadside assistance or emergency services, where the atypical circumstances surrounding the service may mean that other forms of subscriber identification are inaccessible or unavailable.

5.2. Financial services

Over the last few decades, world economies have acknowledged the rise of the cashless society. In recent years though, alongside traditional contact cards, we have seen the emergence of alternate payment processes. In 2001, Nokia tested the use of RFID in its 5100-series phone covers, allowing the device to be used as a bank facility. RFID readers were placed at McDonalds drive-through restaurants in New York and the consumer could pay their bill by holding their mobile phone near a reader. The reader contacted a wireless banking network and payment was deducted from a credit or debit account. Wired News noted the convenience stating, “there is no dialing, no ATM, no fumbling for a wallet or dropped coins” [39]. These benefits would similarly exist with implanted RFID. Ramo has noted the feasibility, commenting that “in the not too distant future” money could be stored anywhere, as well as “on a chip implant under [the] skin” [40]. Forgetting your wallet would no longer be an issue.

It is also feasible that humancentric RFID eliminates the need to stand in line at a bank. Purely as a means of identification, the unique serial or access key stored on the RFID transponder can be used to prove identity when opening an account or making a transaction. The need to gather paper-based identification is removed and, conveniently, the same identification used to open the account is instantly available if questioned. This has similar benefits for automatic teller machines. When such intermediary transaction devices are fitted with RFID readers, RFID transponders have the ability to replace debit and credit cards. This is in line with Warwick’s prediction that implanted chips “could be used for money transfers, medical records, passports, driving licenses, and loyalty cards” [41].

5.3. Interactivity

On August 24, 1998 Professor Kevin Warwick became the first recorded human to be implanted with an RFID device. Using the transponder, Warwick was able to interact with the ‘intelligent’ building that he worked in. Over the nine days he spent implanted, doors formerly requiring smart card access automatically opened. Lights activated when Warwick entered a room and upon sensing the Professor’s presence his computer greeted him. Warwick’s ‘Project Cyborg 1.0’ experiment thus showed enormous promise for humancentric convenience applications of RFID. The concept of such stand-alone applications expands easily into the development of personal area networks (PANs) and the interactive home or office. With systems available to manage door, light and personal computer preferences based on transponder identification, further climate and environmental changes are similarly exploitable (especially considering non-humancentric versions of these applications already exist) [42].

Given the success of interacting with inanimate locations and objects, the next step is to consider whether person-to-person communication can be achieved using humancentric RFID. Such communication would conveniently eliminate the need for intermediary devices like telephones or post. Answering this question was an aim of ‘Project Cyborg 2.0’ with Warwick writing, “We’d like to send movement and emotion signals from one person to the other, possibly via the Internet” [43]. Warwick’s wife Irena was the second trial subject, being similarly fitted with an implant in her median nerve. Communicating via computer-mediated signals was only met with limited success however. When Irena clenched her fist for example, Professor Warwick received a shot of current through his left index finger [44]. Movement sensations were therefore effectively, though primitively, transmitted.

6. Usability context analysis: care

The usability context analysis for care is divided into three main sub-contexts – medical, biomedical and therapeutic.

6.1. Medical

As implanted transponders contain identifying information, the storage of medical records is an obvious, and perhaps fundamental, humancentric care application of RFID. Similar to other identification purposes, a primary benefit involves the RFID transponder imparting critical information when the human host is otherwise incapable of communicating. In this way, the application is “not much different in principle from devices… such as medic-alert bracelets” [16]. American corporation VeriChip markets their implantable RFID device for this purpose. Approved for distribution throughout the United States in April of 2002, it has been subject to regulation as a medical device by the Food and Drug Administration since October of the same year.

Care-related humancentric RFID devices provide unparalleled portability for medical records. Full benefit cannot be gained without proper infrastructure however. Though having medical data instantly accessible through implanted RFID lends itself to saving lives in an emergency, this cannot be achieved if reader equipment is unavailable. The problem is amplified in the early days of application rollout, as the cost of readers may not be justified until the technology is considered mainstream. Also, as most readers only work with their respective proprietary transponders, questions regarding market monopolies and support for brand names arise.

6.2. Biomedical

A biosensor is a device which “detects, records, and transmits information regarding a physiological change or the presence of various chemical or biological materials in the environment” [45]. It combines biological and electronic components to produce quantitative measurements of biological parameters, or qualitative alerts for biological change. When integrated with humancentric RFID, biosensors can transmit source information as well as biological data. The time savings in simultaneously gathering two distinct data sets are an obvious benefit. Further, combined reading of the biological source and measurement is less likely to encounter the human error linked with manually correlating data to data sources.

Implantable transponders allowing for the measurement of body temperature have been used to monitor livestock for over a decade [25]. As such, the data procurement benefits are well known. It does however give a revolutionary new facet to human care by allowing internal temperature readings to be gained, post-implantation, through non-invasive means. In 1994 Bertrand Cambou, director of technology for Motorola’s Semiconductor Products in Phoenix, predicted that by 2004 all persons would have such a microchip implanted in their body to monitor and perhaps even control blood pressure, their heart rate, and cholesterol levels.[46] Though Cambou’s predictions did not come to timely fruition, the multitude of potential applications are still feasible and include: chemotherapy treatment management; chronic infection or critical care monitoring; organ transplantation treatment management; infertility management; post-operative or medication monitoring; and response to treatment evaluation. Multiple sensors placed on an individual could even form a body area network (BAN).

An implantable RFID device for use by diabetes sufferers has been prototyped by biotechnology firm M-Biotech. The small glucose bio-transponder consisting of a miniature pressure sensor and a glucose-sensitive hydrogel swells “reversibly and to varying degrees” when changes occur in the glucose concentrations of surrounding fluids [47]. Implanted in the abdominal region, a wireless alarm unit carried by the patient continually reads the data, monitoring critical glucose levels.

6.3. Therapeutic

Implanted therapeutic devices are not new; they have been used in humans for many years. Alongside the use of artificial joints for example, radical devices such as pacemakers have become commonplace. The use of RFID with these devices however has re-introduced some novelty to the remedial solution [48]. This is because, while the therapeutic devices remain static in the body, the integration of RFID allows for interactive status readings and monitoring, through identification, of the device.

There are very few proven applications of humancentric RFID in the treatment usability sub-context at current if one puts cochlear implants [49] and smart pills aside [50]. Further, of those applications at the proof of concept stage, benefits to the user are generally gained via an improvement to the quality of living, and not a cure for disease or disability. With applications to restore sight to the blind [51] and re-establish normal bladder function for patients with spinal injuries already in prototyped form however, some propose that real innovative benefit is only a matter of time [52]. Arguably the technology for the applications already exists. All that needs to be prototyped is a correct implementation. Thus, feasibility is perhaps a matter of technological achievement and not technological advancement.

7. Findings

The choice of control, convenience and care contexts for analysis stemmed from the emergence of separate themes in the literature review; however the context analyses themselves showed much congruence between application areas. In all contexts, identification and monitoring are core functions. For control, this functionality exists in security and in management of access to locations and resources. For convenience, identification necessarily provides assistance and monitoring supports interactivity with areas and objects. Care, as the third context, requires identification for medical purposes and highlights biological monitoring as basic functionality.

Table 1. High level benefits and costs for humancentric RFID

With standard identification and monitoring systems as a basis, it is logical that so many humancentric applications of RFID have a mass target market. Medical identification for example is not solely for the infirm because, as humans, we are all susceptible to illness. Similarly, security and convenience are generic wants. Combined with similarities between contextual innovations, mass-market appeal can lead to convergence of applications. One potential combination is in the area of transportation and driver welfare. Here the transponder of an implanted driver could be used for keyless passive entry (convenience), monitoring of health (care), location based services (convenience), roadside assistance (convenience) and, in terms of fleet management or commercial transportation, driver monitoring (control).

Despite parallels and a potential for convergence, development contexts for humancentric RFID are not equal. Instead, control is dominant. Though care can be a cause for control and medical applications are convenient, it is control which filters through other contexts as a central tenet. In convenience applications, control is in the power of automation and mass management, in the authority over environments and devices. For care applications, medical identification is a derivative of identification for security purposes and the use of biosensors or therapeutic devices extends control over well-being. Accordingly, control is the overriding theme encompassing all contexts of humancentric RFID in the current state of development [53].

Alongside the contextual themes encapsulating the usability contexts are the corresponding benefits and costs in each area (Table 1). When taking a narrow view it is clear that many benefits of humancentric RFID are application specific. Therapeutic implants for example have the benefit of the remedy itself. Conversely however, a general concern of applications is that they are largely given to social disadvantages including the onset of religious objections and privacy fears.

7.1. Application quality and support for service

For humancentric RFID, application quality depends on commercial readiness. For those applications being researched, the usability context analyses suggest that the technology, and not the applications, present the largest hurdle. In his Cyborg 1.0 experiments for example, Professor Kevin Warwick kept his transponder implanted for only nine days, as a direct blow would have shattered the glass casing, irreparably damaging nerves and tissue.

Once technological difficulties are overcome and applications move from proof of concept into commercialization, market-based concerns are more relevant. Quality of data is a key issue. In VeriChip applications, users control personal information that is accessible, though stored in the Global VeriChip Subscriber Registry database, through their implanted transponder. The system does not appear to account for data correlation however, and there is a risk of human error in information provision and in data entry. This indicates the need for industry standards, allowing a quality framework for humancentric RFID applications to be created and managed.

Industry standards are also relevant to support services. In humancentric applications of RFID they are especially needed as much usability, adjunct to the implanted transponder, centers upon peripherals and their interoperability. Most proprietary RFID readers for instance can only read data from similarly proprietary transponders. In medical applications though, where failure to harness available technology can have dramatic results, an implantee with an incompatible, and therefore unreadable, transponder is no better off for using the application. Accordingly, for humancentric RFID to realize its promotion as ‘life-enhancing’, standards for compatibility between differently branded devices must be developed.

Lastly, the site of implantation should be standardized as even if an implanted transponder is known to exist, difficulties may arise in discerning its location. Without a common site for implantation finding an implanted RFID device can be tedious. This is disadvantageous for medical, location-based or other critical implementations where time is a decisive factor in the success of the application. It is also a disadvantage in more general terms as the lack of standards suggests that though technological capability is available, there is no social framework ready to accept it.

7.2. Commercial viability for the consumer

A humancentric application of RFID must satisfy a valid need to be considered marketable. This is especially crucial as the source of the application, the transponder, requires an invasive installation and, afterwards, cannot be easily removed. Add to this that humancentric RFID is a relatively new offering with few known long-term effects, and participation is likely to be a highly considered decision. Thus, despite many applications having a mass target market, the value of the application to the individual will determine boundaries and commercial viability.

Value is not necessarily cost-based. Indeed, with the VeriChip sold at a cost of $US200 plus a $10 per month service fee, it is not being marketed as a toy for the elite. Instead, value and application scope are assessed in terms of life enhancement. Therapeutic devices for example provide obvious remedial benefit, but the viability of a financial identification system may be limited by available infrastructure.

Arguably, commercial viability is increased by the ability of one transponder to support multiple applications. Identification applications for example are available in control, convenience and care usability contexts. The question arises however, as to what occurs when different manufacturers market largely different applications? Where no real interoperability exists for humancentric RFID devices, it is likely that users must be implanted with multiple transponders from multiple providers. Further, given the power and processing constraint of multi-application transponders in the current state of development, the lack of transponder portability reflects negatively on commercial viability and suggests that each application change or upgrade may require further implantation and bodily invasion.

7.3. Commercial viability for the manufacturer

Taking VeriChip as a case study, one is led to believe that there is a commercially viable market for humancentric applications of RFID. Indeed, where the branded transponder is being sold in North and South America, and has been showcased in Europe [54], a global want for the technology is suggested. It must be recognized, however, that in the current state of development VeriChip and its parent, Applied Digital Solutions have a monopoly over those humancentric RFID devices approved for use. As such, their statistics and market growth have not been affected by competition and there is no comparative data. The difference between a successful public relations campaign and reality is therefore hard to discern.

