One Mainframe to rule them all.

by endlesspsych

This blog refers to a discussion in the comments on this previous post and refers to an invitation to view this production on YouTube related to the campaign. The movement frames itself thusly:

This movement is based on the irrefutable fact, that we believe in mankind’s inalienable human rights that are absolute and can not be debased, nor perverted. Human life can not be degraded to a 16 digit RFID chip number embedded under you skin under any circumstance. By uniting on this common ground, we can send a strong message to the IBM funded Verichip that we the people will not be chipped!

I fully support the sentiment that humankinds inalienable human rights are absolute and should not be debased, perverted or otherwise threatened. However I feel that the stance and attitude taken by is sensationalist and ultimately could be potentially damaging to those who wish to discuss real and serious issues with human microchipping. I mentioned some of these in my previous post on the subject. For instance there are serious concerns with data security and privacy – there are many cases where Governments or health services have lost sensitive patient information or indeed information that could be considered senstive to national secrity. These issues being mainly down to human error rather then technological issues.

Part one of  one mainframe to rule them all does seem largely irrelevant to the central thesis that “microchipping is bad’ seeing as it is a historical account of counting technology and it’s misuse under the  Nazis. IBM were offered by the Third Recih the census bureau contract as well as being contracted by various other less ‘malficient’ regimes to provide census information indeed in part two and in part two the apparent thesis that “IBM are evil” is critically undermined by the statement that “IBM had a global monopoly”. Thus it is in no way suprising the Nazi regieme used IBM technology, creating an irrelevant guilt by association and invoking Godwins law very early on. All of which makes about as much sense as calling Fanta – Nazi coke. Thus far the film does not build a case as to why microchipping is inherently bad and offers merely sensationalist platitudes lacking testable claims or substantive evidence as to why using technology to count things is bad. It is hardly news to say that people have counted things from the doomsday book onwards technology and counting has occurred furthermore the central point that technology can be abused is not all that earth shattering. I refer you to the following example from my previous post:

The rationale for starting by mentioning the use of this seemingly innocuous technology’s use in the holocaust seems to be to imply that the Verichip could be used for social ills as well as social good. It is tempting to point out at this point that the Nazis also used trains, furnaces and good old-fashioned bullets to commit their atrocities. Where are the wethepeoplewillnottravelontrainwebsites? (Perhaps this link is actually one of them in disguise?)

Also claims that counting didn’t become a scientific activity until IBM are perhaps built on less than solid ground no?
I mean What about Galton and eugenics? That was proposed in 1833. Eugenics, to my mind, clearly had more influence on the Nazis and then IBM and the availability of technology. However anti-Semitism was (and in some sorry cases still is) a huge issue in Europe (from the middle ages onwards where Jews were blamed for the plague) and had been for many, many years.

However I would suggest that eugenics merely gave the Third Reich a semblance of scientism to support their pre-existing bigotry and IBM simply provided them with technology to process people more quickly. Is the contention that people wouldn’t have been processed in such a way if it weren’t for the IBM system? In the video it makes mention of the use of handwritten data anyway… Certainly there is the argument that we should not give totalitarian states the apparatus with which to carry out atrocities with speed and efficiency (although reports of Nazi efficiency may be quite exaggerated) In itself association with the Nazis is not evidence enough to suggest there is some vast conspiracy.

I have no reason to doubt that the description of how RFID works is accurate. I also do not take much issue with the point “that which can warm us can also incinerate us” but really the case that is made in the film is, to my mind, less than compelling. Where is the evidence that this technology is being used pernicious? Where is the evidence that there are plans afoot to use it for pernicious or efficient ways?

Also the claim that there is little or no legislation to protect consumers appears to be at best out of date, although the video appears to have been posted on october 14th 2009, as there are many examples (found via google) that indicate legislation is starting to appear. Wisconstin banned their use in being injected under peoples skins, Washington and California are also introducing legislation and the European Union has strict non-tech data protection legislation in place that would have to be overturned for a nightmare scenario of enforced chipping.

The health issues reported as being associated with chipping seems to be supported by inconclusive evidence:

The articles cited by AP that were reviewed by the cancer experts were studies on lab mice and rats that sometimes developed sarcomas, or malignant tumours, after being implanted with microchips. The sarcomas sometimes encased the implants, said the AP report.

The articles were published in toxicology and veterinary journals between 1996 and 2006 and included:

  • A study conducted in 1996 by (now retired) toxicologic pathologist Keith Johnson at the Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Michigan. Johnson said in a phone interview with AP “the transponders were the cause of the tumors”.
  • A study conducted in Germany in 1997 that found 1 per cent of over 4,000 RFID chipped mice had cancer which the authors concluded were “clearly due to the implanted microchips”.
  • A study conducted in Ridgefield, Connecticut, in 1998, on 177 mice that suggested the incidence of cancer was raised by just over 10 per cent.
  • A study conducted in France in 2006 where tumours were detected in 4.1 per cent of mice with microchip implants. The scientists were not looking for cancer induced by microchips when they started the study. They were testing chemicals but they ruled them out as the cause of the tumours.

There were several shortcomings to the studies reviewed by the cancer experts. For instance not one of them had a control group that had not been implanted with RFID chips to compare the rate of tumour development in non-chipped with chipped animals. And the other obvious shortcoming is that animal studies do not necessarily translate to humans.

…and the proposed mechanism seems quite worryingly close to “wi-fi woo” of the sort debunked in many different places. Although it is not implausible that the materials used in the chips could be carcinogenic in some individuals. One experts view does not a scientific consensus make.

Breaking down the semantics of the press statements proves absolutely nothing – other than that people who have already made up their minds will tend to see what they want to see in press releases from people they disagree with. The idea that Alzheimer’s patients cannot give informed consent is one that would have to be reviewed on a case by case basis. Alzheimer’s does not suddenly strike someone dumb in an instant but is a progressive condition. It gets worse overtime, people can be diagnosed and be fully competent, people can have good days and bad days. A simple Alzheimer’s/inability to give informed consent is not necessarily as pernicious as implied.

The return to IBM as somehow evil or malficient based on their financial involvement is odd. I mean there are worse companies out there – weapons manufacturers for instance? EU data protection laws make the use of RFID as described in the film already illegal, I am not sure what the legal position outside the US is. Thus far the video only seems to be a fear of data being collected and the potential for it to be abused. So far I am thinking – So what? I find biometrics more worrying than RFID I have to say – but most of the “evidence” of “red flags” or some grand nefarious purpose seems largely, in my own opinion, unfounded.

The film seems to amount to little more than some cherry picked evidence passed through a non objective filter and reproduced to build an unconvincing scare-mongery case.

I’m not pro-RFID by any means, or pro the state making use of this or similar technologies to identify citizens. There are sentient objections to such things – privacy, control of data and the like. But I don’t think that we are “standing on the cusp of some Orwellian nightmare” now anymore then we were when Orwell wrote the book.

ETA: Sorry the spelling is atrocious! Blame the Scotland squad!