August 24, 1998 is the day Kevin Warwick, a British professor of cybernetics, had a chip implanted under his skin.
At the time, it allowed Kevin to open doors and turn on lights with just a flick of his hand and gave him his 15 minutes of fame, but we all went on with our lives thinking it was a weird little experience.
Fast forward 24 years and microchipping of domestic cats and dogs is now compulsory in most Australian states and, although not yet compulsory, microchipping of humans occurs worldwide.
When I use the term “microchip”, what am I really referring to?
Typically, the small chip – about the size of a large grain of rice – is a radio frequency identification (RFID) device. The RFID tag contains a very small amount of data, about two kilobytes at most.
This is the equivalent of 2,000 characters or 350 words. When the tag is held near an RFID reader, electromagnetic energy from the reader activates the chip and radio waves are sent back to the reader along with the information stored on the chip.
Although not yet mandatory, microchipping of humans occurs all over the world.
Just like your contactless credit card, the chip inserted under your skin requires no batteries. It does, however, need energy to transmit its data, but it receives that energy in the form of electromagnetic energy from the RFID reader.
The RFID device under your skin is effectively disabled until it is brought near a reader.
RFID tags were used as early as the 1970s on railroad cars or to manage inventory, but Charles Walton officially patented RFID in 1983.
With commercial sales now available for the human microchip, tens of thousands of people are choosing to be tagged with RFID chips. Why? It’s all part of the goal of increased comfort in our daily lives.
On your way home from work, you might stop by the corner store to buy some milk. Oops – you left your wallet in the car. Carefree. Just wave your hand over the EFTPOS machine.
Struggling to carry all the car groceries and then fumble with the keys? Just run your hand over the lock.
Whether now or in the near future, you can use your chip to replace traditional keys; credit card; professional identity cards; public transport pass; government ID and even proof of vaccination.
The chip can be updated with more information externally or a relatively simple process can be undertaken to physically remove the chip and insert a new updated chip.
In a survey at the height of the pandemic, 28% of American adults believed Bill Gates was using COVID-19 vaccines to microchip people so they could be tracked because, you know, when you have $133 billion in your account banking the main thing you want to do is find out where the people are.
What would those same people think of a real microchip inserted under your skin?
I know this won’t convince some, but the only way an RFID chip can work is if it’s very close to the reader.
Using satellites to read data off a chip under your skin isn’t possible with current technology, but if you see someone walking through a crowd and bumping an EFTPOS machine into your hand, you should be concerned.
Let me know if you would be willing to have a chip inserted under your skin at [email protected]
- Mathew Dickerson is a technologist, futurist and host of the Tech Talk podcast.