There are currently more devices connected to the internet than there are human beings walking the surface of the planet. This is the 3rd Industrial Revolution, in which technology has overhauled the way we do business, communicate and interface with our world.
Cisco & The Internet of Everything
Cisco Systems is a multinational corporation that designs, manufactures and sells network equipment. They have coined the terms “the internet of things” and “the internet of everything”, to express this exponential growth of networked devices in the world. Focusing on connecting the unconnected, Cisco has initiated a partnership with designers of active RFID location readers, geared toward the constant tracking of assets and location. Traditional RFID chips require their signal to be activated by a reader, and are thus passive in nature. The active RFID chips that Cisco is implementing will constantly broadcast a signal to readers, truly exemplifying their ethos of “the internet of things”.
What does the future hold as inanimate objects are increasingly tracked and monitored by giant corporations?
Should We Trust Active RFID Chip Technology?
Active RFID technology will first be applied in the healthcare field. Instruments can communicate their status and level of cleanliness, environments can be observed for optimal temperature and sterility, and the overall viability of crucial tools can be constantly monitored. However, Cisco plans to integrate this technology into many different fields of asset management.
As an increasing number of objects actively project their status and location, many consumer advocates and activists are rightfully concerned about these microchips turning into clandestine spy-chips.
Wal-Mart has recently announced their intentions to attach removable RFID chips to a large variety of their merchandise, in the name of loss prevention. As people’s garbage cans begin to fill with discarded RFID chips, what sort of information will be available for identity thieves and hackers to pillage and exploit?
Are RFID Chips the Gateway to a Dystopian Future?
Driver’s licenses, employee identification badges and even sub-dermal human implants are being examined for possible enhancement with RFID technology. As Cisco’s “internet of everything” is spread across the globe, how much privacy and freedom will people be willing to sacrifice in the name of safety and convenience?
RFID chips track your every move, know where you have been and with whom you have spoken, track your purchases and transmit your daily activities to receivers all around the world.
Who is storing this information, and how is it being used?
After the disclosures made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden regarding the archiving of the public’s data, many analysts are beginning to question if this constant tracking is a gross violation of our constitutional rights. Is our future one of constant surveillance and monitoring? Will the key to our most personal information lie within a chip the size of a speck of dust?
Active RFID technology does not necessarily have to usher in an age of data collection and invasive monitoring. There are many creative and practical uses for these active RFID chips that can enhance our lives and well-being. However, such powerful technology must be used with prudence and moderation. A healthy democracy might consider banning corporations with track records of consumer abuse from using them altogether.