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« What human ability makes you irreplaceable? | Main | Ethical budgeting, security, and playing the odds »

Never forget your keys, never have your privacy

I got two blocks from home this morning and had to turn around and go back. I realized I'd left my phone charging in the kitchen.

Damn phone.

The local paper recently ran a story from the AP about a company in Sweden that implants chips in its employees "that function as swipe cards: to open doors, operate printers, or buy smoothies at the wave of a hand." The process seemed somewhat horrifying when I read the article, but as I was hustling to grab my forgotten phone, it sounded rather practical.

My phone replaces an increasing number of devices. Camera, calendar, compass, loyalty cards, bike computer, playing cards, boarding pass, pedometer, map, computer, flashlight, book, etc. Now it is poised to replace my wallet and keys as well.

So wouldn't it be wonderful if most of these functions were imbedded in a few implanted chips instead of a separate device one must remember, charge, and not drop in the toilet? Pretty hard to forget your fingers at home (although I am guessing there are 8th graders who will be able to figure it out.) No more fumbling for your phone to scan in your supermarket loyalty card before scanning in your bananas. No worries about balancing your coffee when looking for your keys. Sweet.

There will, of course, be a price to pay - a diminution of privacy. Like our puppies with chip implants, we can and will be tracked. And not just where we go and what we buy, but how regular we are our potty breaks and percent of alcohol in our blood. While one can always leave one phone at home (another tracking device) when off to do something immoral, illegal, or stupid, the chips in the bod will be always be there.

Were I younger and had the energy to be immoral or illegal, I would question whether to have a chip implant. But chips instead of keys, cards, and phones sound pretty good to me, even though I still seem to have the energy to be stupid. And I just may be easier to find when I wander away from the nursing home.

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