Thursday, February 8, 2007

My Dog is a Cyborg

Well, my wife and I took the leap and adopted a dog from the Humane Society. His name is Wiley (short for Wile E. Coyote Super Genius; yes, original, I know). He doesn't look like a cyborg, does he? How do you tell the difference between a dog and a... um, canoid? When we adopted him, we were informed that he had a microchip. "Excuse me," I said, "a microchip?" Yes. When he was brought in to the Humane Society by the Green Bay Police Department (he was a stray), they inserted a microchip underneath his skin: Home Again ID. With this microchip, if he runs away and is found, he can be "scanned" and all of his information, such as his home, can be brought up on the computer. Neat, huh?
Anyway, that got me to thinking, why don't we do this under other circumstances. For example, consider the number of missing children cases in the United States. Could something like this help find those children? Help them get home again if lost in the mall? Catch criminals who abduct them? Could this be a good thing for human beings as well as our pets? But what are the other implications of such technology if used on human beings? With the proper technology, would our car start for us automatically? Could we set our lights to come on when we come home? Our TV to turn to our favorite channel? (Dial 3.) But then, could businesses tailor advertising to us personally? ("Mr. Ganyard, you look like you could use a Guiness." Well, yes, now that you mention it....) Of course, if that were the case, how much information would the police have? Is that a good thing? Break the law, and you're immediately identified. Take a trip to California, and you're immdeiately identified. Vote in the next election....


Anthony said...

I remember when my dog disappeared out of the blue one day as a child and being crushed by his loss, so I think this is a great innovation for pets at least. However, enter the realm of inserting these chips into children and the implications are stark and eerie. Imagine seconds after birth having a small tracking device “installed” into body. In one sense, no more abduction (and don’t get me wrong, abduction is a frightening reality); however what happens to human freedom in light of this overbearing structure? The loss of good natured randomness in the day with the introduction of a swift shock once you step outside the bounds of one’s place any given time. This already exists actually, yet in the form of a punishment for dangerous criminals under house arrest. At some point the chaos would dissolve and humans would shuffle to and fro similar to the worker shift change seen in the opening of Metropolis. *shiver* not the type of world I would want to live in, I enjoy my randomness as anyone who knows me can attest. I would most likely be one to dig under my skin to find the implants and rip them out.

Dani said...

He's so cute! More people should adopt pets from the humane society, they re really doing the animals a favor.
The microchip is an excellent idea for pets because once they are found they can be identified. But with human's it is one of those slippery slope things. The goverment already tracks us and are where abouts through the GPS systems in our cars and the cell phones we all carry through sattelite. I think even credit card companies where considere4ing something similar so that only the card holder(s) could use the card. But I don't think I could trust goverment as it is, and with such a technology total strangers could track you down, record your information and what have you. It's like the internt already only all the dangers are more personal. But again, all technology can either be beneficial or a burden.

Mike Anzia said...

The only problem with giving humans something as...I'm loathe to use the word an identity chip, is that if the chip would go out, how would you be able to identify yourself? One bad static shock and its wrecked.

Speaking of tracking, you know how when you buy things from bookstores - such as B&N - they ask you for your location? It isn't just to statistical analysis. It's a government "plot" to keep track of what people are reading, and who they feel they need to watch. That's also what some of the cards offered by these places do (not all, but some). Even without the chip, they still watch us.

That's also why I don't have GPS on my car. I don't like the idea of strange people knowing where I am.

Kirk Plankey said...

Yes, professor I saw this coming a long time ago. First, there would be our pets, because of course we all love our dogs and cats and want to get them back safe and sound when they are lost. Second, would be the criminals because of course we want to be safe from these evil and bad people, we want to be protected from them and have the police be able to track down and apprehend them. Third, would be our children. How terrible if they were to become lost or kidnapped, we of course want them back safe and sound as quickly as possible in either circumstance. And of course in the latter case because criminals also have identity chips we might also be able to catch them as well.

The fourth and final step of this technological slippery slope would then be the "rest of us". How good it would have been to have identity chips/GPS ability to save those mountain climbers out west just these past few months ago. How comforting it would be to know that my parents if they ever bacame lost or needed aid would be able to get it in a timely fashion via the aid of techology and micro chips.

The question is not if, but rather when and how this will take place, as it actually now is. Any system or technology can be abused the issue is not to prove that it never can or will, put to put in place oversights, rules, regulations, et cetera to reduce and minimize the possibilities of it.

To argue against this technology is like arguing against the automobile or the cell phone. Humanity lived for millenia without these items but now that we have coninued down the technological path they are an intrinsic part of our everyday life. Of course people misuse both of these technological items but we have a sytem to monitor, police, enforce, and punish those who choose to use them incorrectly and illegally. Then too we have a system to monitor our government and officials as well to check on and monitor abuses.

Now system is perfect, in fact I do not know if a perfect system would be a good idea as well, take your (link) example to "Minority Report" when we have, or think we have a perfect system it becomes an authotity unto itself, almost beyond reproach. And that is a scary thought.

Any system, technology, or device that we create and implement is also influenced by and subject to our own idiosyncrocies and limitations if we keep this in mind throughout the process of developing, creating and implementing technology we can have a greater chance at success in avoiding turning the technological box we have opened into a box equivelent to Pandora's Box.