Interestingly, in non-humancentric commercial markets, mass rollouts of RFID have been scaled back. Problems have arisen specifically in animal applications. The original implementation of the 1996 standards, ISO 11784: ‘Radio-frequency identification of animals – Code structure’ and ISO 11785: ‘Radio-frequency identification of animals – Technical concept’ for example, were the subject of extensive complaint [55]. Not only did the standards not require unique identification codes, they violated the patent policy of the International Standards Organization. Even after the ISO standards were returned to the SC19 Working Group 3 for review, a general lack of acceptance equated to limited success. Moreover, moves have now been made to ban the use of implantable transponders in herd animals. In a high percentage of cases the transponder moved in the fat layer, raising concerns that it might be later consumed by humans. Further, the meat quality was degraded as animals sensing the existence of an implanted foreign object produced antibodies to ‘attack’ it [18].

8. Discussion

8.1. Personal privacy

Given its contactless nature and non-line-of-sight (nLoS) capability, RFID has the ability to automatically collect a great deal of data about an individual in a covert and unobtrusive way. Hypothetically, a transponder implanted within a human can communicate with any number of readers it may pass in any given day. This opens up a plethora of possibilities, including the ability to link data based on a unique identifier (i.e. the chip implant), to locate and track an individual over time, and to look at individual patterns of behaviour. The severity of violations to personal privacy increase as data collected for one purpose is linked with completely separate datasets gathered for another purpose. Consider the use of an implant that deducts programmed payment for road tolls as you drive through sensor-based stations. Imagine this same data originally gathered for traffic management now being used to detect speeding and traffic infringements, resulting in the automatic issue of a fine. Real cases with respect to GPS and fleet management have already been documented. Kumagi and Cherry [56] describe how one family was billed an “out-of-state penalty” by their rental company based on GPS data that was gathered for a completely different reason. Stanford [57] menacingly calls this a type of data use “scope creep” while Papasliotis [58] more pleasantly deems it “knowledge discovery”.

These notions of ‘every-day’ information gathering, where an implantee must submit to information gathering practices in return for access to services, offends the absolutist view of privacy and “an individual [having] the right to control the use of his information in all circumstances” [59]. Indeed, given their implantation beneath the skin, the very nature of humancentric transponders negates the individual’s ability to ‘control’ the device and what flows from it. Not only do the majority of consumers lack the technical ability to either embed or remove implants but they naturally lack the ability to know when their device is emitting data and when it is not. There is also a limited understanding of what information ‘systems’ are actually gathering. This becomes a greater danger when we note that laws in different jurisdictions provide little restraint on the data mining of commercial databases by commercial entities. In this instance, there would be little to stop RFID service providers from mining data collected from their subscribers and on-selling it to other organisations.

Moreover, even where ethical data usage is not questioned, intellectual property directives in Europe may hamper the promise of some service providers to keep consumer data private. According to Papasliotis [58] “… the proposed EU Intellectual Property (IP) Enforcement Directive includes a measure that would make it illegal for European citizens to de-activate the chips in RFID tags, on the ground that the owner of the tag has an intellectual property right in the chip. De-activating the tag could arguably be treated as an infringement of that right”.

8.2. Data security

Relevant approaches to RFID security in relation to inanimate objects have been discussed in the literature. Gao [60] summarises these methods as “killing tags at the checkout, applying a rewritable memory, physical tag memory separation, hash encryption, random access hash, and hash chains”. Transponders that are embedded within the body pose a different type of data security requirement though. They are not in the body so they can be turned off, this being a circumvention of the original purpose of implantation. Instead, they are required to provide a persistent and unique identifier. In the US however, also thwarting an original purpose, a study has shown that some RFID transponders are capable of being cloned, meaning the prospect of fraud or theft may still exist [61]. One possibility, as proposed by Perakslis and Wolk [22], is the added security of saving an individual’s feature vector onboard the RFID chip. Biometrics too, however, is fraught with its own problems [62]. Despite some moves in criminal justice systems, it is still controversial to say that one’s fingerprint or facial image should be held on a public or private database.

Unfortunately, whatever the security, researchers like Stanford believe it is a “virtual certainty” that tags and their respective systems “will be abused” by some providers [57]. Here, the main risk for consumers involves third parties gaining access to personal data without prior notice. To this end, gaining and maintaining the trust of consumers is essential to the success of the technology. Mature trust models need to be architected and implemented, but more importantly they need to be understood outside of an academic context. Though it is important that trust continues to grow as an area of study within the e-commerce arena, it will be the practical operation of oversight companies like VeriSign in these early days of global information gathering which will allow consumers to create their own standards and opinions.

Outside of clear ethical concerns regarding third-party interests in information, another temptation for service providers surrounds the use of data to target individual consumer sales in value-added services and service-sets relying on location information. Though not an extreme concern in itself, we note that any such sales will face the more immediate concern of deciding on a secure and standard location for implants. For now live services place the implant in the left or right arm but the problems with designating such a zone surround the possibility of exclusion. What if the consumer is an amputee or has prosthetic limbs? Surely the limited space of the human body means that certain things are possible, while others are not. Thus, recognizing the limitations of the human body, will service providers brand transponders and allow multifunctional tags for different niche services? Which party then owns the transponder? The largest service provider, the government or agency acting as an issuer, or the individual? Who is responsible for accuracy and liable for errors? And more importantly, who is liable for break-downs in communication when services are unavailable and disaster results?

8.3. Ethical considerations

Molnar and Wagner [63] ask the definitive question “[i]s the cost of privacy and security “worth it”?” Stajano [64] answers by reminding us that, “[t]he benefits for consumers remain largely hypothetical, while the privacy-invading threats are real”. Indeed, when we add to privacy concerns the unknown health impacts, the potential changes to cultural and social interaction, the circumvention of religious and philosophical ideals, and a potential mandatory deployment, then the disadvantages of the technology seem almost burdensome. For the present, proponents of emerging humancentric RFID rebuke any negatives “under the aegis of personal and national security, enhanced working standards, reduced medical risks, protection of personal assets, and overall ease-of-living” [22]. Unless there are stringent ethical safeguards however, there is a potential for enhanced national security to come at the cost of freedom, or for enhanced working standards to devalue the importance of employee satisfaction. The innovative nature of the technology should not be cause to excuse it from the same “judicial or procedural constraints which limit the extent to which traditional surveillance technologies are permitted to infringe privacy” [58].

Garfinkel et al. [61] provide a thorough discussion on key considerations in their paper. Though their main focus is on users of RFID systems and purchasers of products containing RFID tags, the conclusions drawn are also relevant to the greater sphere of humancentric RFID. Firstly, Garfinkel et al. begin by stipulating that a user has the right to know if the product they have purchased contains an RFID tag. In the current climate of human transponder implant acceptance, it is safe to assume that an individual who has requested implantation knows of their implant and its location. But, does the guardian of an Alzheimer’s patient or adult schizophrenic, have the right to impose an implant on behalf of the sufferer for monitoring or medical purposes [65]?

Secondly, the user has the right to have embedded RFID tags “removed, deactivated, or destroyed” [61] at or after purchase. Applied to humancentric implantation, this point poses a number of difficulties. The user cannot remove the implant themselves without some physical harm, they have no real way of finding out whether a remaining implant has in fact been ‘deactivated’, and destroying an implant without its removal from the body implies some form of amputation. Garfinkel et al.’s third ethical consideration is that an individual should have alternatives to RFID. In the embedded scenario users should then also have to ability to opt-in to new services and opt-out of their current service set as they see fit. Given the nature of RFID however, there is little to indicate the success or failure of a stipulated user requested change, save for a receipt message that may be sent to a web client from the server. Quite possibly the user may not be aware that they have failed to opt out of a service until they receive their next billing statement.

The fourth notion involves the right to know what information is stored on the RFID transponder and whether or not this information is correct, while the fifth point is “the right to know when, where and why a RFID tag is being read” [61]. This is quite difficult to exercise, especially where unobtrusiveness is considered a goal of the RFID system. In the resultant struggle between privacy, convenience, streamlining and bureaucracy, the number of times RFID transponders are triggered in certain applications may mean that the end-user is bombarded with a very long statement of transactions.

8.4. The privacy fear and the threat of totalitarianism?

Mark Weiser, the founding father of ubiquitous computing, once said that the problem surrounding the introduction of new technologies is “often couched in terms of privacy, [but] is really one of control” [59]. Indeed, given that humans do not by nature trust others to safeguard our own individual privacy, in controlling technology we feel we can also control access to any social implications stemming from it. At its simplest, this highlights the different focus between the end result of using technology and the administration of its use. It becomes the choice between the idea that I am given privacy and the idea that I control how much privacy I have. In this regard, privacy is traded for service.

Fig. 1. The privacy-security trade-off.

What some civil libertarians fear beyond privacy exchange though is a government-driven mandatory introduction of invasive technologies based on the premise of national security. While the safety and security argument has obviously paved the way for some technologies in response to the new environment of terrorism and identity fraud [38], there is now a concern that further advancements will begin to infringe on the freedoms that security paradigms were originally designed to protect. For invasive technology like humancentric RFID, the concerns are multiplied as the automated nature of information gathering means that proximity to a reader, and not personal choice, may often be the only factor in deciding whether or not a transponder will be triggered. Though most believe that government-imposed mandatory implantation is a highly unlikely outcome of advancements in humancentric RFID, it should be recognised that a voluntary implantation scheme offers negligible benefits to a government body given the incompleteness of the associated data set. This is equally true of private enterprises that mandate the use of transponders in employees, inmates or other distinct population groups.

Where the usability context of control then becomes the realm of government organizations and private enterprise, RFID regulation is increasingly important. Not only is regulation necessary for ensuring legitimacy in control-type applications, it is also needed to prevent the perversion of convenience and care-related uses. For example, many of those implanted with RFID transponders today might consider them to be life-saving devices and the service-oriented nature of these applications means they must clearly remain voluntary (Table 2). If the data collected by the device was also to be used for law enforcement or government surveillance purposes however, users may think twice about employing the technology. In regulating then we do not want to allow unrestricted deployment and unparalleled capabilities for commercial data mining, but nor should we allow a doomsday scenario where all citizens are monitored in a techno-totalitarian state [61]. Any scope for such design of regulations must be considered in light of the illustrated privacy/security trade-off (Fig. 1). Taking any two vertices of the government – service provider – consumer triangle, privacy or security (which can often be equated with ‘control’) will always be traded in relation to the third vertex. For example, where we combine government and service providers in terms of security regulations and the protection of national interests, the consumer is guaranteed to forgo certain amounts of privacy. Similarly, where we combine government and the consumer as a means of ensuring privacy for the individual, the service provider becomes limited in the control it holds over information gathered (if indeed it is still allowed to gather information).

Table 2. Mapping contexts to the environment

9. Conclusion

In the current state of humancentric development, stand-alone applications exist for control, convenience and care purposes, but as control is the dominant context its effects can be seen in other application areas. Applications are also influenced by power and processing confines, and as such, many functions have simple bases in identification or monitoring. Application usage is made more complex however, as a need for peripherals (including readers and information storage systems) is restrained by a lack of industry standards for interoperability. Though the technology has been deemed feasible in both research and commercially approved contexts, the market for humancentric applications of RFID is still evolving. Initial adoption of the technology has met with some success but, as research continues into humancentric applications of RFID, the market is still too niche for truly low-cost, high-quality application services. Any real assessment of the industry is further prejudiced by commercial monopoly and limited research into the long-term effects of use. Coupled with security and privacy concerns, then the long-term commercial viability for humancentric applications of RFID is questionable. In the short- to medium-term, adoption of humancentric RFID technology and use of related applications will be hindered by a lack of infrastructure, a lack of standards, not only as to interoperability but also as to support for service and transponder placement, and the lack of response from developers and regulators to mounting ethical dilemmas.

References

[1] D. Icke, Has the old ID card had its chips? Soldier Magazine (2001)

[2] Applied Digital Solutions, Applied Digital Solutions Announces Working Prototype of Subdermal GPS Personal Location Device, Press Release, April 13, 2003.

