Barcode everyone at birth - BBC FUTURE – 22 MAY 2012
This week science fiction writer Elizabeth Moon argues that everyone should be given a barcode at birth.
“If I were empress of the Universe I would insist on every individual having a unique ID permanently attached – a barcode if you will; an implanted chip to provide an easy, fast inexpensive way to identify individuals.
It would be imprinted on everyone at birth. Point the scanner at someone and there it is.
Having such a unique barcode would have many advantages. In war soldiers could easily differentiate legitimate targets in a population from non combatants.
This could prevent mistakes in identity, mistakes that result in the deaths of innocent bystanders. Weapons systems would record the code of the use, identifying how fired which shot and leading to more accountability in the field.
Anonymity would be impossible as would mistaken identity making it easier to place responsibility accurately, not only in war but also in non-combat situations far from the war.”
Memory chip to record memories
This week, stem cell scientist Professor Chris Mason, imagines a human memory chip:
“This would give everyone the chance to have a complete collection of all their life’s memories, without any loss of detail or the distortions of time.
I use the term chip loosely, as it might be made of silicon or be living cell based, but when connected to our brain it would provide instant additional memory, just like a computer memory stick.
With the human memory chip, experiences could be stories and be played back perfectly, either by the original owner of the memory or cloned and directly shared with others. For example, a soldier returning from battle could actually share their memories and thus enable the full horror of war to be experienced first-hand by the people at home.
Memories could also be passed on to future generations. Imagine inheriting the memory of your mother on the day you were born – a far better way to understand the past than a box of dusty old photographs.
I close on a cautious note. Whilst human memory chips could have many world-changing benefits, there is also the potential for misuse. But I hope that the option for everyone to have a complete collection of their life’s memories will one day be the norm, and not just the wish of an absent-minded professor.”