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Embodied microchips: God help us?

A chip of truth, they call it – portentous and shameless self-aggrandizement reserved for only the most audacious marketing schemes. The Latin veritas, truth: what so many philosophers, clerics, educators and scientists have committed their years to diligently and faithfully, truth: the core and epitome of faith, hope, justice. Truth has been discovered; all searches may come to rest.

Verichip, they call it. Forget Orwell and Huxley, forget nightmares, forget religion and faith and hope and humanity … the chip of truth has arrived. And we can now raise our eyes to its bearer, Applied Digital Solutions, ABS. The ABS is only one more pathology among epidemics, resulting from a peculiar confluence of science, technology, security and laissez-faire entrepreneurship. Now our solutions are digital rather than human and material instead of spiritual or philosophical. ABS has the solution for us all: a microchip about the size of a grain of rice injected under the skin; hidden, minute, permanent.

Dec. 29 was the day fate began. On that day ABS made the announcement. You’re not the only one surprised they waited the extra four days. They have developed a chip that can hold social security number, name, date of birth. A small injection brings eternity and a scanner they make decodes information like a minister interprets the word of God. A small swoop above the skin reads the chip, which is identified through radio waves, and saves the subject from the painstaking task of digging for a wallet or driver’s license. And these scanners will be found at every hospital, airport, prison?

ABS has plans; I have dreams. One day the Truthchip will hold medical information for hospitals (what’s wrong with bracelets?), criminal information for prisoners and wardens, political information for polls, drivers’ records for Highway Patrol, health information for insurance companies and locators for the F.B.I. (they’re working on this one right now).

Most frightening of all, the private sector has free license in developing the Verichip. On April 4, the Food and Drug Administration ruled the implant out of their jurisdiction (until it contains medical information). The Kenneth Lays of the world, holed up in gold-laden quarters, limousines and private planes will make the decisions, not the representatives we can vote out of office and campaign for and against. Not the representatives of citizens, but the propagandists of subjects.

The chip of truth has arrived. Critics, so claim the articles, worry about privacy. But to speak of the possibilities of Verichip in the language of privacy is little more justified than discussing the Holocaust in the language of civil liberties. The chip of truth poses a danger to the most basic liberties and freedoms we are entitled, not only as U.S. citizens, but as human beings: the right to anonymity and to provide information, the right to identity.

The day the first chip of truth is injected against the freely determined will of its would-be bearer will mark a box on my calendar that reads. “On this day the world became better off with the fate Anatole France’s character Doctor Obnubile envisioned for it, as an infinity of micro-fragments drifting imperceptibly through the nothingness of the heavens.”

And also on this day will be answered the question, will we ever sacrifice convenience at any cost? My answer is: We shall and we must.