[3] P. Eng, I Chip? ABC News.com, March 1, 2002.

[4] C. Murray, Injectable chip opens door to human bar code, EETimes, January 7, 2002. Available from: <http://www.eetimes.com/story/OEG20020104S0044>.

[5] J. Wilson, Girl to get tracker implant to ease parents’ fears, the guardian. Available from: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4493297,00.html>.

[6] J. Sanchez-Klein, And Now For Something Completely Different, PC World Online, August 27, 1998. Available from: ProQuest.

[7] S. Witt, Professor Warwick Chips In, Computerworld, 33 (2) (1999), pp. 89-90

[8] K. Warwick, Cyborg 1.0, Wired Magazine 8.02, February 2000. Available from: <http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.02/warwick.html>.

[9] R. Woolnaugh, A man with a chip in his shoulder, Computer Weekly [Online], June 29, 2000. Available from: Expanded Academic Index.

[10] C. Holden, Hello Mr Chip, Science [Online], March 23. 2001. Available from: ProQuest.

[11] G. Vogel, Part Man, Part Computer, Science [Online], 295 (5557), February 8, 2002, p. 1020. Available from: Expanded Academic Index.

[12] R. Kobetic et al., Implanted functional electrical simulation system for mobility in paraplegia: a follow-up case report, IEEE Transactions on Rehabilitation Engineering [Online], December, 1999. Available from: ProQuest.

[13] C. Murray, Prodigy seeks out high-tech frontiers, Electronic Engineering Times [Online], February 25, 2002. Available from: ProQuest.

[14] J. Black, Roll up your sleeve – for a chip implant, Business Week Magazine [Online], March 21, 2002. Available from: <http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/mar2002/nf20020321_1025.htm>.

[15] L. Grossman, Meet The Chipsons, Time New York, 159 (10) (2002), pp. 56-57

[16] B. Gengler, Chip implants become part of you, The Australian, September 10, 2002.

[17] K. Michael, The technological trajectory of the automatic identification industry, Ph.D. Thesis, School of Information Technology and Computer Science, University of Wollongong, Australia, 2003.

[18] A. Masters, Humancentric applications of RFID, BInfoTech (Hons) Thesis, School of Information Technology and Computer Science, University of Wollongong, Australia, 2003.

[19] K. Michael, M.G. Michael, Microchipping people: the rise of the electrophorus Quadrant, 414 (2005), pp. 22-33

[20] L. Perusco, K. Michael, Humancentric Applications of Precise Location-Based Services, IEEE Conference on e-Business Engineering, IEEE Computer Society, Washington (2005), pp. 409–418

[21] K. Johnston, RFID transponder implants: a content analysis and survey, BInfoTech (Hons) Thesis, School of Information Technology and Computer Science, University of Wollongong, Australia, 2005.

[22] C. Perakslis, R. Wolk, Social acceptance of RFID as a biometric security method, in: Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Technology and Society, 2005, pp. 79–87.

[23] J. Gerdeman, Radio frequency identification application 2000, North Carolina, USA, 1995.

[24] K. Finkinzeller, RFID Handbook: Radio-Frequency Identification Fundamentals and Applications, England, 2001.

[25] R. Geers et al., Electronic Identification, Monitoring and Tracking of Animals, United Kingdom, 1997.

[26] R. Yin, The case study method as a tool for doing evaluation, Current Sociology, 40 (1) (1998), p. 123

[27] C. Thomas, N. Bevan, Usability Context Analysis: A Practical Guide, Middlesex, UK, 1996.

[28] Vxceed Technologies, RFID Technology, 2003. Available from: <http://www.vxceed.com/developers/rfid.asp>.

[29] Automatic ID News, Radio Frequency Identification (RF/ID), 1998. Available from: <http://www.autoidenews.com/technologies/concepts/rfdcintro.htm>.

[30] K. Hall, Students tagged in bid to keep them safe, The Japan Times, 2004. Available from: <http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/news/nn10-2004/nn20041014f2.htm>.

[31] M. Wood, RFID: Bring It On, CNET.com, 2005. Available from: <http://www.cnet.com/4520-6033_1-6223038.html>.

[32] M. Hawthorne, Refugees meeting hears proposal to register every human in the world, Sydney Morning Herald [Online], 2001. Available from: <http://www.iahf.com/other/20011219.html>.

[33] D.B. Kitsz, Promises and problems of RF identification, in: R. Ames (Ed.), Perspectives on Radio Frequency Identification: What is it, Where is it going, Should I be Involved? Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp. 1-19–1-27.

[34] R. Want, et al.The Active Badge Location System, ACM Transactions on Information Systems, 10 (1) (1992), pp. 91-102

[35] W. Saletan, Call my cell, Slate Magazine, May, 2005. Available from: http://slate.msn.com/id/2118117.

[36] J. Scheeres, Politician wants to get chipped, Wired News, February 15, 2002. Available from: <http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,50435,00.html>.

[37] Applied Digital Solutions, Protected by VeriChip™ – Awareness Campaign Continues – VeriChip To Exhibit At Airport Security Expo in Las Vegas, Press Release, July 2, 2002.

[38] K. Michael, A. Masters, Realised applications of positioning technologies in defense intelligence, in: H. Abbass, D. Essam (Eds.), Applications of Information Systems to Homeland Security and Defense, IDG Press, pp. 167–195.

[39] L. Nadile, Call Waiting: A Cell Phone ATM, Wired News. Available from: <http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,41023,00.html>.

[40] J.C. Ramo, The Big Bank Theory and what it says about the future of money, Time, April 27, 1998, pp. 46–55.

[41] S. Dennis, UK Professor Implants Chip, Turns Himself Into Cyborg, Newsbytes, 1998. Available from: <http://www.newsbytes.com/pubNews/110782.html>.

[42] Texas Instruments, Loyally Yours, TIRIS News, 1997. Available from: <http://www.ti.com/tiris/docs/manuals/RFIDNews/Tiris_NL17>.

[43] K. Warwick, Project Cyborg 2.0. Available from: <http://www.rdg.ac.uk/KevinWarwick/html/project_ cyborg_2_0.html>.

[44] W. Underhill, Merging Man and Machine, Newsweek [Online], October 14, 2002. Available from: Expanded Academic Index.

[45] T. Seneadza, Biosensors – A Nearly Invisible Sentinel, Technically Speaking, July 21, 2003. Available from: <http://tonytalkstech.com/archives/000231.php>.

[46] P.L. Harrison, The Body Binary, Popular Science, October, 1994. Available from: <http://www.newciv.org/nanomius/tech/implants>.

[47] M-Biotech: Biosensor Technology. M-Biotech Salt Lake City, 2003. Available from: <http://www.m-biotech.com/technology1.html>.

[48] IEEE, Biomimetic Systems: Implantable, Sophisticated, and Effective. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology 24(5) Sept/Oct (2005).

[49] Cochlear, Nucleus 24 Cochlear Implant, 1999. Available from: <http://www.Cochlear.com/euro/nucleussystems/ci24m.html>.

[50] Sun-Sentinel, The Smart Pill, Sun-Sentinel News: The Edge, 2003. Available from: <http://www.sun-sentinel.com/graphics/news/smartpill>.

[51] J. Rizzo, J. WyattProspects for a visual prosthesis, The Neuroscientist, 3 (4) (1997) Available from: http://rleweb.mit.edu/retina/a2.page1.html

[52] G.T.A. Kovacs, The nerve chip: technology development for a chronic neural interface, Stanford University, 1997. Available from <http://guide.stanford.edu.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/publications/dev4.html>.

[53] K. Michael, A. Masters, Applications of human transponder implants in mobile commerce, in: Proceedings of the Eighth World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, Florida, vol. 5, 2004, pp. 505–512.

[54] Applied Digital Solutions, Press Release VeriChip™ Subdermal Personal Verification Microchip To Be Featured At IDTechex Smart Tagging In Healthcare, Conference in London, April 28–29, 2003.

[55] RFID News, International Standards Organization Returns RFID Standard For Animal Use To Working Group For Major Revisions, RFID News, 2002. Available from: <http://www.rfidnews.com/returns.html>.

[56] J. Kumagi, S. CherrySensors and sensibility, IEEE Spectrum, 41 (7) (2004), pp. 22-26, 28

[57] V. StanfordPervasive computing goes that last hundred feet with RFID Systems, IEEE Pervasive Computing, 2 (2) (2003), pp. 9-14

[58] I.-E. Papasliotis, Information technology: mining for data and personal privacy: reflections on an impasse, in: Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Information and Communication Technologies, 2004, pp. 50–56.

[59] O. Günther, S. Spiekermann, Tagging the world: RFID and the perception of control Communications of the ACM, 48 (9) (2005), p. 74

[60] X. Gao, et al.An approach to security and privacy of RFID system for supply chain, IEEE International Ecommerce Technology for Dynamic e-Business. (2004), pp. 164-168

[61] S.L. Garfinkel, A. Juels, R. Pappu, RFID privacy: an overview of problem and proposed solutions, IEEE Security and Privacy Magazine, 3 (3) (2005), pp. 38-43

[62]J.D. Woodward, Biometrics: privacy’s foe or privacy’s friend? Proceedings of the IEEE, 85 (9) (1997), pp. 1480-1492

[63] D. Molnar, D. Wagner, Privacy: privacy and security in library RFID: issues, practices, and architectures, in: Proceedings of the 11th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, 2004, p. 218.

[64] F. Stajano, Viewpoint: RFID is X-ray vision, Communications of the ACM, 48 (9) (2005), p. 31

[65] J.E. Dobson, P.F. Fisher, Geoslavery, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, 22 (1) (2003), p. 47

Keywords: Radio-frequency identification, Transponders, Chip implants, Humancentric applications, Usability context analysis, Location tracking, Personal privacy, Data security, Ethics

Citation: Amelia Masters and Katina Michael, "Lend me your arms: The use and implications of humancentric RFID, Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 2007, Pages 29-39, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.elerap.2006.04.008

The Social, Cultural, Religious and Ethical Implications of Automatic Identification

Katina Michael, School of Information Technology & Computer Science, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia 2500, katina@uow.edu.au

M.G. Michael, American Academy of Religion, PO Box U184, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia 2500, mgm@uow.edu.au

Full Citation: Katina Michael, M.G. Michael, 2004, The Social, Cultural, Religious and Ethical Implications of Automatic Identification, Seventh International Conference on Electronic Commerce Research (ICER-7), University of Texas, Dallas, Texas, USA, June 10-13. Sponsored by ATSMA, IFIP Working Group 7.3, INFORMS Information Society.

Abstract

The number of automatic identification (auto-ID) technologies being utilized in eBusiness applications is growing rapidly. With an increasing trend toward miniaturization and wireless capabilities, auto-ID technologies are becoming more and more pervasive. The pace at which new product innovations are being introduced far outweighs the ability for citizens to absorb what these changes actually mean, and what their likely impact will be upon future generations. This paper attempts to cover a broad spectrum of issues ranging from the social, cultural, religious and ethical implications of auto-ID with an emphasis on human transponder implants. Previous work is brought together and presented in a way that offers a holistic view of the current state of proceedings, granting an up-to-date bibliography on the topic. The concluding point of this paper is that the long-term side effects of new auto-ID technologies should be considered at the outset and not after it has enjoyed widespread diffusion.

1.  Introduction

Automatic identification is the process of identifying a living or nonliving object without direct human intervention. Before auto-ID only manual identification techniques existed, such as tattoos [[i]] and fingerprints, which did not allow for the automatic capture of data (see exhibit 1.1). Auto-ID becomes an e-business application enabler when authorization or verification is required before a transaction can take place. Many researchers credit the vision of a cashless society to the capabilities of auto-ID. Since the 1960s automatic identification has proliferated especially for mass-market applications such as electronic banking and citizen ID. Together with increases in computer processing power, storage equipment and networking capabilities, miniaturization and mobility have heightened the significance of auto-ID to e-business, especially mobile commerce. Citizens are now carrying multiple devices with multiple IDs, including ATM cards, credit cards, private and public health insurance cards, retail loyalty cards, school student cards, library cards, gym cards, licenses to drive automobiles, passports to travel by air and ship, voting cards etc. More sophisticated auto-ID devices like smart card and radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags and transponders that house unique lifetime identifiers (ULI) or biometric templates are increasingly being considered for business-to-consumer (B2C) and government-to-citizen (G2C) transactions. For example, the United States (US) is enforcing the use of biometrics on passports due to the increasing threats of terrorism, and Britain has openly announced plans to begin implanting illegal immigrants with RFID transponders. Internationally, countries are also taking measures to decrease the multi-million dollar costs of fraudulent claims made to social security by updating their citizen identification systems.

