“. . . just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.” [quote, Jurassic Park]
The fifth horseman of the apocalypse (in the form of 50B Internet of Things (IOT) devices) is rapidly approaching. Big Data, cloud computing, and RFID are expected to converge in an explosion of analyzable (and potentially actionable) data points, in a world where everything is interconnected and communicating.
Regarding the innovative uses of IOT, British researcher Gasson suggests, “Anything that’s useful is going to happen in the next 10 – 20 years.” If the electronic revolution were limited only to things, implications for society would be relatively tame (with the exception of “hackable” components of a home or business which permit rogue elements system access).
In their article “Geoslavery,” Dobson and Fisher suggest that human tracking devices have the capability to confer control in the extreme – offering employers the ability to dominate the employed through stored data, GPS locating and GIS (Geographic Information System) digital maps – potentially resulting in “even great difficulty for workers in exercising their access and correction rights meaningfully in disciplinary contexts” – particularly where much of the time workers don’t know what data sensors are collecting about them in the first place.
Nefarious firms could most certainly use this data to workers’ disadvantage. Tags can now not only help to administer medication, but track information on wearers’ tastes, habits, medical condition, physical fitness, drug usage, bipolar condition, depressive state, mood, demographics (e.g., gender, marital status, job status), age, sleep patterns, happiness, overall well–being, and physical activity.
The article “The social implications of humancentric chip implant: A scenario “Thy chipdom come, thy will be done” explains that individuals may discount seeming negatives if they perceive (on the whole) that technology is beneficial to them personally – e.g., most people love the convenience factor of their SMART phones, despite (1) its tracking of their electronic comings and goings; (2) 70 percent of data transmitted by IOT devices is unencrypted; and (3) sensors for the most part don’t perform carrier sensing (and thus may be intercepted by virtually any reader). Ip, Michael and Michael (2008) argue “It’s important for potential adopters to consider the social implications of a technology,” because they may be detrimental not only to individuals, but to society as a whole.
We disrobe one piece of data at a time, our naked selves on full display, encased in a kernel the size of a grain of rice – seemingly small, but with the capacity to store everything about us.
Mandatory chip implants may become commonplace in one decade; according to Ip, Michael and Michael (20008): “its not a big jump to say OK, you have a wearable, why not just embed the device. . .? And no one can rule out the possibility that employees might one day be asked to sport embedded chips for ultimate access control and security.” Even if RFID implants are not mandated by central governments, so many business/services may require them that they could become the de facto id.
The following futuristic scenario (the last installment of a blog trilogy) are the musings of an IT manager (Stan) in a fictional “chipped” company (“C*TEGYM”) who’s explaining the new employee tracking system to C*TEGYM’s Human Resource manager.
“Here’s the way it works. Employee data is transmitted by our overhead readers – array antennae systems – to our back end servers. At the push of a button you can locate anybody anywhere, by what’s known as Real Time Location System tracking – RTLS for short. The electronic log on each chip allows you to see who interacted with what (or whom), and when – that data’s displayed on your HR dashboard in real time; plus, you can always request the log information on any employee whenever you please. This function’s limited to top management who have read/write privileges.”
“As HR manager, you’ll have a special password which allows you access to employment data – to help eliminate resume fraud. For all the pre-hire false leads you could just as well use them to wipe the floor. Anyway, the Electronic Safety Employment Act permits you to write data to employees’ chips, things like performance reviews, commendations, reprimands, hiring and terminations. Where this gets more interesting is that in the future, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will cumulate historical data (from all the companies they’ve worked) and perform predictive analytics. So instead of sitting down with someone to map out their career path, the software using Big Data does it for you. And it ranks people in terms of potential value. What this means is that your survival of the fittest promotion system has never been easier. If you do this pre-recruitment, the program automatically flags employment gaps and potential job hoppers – you know, anything that doesn’t look copacetic.”
“I had ChpCh*m jerry-rig it so that when people use chip payment, Big Data’s sent to a cloud way station before it ever reaches a credit card company. That way, all their liquor and tobacco usage (previously self-report) shows up at the office. Having employees fill out their own health questionnaires is bogus, and a waste of everybody’s time. A summary of their grocery tab (by category) is uploaded to C*TEGYM’S onsite doctor as well as to our insurance company – so we can do trending, figure differential rates, and so that physicians can update employees’ health plans – particularly regarding food/drink that’s considered contraband. Bots cull through all that information in a matter of milli-seconds, flagging outliers, sorting through data. Senior managers are of course the exceptions –
it’s the unwashed masses I’m worried about.”