When Everything Is Smart: RFID Chips Infiltrate Food, Towels, and Even People

By Veronique Greenwood | June 8, 2011 4:41 pm
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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Photo Gallery, Technology
MORE ABOUT: microchips, RFID
  • Ruth Graff

    I find this to be frightening. The idea of being able to track things and people should be frightening to everyone. Where is likely to lead? Considering the mindset of those in powerful places, this could be a really bad idea.

  • Solitha

    There’s already a ton of ways to track things and people. And “those in powerful places” don’t typically care a hill of beans about the average person. If they want to track us, they already can.

    Most people afraid of this kind of technology believe themselves more interesting than they are. :-)

  • Marie

    It’s creepy and unhealthy- I don’t want that crap in my body and neither should anyone. frequencies can be sent to these devices to control behavior, they’ve already been testing it on animals. I don’t want to be controlled, and anything that can be done will be done.

  • Archwright

    @Marie sources or it never happened.

    This reminds me of ShadowRun. Everything is tagged. Your food, clothes, etc. Some tags are so small that they can be suspended in an aerosol mist. You’d never even know they’re there, except that they show up in AR (augmented reality).

  • Cathy

    It is useful and reassuring for pets. My cat has a microchip in his neck – if he ever escapes the house and runs away, he’ll be saved from the shelter (provided he doesn’t get hit by a car…)

  • ets_spoon

    All I can think about is a not-so-distant Super Bowl Sunday at half-time, when all those toilets flush – hold an RFID reader to the sewer main and read all about it! Maybe win a jet pack if your edible chip survies and is scanned. . .

  • Michelle

    I’m not afraid of this technology because I think I’m interesting…I’m really afraid of health effects. I’ve already had cancer and have an auto-immune disease. Do I need to have my body exposed to more stuff that might cause illness?

  • Sam

    @Solitha: most people who make that argument don’t understand how powerful data mining is. It’s not about how interesting one person is, it’s about what you can do when you know almost everything about every single individual person in your society.

    Then again, some people really are that interesting (to “those in powerful places”). Just because you’re not, doesn’t mean they should be tracked.

  • Michael Berry

    Track me if you want, doesn’t bother me one bit. It’s not that I have nothing to hide, it’s just that I lead a very uninteresting life so the last thing I’m worried about is someone following my (admittedly poor) dietary habits and subsequent bowel movements. If you want to get me to eat a cupcake and then track my every movement throughout the day, you’re welcome to. You’ll get bored long before noon.

    As Solitha said, there are plenty of ways “the powerful people” can keep tabs on you even without the use of RFID chips. Do you have a cell phone? If so, they can use your phone’s GPS signal to see where you’ve been over the last few months, or follow you in real-time. Do you have a computer? If so, they can find out everything you’ve ever looked at online, and that’s even more informative than your daily travels.

    I’m not worried about any of these things, but I’m also not doing anything I would consider to be “below board.” I guess maybe if I were, I might be a bit more worried about covering my tracks. As it stands, my life is boring enough that I’m not really worth keeping tabs on anyway. :)

  • Cassandra

    You may not be worried, but consider what would happen if you were a protester in a repressive society. This technology won’t be confined to societies where civil rights are protected; it can be used and abused by those in power anywhere. I agree, this is a bad thing unless protections are put in place to prevent abuse.

  • Rayne

    I don’t see the correlation between an edible chip in a cupcake and human tracking. I’m assuming that if it is “edible” it is either broken down by stomach acid or passed, and just because something has a computer chip does not mean it can be “tracked” geographically. As far as your purchasing history, sorry, already recorded every time you go to the store.
    On the other hand, the information given to a consumer would be of enormous benefit. Imagine if you knew the ethical practices and carbon footprint associated with your purchases in the grocery store. It would empower the consumer and force companies to be accountable for their actions.

  • jc

    It just keeps coming and coming…in the end, this planet will operate like every horrifying science fiction movie ever made. Too late now.

    @9 If you think your life is that boring, I’m sure it is. Now, go wait in line for the latest Xbox game at Walmart. Your job is Consumer.
    Many of the rest of us do value our privacy, out of personal pride if nothing else.

  • Peter Klein

    1. Wouldn’t being able to track calories easily, simply increase social pressure on people about their weight?
    2. If a strange man was following your every move – recording what you eat and drink, when you go to the bathroom, what you buy, who your friends are, where you go, what you watch, who you call – wouldn’t you get him arrested for stalking you?
    3. How easy would it be for a government to turn corrupt if they can track every political opponent, every citizen who rebels against them and to be able to identify those likely to rebel?
    4. What if every person you meet could scan you and compare themselves with you, without saying a word? What if they could see all your wages, job title, convictions, marital status, address, interests?

    Knowlege is power.

  • Orion Blastar

    They are developing a neurochip to put in brains. It will do far more than just track people. It will control people.

  • Zehaas Sram

    Privacy killers like this are NEVER used for our good. They are used for our OWN good. The difference being where the control is. It will be SOLD as something healthy, but I GUARANTEE you anything that CAN be put to nefarious use by the bureaucracy WILL BE.

    for example: the chips will calculate your calorie, fat and carb consumption, and funnel that data over to your healthcare provider under ObamaCare. THEN you will be denied coverage on the basis of your eating habits.

    This is a totalitarian regime’s wet dream! — Zehaas Sram

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