Exhibit 1.1 &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Manual versus Automatic Identification Techniques

Exhibit 1.1     Manual versus Automatic Identification Techniques

2.  Literature Review

The relative ease of performing electronic transactions by using auto-ID has raised a number of social, cultural, religious and ethical issues. Among others, civil libertarians, religious advocates and conspiracy theorists have long cast doubts on the technology and the ultimate use of the information gathered by it. Claims that auto-ID technology impinges on human rights, the right to privacy, and that eventually it will lead to totalitarian control of the populace have been put forward since the 1970s. This paper aims to explore these themes with a particular emphasis on emerging human transponder implant technology. At present, several US companies are marketing e-business services that allow for the tracking and monitoring of individuals using RFID implants in the subcutaneous layer of the skin or Global Positioning System (GPS) wristwatches worn by enrollees. To date previous literature has not consistently addressed philosophical issues related to chip implants for humans in the context of e-business. In fact, popular online news sources like CNN [[ii]] and the BBC [[iii]] are among the few mainline publishers discussing the topic seriously, albeit in a fragmented manner. The credible articles on implanting humans are mostly interviews conducted with proponents of the technology, such as Applied Digital Solutions (ADSX) [[iv]] representatives who are makers of the VeriChip system solution [[v]]; Professor Kevin Warwick of the University of Reading who is known for his Cyborg 1.0 and 2.0 projects [[vi]]; and implantees like the Jacobs family in the US who bear RF/ID transponder implants [[vii]]. Block passages from these interviews are quoted throughout this paper to bring some of the major issues to the fore using a holistic approach.

More recently academic papers on human transponder implants covering various perspectives have surfaced on the following topics: legal and privacy [[viii], [ix]], ethics and culture [[x]], technological problems and health concerns [[xi]], technological progress [[xii]], trajectories [[xiii], [xiv]]. While there is a considerable amount of other popular material available especially on the Internet related to human chip implants, much of it is subjective and not properly sourced. One major criticism of these reports is that the reader is left pondering as to the authenticity of the accounts provided with little evidence to support respective claims and conclusions. Authorship of this literature is another problem. Often these articles are contributed anonymously, and when they do cite an author’s name, the level of technical understanding portrayed by the individual is severely lacking to the detriment of what he/she is trying to convey, even if there is a case to be argued. Thus, the gap this paper seeks to fill is to provide a sober presentation of cross-disciplinary perspectives on topical auto-ID issues with an emphasis on human transponder implants, and second to document some of the more thought-provoking discussion which has already taken place on the topic, complemented by a complete introductory bibliography.

3.  Method

Articles on auto-ID in general have failed to address the major philosophical issues using a holistic approach. For instance, Woodward [[xv]] is one of the few authors to have mentioned anything overly substantial about religious issues, with respect to biometric technology in a recognized journal. Previously the focus has basically been on privacy concerns and Big Brother fears. While such themes are discussed in this paper as well, the goal is to cover a broader list of issues than the commonplace. This is the very reason why two researchers with two very different backgrounds, one in science and the other in humanities, have collaborated to write this paper. A qualitative strategy is employed in this investigation to explore the major themes identified in the literature review. It should be noted however that legal, regulatory, economic and related policy issues such as standards, have been omitted because the aim of this paper is not to inform a purely technical audience or an audience which is strictly concerned with policy. It is aimed rather at the potential end-user of auto-ID devices and at technology companies who are continually involved in the process of auto-ID innovation.

Original material is quoted extensively to ensure that the facts are presented “as is.” There is nothing lost in simplified translations and the full weight of argument is retained, raw and uncut. The authors therefore cannot be accused of bias or misrepresentation. The sheer breadth of literature used for this investigation ensures reliability and validity in the findings. The narrative reporting style helps to guide readers through the paper, allowing individuals to form their own opinions and interpretations of what is being presented. Evidence for the issues discussed has been gathered from a wide variety of sources including offline and online documentation. High level content analysis has been performed to aid in the grouping of categories of discussion including social, cultural, religious and ethical issues that form the skeleton of the main body of the article as a way to identify emerging trends and patterns. Subcategories are also useful in identifying the second tier themes covered, helping to reduce complexity in analysis. The subcategories also allow for links to be made between themes. A highly intricate thread runs through the whole paper telling the story of not just auto-ID but the impacts of the information technology and telecommunications (IT&T) revolution [[xvi]]. There is therefore a predictive element to the paper as well which is meant to confront the reader with some present and future scenarios. The ‘what if’ questions are important as it is hoped they will generate public debate on the major social, cultural, religious and ethical implications of RFID implants in humans.

4. Towards Ubiquitous Computing

Section 4 is wholly dedicated to providing a background in which to understand auto-ID innovation; it will also grant some perspective to the tremendous pace of change in IT&T; and note some of the more grounded predictions about the future of computing. The focus is on wearable and ubiquitous computing within which auto-ID will play a crucial role. This section will help the reader place the evidence presented in the main body of the article into an appropriate context. The reader will thus be able to interpret the findings more precisely once the basic setting has been established, allowing each individual to form their own opinions about the issues being presented.

From personal computers (PCs) to laptops to personal digital assistants (PDAs) and from landline phones to cellular phones to wireless wristwatches, miniaturization and mobility have acted to shift the way in which computing is perceived by humans. Lemonick [[xvii]] captures this pace of change well in the following excerpt:

[i]t 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.

Once a stationary medium, computers are now portable, they go wherever humans go [[xviii]]. This can be described as technology becoming more human-centric, “where products are designed to work for us, and not us for them” [[xix]]. Thus, the paradigm shift is from desktop computing to wearable computing [[xx]]. Quite remarkably in the pursuit of miniaturization, little has been lost in terms of processing power. “The enormous progress in electronic miniaturization make it possible to fit many components and complex interconnection structures into an extremely small area using high-density printed circuit and multichip substrates” [[xxi]]. We now have so-named Matchbox PCs that are no larger than a box of matches with the ability to house fully functional operating systems [[xxii]]. “The development of wearable computer systems has been rapid. Salonen [[xxiii]], among others [[xxiv]] are of the belief that “quite soon we will see a wide range of unobtrusive wearable and ubiquitous computing equipment integrated into our everyday wear”. The next ten years will see wearable computing devices become an integral part of our daily lives, especially as the price for devices keeps falling. 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 [[xxv]] or even PDAs and mobile phones. Furui [[xxvi]] 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 [[xxvii]]. 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 prison inmates. 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. Upon reflection, 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 information systems (IS) devices, including calculators, electronic calendars and communicators that users would carry with them every day [[xxviii]]. 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” [[xxix]]. Kaku [[xxx]] 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 [[xxxi]]. Kortuem [[xxxii]] stated that “[s]uch environments might be found at the home, at the office, at factory floors, or even vehicles.” There is some debate however of where to place sensors in these environments. For example, 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 localized infrastructure and a greater degree of freedom. Rhodes et al. [29] argue that by “properly combining wearable computing and ubiquitous computing, a system can have the advantages of both.”

5.  Social Issues

5.1 Privacy Concerns and Big Brother Fears

Starner [[xxxiii]] makes the distinction between privacy and security concerns. “Security involves the protection of information from unauthorized users; privacy is the individual’s right to control the collection and use of personal information.” Mills [[xxxiv]] 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…” Over the years terms like Big Brother [[xxxv], [xxxvi]] and function creep [[xxxvii]] have proliferated to correspond to the all-seeing eyes of government and to the misuse and abuse of data. In most western countries data matching programs were constructed, linked to a unique citizen ID, to cross-check details provided by citizens, claims made, and benefits distributed [[xxxviii], [xxxix]]. More recently however, the trend has tended towards information centralization between government agencies based around the auspices of a national ID to reduce fraud [[xl]] and to combat terrorism [[xli]]. Currently computers allow for the storage and searching of data gathered like never before [[xlii]]. The range of automated data collection devices continues to increase to include systems such as bar codes (with RF capabilities), magnetic-stripe card, smart card and a variety of biometric techniques, increasing the rapidity and ease at which information is gathered. RFID transponders especially have added a greater granularity of precision in in-building and campus-wide solutions, given the wireless edge, allowing information to be gathered within a closed environment, anywhere/ anytime, transparent to the individual carrying the RFID badge or tag.

Now, while auto-ID itself is supposed to ensure privacy, it is the ease with which data can be collected that has some advocates concerned about the ultimate use of personal information. 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 [[xliii]]. 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 [[xliv]]. Data mining also has altered how data is filtered, sifted and utilized all in the name of customer relationship management (CRM). It is not difficult to obtain telemarketing lists, census information aggregated to a granular level, and mapping tools to represent market segments visually. Rothfeder [[xlv]] 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.

Looking forward, the potential for privacy issues linked to chip implants is something that has been considered but mostly granted attention by the media. Privacy advocates warn that such a chip would impact civil liberties in a disastrous way [[xlvi]]. 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.” [[xlvii]]

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 [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” [[xlviii]]. The potential for abuse cannot be overstated [[xlix]]. Salkowski agrees pointing to the ADSX VeriChip system, stating that police, parents and ADSX employees could abuse their power. “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” [[l]]. 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. “You 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 of British Telecom [[li]]. This should not be surprising given that insurance companies already ask individuals for a medical history of illnesses upon joining a new plan. Proponents say the chip would just contain this information more accurately [7]. Furthermore, “[c]ost-conscious insurance companies are sure to be impressed, because the portability of biomems [i.e., a type of medical chip implant] would allow even a seriously ill patient to be monitored after surgery or treatment on an outpatient basis” [[lii]]. Now a chip storing personal information is quite different to one used to monitor health 24x7x365 and then to relay diagnoses to relevant stakeholders. 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” [[liii]]. In its essential aspect, this is exactly the void this paper has tried to fill.

5.2 Mandatory Proof of Identification

In the US in 2001 several bills were passed in Congress to allow for the creation of three new Acts related to biometric identification of citizens and aliens, including the Patriot Act, Aviation and Transport Security Act, and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act. If terrorism attacks continue to increase in frequency, there is a growing prospect in the use of chip implants for identification purposes and GPS for tracking and monitoring. It is not an impossible scenario to consider that one day these devices may be incorporated into national identification schemes. During the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak, Singapore [[liv]] and Taiwan [[lv]] considered going as far as tagging their whole population with RFID devices to monitor automatically the spread of the virus. Yet, independent of such random and sporadic events, governments worldwide are already moving toward the introduction of a single unique ID to cater for a diversity of citizen applications. 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 [[lvi]], “[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?” It should be noted that some tracking and monitoring systems can be turned off and on by the wearer, making monitoring theoretically voluntary [[lvii]]. Sullivan a spokesperson for ADSX, said: “[i]t will not intrude on personal privacy except in applications applied to the tracking of criminals” [49]. ADSX 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” [[lviii]]. There are others like McClimans [[lix]] that believe that everyone should get chipped. Cunha Lima, a Brazilian politician 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” [[lx]]. Lima argues that he feels more secure with an implant given the number of kidnappings in South America of high profile people each year- at least this way his location is always known.

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 [50] 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 [53] 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.” In a report written by Ramesh [[lxi]] for the Franklin Pierce Law Centre the prediction is made that: 

[a] 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.

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” [49, [lxii], [lxiii]]. The real issue at hand as Gellman sees it is “who will be able to demand that a chip be implanted in another person.” Mieszkowski 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.

