Government GPS Tracking Implants: The Good

The other day, we looked at all the bad that government GPS tracking implants could bring about if it were adopted by a government and used with ill intent.  But that is not the only side to the implantable GPS debate – there is also much good that these devices can do.  Today, let us consider just what good could come about.

We have already clearly established that implanted GPS tracking can be extremely evil if used will ill intent, but we have spent no time discussing all the good that can come of having a world where implantable GPS tracking is possible.  The amount of good might still not compare to the amount of evil, but it is still at least worth our consideration.  If we find that the amount of good exceed the amount of evil that can be done then we should at least consider developing this type of technology.

Some of the more interesting and useful applications of this type of tracking include:

1. Catching Criminals

One of the main functions of governments is to maintain justice and to see the that the wicked are punished for their crimes.  As things stand, there is a lot that can help criminals escape prosecution – but probably the most important element that prosecutors need to do is to link a criminal to the scene of the crime.  We have made great strides at this as a civilization through the discovery of finger printing and DNA evidence, but we have not filled up all the holes in our judicial system yet.  If we could leverage a nation wide GPS tracking system that involves implanted GPS we would have a nearly flawless crime analysis tool on our hands.

The first step would be being able to track down suspects that could have potentially been involved in a crime.  Any murder of theft is bound to leave a GPS trail for the police to follow.  If the murder was a close range shooting or stabbing then all the police would need to do is pull up all the people who where at such and such location around such and such a time.  They then could evaluate each person to see if they are likely to be a suspect.

Once they have determined some potential suspects they would just have to get the real time position of the suspect using the GPS tracking device implanted in their body.  Tracking them down would then be as easy as driving to their location.  No costly stake outs.  No mistaken identities.

Even though the cost of the system as a whole would be very great, the cost saving for the police would be pretty significant.  The amount of time that it would take to identify suspects, locate them, and bring them in for questioning could all be taken care of relatively quickly, saving thousands of man hours and millions of dollars.

The number of crimes are not limited to theft and murder.  Essentially any crime that involves a location could be tracked using this type of system.  Speeding, illegal dumping, stalking, rape, kidnapping, abduction, abuse, and a whole host of other crimes could be handled in a much more precise and useful manner with the administration of a little GPS technology.

2. Improving Emergency Responses

Another huge benefit would be the improved nature of emergency response personnel.  Imagine a 911 call coming in from a small child, named Tim.  It is coming from 401 North Cumberland Lane and Tim has indicated that his mommy is laying on the floor and won’t get up and that there is a lot of smoke in the house.  Immediately, fire fighters and paramedics can be dispatched to the scene.  As they go their computers light up with information that there are 2 people in at the house.  They get a Google Map-like  satellite image of the house with small indicators as to the GPS location of each of the people inside.  They also get an elevation reading that lets them know if the people are in a downstairs or upstairs area of the home.

Armed with this information they arrive on the scene and are able to quickly enter the home and target the areas where the GPS indicated there were people in house.  A rescue is quickly achieved and the fire fighting begins in earnest.  If there was no GPS tracking implant in each of the residents the fire fighters would have to have done a thorough room by room search to make sure that there was no one else in the home – putting them at risk and increasing the amount of time that it might take to put ou the fire.

Medical emergencies would also be much easier to respond to if the paramedics had the GPS coordinates of the patient.  This is especially true when the patient is in a remote area or where there are a lot of people that might impair the paramedics vision.  Also, in transit to the patient the paramedics would have laser like instructions on how to get there and would not loose any time to wrong directions.

3. Improving Military Operations

In a military setting, troops would always know where friends are at all times and could avoid the costly and demoralizing “friendly fire” that has plagued soldiers in all modern wars.  While making use of the implantable tracking devices would require an integration of personal combat computers for each and every soldier, it is not unreasonable to assume that by the time we develop the technology to implant GPS devices in our bodies we will also have the ability to give each soldier their own combat computer.

This could translate the GPS data into helpful instructions that would give each soldier the ability to make lightning quick choices about whether their target is a friend or a foe in the most tense of situations.  It would also allow military commander to know exactly where their soldiers are at any given moment.  Captured soldiers could also be easily tracked, revealing the source of enemy prisons and detention centers.  Rescue attempts would be much easier to pull off and no men would ever be left behind.

4. Assist In Urban Planning

One of the key benefits of universal GPS tracking implants that are monitored and use by the government is that it would allow them to do a lot of civic planning and development.  They could analyze population densities and come up with plans to aid in the flow of individuals for work and for leisure.  An example of this might be a growing suburb of a massive metropolitan area.  After some analysis of the GPS data they find that the majority of people in this area use a major highway in order to head south into the city for work and for play.  They also realize that the other suburbs north also do the same thing, so there is a massive flight from the suburbs out into the city.  This causes a lot of traffic congestion and leads to a lot of pollution and stress.

The government could then step in and do one of a variety of things to solve the problem.  They could try and entice some business to relocate to a friendlier location for their employees.  A move north along the highway corridor would help reduce the overall south bound traffic and ease some of the congestion.  The government could increase the size of the highway corridor to improve speeds and accommodate more commuters.  They could improve the public transportation system to encourage more commuters to make use of this environmentally friendly, cheap, and efficient mode of transportation.

Information like this could also be used to make development decisions. If a particular region does not have the infrastructure to move ahead with a planned development project than the government can step in and intervene.  This will have a limiting affect on some types of growth, but overall I think that it would make cities better run, safer, and more “citizen friendly.”

Finally, governments could make better use of their land if they could know how it was being used by citizens.  If a park never was used or a library never frequented then governments could make the tough decisions to close these centers or to re-purpose them for a more efficient use.  In the end, I think that this would end up saving tax payers a lot of money and would make the government provide the services that the citizens need and want.

5. Increase Business and Governmental Accountability

Another important benefit of a nation-wide GPS tracking implant system is the increased accountability of business and government organizations.  For example, a government inspector is supposed to go around and inspect elevators on all the building in New York City.  Right now, there is very little accountability to make sure that they do that other than the people taking them at their word that such and such was done.  Another example might be a police officer who is tasked with patroling a particularly dangerous part of town, how are we to know he has been faithful to his duty and not just parked at a donut shop all evening?

If you introduce a GPS tracking system to the equation you come to see that there is little that these employees and government agencies can hide from the public (if the information is made publically available, which it would be under the Freedom of Information act).  They are held accountable for their actions.

Private corporations would be the same.  Imagine that some nasty industrial waste begins to show up in a natural preserve somewhere in the West.  How will the dumping party be held responsible?  Just go to the GPS tracking log and check out all the people that have gone to that area and find out what their speed was as they traveled there to tell who drove a car, who walked, etc.  Once you have that list you can interview each individual if there is more than one suspect or you could cross reference names on this list with others from a company payroll.  Either way, you will find out who did the dumping and the person they dumped for in no time at all.

How Will Our Future Look?

I don’t know about you, but I think that the future of GPS tracking implants is a little in the dark.  While this list of benefits is useful and good for society at large I just don’t think that it currently outweights the gross injustices that a government could perpetrate with this type of tracking system in place.  Citizens would have no privacy and absolutely no expectation that they would have any.  I could imagine a whole subclass of people that spurn the trackers and that are forced to live underground or in remote regions of the country in an attempt to evade the all seeing eyes of the government.

But this does not mean that all GPS implants should be avoided.  There might be a strong argument for personal GPS tracking implants, but perhaps we will visit that topic another day.

Government GPS Tracking Implants: The Bad and The Ugly

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!