Imagine a world in the not-too-distant future where every human on the planet serves as an autonomous, intelligent sensor system and voluntarily opts into the construct for free? Well welcome to the latest cyborg phenomenon called “chipping.”
What is “Chipping”?
In its current instantiation, people pay around $300 to have a tattoo artist or other body modification professional insert a small capsule under their skin – typically between the thumb and index finger. The device, about the size of a grain of rice, is an RFID tag and enables its human host to open doors, unlock computers, or even pay for goods and services.
It’s still early days and there are many concerns regarding privacy and security but it’s hard to imagine this going away. Wouldn’t it be great to simply swipe your hand to whisk through long lines at the airport or purchase that candy bar you’re craving in the vending machine? The convenience is just too alluring.
So will we all chip ourselves?
Think of all of the possibilities if >7B people were networked into a massive wireless sensor system that could detect all sorts of internal and external environmental conditions – temperature, humidity, light, radiation, air quality, acceleration, position – the list is endless. It would be one of the most powerful IoT systems the world has ever known.
Throw in a little AI/ML magic and its predictive capabilities will be amazing and further bridge the physical and digital divide. The Internet will no longer simply be a sea of faceless humming servers and web pages. It will come alive in the truest sense of the word.
And the embedded sensors don’t have to simply monitor the natural environment. They can understand your body chemistry and alert you (and medical professionals) to anomalies in serum levels and blood counts; providing an omnipresent early warning system for sickness and disease. They will be able to discern the effectiveness of prescribed drugs in real-time, make diet recommendations on the fly, and tell you what foods you should eat for maximum performance – whether that’s a highly competitive sporting event or just a run-of-the-mill day at the office. No longer will we have to guess or “get lucky” when it comes to health, fitness and wellbeing.
Yes, privacy advocates and security professionals will have a field day predicting the dire ramifications of this new world but it won’t stop our relentless march toward it. Blockchain technologies, unbreakable encryption, miniaturization, remote charging, and other techniques yet to be invented will win out ultimately.
The benefits of an always-on society simply outweigh the downsides.
We already embed microchips into our most beloved pets to help us find them if they get lost. When do you think we will start chipping children at birth? Many of you may bristle at that thought but it wouldn’t surprise me if the practice were commonplace in 10-20 years.
Let’s face it – humans are the perfect sensors. We’re rechargeable, self-correcting, mobile, long lasting, and smart by default.
It won’t be long before the IoT systems we build directly integrate people into the solution. In some ways we already have but the humans are sitting behind keyboards or swiping on touch screens. The ultimate man machine interface is just around the corner. Strange and exciting times indeed…