McMurchie [[lxiv]] reveals the subtle progression toward embedded devices:

[a]s 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…

Professor Chris Hables Gray uses the example of prospective military chip implant applications. How can a marine, for instance, resist implantation? 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 [[lxv]], however the British Army is supposedly considering projects such as APRIL (Army Personnel Rationalization Individual Listings) [51]. 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” [25].

5.3 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 More Developing Countries (MDCs) have become so dependent on mobile phones that they are disregarding the potential health risks associated with the technology [[lxvi]]. 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 transmission [[lxvii]]. Covacio [11] is among the few authors to discuss the potential technological problems associated with microchips for human ID from a health perspective. In his paper he provides evidence why implants may impact humans adversely, categorizing these into thermal (i.e. whole/partial rise in body heating), stimulation (i.e. excitation of nerves and muscles) and other effects most of which are currently unknown. He states that research into RFID and mobile telephone technology [11]:

...has revealed a growing concern with the effects of radio frequency and non-ionizing radiation on organic matter. It has been revealed a number of low-level, and possible high-level risks are associated with the use of radio-frequency technology. Effects of X-rays and gamma rays have been well documented in medical and electronic journals…

In considering future wearable devices, Salonen [[lxviii]] puts forward the idea of directing 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. Geers et al. [[lxix]] write the following regarding animal implants.

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.

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, twenty years down the track, be tied up in similar court battles and with severe medical problems? 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 [69]. Most certainly some discomfort must be felt by humans as well. In the Cyborg 1.0 project, Warwick was advised to leave the implant under his skin for only ten days. According to Trull [[lxx]], 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” [[lxxi]]. It is also worthwhile noting Warwick’s appearance after the Cyborg 2.0 experiment. He looked pale and weary in press release photographs, like someone who had undergone a major operation. Covacio [11] believes ultimately that widespread implantation of microchips in humans will lead to detrimental effects to them and the environment at large. Satellite technology (i.e. the use of GPS to locate individuals), microwave RF and related technological gadgetry will ultimately “increase health problems and consequentially increase pressure on health services already under economic duress.”

6. Cultural Issues

6.1 The Net Generation

When the ENIAC was first made known to the public in February of 1946 reporters used “anthropomorphic” and “awesome characterizations” to describe the computer. The news was received with skepticism by citizens who feared the unknown. In an article titled “The Myth of the Awesome Thinking Machine”, Martin [[lxxii]] 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 behavior. One could almost imagine that the persons in the photographs are ‘inside the body’ of the ENIAC [[lxxiii]]. Sweeping changes have taken place since that time, particularly since the mid 1980s. Consumers now own personal computers (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 [[lxxiv]]; for them the digital world is as ubiquitous as the air that 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 popularization of the cyberpunk genre has demonstrated that it can be hip to have a chip in your head” [70].

6.2 Science Fiction Genre

The predictions of science fiction writers have often been promoted through the use of print, sound and visual mediums. Below is a list of sci-fi novels, films and television series that undoubtedly have influenced and are still influencing the trajectory of auto-ID. 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” [[lxxv]]. The popular 1970s series of Six Million Dollar Man, for instance, 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 [[lxxvi]]. More recently AT&T’s Wireless mMode magazine alluded to Start Trek [[lxxvii]]:

They also talked about their expectations- one media executive summed it up best, saying, “Remember that little box that Mr. Spock had on Star Trek? The one that did everything? That’s what I’d like my phone to be…”

Beyond auto-ID we find a continuing legacy in sci-fi genre toward the electrification of humans- from Frankenstein to Davros in Dr Who, and from Total Recall to Johnny Mnemonic (see exhibit 1.2). While all this is indeed ‘merely’ sci-fi, it is giving some form to the word, allowing the imagination to be captured in powerful images, sounds and models. What next? A vision of a mechanized misery [[lxxviii]] as portrayed in Fritz Lang’s 1927 cult film classic Metropolis? Only this time instead of being at the mercy of the Machine, we have gone one step further and invited the Machine to reside inside the body, and marked it as a ‘technological breakthrough’ as well. As several commentators have noted, “[w]e live in an era that… itself often seems like science fiction, and Metropolis has contributed powerfully to that seeming” [[lxxix]].

Exhibit 1.2 &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Sci-Fi Film Genre Pointing to the Electrification of Humans

Exhibit 1.2     Sci-Fi Film Genre Pointing to the Electrification of Humans

Some of the more notable predictions and social critiques are contained within the following novels: Frankenstein (Shelley 1818), Paris in the 20th Century (Verne 1863), Looking Backward (Bellamy 1888), The Time Machine (Wells 1895), R.U.R. (Kapek 1917), Brave New World (Huxley 1932), 1984 (Orwell 1949), I, Robot (Asimov 1950), Foundation (Asimov 1951-53, 1982), 2001: A Space Odyssey (Clarke 1968), Blade Runner (Dick 1968), Neuromancer (Gibson 1984), The Marked Man (Ingrid 1989), The Silicon Man (Platt 1991), Silicon Karma (Easton 1997). The effects of film have been even more substantial on the individual as they have put some form to the predictions. These include: Metropolis (Fritz Lang 1927), Forbidden Planet (Fred Wilcox 1956), Fail Safe (Sidney Lumet 1964), THX-1138 (George Lucas 1971), 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick 1968), The Terminal Man (George Lucas 1974), Zardoz (John Boorman 1974), Star Wars (George Lucas 1977), Moonraker (Lewis Gilbert II 1979), Star Trek (Robert Wise 1979), For Your Eyes Only (John Glen II 1981), Blade Runner (Ridley Scott 1982), War Games (John Badham 1983), 2010: The Year We Make Contact (Peter Hyams 1984), RoboCop (Paul Verhoeven, 1987), Total Recall (Paul Verhoeven 1990), The Terminator Series, Sneakers (Phil Alden Robinson 1992), Patriot Games (Phillip Noyce 1992), The Lawnmower Man (Brett Leonard 1992), Demolition Man (Marco Brambilla 1993), Jurassic Park (Steven Speilberg 1993), Hackers (Iain Softley 1995), Johnny Mnemonic (Robert Longo 1995), The NET (Irwin Winkler 1995) [[lxxx]], Gattaca (Andrew Niccol 1997) Enemy of the State (Tony Scott 1998), Fortress 2 (Geoff Murphy 1999), The Matrix (L. Wachowski & A. Wachowski 1999), Mission Impossible 2 (John Woo 2000), The 6th Day (Roger Spottiswoode 2000). Other notable television series include: Dr Who, Lost in Space, Dick Tracy, The Jetsons, Star Trek, Batman, Get Smart, Six Million Dollar Man, Andromeda, Babylon 5, Gasaraki, Stargate SG-1, Neon Genesis Evangelion, FarScape, and X-Files.  

6.3 Shifting Cultural Values

Auto-ID and more generally computer and network systems have influenced changes in language, art [[lxxxi]], music and film. An article by Branwyn [[lxxxii]] summarizes these changes well.

Language [[lxxxiii]]: “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”.
Music: “Recent albums by digital artists Brian Eno, Clock DVA, and Frontline Assembly sport names like Nerve Net, Man Amplified and Tactical Neural Implant.” See also the 1978 album by Kraftwerk titled “The Man Machine”.
Film: “Science fiction films, from Robocop to the recent Japanese cult film Tetsuo: The Iron Man, imprint our imaginations with images of the new.”

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 [[lxxxiv]]), it is art, especially body art that is being heavily influenced by chip implant technology. Mieszkowski [49] believes that “chipification” will be the next big wave in place of tattoos, piercing and scarification (see exhibit 1.3). In the U.S. it was estimated in 2001 that about two hundred Americans had permanently changed their bodies at around nine hundred dollars per implant, following a method developed by Steve Hayworth and Jon Cobb [25].

Exhibit 1.3 &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The New Fashion: Bar Code Tattoos, Piercing &amp; Chips

Exhibit 1.3     The New Fashion: Bar Code Tattoos, Piercing & Chips

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 [[lxxxv]], “I am expecting the merger between human and machines to proceed whether we want it to or not…” 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” [86]. Perhaps the actual implant ceremony was not Kac’s main contribution but the subsequent registration onto a pet database. Other artists like Natasha Vita More and Stelarc have ventured beyond localized chip implants. Their vision is of a complete prosthetic body that will comprise of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, cloning, and even nanobots [75]. 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 [[lxxxvi]].

A Stelarc performance… 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 [75].

Warwick [[lxxxvii]] believes that the new technologies “will dramatically change [art], but not destroy it.”

6.4 Medical Marvels or Human Evolution

As Sacleman wrote in 1967 “...the impact of automation on the individual involve[d] a reconstruction of his values, his outlook and his way of life” [[lxxxviii]]. Marshall McLuhan [[lxxxix], [xc]] 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.” [[xci]]. Numerous examples can be given to illustrate these major cultural changes- from the use of electricity for household warmth, to wide area networks (WAN) enabling voice and data communications across long distances, to magnetic-stripe cards used for credit transactions [[xcii], [xciii], [xciv], [xcv]]. But what of the direct unification of humans and technology, i.e., the fusion between flesh and electronic circuitry [[xcvi], [xcvii], [xcviii]]? Consider for a moment the impact that chip implants have had on the estimated 23,000 cochlear recipients in the US. A medical marvel perhaps but it too, not without controversy. There are potentially 500,000 hearing impaired persons that could benefit from cochlear implants [[xcix]] but not every deaf person wants one.

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” [[c]].

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” [82].

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” [82]? 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 [[ci]] believes that humans are already beginning to suffer from a type of “mental atrophy” worse than that that occurred during the industrial revolution and that the only way to fight it is to hang on to those essential skills that are required for human survival. The question remains whether indeed it is society that shapes technology [[cii]] or technology that shapes society [[ciii]]. Inevitably it is a dynamic process of push and pull that causes cultural transformations over time.

7 Religious Issues

7.1 The Mark of the Beast

Ever since the bar code symbology UPC (Universal Product Code) became widespread some Christian groups have linked auto-ID to the “mark” in the Book of Revelation (13:18): “the number of the beast… is 666” [[civ], [cv], [cvi]]. Coincidentally, the left (101), centre (01010) and right (101) border codes of the UPC bars are encoded 6, 6, 6 (see exhibit 1.4). As it is now an established standard for every non-perishable item to be bar coded there was a close association with the prophecy: “so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark” (Rev 13:17). In full, verses 16-18 of chapter 13 of Revelation read as follows:

He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666. [[cvii]]

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 or under human skin [[cviii]]. 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 interpreted to be ‘just’ the bar code (see exhibit 1.4). Some of the more prominent religious web sites that discuss auto-ID and the number of the beast include: http://www.666soon.com (2003), http://www.greaterthings.com (2003), http://www.countdown.com.org (2003), http://www.raidersnewsupdate.com (2003), http://www.light1998.com (2003) and http://www.av1611.org (1996). At first the sites focused on bar code technology, now they have grown to encompass a plethora of auto-ID technologies, especially biometrics and looming chip implants. For a thorough analysis of the background, sources and interpretation of the “number of the beast” see M.G. Michael’s thesis [[cix]].

Card technology such as magnetic-stripe and smart cards became the next focus as devices that would gradually pave the way for a permanent ID for all citizens globally: “He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark…” (Rev 13:16). Biometrics was then introduced and immediately the association was made that the “mark” [charagma] would appear on the “right hand” (i.e. palmprint or fingerprint) or on the “forehead” (facial/ iris recognition) as was supposedly prophesied (Rev. 13:16). For the uses of charagma in early Christian literature see Arndt and Gingrich [[cx]]. Short of calling this group of people fundamentalists, as Woodward [15] refers to one prominent leader, Davies is more circumspect [[cxi]]:

“I think they’re legitimate [claims]. People have always rejected certain information practices for a variety of reasons: personal, cultural, ethical, religious and legal. And I think it has to be said that if a person feels bad for whatever reason, about the use of a body part then that’s entirely legitimate and has to be respected”.

