getting under your skin ?

the development of implantable chip technology

Article first appeared in Evangelicals Now

getting under your skin?

  • Introduction

      Implantable chips of varying degrees of complexity, function and implant location may well have a significant role in the future of our society to judge by the investors and the amount invested. Here we have an historical overview, a present study, and a consideration of future trajectory - the latter infused with a Christian perspective.

      You are about to read very strange information. 1984 or the Manchurian Candidate may be the closest you've got to studying manipulative human agencies of questionable intent. Use your mind and Google/Yahoo. Everything that is said can be checked. Much of this information has already been published in the daily national papers etc. It will be the strategic collation of such data that will have the 'strange' impact as you read.

  • Growing RFID technology

      Tiny RFID chps next to a human hair.
      Tiny RFID chps next to a human hair.
      Clothes label, RFID chip & antenna.
      Clothes label, RFID chip & antenna.

      RFID (Radio Frequency ID) chips are a growing phenomenon, from a $2.7bn industry in 2006 IDTechEx reckon it will be 10 times that in 2016. Perhaps the most common use of RFID technology today is retail security and inventory management. All US and many UK passports now issued have RFID chips containing biometric identification data. Your plastic payment card has one. Your pet may have one. Even your clothes may have them - Merloni has designed a washing machine that can read care instructions sent by an RFID chip sewn into garments and then adjust the washing process accordingly. The smallest of these chips is just 0.05mm by 0.05mm, and virtually flat - though the smallest working antenna (which they require) is 80 times bigger1.

  • Going back through time...

      'Who's an happy monkey?'
      'Who's an happy monkey?'

      ...and, at the flick of a switch, asleep!
      ...and, at the flick of a switch, asleep!

      In 1866 Simonoff conducted the first experiment using electrodes implanted in the brain stem of mammals. In 1870 Hitzig and Fritsch stimulated the cerebral cortex of dogs. Four years later Dr Robert Bartholomew showed human beings could be similarly stimulated, though his patient died four days later. By the turn of the twentieth century Ewald in Strasbourg was doing similar work with dogs, and Fedor Krause in Berlin was able to do a systematic electrical mapping of the human brain, using conscious patients undergoing brain surgery. Walter Rudolf Hess began studies on the hypothalamus in the late 1920s in Switzerland.2

      Throughout the 1950s Drs Robert Heath, Russell Monroe, James Olds, Peter Milner, John Lilly and others had been variously involved with implanting electrodes in monkeys, cats and rats and humans to observe how the brain responded and worked. Considerable interest was expressed by military bodies.

      When John Lilly was asked in 1953 by the director of the National Institute of Mental Health to brief the CIA, FBI, NSA (and others) on his work using electrodes to stimulate the pain and pleasure centers of the brain, he refused, commenting: 'Dr. Antoine Remond, using our techniques in Paris, has demonstrated that this method of stimulation of the brain can be applied to the human without the help of the neuro-surgeon; he is doing it in his office in Paris without neuro-surgical supervision. This means that anybody with the proper apparatus can carry this out on a person covertly, with no external signs that electrodes have been used on that person. I feel that if this technique got into the hands of a secret agency, they would have total control over a human being and be able to change his beliefs extremely quickly, leaving little evidence of what they had done.'3

      In 1956, James Olds reported on research in which he had implanted electrodes in rats' pleasure center of the brain, and attached a device that allowed the rats to activate the electrical impulse. He found that the rats would become so obsessed with self-stimulation that they would literally starve themselves to death. In 1964 Ralph Schwitzgebel initiated the first electronic system used to monitor the location of parolees, mental patients, and research volunteers in Boston, Massachusetts (Gable. 1986).

      A radio controlled 'toy' now four decades old. How technology has changed...
      A radio controlled 'toy' now four decades old. How technology has changed...

      In a New York Times article May 17th, 1965, it was related that Dr Jose Delgado brought a charging bull to a halt right before him at the touch of a button, then at a second touch the bull 'turned to the right and trotted away. The bull was obeying commands in his brain that were being called forth by electrical stimulation - by radio signals - of certain regions in which the fine wires had been painlessly implanted the day before.' Nine years later this man said: 'We need a program of psychosurgery for political control of our society. The purpose is physical control of the mind. Everyone who deviates from the given norm can be surgically mutilated... We must electronically control the brain. Someday armies and generals will be controlled by electric stimulation of the brain.'

