The dystopian menace of electronic tattoos

Posted by David Gomez

Sometimes you go to bed happy and then you wake up pissed off because of some item in the news that shows we might soon become a technological authoritarian state.

This time it’s those fancy new electronic tattoos. We covered them yesterday, and boy do they resemble something from dystopian fiction.

Sure the team of scientists who worked on them probably believe they’re great like some scientific Tony the Tiger, but I wonder what the financers behind the project think? The National Science Foundation and the Air Force Research Laboratory supported this work after all.

And they’re both agencies of the government.

I’m not saying that either of these agencies is evil, but can’t you see the Air Force Research Laboratory higher ups having the discussion with the Pentagon about how these electronic tattoos would be a good substitute for the dog tag and the old fashioned service record book?

Why use an analog solution to keep track of the troops when you go can do it in a cool and techno fashionable way funded by the tax payers?

They’ve said that these babies would have lot of uses in the medical field, but I think that they’d also be useful for tracking and storing information about people in a government database.

And if you know anything about how military funded developments are handled then you know that things that are released onto the general population are often used in military situations first.

Like the unmanned drones for example. They were tested in combat zones in the Middle East first and now they are beginning to use them here at home in law enforcement situations.

I could see these electronic tattoos being tested in the same manner.

I mean, I saw smart chips in military ID cards before I started seeing them in civilian credit cards or ID cards.

I see lots of opportunity for abuse with these things. Not to mention that the picture that came with the original press release eerily reminds me of a futuristic version of a concentration camp tattoo.

Yes, at this point the devices are still developmental and will only be used by those who can invest the money into using the newest technology. But at some point these things could catch on.

They are a big improvement over RFID and smart chips because of how easy they sit on a human, and also contain more components than RFID and smart chips. This means they can interface with computer systems and share data in much more complex ways.

Again, it comes back to a database. Based on what is known about these things they seem tailor made for usage in a huge database. And they could share all of your vital signs, even your mental condition, with a large database.

This is Orwell’s nightmare and Huxley predicted we’d be too distracted and passive to care.

Maybe these electronic tattoos won’t gain acceptance with the public, but I never thought people would ever accept anything that resembled The Matrix. And yet here we are a society that is increasingly more plugged into our gizmos and fake social networks.

So, it could happen.

I can visualize a society where people are tattooed and kept in a large government data network like in the movie Idiocracy. Who’d have thought Mike Judge - the guy who did Beavis and Butthead - would turn out to my generation’s dystopian prognosticator?