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 [[cxii]]. Terry Cook [[cxiii]], for instance, an outspoken religious commentator and popular author, “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” [[cxiv]]. The description of an implant procedure for sows that Geers et al. [69] 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 anaesthetized 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.

“Religious advocates say it [i.e. transponder implants] represents ‘the mark of the Beast’, or the anti-Christ” [[cxv]]. 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 [[cxvi], [cxvii], [cxviii]]. Horn [[cxix]] 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.

References discussing the New World Order include Barnet and Cavanagh [[cxx]], Wilshire [[cxxi]], and Smith [[cxxii]].

Exhibit 1.4 &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The Mark of the Beast as Shown on GreaterThings.com

Exhibit 1.4     The Mark of the Beast as Shown on GreaterThings.com

Companies that specialize 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. Some of the company and product names include: Biomark, BioWare, BRANDERS, MARC, Soul Catcher, Digital Angel and Therion Corporation. 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. ADSX 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, emphasizing that the device would create a lot of benefits and was not meant to fulfill prophecy [60]. A spokesperson for ADSX 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” [51].  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” [56]. These are, of course, the positions of those who have entered the debate from the so-called fundamentalist literalist perspective and represent the more vocal and visible spectrum of contemporary “apocalyptic” Christianity. In this context the idea of fundamentalism seems to be a common label today, for anyone within the Christian community who questions the trajectory of technological advancement.

With respect to the potential of brain chips in the perceived quest for “immortality” [13, 14], many Christians across the denominational confession see this as an attempt to usurp the Eternal Life promised by God, in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. This is similar to the case of human cloning, where specialist geneticists are accused of trying to play God by usurping the Creator’s role. However, the area is notoriously grey here; when for instance, do implants for medical breakthroughs become acceptable versus those required for purposes of clear identification? In the future the technology in question could end up merging the two functions onto the single device. This is a real and very possible outcome, when all factors, both market and ethical, are taken on board by the relevant stakeholders. Ultimately, for most members of a believing religious community, this subject revolves around the most important question of individual freedom and the right to choose [[cxxiii], [cxxiv]].

8. Ethical Issues

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 all other ancillary. We equip our children with mobile phones, attach tracking devices to them or make them carry them [[cxxv]] in their bags and soon we might even be implanting them with microchips [[cxxvi]]. 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. 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” [[cxxvii]]. 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.

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” [87]. 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 [[cxxviii]]. The main ethical problem related to chip implants seems to be that they are under the skin [70] 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 [[cxxix]]. 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.

8.1 The Prospect of International ID Implants

There are numerous arguments for why implanting a chip in a person is outright unconstitutional. But perhaps the under-explored 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 [49]. 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. ADSX, for instance, have already launched the VeriChip solution. Sullivan, a spokesperson for the company told Salkowski [50]:

“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 [53] 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. Consider the governance issues surrounding GPS technology that has been in operation a lot longer than human RFID implants.

“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” [[cxxx]].

From a different angle, Rummler [[cxxxi]] 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.” The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 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 specialize in health-related implants need to be in close consultation with the FDA [[cxxxii], [cxxxiii]]. 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 [2]; there is nothing to suggest this will not happen with RFID transponder implants as well, despite the myriad of promises made by ADSX.  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 [49].

8.2 Beyond Chip Implants

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” [[cxxxiv]]. Mann calls this human-computer-symbiosis, “human interaction” (HI) as opposed to HCI (human-computer interaction).

[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. [[cxxxv]]
Exhibit 1.5 &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;The Process of Transformation

Exhibit 1.5     The Process of Transformation

Human-computer electrification is set to make this bond irrevocable (see exhibit 1.5). 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 specializing in chip implant devices for humans. “They” will grow up believing that these technologies are not only “normal” but also quite useful, just   like   other   high-tech technologies before them such as the Internet, PCs, smart cards etc. Consider the case of 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” [[cxxxvi]].

But you do not have to be a newborn 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 [74]. And migrants struggling with a foreign language will even memorize key combinations to withdraw money even if they do not actually fully perceive the actions they are commanding throughout the process. Schiele [[cxxxvii]] 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.” Gotterbarn is in agreement [10].

We enthusiastically adopt the latest gadget for one use, but then we start to realize that it gives us power for another use. Then there is the inevitable realization that we have overlooked the way it impacts other people, giving rise to professional and ethical issues.

What is apparent regardless of how far electrophoresis is taken is that the once irreconcilable gap between human and machine is closing (see exhibit 1.6).

Beyond chip implants for tracking there are the possibilities associated with neural prosthetics and the potential to directly link computers to humans [[cxxxviii]]. Warwick is also well aware that one of the major obstacles of cyber-humans are the associated moral issues [[cxxxix], [cxl]]- 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? Rummler [131] 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 [[cxli]] 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 becoming an electrophorus (i.e. a bearer of electricity), “[y]ou are not just a human linked with technology; you are something different and your values and judgment will change” [[cxlii]]. Some suspect that it will even become possible to alter behavior in people with brain implants [51], whether they will it or not. Maybury [101] believes that “[t]he advent of machine intelligence raises social and ethical issues that may ultimately challenge human existence on earth.”

 

Exhibit 1.6 &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Marketing Campaigns that Point to the Electrophorus

Exhibit 1.6     Marketing Campaigns that Point to the Electrophorus

Gotterbarn [10] argues precisely that our view of computer technologies generally progresses through several stages:

1) naïve innocence and technological wonder, 2) power and control, and 3) finally, sometimes because of disasters during the second stage, an understanding of the essential relationship between technologies and values.

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 [138]. 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” [[cxliii]]. Joy was severely criticized 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?’ Joy believes [143]:

[w]e 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.

Surely there is a pressing need for ethical dialogue [[cxliv]] on auto-ID innovation and more generally IT&T. If there has ever been a time when engineers have had to act socially responsibly [[cxlv]], it is now as we are at defining crossroads.

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. [[cxlvi]]

9. Conclusion

The principal objective of this paper was to encourage critical discussion on the exigent topic of human implants in e-business applications by documenting the central social, cultural, religious and ethical issues. The evidence provided indicates that technology-push has been the driving force behind many of the new RFID transponder implant applications instead of market-pull. What is most alarming is the rate of change in technological capabilities without the commensurate response from an informed community involvement or ethical discourse on what these changes actually “mean”, not only for the present but also for the future. It seems that the normal standard now is to introduce a technology, stand back to see its general effects on society, and then act to rectify problems as they might arise. The concluding point of this paper is that the long-term side effects of a technology should be considered at the outset and not after the event. One need only bring to mind the Atomic Bomb and the Chernobyl disaster for what is possible, if not inevitable once a technology is set on its ultimate trajectory [103]. As citizens it is our duty to remain knowledgeable about scientific developments and to discuss the possible ethical implications again and again [10]. In the end we can point the finger at the Mad Scientists [75] but we too must be socially responsible, save we become our own worst enemy [[cxlvii]]. It is certainly a case of caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.

10. References

[1] Cohen, T., The Tattoo, Savvas, Sydney (1994).

[2] Sanchez-Klein, J., “Cyberfuturist plants chip in arm to test human-computer interaction”, CNN Interactive,  http://www.cnn.com/TECH/computing/9808/28/ armchip.idg/index.html, [Accessed 28 August 1998], pp. 1-2 (1998).

[3] Jones, C., “Kevin Warwick: Saviour of humankind?”, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/uk/2000/newsmakers/1069029.stm, [Accessed 4 January 2003], pp. 1-4 (2000).

[4] ADSX, “Homepage”, http://www.adsx.com, Applied Digital Solutions, [Accessed 1 March 2004], p. 1 (2004).

[5] ADSX, “VeriChip Corporation”, Applied Digital Solutions, http://www.4verichip.com/, [Accessed 1 April 2004], p. 1 (2004).

[6] Warwick, K., “Professor of Cybernetics, University of Reading”, Kevin Warwick, http://www.kevinwarwick.com, [Accessed 14 November 2002], pp. 1-2 (2002).

[7] Goldman, J., “Meet ‘The Chipsons’: ID chips implanted successfully in Florida family”, ABC News: techtv, http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/ TechTV/techtv_chipfamily020510.html, [Accessed 13 November 2003], pp. 1-2 (2002).

[8] Ramesh, E.M., “Time Enough: consequences of the human microchip implantation”, Franklin Pierce Law Centre, http://www.fplc.edu/risk/vol8/fall/ ramesh.htm, [Accessed 1 March 2004], pp. 1-26 (2004).

[9] Unatin, D., “Progress v. Privacy: the debate over computer chip implants”, JOLT: Notes, http://www.lawtechjournal.com/notes/2002/24_020819_ unatin. php, [Accessed 1 March 2004], pp. 1-3 (2002).

[10] Gotterbarn, D., “Injectable computers: once more into the breach! The life cycle of computer ethics awareness”, inroads- The SIGCSE Bulletin, Vol. 35, No. 4, December, pp. 10-12, (2003).

[11] Covacio, S., “Technological problems associated with the subcutaneous microchips for human identification (SMHId), InSITE-“Where Parallels Intersect, June, pp. 843-853 (2003).

[12] Warwick, K., “I, Cyborg”, 2003 Joint Lecture: The Royal Society of Edinburgh and The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Royal Society of Edinburgh, pp. 1-16 (2003).

[13] Norman, D.A., “Cyborgs”, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 44, No. 3, March, pp. 36-37 (2001).

[14] Bell, G. & Gray, J., “Futuristic forecasts of tools and technologies: digital immortality”, Communications of the ACM, March, Vol. 44, No. 3, pp. 29-31 (2001).

[15] Woodward, J.D., “Biometrics: privacy’s foe or privacy’s friend?”, Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 85, No. 9, pp. 1480-1492 (1997).

[16] Rosenberg, R.S., The Social Impact of Computers, Elsevier Academic Press, California (2004).

[17] Lemonick, M.D., “Future tech is now”, Time Australia, 17 July, pp. 44-79 (1995).

[18] McGinity, M., “Body of the technology: It’s just a matter of time before a chip gets under your skin”, Communications of the ACM, 43(9), September, pp. 17-19 (2000).

[19] Stephan, R., “The ultrahuman revolution”, MoneyZone.com, http://www. moneyzone.com/MTM_features3.28.cfm, [Accessed 29 November 2001], pp. 1-3 (2001).

[20] Sheridan, J.G. et al., “Spectators at a geek show: an ethnographic inquiry into wearable computing”, IEEE The Fourth International Symposium on Wearable Computers, pp. 195-196 (2000).

[21] Lukowicz, P., “The wearARM modular low-power computing core”, IEEE Micro, May-June, pp. 16-28 (2001).

[22] DeFouw, G. & Pratt, V., “The matchbox PC: a small wearable platform”, The Third International Symposium on Wearable Computers, pp. 172-175 (1999).

[23] Salonen, P. et al., “A small planar inverted-F antenna for wearable applications”, IEEE Tenth International Conference on Antennas and Propagation, Vol. 1, pp. 82-85 (1997).

[24] Mann S., “Wearable computing: a first step toward personal imaging”, IEEE Computer, February, pp. 25-32 (1997).

[25] Millanvoye, M., “Teflon under my skin”, UNESCO, http://www.unesco. org/courier/2001_07/uk/doss41.htm, [Accessed 29 November 2001], pp. 1-2 (2001).

[26] Furui, S., “Speech recognition technology in the ubiquitous/wearable computing environment”, IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing, Vol. 6, pp. 3735-3738 (2000).

[27] Pickering, C., “Silicon man lives”, Forbes ASAP, http://www.cochrane.org.uk/opinion/interviews/forbes.htm, [Accessed 22 November 2001], pp. 1-2 (1999).

[28] Sydänheimo, L. et al., “Wearable and ubiquitous computer aided service, maintenance and overhaul”, IEEE International Conference on Communications, Vol. 3, pp. 2012-2017 (1999).

[29] Rhodes, B. J. et al., “Wearable computing meets ubiquitous computing: reaping the best of both worlds”, The Third International Symposium on Wearable Computers, pp. 141-149 (1999).

[30] Kaku, M., Visions: how science will revolutionize the 21st century and beyond, Oxford University Press, Oxford (1998).

