A long time ago, I made a statement that not everyone agreed with. Well. Actually I do that all the time but I’m talking about a specific one here. I think it was during the controversial proposal that children should be microchipped so if the Glitter Gang kidnap them, or they fall into the well when Lassie isn’t around, they can be quickly tracked and found.
I was not keen on the idea because those children will grow up, and then you have a completely trackable population. Forget number plate recognition and CCTV. Every step you take, and in which direction, will be recorded on a central database. Further, those chipped adults won’t think twice about having their own kids chipped. In one generation, being microchipped becomes normal, and anyone refusing is seen as odd. That bothers me for some reason.
Children are always an emotive subject, and any suggestion of doing any kind of invasive procedure on a child will get a sharp ‘no’ from any parent worthy of the title. The scheme was dropped.
What I said at the time was along the lines of ‘Adults will be microchipped and they won’t resist. Far from it. They will fight to be first in line’.
Implanted chips that allow access to restricted areas have been around for years. Really though, they are only in use in limited areas so far – but their use is spreading.
Contactless card payments came out a while back. You don’t have to slot your card into a machine, you just tap it on top, because that saves you at least three seconds of typing in a number. I don’t like them, and it was obvious that the next step would be to implant the card’s chip in your hand. Sounds ridiculous?
My phone has a 48Gb micro SD card in it. You can buy much more memory in the same size package. A tiny glass-encapsulated chip could hold a hell of a lot of data. The code for your house and your car, your bank details,your medical records… they’d hardly make a dent in the amout of memory that could be in there. It could hold so much stuff.
There are already cars with keyless ignition. I’ve driven some – rented or courtesy car, I won’t buy one – and you just need the fob in your pocket to start the car. There is no physical key, no keyhole on the ignition and none on the door.The freakiest was a hybrid Prius. You press a button, the Star Trek dashboard boots up, there is no sound from under the bonnet even when you start moving! I don’t want one, although the heads-up speedometer on the windscreen was cool. I liked that part. As for the rest of the dashboard, I had no idea what that was telling me.
Why won’t I buy one? What if you drive out to the wilds of Scotland, have a really nice day out, get back to your car and the fob battery is dead? I bet almost nobody carries a spare battery for that thing and if they do, they leave it in the car. Which you can’t open because the battery in the fob is dead. Implanted chips don’t use batteries, they work something like RFID (I’m not an electrical engineer so don’t ask me – I’m sure someone in the comments will have the answer). So they would be an easy sell to anyone who’s experienced a dead car fob.
In the future, instead of stealing your house keys, car keys, bank cards… a criminal will get all those things at once by cutting off your hand. Isn’t that a comforting thought?
I have many such chips in ‘Panoptica’. Nobody has Borg gadgets, all the chips are for monitoring and control. It’s taking a very long time to write for a few reasons. The biggest one is that I have to get into – and stay in – the head of a character who is my exact opposite. Someone who accepts every rule without question, who follows every instruction, who is happy with their slot in society and has no ambition to change anything, ever. Someone to whom the entire concept of saying ‘Oh fuck off, I’m not doing that’ is not even imaginable. Staying in that character’s head is exhausting.
There was also the problem of credibility. A genderless drone population? Solved, the new 57 varieties of gender made that part easy. I covered it in a story in ‘Six in Five in Four‘ last Easter. Getting the chips in was solved long ago, and my argument that it would be easy is now proved.
I have to get more of that written before it all comes true. It’s not easy, every time I write something bizarre it seems to be in the news the next day and as I said, writing a totally compliant drone character is exhausting. I can’t hold that mindset for long, I don’t know how the NPCs do it.
Anyway, I have the Christmas anthology up next. I have renamed Christmas as Earth Day for this new (hopefully imaginary) world and this Christmas anthology needs another tale of progress towards Panoptica.
This one will be the stage where names become numbers.
Look at your wage slip or tax form and tell me that will never happen.
You might be one of those who told me people would resist implanted chips…