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Surgically Implanted Smart Chips Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 28th, 2022

Introduction

ID cards, smarts cards, fingerprint scanners, and facial recognition software are among the most utilized methods of personal identification today used to verify a person’s identity. They are a necessary facet of modern day society due to the proliferation of criminal attempts at identity theft, false representation as well as a variety of other crimes where an individual attempts to falsify their identity in order to accomplish an illegal activity. While such criminal actions have been limited so far due to improvements in personal identification, the fact remains that as of late criminals have been improving along with the technology meant to deter them. This has resulted in a veritable arms race where governments and private companies continually improve security procedures to prevent criminals from either stealing another individual’s personal information or utilizing already stolen information for malicious purposes.

Unfortunately, this back and forth fighting has negatively impacted ordinary individuals and consumers since in order to utilize their own identity for purchases, registration or government benefits the procedure involved has become a highly complicated process. This has resulted in the necessity of remembering a plethora of passwords and methods of verification, as well as requiring people to be on constant vigilance against identity theft which for most people is incredibly inconvenient. It is due to this inconvenience that a pressing need arises for a fast and convenient method of personal identification that cannot be easily replicated or stolen in order to make activities such as opening a bank account, utilizing government services and other similar activities safe and convenient for consumers and ordinary individuals.

One currently emerging technology that is undergoing testing and development to address this apparent need is a surgically implanted smart chip called a “Verichip” (name changes depending on the company that produces it). This chip, no bigger than a grain of rice, is embedded within the skin and transmits a signal that can be read by a handheld reader in order to confirm a person’s identity via an online database (Armitage, 2004). This particular emerging technology seemingly promises to streamline the process of consumer identification and apparently ensures that identity theft cannot be accomplished as easily as before.

How the Technology Works

The procedure of utilizing the technology is actually quite a simple process; a chip is loaded into a syringe and a random area on the body is chosen for the chip to be embedded in. Local anesthetic is applied after which the needle is inserted and the chip embedded. Overall, the process from start to finish doesn’t take longer than a few minutes and is relatively simple to do. In order to draw power to transmit the needed the signal all embedded smart chips have a built in system that utilizes body heat as a method of powering the chip. Due to its relatively small size, this particular method of powering the electronics inside is actually quite reasonable since other methods of powering the device may be unreliable in the long run due to current constraints in maintaining a charge over a period of several years.

In its current incarnation the smart chip works by transmitting an identification signal when a scanner is used to trigger the device. The unique transmission code is read by a computer and compared to an online database where a record is kept verifying an individual’s identity. It must be noted though that this particular form of technology is already widely utilized in the pet industry as a means of tagging and identifying pets via an embedded chip. Future versions of the embedded smart chip for human use have the potential to make purchases as well as be utilized as an alternative form of security identification via a personalized transmission code that is unique only to that particular embedded chip.

Impact on Global Society by 2021

By 2021 one possible impact this particular type of emerging technology could have on society is to help usher in a revolutionary new type of payment system where embedded smart chips could act as digital wallets for the average consumer (Foster & Jaeger, 2008). Customers would no longer need to bring credit cards instead they can have a portion of their bodies scanned and the transaction automatically charged to their account. In the science fiction show Babylon 5, this particular form of smart card technology was seen wherein various individuals on the show had embedded smart chip readers on their hands which were utilized as quick and efficient means of transmitting money as well as communicating between locations.

Another possible impact this type of technology will have by 2021 is that it could possibly act as a replacement for current swipe card technology used by universities and various government institutions to enter specific locations (Foster & Jaeger, 2008). Scanners in various entrances can be used to scan individuals attempting to gain access to buildings and only people with authorized smart chip frequencies can enter into specific areas (Is that a Verichip under your skin, 2004). Other applications for this particular type of technology range from homes with doors meant to open when particular smart chip frequencies are near, to cars that will only start if the user has the appropriate smart chip frequency.

Another application for this type of technology can actually be found in the field of medicine; based on data examining the prevalence of medical error related deaths in the U.S. nearly 195,000 people die every year within hospitals due to some medical related error that was unforeseen from the onset of treatment. This is due to the fact that not only are online medical databases fragmented but at times patients may be unconscious resulting in them being unable to give pertinent information regarding a prior medical condition. It is due to instances such as this that the rate of medical error related deaths has scarcely gone down over the past couple of years despite advances in diagnostic technology. Unknown allergies and possible medical complications often result in treatments causing more harm than good and as such this presents a dilemma that can be resolved through the use of embedded smart chip technology. The “Verichip” has already gone into its testing phase when it was released in 2004 as an embedded medical device utilized to identify an unconscious patient’s identity along with any prior medical conditions so as to ensure that proper care and treatment is administered. In 2004 nearly 1,000 people within the U.S. had already been implanted with Verichips (for medical identification only) with an estimated 10,000 by 2012, taking this rate of progression into consideration by 2021 it is possible that 25 to 30 percent of the U.S. population could be implanted with Verichips thus reducing the amount of medical error related deaths due to undiagnosed allergies or prior medical conditions (VeriChip announces completion of acquisition of Steel Vault and announces reorganization as PositiveID, 2009).

It must be noted though that this particular form of technology also holds the possibility for a decreased level of personal privacy due to the fact that the smart chip itself could possibly be tracked via its transmitted frequency and as such any individual within a town, city, region or country could be traced no matter where they go. While this would dramatically reduce the number of missing or kidnapped individuals this also represents a gross violation of personal privacy and as such human society by 2021 may be one with greater convenience however it may also be a society where personal privacy may be greatly reduced (Sharpe, 2008).

Problems with Implanted Smart chips

Aside from privacy issues one of the potential problems with implementing this form of technology in the future is the possibility of malicious individuals attempting to access the chip’s unique signal code and embedded information through the use of their own scanners. While this does present itself as a possibility, one countermeasure against this is to utilize better information encryption technology that is updated weekly so as to ensure that the information within a chip remains private. Another concern that was noted in studies examining widespread implementation of embedded smart chips is the possibility of criminals posing as other people through the use of stolen smart chips. One countermeasure which was already presented was to embed the chip in a random location on the human body so as to ensure that the exact location will never be known resulting in fewer instances where stolen smart chips will be utilized as “disguises” so to speak.

Reference List

Armitage, T. (2004). ID implants are already here. New Statesman, 133(4690), 18.

Foster, K. R., & Jaeger, J. (2008). Ethical implications of implantable radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags in humans. American Journal of Bioethics, 8(8), 44-48.

Is that a Verichip under your skin?. (2004). Time, 164(17), 101.

VeriChip announces completion of acquisition of Steel Vault and announces reorganisation as PositiveID. (2009). Corporate IT Update (M2),

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