[31] van Laerhoven, K. & Cakmacki, O., “What shall we teach our pants?”, IEEE The Fourth International Symposium on Wearable Computers, pp. 77-83 (2000).

[32] Kortuem, G. et al., “Context-aware, adaptive wearable computers as remote interfaces to ‘intelligent’ environments”, Second International Symposium on Wearable Computers, pp. 58-65 (1998).

[33] Starner, T., “The challenges of wearable computing: part 2”, IEEE Micro, July-August, pp. 54-67 (2001).

[34] Mills, S. (ed.), Turning Away From Technology: a new vision for the 21st century, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco (1997).

[35] Davies, S., Big Brother: Australia’s growing web of surveillance, Simon and Schuster, Sydney (1992).

[36] Davies, S., Monitor: extinguishing privacy on the information superhighway, PAN, Sydney (1996).

[37] Hibbert, C., “What to do when they ask for your social security number”, in Computerization and Controversy: value conflicts and social choices, (ed.) Rob Kling, Academic Press, New York, pp. 686-696 (1996).

[38] Kusserow, R.P., “The government needs computer matching to root out waste and fraud”, in Computerisation and Controversy: value conflicts and social choices, (ed.) Rob Kling, Academic Press, New York, part 6, section E, pp. 653f (1996).

[39] Privacy Commissioner, Selected Extracts from the Program Protocol Data-Matching Program (Assistance and Tax), Privacy Commission, Sydney (1990).

[40] Jones, D., “UK government launches smart card strategy”, Ctt, Vol. 11, No. 6, February, p. 2 (2000).

[41] Michels, S., “National ID”, Online NewsHour, http://www.pbs.org/ newshour/bb/fedagencies/jan-june02/id_2-26.html, [Accessed 2 September 2001], pp. 1-8 (2002).

[42] Rosenberg, R.S., The Social Impact of Computers, Sydney, Elsevier, pp. 339-405 (2004).

[43] Brin, D., The Transparent Society: will technology force us to choose between privacy and freedom, Perseus Books, Massachusetts (1998).

[44] Branscomb, A. W., Who Owns Information: from privacy to public access, BasicBooks, USA (1994).

[45] Rothfeder, J., “Invasion of privacy”, PC World, Vol. 13, No. 11, pp. 152-162 (1995).

[46] Newton, J. “Reducing ‘plastic’ counterfeiting”, European Convention on Security and Detection, Vol. 408, pp. 198-201 (1995).

[47] Masterson, U.O., “A day with ‘Professor Cyborg’”, MSNBC, http://www.msnbc.com/news/394441.asp, [Accessed 29 November 2001], pp. 1-6 (2000).

[48] Associated Press, “Chip in your shoulder? Family wants info device”, USA Today: Tech, http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/2002/04/01/verichip-family.htm, [Accessed 15 October 2002], pp. 1-2 (2002).

[49] Mieszkowski, K., “Put that silicon where the sun don’t shine”, Salon.com, http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2000/09/07/chips/, Parts 1-3, [Accessed 11 November 2001], pp. 1-3 (2000).

[50] Salkowski, J., “Go track yourself”, StarNet Dispatches, http://dispatches. azstarnet.com/joe/2000/0104-946929954.htm, [Accessed 29 November 2001], pp. 1-4 (2000).

[51] LoBaido, A.C. 2001, “Soldiers with microchips: British troops experiment with implanted, electronic dog tag”, WorldNetDaily.com, http://www.fivedoves. com/letters/oct2001/chrissa102.htm, [Accessed 20 November 2001], pp. 1-2 (2001).

[52] Swissler, M.A., “Microchips to monitor meds”, Wired, http://www.wired. com/news/technology/0,1282,39070,00.html, [Accessed 29 November 2001], pp. 1-3 (2000).

[53] Black, J., “Roll up your sleeve – for a chip implant”, Illuminati Conspiracy, http://www.conspiracyarchive.com/NWO/chip_implant.htm, [Accessed 15 October 2002], pp. 1-6 (2002).

[54] RFID, “Singapore fights SARS with RFID”, RFID Journal, http://216.121.131.129/article/articleprint/446/-1/1/, [Accessed 1 May 2004], pp. 1-2 (2003).

[55] RFID, “Taiwan uses RFID to combat SARS”, RFID Journal, http://216.121.131.129/article/articleprint/520/-1/1/, [Accessed 1 May 2004], pp. 1-2 (2003).

[56] Scheeres, J. “They want their id chips now”, Wired News, http://www.wired.com/news/privacy/0,1848,50187,00.html, [Accessed 15 October 2002], pp. 1-2 (2002).

[57] Wherify, “Frequently Asked Questions”, Wherify Wireless, http://www.wherifywireless.com/faq.asp, [Accessed 15 April 2004], pp. 1-7 (2004).

[58] Scheeres, J., “Kidnapped? GPS to the rescue”, Wired News, http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,50004,00.html, [Accessed 15 October 2002], pp. 1-2 (2002).

[59] McClimans, F., ‘Is that a chip in your shoulder, or are you just happy to see me?’, CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/TECH/computing/9809/02/chippotent. idg/index.html, [Accessed 22 November 2001], pp. 1-4 (1998).

[60] Scheeres, J., “Politician wants to ‘get chipped’”, Wired News, http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,50435,00.html, [Accessed 15 October 2002], pp. 1-2 (2002).

[61] Horn, T., “Opinionet contributed commentary”, Opinionet, http://www. opinionet.com/commentary/contributors/ccth/ccth13.htm, [Accessed 29 November 2001], pp. 1-4 (2000).

[62] Levi, P., The Drowned and the Saved, trans. Raymond Rosenthal, Summit Books, London (1988).

[63] Lifton, R.J., The Nazi Doctors: medical killing and the psychology of genocide, Basic Books, New York (1986).

[64] McMurchie, L., “Identifying risks in biometric use”, Computing Canada, Vol. 25, No. 6, p. 11, (1999).

[65] Nairne, D., “Building better people with chips and sensors”, scmp.com, http://special.scmp.com/mobilecomputing/article/FullText_asp_ArticleID-20001009174, [Accessed 29 November 2001], pp. 1-2 (2000).

[66] National Radiological Protection Board, “Understanding radiation: ionizing radiation and how we are exposed to it”, NRPB, http://www.nrpb.org/radiation_ topics/risks/index.htm, [Accessed 1 May 2004], pp. 1-2 (2004).

[67] Australian Communications Authority, Human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic energy: information for manufacturers, importers, agents, licensees or operators of radio communications transmitters, Australian regulations, Melbourne (2000).

[68] Salonen, P. et al., “A small planar inverted-F antenna for wearable applications”, IEEE Tenth International Conference on Antennas and Propagation, Vol. 1, pp. 82-85 (1997).

[69] Geers, R. et al., Electronic Identification, Monitoring and Tracking of Animals, CAN International, New York (1997).

[70] Trull, D., “Simple Cyborg”, Parascope, http://www.parascope.com/ articles/slips/fs29_2.htm, [Accessed 20 November 2001], pp. 1-4 (1998).

[71] Witt, S., “Professor Warwick chips in”, Computerworld, 11 January, p. 89 (1999).

[72] Martin, C.D., “The myth of the awesome thinking machine”, Communications of the ACM, 36(4), pp. 120-133 (1993).

[73] Michael, K., “The automatic identification trajectory: from the ENIAC to chip implants”, in Internet Commerce: digital models for business, E. Lawrence et al., John Wiley and Sons, Queensland, pp. 131-134, 136 (2002).

[74] Tapscott, D., Growing up digital: the rise of the net generation, McGraw- Hill, New York (1998).

[75] Walker, I., “Cyborg dreams: Beyond Human”, Background Briefing ABC Radio National, 4 November, pp. 1-15 (2001)

[76] Anonymous, “Will a chip every day keep the doctor away?”, PhysicsWeb, http://physicsweb.org/article/world/14/7/11, [Accessed 29 November 2001], pp. 1-2 (2001).

[77] Goldberg, H., “Building a better mMode”, http://www.mmodemagazine. com/features/bettermmode.asp, mMode Magazine, [Accessed 1 April 2004), pp. 1-4 (2004).

[78] Wilmington, M., “Movie review, ‘Metropolis (Re-release)’”, Metromix.com, http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/search/mmx-17922_lgcy. story, [Accessed 3 May 2004], pp. 1-3 (2004).

[79] McRoy, J., “Science fiction studies”, DePauw University, Vol. 28, No. 3, http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/birs/bir85b.htm, [Accessed 3 May 2004], pp. 1-3 (2001).

[80] Anonymous, “The NET”, MovieWeb, http://movieweb.com/movie/thenet/ index.html, [Accessed 3 May 2004], pp. 1-5 (2001).

[81] King, B., “Robots: It’s an art thing” http://www.wired.com/news/print/ 0,1294,48253,00.html, [Accessed 4 January 2003], pp. 1-2 (2001).

[82] Branwyn, G., “The desire to be wired”, Wired, September/October (1993).

[83] Schirato, T. & Yell, S. Communication & Cultural Literacy: an introduction, Allen and Unwin, NSW (1996).

[84] Dery, M., Escape Velocity: cyberculture at the end of the century, Hodder and Stoughton, London (1996).

[85] Scheeres, J., “New body art: Chip implants”, Wired News, http://www. wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,50769,00.html, [Accessed 15 October 2002], pp. 1-2 (2002).

[86] Tysome, T., “Dance of a cyborg”, The Australian, p. 35 (2001).

[87] Warwick, K., “Frequently asked questions”, Professor Kevin Warwick, http://www2.cyber.rdg.ac.uk/kevinwarwick/FAQ.html, [Accessed 20 November 2001], pp. 1-4 (2001).

[88] Sacleman, H. Computers, System Science, And Evolving Society: the challenge of man-machine digital systems, Wiley, New York (1967).

[89] McLuhan, M., Understanding Media: the extensions of man, The MIT Press, England (1999).

[90] McLuhan, M. & Powers, B.R., The Global Village: transformations in world life and media in the 21st century, Oxford University Press, New York (1989).

[91] McLuhan, E. & Zingrone, F., Essential McLuhan, BasicBooks, USA (1995).

[92] Ellul, J., The Technological Society, Vintage Books, New York (1964).

[93] Toffler, A., Future Shock, Bantam Books, New York (1970).

[94] Gates, B., The Road Ahead, The Penguin Group, New York (1995).

[95] Negroponte, N., Being Digital, Hodder and Stoughton, Australia (1995).

[96] Moravec, H., Mind Children: the future of robot and human intelligence, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (1988).

[97] Moravec, H., Robot: mere machine to transcendent mind, Oxford University Press, Oxford (1999).

[98] Paul, G.S. & Cox, E.D. Beyond Humanity: cyberevolution and future minds, Charles River Media, Massachusetts (1996).

[99] Sorkin, D.L. & McClanahan, J. “Cochlear implant reimbursement cause for concern”, HealthyHearing, http://www.healthyhearing.com/healthyhearing/ newroot/articles/arc_disp.asp?id=147&catid=1055, [Accessed 3 May 2004], pp. 1-4 (2004).

[100] Weber, D.O., “Me, myself, my implants, my micro-processors and I”, Software Development Magazine, http://www.sdmagazine.com/print/ documentID=11149, [Accessed 29 November 2001], pp. 1-6 (2000).

[101] Maybury, M.T., “The mind matters: artificial intelligence and its societal implications”, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, June/July, pp. 7-15 (1990).

[102] Bijker, W.E. & Law, J. (eds), Shaping Technology/Building Society: studies in sociotechnical change, The MIT Press, Massachusetts (1992).

[103] Pool, R. Beyond Engineering: how society shapes technology, Oxford University Press, New York (1997).

[104] Hristodoulou, M. Hieromonk, “In the last days”, in Geron Paisios, Mount Athos, Greece, (in Greek), pp. 181-192 (1994).

[105] Relfe, M.S., The New Money System, Ministries Inc., Alabama (1982).

[106] Relfe, M.S., When Your Money Fails, League of Prayer, Alabama (1981).