      How might this happen? According to Dr Delgado: 'By electrical stimulation of specific cerebral structures, movements can be induced by radio command, hostility may appear or disappear, social hierarchy can be modified, sexual behaviour may be changed, and memory, emotions, and the thinking process may be influenced by remote control... Transmitters have no batteries, are activated by radio, and can be used for life, so that the brain can be stimulated indefinitely.'

      Perhaps this is why in 1962, Aldous Huxley stated his warnings and concerns in a lecture at Berkeley Language Center: '...anybody who has watched the behavior of rats with electrodes placed in different centers must come away from this experience with the most extraordinary doubts about what on earth is in store for us if this is got a hold of by a dictator...

      'Now, I think what is obviously perfectly clear is that for the present these techniques are not being used except in an experimental way, but I think it is important for us to realize what is happening, to make ourselves acquainted with what has already happened, and then use a certain amount of imagination to extrapolate into the future the sort of things that might happen. What might happen if these fantastically powerful techniques were used by unscrupulous people in authority, what on earth would happen, what sort of society would we get?'

      In 1968 Dr Stuart MacKay, in his book Bio-Medical Telemetry, said: 'Among the many telemetry instruments being used today, are miniature radio transmitters that can be swallowed, carried externally, or surgically implanted.... They permit the simultaneous study of behavior and physiological functioning. Transmitters introduced through normal body openings in the human can sense pH in the stomach, the site of bleeding along the gastrointestinal tract, radiation intensity, the pressure changes in the bladder due to micturition, the pressure of teeth grinding together during sleep, vaginal temperature, and the like. Human and subhuman species have been studied... The possibilities by bio-medical telemetry are limited only by the imagination of the investigator.'

      In Psychology Today, April 1970, James McConnell, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, published an article 'Criminals Can Be Brainwashed': '...the day has come when it should be possible to achieve a very rapid and highly effective type of positive brainwashing that would allow us to make dramatic changes in a person's behaviour and personality... We should reshape our society so that we all would be trained from birth to want to do what society wants us to do. We have the techniques now to do it...'.

      In the 20-26th March 1995 edition of Defense News, Pat Cooper pennned 'Naval Research Lab Attempts To Meld Neurons and Chips: Studies May Produce Army of "Zombies"'. In this he quotes William Tolles, the [then] recently retired associate director of research at the Naval Research Lab, 'Future battles could be waged with genetically engineered organisms, such as rodents, whose minds are controlled by computer chips engineered with living brain cells.... The research, called Hippocampal Neuron Patterning, grows live neurons on computer chips'. He also quotes Lawrence Korb, Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR): 'This technology that alters neurons could potentially be used on people to create zombie armies.'4

      The May 22, 1995 Washington Times reported: 'Prince William, 12, second in line to the British throne, is to be electronically 'tagged' when he enters Eton this fall. Officials decided that in order to give William as much freedom of movement as possible in the 'security nightmare' of such a big school, an electronic tag was the answer. It was not specified whether the boy would wear an electronic device or have one implanted.'

      On July 2, 1995 the Washington Post reported on Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma city bomber: 'In Decker, he told some people the Army had implanted a microchip in his buttocks so the government could spy on him.'5

  • Last decades achievements

      Allow me to now merely refer to a number of subsequent interesting items (with footnotes to allow you to verify and read more):

      • 1996: '2025' - a 3,300 page dream of the future - involving an integrated communication system with an 'implanted microscopic chip' in troops is briefed to General Fogleman and the Secretary of the US Air Force.6

      • 1998: First official human implant of an RFID chip into British Professor of cybernetics Kevin Warwick.

      • Nagle, fitted with the BrainGate.
        Nagle, fitted with the BrainGate.

      • 1999: BBC News Health report details how future implants could help people with paralysis in all sorts of ways.7

      • 2001: "We appear to be edging towards an era of 'mind control' - a time when human brains might be manipulated routinely by highly sophisticated technology."8

      • 2002: A Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) military Brain Machine Interface article shows that research has continued apace.9
        ADSX announce work on a subdermal GPS.10 No sign of device as of 2007, however.

