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Elizabeth Moon: ‘Barcode everyone at birth’

24. May 2012

Over at the BBC I heard this idea. BBC – Elizabeth Moon: ‘Barcode everyone at birth’

It’s a 60 seconds idea.

Please go and listen to the idea and the others on the show. It’s less than seven minutes long.

She is a science fiction writer and I like science fiction. She actually suggests something that would be normal in any since fiction, but appears scary to me. That’s true for some science fiction romans, which I never hope to become reality.



If I were empress of the Universe I would insist on every individual having a unique ID permanently attached – a barcode if you will; an implanted chip to provide an easy, fast inexpensive way to identify individuals.

There have been other reasons why one would want a chip in his body. For instance as replacement for your keys. You can never loose them. Your money on a chip, no extra cards would be required. This idea is to use it just for identification. Like all the other tagging approaches I see much potential for abuse.

It would be imprinted on everyone at birth. Point the scanner at someone and there it is.

The question for me was how to enforce the chipping all over the world, unless a government wants it only for local identification. e.g. it’s own citizens. Such an quick and easy way to identify someone could lead to much more and much easier surveillance.

Having such a unique barcode would have many advantages.

I see disadvantages as well. For me the disadvantages overcome the advantages.

In war soldiers could easily differentiate legitimate targets in a population from non combatants.

That would only work when every solider and combatant would carry this identifier. There are uniforms to tell soldiers apart from non combatants and as far as I know not every combatant place to the rules. With this identifier it would be most likely the same. When every single human has a chip it could be used for targeting citizens and take them out.

Couldn’t those identifiers be tempered with? Do drones respect the identifier?

This could prevent mistakes in identity, mistakes that result in the deaths of innocent bystanders.

That sounds like a reasonable goal. However to me it’s unlikely that collateral damage will be reduced much by that.

Weapons systems would record the code of the use, identifying how fired which shot and leading to more accountability in the field.

That sounds great. I like to remind that even when suspects got identified they were not hold accountable. The case I’m referring to is “Collateral Murder”. And wasn’t there an solider in March 2012 that entered three houses and killed at least seven people. He killed Afghan civilians and I’m not sure if he was held responsible for that. I don’t say he didn’t, maybe it’s ongoing. Please tell me about it, when you know something about this.

Anonymity would be impossible as would mistaken identity making it easier to place responsibility accurately, not only in war but also in non-combat situations far from the war.

And here is the point. I don’t hope war is something that should be always present. There always have been wars and if there are no fundamental changes there will be wars again. Once it’s there it could be used for any purpose. Most of them scare me.

Here are the something that I have heard from people that think there could be a “new world order” or a “one world government” with one currency and so on: It’s certainly true that those things have to be prevented. A one world government would be a bad things considered how governments work today. Too much power in the hands of a few people is never good.

Considered we have an entity that can enforce tagging anyone and we do the things that can be done, e.g. the keys and the money implemented.

  • You can be traced all over the world. Your movements can be traced, how long you stay and whom you met.
  • Every transaction can be traced. Every flow of money could be monitored.
  • You can be locked in your house or out of your house, because your keys got deleted.
  • Your money can be deleted.
  • Dissidents or protestants can be silenced by disabling their chips. No chip, no identity.
  • Dissidents or protestants can be killed by the chip, depending on how it’s designed and implemented

And once I again I don’t want those things to happen, but I don’t see that we are moving towards that. I assume that there are nice arguments for having an chip implemented, which could lead to accept the chip or even wanting to get one implemented. I feel that this blog entry got a little political. Politics and/or religion can be a minefield, therefor I did not intend to be political in the first place.

To me giving an barcode to anyone sound like a bad idea, since it hurts anonymity, privacy and has a high potential for abuse. Finally we give the government is power and we should assure that we give it to the right people. (That’s totally political I know.)

From → General, Private

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