One of the most feared and most useful futures of GPS tracking technology is almost certainly implantable GPS tracking chips. We have all seen the bleak futures where citizens are under the constant supervision of some totalitarian government whose sole purpose seems to be to torment them. It is a well established film genre that has deep roots in the cold war psyche of the Western world. The world of Orwells’ 1984 would have been twice as bad if they could have had a GPS chip in each of the citizens in this dystopia. One thing is clear, given just a few moments of reflection almost anyone can think of the mountains of evil that such a system could potentially generate.
But what about all the good that this system could accomplish, do we ever think about that? We have been trained by our culture to overlook the potentially massive benefits that would also accompany such a system because of the possibility of abuse. As a result, our fears could be causing us to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Is the development of GPS tracking implants something that we should consider doing? Do the potential dangers out weight the potential benefits?
The Evil of GPS Tracking Implants
The number of evils that could be accomplished with this type of information is obvious and extensive. I would generally think of classifying the issues in terms of two main ways of abusing the information gathered from such a system: (1) dispatching of government opponents, and (2) using private information for profit.
1. Dispatching of Government Opponents
One of the most insidious methods that a government could use a universal GPS tracking system would be to kill their citizens that opposed their regime. Since they would know the exact location of everyone of their citizens it would be simple enough for them to dispatch a death squad that would easily be able to locate anyone anywhere. The only “safe” place for such dissidents would be underground somewhere where neither GPS nor cell phone signals could possibly find them. This would mean that even if the government did not kill someone, they would effectively remove them from being a threat by forcing them to spend their whole life underground.
A little less insidious but just as dangerous would be the threat of constant arrest. If you were to voice some concern about the government they could find all sorts of ways to get you into jail by using the information gather from your implanted GPS tracking chip. They might arrest you outright, picking you up on the street as you make your way to the supermarket to buy some milk. They might even rig a trial to get you arrested for a crime you didn’t commit. All they would need is to have you at the scene of some crime – like a murder – and use the GPS location information to tie them to the crime.
A third way that government might be able to use GPS tracking information to hurt their citizens is by making public information about their personal, private activities. If an opponent frequents a church, or goes to a psychologist, or has met with the same woman who is not his wife for the past year and a half at a hotel the government could make this information known by leaking it to close friends, relatives, or the media. Also, their ability to identify and exploit known vices would increase dramatically if they had a repository of all know position data on a individual.
These are just a few of the ways that governments equipped with widespread, cheap GPS tracking implants could use the information to hurt their opponents. There are more, but for now let us turn our attention to another form of government evil, profiting from its citizens.
2. Using Private Information For Profit
In this case of government abuse the basic sin that the government would be committing is making public private information about their citizens. They could do this in any number of ways, but I think mentioning three would suffice to give us a feel for the wickedness that they could do.
The first is that they could sell GPS tracking information to corporations to “improve” advertising targeting. This was the impetus behind the Palm Pre cell phone tracking software debacle and is a desire that I don’t think is going to go away anytime soon. Just imagine how much money they could make if they could sell data to every single corporation in the world. They could tell car companies who likes to drive fast while in the highways, who generally travels with more than one person in the car, where they go when the travel, and how often they travel. If the government could then correlate this data with tax returns then companies would have a picture of their potential customers that would enable them to provide laser targeted advertising.
This ability would be even greater if companies could also get live position data on particular individuals that they have targeted for adverting campaigns. They could feed you ads with the aid of real time GPS tracking. Imagine this for a second: You are driving down a lonely stretch of highway when you come upon a billboard. On it is the following message:
Bill, you have driving your 2074 Ford Apocalypse 209,987 miles since your last oil change – don’t you think its time to get one?
Satan’s Auto Store is off of exit 22 and charges $0.03 for an oil change when you mention this billboard!
Now that is laser targeted advertising, and it is really creepy!
Similarly, companies could also use this type of information to identify potential markets and products. If a coffee company called Starmonies wants to identify a new set of real estate for to put up a store they can analyze foot traffic in downtown Los Angelos to help identify the point where the most coffee drinkers walk during peek coffee consuming hours. Or a company might take advantage of GPS tracking data to find out if they can market a certain service in an area. Either way, the government is going to profiting for your private information.
The third way that the government could use GPS information would be to manipulate the population for means of perpetuating government. One very common method of population manipulation that already goes on is the redrawing of district boundaries for elections. This would become even easier as the data would be much better than census data and could potentially be correlated to voting information (hey, it could happen), tax returns, and criminal records. In the end, no congressman or senator would ever get kicked out of office because they could always just redraw the boundary until they have a plurality of votes.
Now That Is Wicked!
There is no doubt that a lot of evil could be done with GPS tracking devices that are implanted inside each and every citizen in a country. The government and private corporations would have access to insane amounts of information about people that would would make the whole system scary if it were to be misused and abused. Dissidents, opponents, and even society’s unwanted stand to suffer countless crimes against humanity if the whims of public opinion or political power were to turn against them.
Any scientist who would develop such a system should take warning. Human nature is deceitfully wicked and without some serious checks in place there is no telling what type of authoritarian regime would be created when GPS tracking becomes this extensive. It is worth development if such terrible things could be done?
Next we will turn out attentio to the good GPS tracking implants could do, but until then, just sit and ponder the inexplicable wickedness of man!