      • 2003: The Defense Intelligence Agency state: 'It is possible that future mechanical and computer chip implants in human beings could stimulate new directions in anthropology and sociology.'11

      • and after...
        and after...
        Amal's hand before...
        Amal's hand before...

      • 2004: Matthew Nagle, a 25-year-old quadriplegic, is the first human fitted with the BrainGate Neural Interface. It enables him to control a computer "mouse" cursor and press its button.12
        Mexico's attorney general and 17 people in his office have been implanted with VeriChips in their triceps that give them exclusive access to secure areas in their headquarters.13
        Baja Beach Club (Spain) became the first club in the world to use the implantable VeriChip as a means of gaining access to and buying drinks in its VIP lounge.14
        Japanese authorities decide RFID based 'tracking is best way to protect kids.'15

      • 2005: In January Bar Soba, Glasgow becomes first UK club to do the same thing.16
        'Chips get even handier. With a wave of his hand Amal Graafstra in Vancouver, Canada, opens his front door. With another, he logs onto his computer. A tiny RFID computer chip inserted into his hands makes it all possible.'17
        Pierce, a Rhesus monkey, can feed himself a grape every few seconds with a prosthetic arm by the power of thought alone, thanks to a microchip.18

      • Pierce feeds himself bionically.
        Pierce feeds himself bionically.

      • 2006: London's Oyster RFID travel card system, promoted as 'Faster, smarter, cheaper', is criticised for allowing security services and others detailed access to owners travel movements.19
        A US security company implanted two of its workers with RFID chips to allow them to access company property.20 Although such an invasive procedure was carried out voluntarily, it raises enormous questions as to the integrity of the body and privacy in relation to employers.
        A UK government article entitled 'Infectious Diseases: preparing for the future' notes positively that 'future devices will be sufficiently small that they can be deployed in novel ways, as illustrated by the ability to implant devices in the body'.
        According to the University of Michigan, 100,000 people had already received cochlear implants.
        Chairman of the Board of US VeriChip Corporation proposes installing RFID tracking tags in immigrant and guest workers on May 16 2006, and has been lobbying to replace the US military's 1.4 million soldiers' dog tags.

      • Subsequent significant developments are recorded in a regularly updated appendix.

  • Future trajectory

      The VeriChip & a grain of rice.
      The VeriChip & a grain of rice.

      The above is a general background to show the widespread technological development and varying applications for implant technology. The first pet passport could only be scanned from 3 inches. Some external passive RFIDs have identification ranges of up to 30 feet21, while reliable ranges for battery powered (active) RFIDs are still higher. Security researcher Jonathan Westhues has shown the risk of identity theft still exists, by cloning and emitting the ID of a passerby with an implanted VeriChip.22 Work on size, range and, one hopes, security is ongoing.

      At Imperial College London, there is an Oracle backed project to provide implanted sensors that can monitor the body's critical faculties and relay them via the patient's mobile to their doctor. The 2005 Times article covering this indicated that such technology could benefit all '17.5 million people in Britain [who] have one or more chronic diseases of varying severity.'23 Already more than 600 US hospitals have agreed to participate in the VeriMed Network (using VeriChip detection to instantly ID and access the medical history of anyone who comes into A & E).24 The benefits are real and being marketed well.

      In the much longer term, in a completely integrated worldwide system you have the potential for the ultimate all-in-one solution: bank card, passport ID, travel card, locator, key ring, passwords and more. Think of the savings, of the increase in efficiency! And that is just from a simple RFID implant - the more sophisticated implants could be your onboard health monitor, mood controller, and...

