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In the British science fiction anthology series “Black Mirror, "Nosedive"is the first episode in the third series. This episode is set in a world wherepeople can rate each other on a scale of one to five stars for everyinteraction they have using their cell phones. These ratings are not just a game, they can impact your socioeconomicstatus, i.e. it’s akin to a credit rating system combined with a social ratingsystem. If your ratings are high, you can get loans, hang out with successfulpeople, get a high-paying job, etc. In this episode, Lacie (played by BryceDallas Howard) is a young woman that is overly obsessed with her ratings. Shehas a mediocre rating but wants to buy a luxurious condo and does not qualifyfor a loan. So, she finds an opportunity to elevate her ratings after beingchosen by her popular childhood friend as the maid of honour for her wedding. Herobsession leads to several mishaps on her journey to the wedding that culminatein a rapid reduction of her ratings.

If this sounds like an Orwellian future to you, you’ll be surprised toknow that China is about to launch their own Social Credit System. The SocialCredit System is a national reputation system being developed by the Chinesegovernment. By 2020, it is intended to standardize the assessment of citizens'and businesses' economic and social reputation, or 'Social Credit'. The systemwill be one unified system and there will be a single system-wide social creditscore for each citizen and business.

You may argue that here in the West we have a credit score system, butour credit scores are based only on economic criteria, like paying loans ormortgages on time. It does not consider your social status nor your interactionswithin society. In that sense, China’s Social Credit System is considered aform of mass surveillance which uses big data analysis technology.

In general, it seems like technology is starting to be used as asurveillance system, and is getting closer and closer to our bodies, from thephones in our pockets to the smartwatches on our wrists. Now, for some people,it's getting under their skin.

In Sweden, a country rich with technological advancement, thousands havealready had microchips inserted into their hands. The chips are designed tospeed up users' daily routines and make their lives more convenient — accessingtheir homes, offices and gyms is as easy as swiping their hands against digitalreaders. They also can be used to store emergency contact details, social mediaprofiles or e-tickets for events and rail journeys within Sweden.

In the United States, a Wisconsin company offers to implant chips in its employees. Proponents of the tiny chips say they're safeand largely protected from hacking, but one scientist is raising privacyconcerns around the kind of personal health data that might be stored on the devices.Around the size of a grain of rice, the chips typically are inserted into theskin just above each user's thumb, using a syringe similar to that used forgiving vaccinations. The procedure costs about $180 USD.

The Internet has entered into full-throated debate in the aftermathof the aforementioned Wisconsin firm embedding microchips in employees to doaway with company badges and corporate logons. Religious activists are soappalled, they’ve been giving nasty 1-star reviews of the company, Three SquareMarket, on Google, Glassdoor and social media. On the flip side, seeminglyeveryone else wants to know: Is this what real life is going to be like soon atwork? Will I be chipped?

Noelle Chesley, 49, associate professor of sociology at the Universityof Wisconsin-Milwaukee says that “It will happen to everybody, but not thisyear, and not in 2018. Maybe not my generation, but certainly that of my kids.”

Gene Munster, an investor and analyst at Loup Ventures, is an advocatefor augmented reality, virtual reality and other new technologies. He thinksembedded chips in human bodies is 50 years away.  “In 10 years, Facebook,Google, Apple and Tesla will not have their employees chipped,” he says.“You’ll see some extreme forward-looking tech people adopting it, but not largecompanies.”

The idea of being chipped has too “many negative connotation” today, butby 2067 “we will have been desensitized by the social stigma,” Munstersays.

So according to what is written above, it seems that we’re headingtowards a “chipped” society. Of course, there are many benefits to being chipped,like safety, you know where your loved ones are, and they know where you are.The police can monitor people on parole, fugitives and criminals. Also, thereare medical benefits, if for whatever reason you’re unconscious, just byreading your chip, the paramedics and physicians can know your medical history.In terms of convenience, an implanted chip can be used as ID, as a driver’slicense, a health card, a passport, a credit or debit card, etc., and there will be noneed to carry all those documents with you. Pretty convenient I might say.Obviously, the chip will have to be standard government issue if it is to haveany validity.

The problem, though, is not the chip itself and the conveniences itbrings, but the extent of government control through the chip and theprotection of privacy. Will the chip be used for the protection of society orfor total government surveillance and control? How do I know that thegovernment is not watching me all the time, what I say and what I do? In thehands of a totalitarian regime, they can easily accuse anyone who does notespouse or conform to the government’s views as a terrorist, free speech willcease to exist.

The last book of the New Testament is the Revelation of John. TheApostle and Evangelist John reveals a bleak future for humanity, culminating ina totalitarian global government where no one can buy or sell or do any kind oftransaction unless they have the “charagma”or “χάραγμα” in Greek, ontheir right hand or forehead. This “charagma”is imposed by the government. The word “charagma”is derived from the verb “charasso” (χαράσσω), which means to etch, referring to an etching of the skin, an incision,which is what is required if you’re going to place a chip under your skin. Theinteresting part in the Revelation regarding the “charagma”, though, is that once you get it, you can never get ridof it, and, therefore, you cannot be saved. But why? What if one regrets it andtries to take it out, why can’t he do that? What will prevent him or her fromdoing that?

Recently, there is the development of microfluidic systems for subdermaldrug transfer, or “lab-on-a-chip”. For certain medical situations, patientsrequire minute dosages released steadily throughout the day. These microfluidicsystems are basically drug transfer systems the size of a dime or smaller. I’mmentioning this is in relation to the Revelation, where once you get the chip,you can’t get rid of it. Could it be because not only is society controlled andunder strict surveillance, but drugged as well to remain happy and docile? Isthe chip not just about buying and selling, but also about mind controlreleasing mind altering drugs to sedate and brainwash society into acceptingthe totalitarian government?

What is scary, is not the benign use of the chip and the microfluidicdrug transferring devices, but that there is the potential for them to be usedin a sinister manner, to control and brainwash the masses. And what is evenscarier is that the technology to do that already exists.

July 26, 2019

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