[107] Barker, K. et al. (eds), The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Michigan, pp. 1939-1940 (1995).

[108] Watkins, T., “WARNING: 666 IS COMING!”, Dial-the-Truth Ministries,  http://www.secis.com/truth [Accessed 1 August 1996], now http://www.av1611. org, pp. 1-6 (1996).

[109] Michael, M.G., The Number of the Beast, 666 (Revelation 13:16-18): Background, Sources and Interpretation, Macquarie University, MA (Hons) Thesis, Sydney, Australia (1998).

[110] Arndt, W.F. & Gingrich, F.W., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p. 876 (1979).

[111] Roethenbaugh, G., “Simon Davies- Is this the most dangerous man in Europe?”, Biometrics in Human Services, Vol. 2, No. 5, pp. 2-5 (1998).

[112] Decker, S., “Technology raises concerns: Pros and cons of scientific advances weighed as Christians discuss issue”, The Falcon Online Edition,  http://www.thefalcononline.com//story/2270, [Accessed 1 April 2003], pp. 1-3 (2002).

[113] Cook, T.L. The Mark of the New World Order, ASIN, USA (1999).

[114] Newton, C., “U.S. to weigh computer chip implant”, Netscape: Daily News, http://dailynews.netscape.com/mynsnews/story.tmpl?table=n&cat=51180 &id= 200202261956000188605, [Accessed 15 October 2002], pp. 1-2 (2002).

[115] Associated Press, “Chip in your shoulder? Family wants info device”, USA Today: Tech, http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/2002/04/01/ verichip-family.htm, [Accessed 15 October 2002], pp. 1-2 (2002).

[116] Michael, M.G., “For it is the number of a man”, Bulletin of Biblical Studies, Vol. 19, January-June, pp. 79-89 (2000).

[117] Michael, M.G., “666 or 616 (Rev 13:18): Arguments for the authentic reading of the Seer's conundrum”, Bulletin of Biblical Studies, Vol. 19, July-December, pp. 77-83 (2000).

[118] Bauckham, R., The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation, T & T Clark: Edinburgh, pp. 384-452 (1993).

[119] Horn, T., “Opinionet contributed commentary”, Opinionet, http://www.opinionet.com/commentary/contributors/ccth/ccth13.htm, [Accessed 29 November 2001], pp. 1-4 (2000).

[120] Barnet, R.J. & Cavanagh, J., Global Dreams: imperial corporations and the new world order, Simon and Schuster, New York (1994).

[121] Wilshire, B., The Fine Print, Brian Wilshire, Australia (1992).

[122] Smith, B., Warning, Smith Family Evangelism, New Zealand (1980).

[123] Stahl, W.A., God and the Chip: religion and the culture of technology, EDSR, Canada (1999).

[124] Noble, D.F., The Religion of Technology: the divinity of man and the spirit of invention, Penguin Books, England (1999).

[125] Sensormatic, “SafeKids™”, Sensormatic, http://www.sensormatic.com/ html/safekids/index.htm, [Accessed 3 June 1999], pp. 1-2 (1999).

[126] Raimundo, N., ‘Digital angel or big brother?’, SCU, http://cseserv.engr. scu.edu/StudentWebPages/NRaimundo/ResearchPaper.htm [Accessed 15th December 2002], (2002).

[127] Wilson, J., “Girl to get tracker implant to ease parents’ fears”, The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4493297,00.html, [Accessed 15 October 2002], pp. 1-2 (2002).

[128] Ermann, M.D. et al. (eds), Computers, Ethics, and Society, Oxford University Press, New York (1997).

[129] Eng, P., “I, Chip? Technology to meld chips into humans draws closer”, ABCNEWS.com, http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/DailyNews/  chipimplant020225.html, [Accessed 15 October 2002], pp. 1-3 (2002).

[130] Pace, S. et al. (eds), The Global Positioning System: assessing national policies, Rand Corporation, New York (1996).

[131] Rummler, D.M., “Societal issues in engineering”, ENGR 300, pp. 1-3 (2001).

[132] Associated Press, “Company gets okay to sell ID-only computer chip implant”, The Detroit News, http://www.detnews.com/2002/technology/0204/ 05/technology-457686.htm, [Accessed 15 October 2002] (2002).

[133] Associated Press, “ID chip ready for implant”, USA Today: Tech, http:// www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/2002/04/04/implant-chip.htm, [Accessed 15 October 2002], pp. 1-2.

[134] Billinghurst, M. & Starner T., “Wearable devices: new ways to manage information”, IEEE Computer, January, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 57-64 (1999).

[135] Mann, S., “Wearable computing: toward humanistic intelligence”, IEEE Intelligent Systems, May/June, pp. 10-15 (2001).

[136] Chan, T., “Welcome to the Internet, baby!”, Telecom Asia, p. 38 (2001).

[137] Schiele, B. et al., “Sensory-augmented computing: wearing the museum’s guide”, IEEE Micro, pp. 44-52.

[138] Kurzweil, R., The Age of Spiritual Machines: when computers exceed human intelligence, Penguin Books, New York (1999).

[139] Irwin, A., “Brain implant lets man control computer by thought”, Telegraph.co.uk, 1238, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=000118613908976, [Accessed 22 November 2001], pp. 1-3 (1998).

[140] Warwick, K., “Are chip implants getting under your skin?”, Compiler, http://www.synopsys.com/news/pubs/compiler/art3_chipimplan-mar03.html, [Accessed 1 March 2004], pp. 1-5 (2003).

[141] McGrath, P., “Technology: Building better humans”, Newsweek, http:// egweb.mines.edu/eggn482/admin/Technology.htm, [Accessed 29 November], pp. 1-3 (2001).

[142] Anonymous, “Professor Cyborg”, Salon.com, http://www.salon.com/tech/ feature/1999/10/20/cyborg/index1.html, 3 parts, [Accessed 29 November 2001], pp. 1-3 (1999).

[143] Joy, B. “Why the future doesn’t need us”, Wired, 8.04, http://www.wired. com/wired/archive/8.04/joy_pr.html, [Accessed 4 January 2003], pp. 1-19 (2000).

[144] Masey, S. “Can we talk? The need for ethical dialogue”, The IEE, p. 4/1, (1998).

[145] Wenk, E., “The design of technological megasystems: new social responsibilities for engineers”, IEEE, pp. 47-61 (1990).

[146] Boehringer, B., “Benefits of the OHSU/OGI merger”, The Oregon Opportunity: A New Era of Medical Breakthroughs, http://www.ohsu.edu/ about/opportunity/ohsu_ogi.htm, [Accessed 20 November 2001], pp. 1-2 (2001).

[147] Ebert, R., “Enemy of the State”, Ebert on Movies, http://www.suntimes. com/ebert/ebert_reviews/1998/11/112006.html, pp. 1-3 (2001).

 

Biographical Note

Dr Katina Michael is a lecturer in Information Technology at the University of Wollongong in Australia. In 1996 she completed her Bachelor of Information Technology degree with a co-operative scholarship from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and in 2003 she was awarded her Doctor of Philosophy with the thesis “The Auto-ID Trajectory” from the University of Wollongong. She has an industrial background in telecommunications and has held positions as a systems analyst with United Technologies and Andersen Consulting. Most of her work experience was acquired as a senior network and business planner with Nortel Networks (1996-2001). In this capacity she consulted for Asia’s largest telecommunication operators and service providers. Katina now teaches and researches in eBusiness and her main academic interests are in the areas of automatic identification devices, third generation wireless applications, geographic information systems, and technology forecasting.

Dr M.G. Michael is a church historian and New Testament scholar. He has spoken at numerous international conferences and has written two highly regarded dissertations on the Book of Revelation. His specialist interests are in apocalypticism, millennial studies, and Orthodox mysticism. He has completed a Doctor of Philosophy at the Australian Catholic University, a Master of Arts (Honours) at Macquarie University, a Master of Theology and Bachelor of Arts at Sydney University and a Bachelor of Theology at the Sydney College of Divinity.

The Auto-ID Trajectory - Abstract

Traditionally the approach used to analyse technological innovation focused on the application of the techno-economic paradigm with the production function as its foundation. This thesis explores the rise of the evolutionary paradigm as a more suitable conceptual approach to investigating complex innovations like automatic identification (auto-ID) devices. Collecting and analysing data for five auto-ID case studies, (bar codes, magnetic-stripe cards, smart cards, biometrics and RF/ID transponders), it became evident that a process of migration, integration and convergence is happening within the auto-ID technology system (TS). The evolution of auto-ID is characterised by a new cluster of innovations, primarily emerging through the recombination of existing knowledge. Using the systems of innovation (SI) framework this study explores the dynamics of auto-ID innovation, including organisational, institutional, economic, regulatory, social and technical dimensions. The results indicate that for a given auto-ID innovation to be successful there must be interaction between the various stakeholders within each dimension. The findings also suggest, that the popular idea that several technologies are superseded by one dominant technology in a given selection environment, does not hold true in the auto-ID industry. 

Read More

The Auto-ID Trajectory - Chapter Two Literature Review

The primary purpose of the literature review is to establish what relevant research has already been conducted in the field of auto-ID innovation. It is through this review of the broader research topic that a specific proposal can be accurately formulated. First, a critical response to the literature on technological innovation is required. Second, a thorough evaluation of research on auto-ID technologies is necessary. Third, an attempt to locate works that deal with both innovation and auto-ID will be made. If these works are scant, then the question of whether this warrants a sufficient gap for further research will be posed. Can this thesis act to fill the void in the literature by offering a first attempt at understanding the innovation of technologies in the auto-ID industry?

Read More

The Auto-ID Trajectory - Chapter Five The Development of Auto-ID Technologies

In this chapter the story behind the development of individual auto-ID technology will be explored. First to highlight the importance of incremental innovation within auto-ID; second to show the growth of the auto-ID selection environment as being more than just bar code and magnetic-stripe technology; third to point to the notion of technological trajectory as applied to auto-ID; fourth to highlight the occurrence of creative symbiosis taking place between various auto-ID devices; and fifth to establish a setting in which results in the forthcoming chapters can be interpreted. The high-level drivers that led to each invention will also be presented here as a way to understand innovation in the auto-ID industry.

Read More

The Auto-ID Trajectory - Chapter Seven: Ten Cases in the Selection and Application of Auto-ID

The overall purpose of this chapter is to present the auto-ID selection environment by exploring ten embedded case studies. The cases will act to illustrate the pervasiveness of each auto-ID technology within vertical sectors which are synonymous with the technology’s take up. The focus will now shift from the technology provider as the central actor to innovation (as was highlighted in ch. 6) to the service provider stakeholder who adopts a particular technology on behalf of its members and end users. It will be shown that new commercial applications do act to drive incremental innovations which shape a technology’s long-term trajectory. The four levels of analysis that will be conducted can be seen in exhibit 7.1 below, with three examples to help the reader understand the format of the forthcoming micro-inquiry. This chapter dedicates equal space to each case and for the first time will show that coexistence between auto-ID technologies is not only possible but happening presently, and very likely to continue into the future.

Read More

Internet Commerce: Digital Models for Business - The Automatic Identification Trajectory

Most consumers would accept implants for life-saving and life enriching procedures related to increasing life expectancy. However, it is too early to tell whether or not consumers would adopt implants for such everyday applications as electronic payments, citizen identification, driver's licences, social security, ticketing or even retail loyalty schemes. While the adoption of other automatic identification technologies in the past has indicated that consumers are willing to adapt the manner in which they live and conduct business due to technological change, the process takes time. The difference between chip implants and other previous auto-ID devices is that the latter are noninvasive by nature. Bar codes are located on the exterior of goods, magnetic strip cards and smart cards are carried by cardholders and, more recently, biometric systems have required contact with only some external human characteristics such as the fingerprint or palm print for identification. Perhaps what Warwick was demonstrating by using the chip implant for commercial applications was that life could be somewhat simplified if consumers did not have to carry ten different cards in their wallet for a multiplicity of applications. In fact, the number of microchip implant patents has increased rapidly since the late 1990s.

Read More