      If that seems far fetched just use a little imagination (as Huxley said), in 1943 the ENIAC could claim to be the first digital computer. It used 150,000W, cost $500,000, weighed 27 tonnes, took up 167m2. Sixty years took us from ENIAC to the mobile phone, a 100g device 3000 times more powerful, yet small enough and cheap enough to be found in 91% of 12 year olds pockets.25 The next sixty years will take us most probably way beyond my lame and insufficiently imaginative predictions.26

      In competent hands belonging to good hearts it would mean the end of war and terrorism - so easy to see who is being naughty and when and shut them down from everything, or just change their mood - stop them carrying out their selfishness? For, in reading the available military and government research articles on this subject, you can't help but notice the occasional mention of possible 'behaviour modification'. As Delgado said, 'The individual is defenseless against direct manipulation of the brain... In experiments, electrical stimulation of appropriate intensity always prevailed over free will.'27

      The late Aaron Russo & Nick Rockefeller
      The late Aaron Russo & Nick Rockefeller

      The late Aaron Russo, was a well connected film maker and, in recent decades, a political figure (though perhaps most famous for producing 'Trading Places' with Eddie Murphy), reported that at one point while in a discussion with Nick Rockefeller (Rockefeller Foundation - whose mission is to "promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world"), he asked him 'What is your end goal?'

      'The end goal is to get everybody chipped,' Nick Rockefeller replied, 'to control the whole society, to have the bankers, the elite people in control of the world.'

      The unbelieving rulers in the book of Kings were rarely benevolent even to their own people - thus an optimistic view for the application of this technology lacks scriptural support. Weiner in '48 and Huxley in '62 were informed, but exceedingly uncomfortable with this technology because of its potential for evil. After 50 years of largely secret research by the military-industrial complexes,28 it would seem naïve for Christians with a view of the human 'heart as deceitful above all things and desperately wicked', to take a more positive view. It will surely not be used purely for good.

      'Mankind barely noticed when the concept of massively organized information quietly emerged to become a means of social control, a weapon of war, and a roadmap for group destruction.' Edwin Black, in IBM and the Holocaust, is referring to the crucial role of IBM's Hollerith tabulating machine in processing the huge volume of complex German census data which would make possible the rapid destruction of 6 million Jews. IBM have remained interested in human tracking technology: they patented an RFID based human tracking systems in 2001,29 were VeriChip's creditor in 200330 and have called for a UN enforced global identity system.31

      The first director of the UNESCO wrote in 1946: 'though any radical eugenic policy will be for many years politically and psychologically impossible, it will be important for UNESCO to see that the eugenic problem is examined with the greatest care, and that the public mind is informed of the issues at stake so that much that now is unthinkable may at least become thinkable.'32 Comforting words from the people IBM would like to involve.

  • Those verses...

      He also forced everyone to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no-one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name... There is no rest day or night for... anyone who receives the mark of his name.

      Revelation 13.16-17 & 14.11

      Though many Christians take a completely spiritual interpretation of these verses, some consider it possible that technology in this veign could pave the way for some sort of more literal fulfillment. Thus they are totally opposed to being implanted. Either way, the pain we read about in Revelation will surely to come to pass, as the words describing the vision our Master gave John two millennia ago still continue their irresistible roll to the appointed, terrifying and glorious end - and we'll still have the Word, the Light of the World, guiding us clear as day through any valley of the shadow of death.

      Don't be confused: the Scriptures make it clear that satan will gather all the world under his dominion through his vessels, and then against the Church. So we expect a march steady or otherwise towards that conclusion. Rather, be confused if history does not appear to be moving towards such a conclusion. Don't be afraid either, there are more with us than with them. One with God is a majority: it is with one sword-like Word from his mouth that the 'great' battle of Armageddon ends.

      'As for you, go your way till the end,' said the angel to Daniel - continue respecting Caesar and preaching the gospel to the poor. 'You will rest,' he says - and I think he means die - 'then at the end of the days, you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.'

latest developments

    • 2007: In the UK an RFID chip sewn into school clothing "used to monitor pupils' movements and register their arrival in class on the teacher's computer. Supply teachers can also be alerted if a student is likely to misbehave." The Times, Sat October 20th.

    • 2008: "Prisoners to be chipped like dogs." "We track cars so why not people," Ken Jones, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). The Independent, UK, Sun January 13th. Note that the GPS mentioned is not possible with current RFID but is possible with a mobile phone and an implant acting together as per other previous medical projects. New Zealand Herald reports on this too.

      Whilst reading around this you can read that implants have been known to cause cancer in pets.

      "New wi-fi devices to tell doctors: Help! I'm having a heart attack" – the positive PR continues. Sunday Times, 7.5.08.