George Monbiot on “Children of the Machine”

The story about the two Ohio workers who got RFID chips implanted is ancient news by blog standards, but it’s still worth thinking/writing about.  George Monbiot had a good article about it last week.  An excerpt:

There are, in other words, plenty of legitimate uses for implanted chips. This is why they bother me. A technology whose widespread deployment, if attempted now, would be greeted with horror, will gradually become unremarkable. As this happens, its purpose will begin to creep.

At first the tags will be more widely used for workers with special security clearance. No one will be forced to wear one; no one will object. Then hospitals – and a few in the US are already doing this(7)- will start scanning their unconscious or incoherent patients to see whether or not they have a tag. Insurance companies might start to demand that vulnerable people are chipped.

The armed forces will discover that they are more useful than dog tags for identifying injured soldiers or for tracking troops who are lost or have been captured by the enemy. Prisons will soon come to the same conclusion. Then sweatshops in developing countries will begin to catch on. Already the overseers seek to control their workers to the second; determining when they clock on, when they visit the toilet, even the number of hand movements they perform. A chip makes all this easier. The workers will not be forced to have them, any more than they are forced to have sex with their bosses; but if they don’t accept the conditions, they don’t get the job. After that, it surely won’t be long before asylum seekers are confronted with a similar choice: you don’t have to accept an implant, but if you refuse, you can’t stay in the country.

Link: George Monbiot – Children of the Machine.

Is wireless internet hazardous to your health?

Lakehead University in Ontario has decided against installing campus wi-fi because of health and security concerns:

The safety of chronic, long-term exposure to electromagnetic energy, of which radio waves are a part, is a hotly contested scientific subject. Researchers have conducted hundreds of studies assessing the health impacts of this form of energy, studying not only radio waves, but related topics, such as microwaves and the electromagnetic fields around electric wiring.
    …

    With the profusion of cellphone towers, wireless networks and electricity using electronic devices, exposure levels are rising rapidly across the globe.

    But most studies have been unable to prove conclusively that common, everyday exposures are a health hazard. In response, regulatory bodies around the world have usually concluded that there is no reason for public concern.

Link: Globe and Mail: Lakehead says no way to wireless

Via Computers, Society, and Nature, who have more on this issue.