John Fisher chips in with a suggestionPet owners may well be familiar with microchips that carry information in a small, plastic RFID, usually inserted into the back of an animal’s neck. In the UK some 7m pets are ‘chipped’ in this way, so that, if lost, they can easily be returned to their anxious owners.
It was Dr Mark Gasson who first pioneered the idea of data-carrying chips for humans in 2009 in the UK. The chip would carry vital health information in the event of accident or an incapacitating illness, so that medical professionals could diagnose problems more quickly and restore the patient to health again.
Discussions have since continued across the world about the social uses of such chips in humans. For example, they could help to track criminals and terrorists, where the benefits to society of knowing where these people are and their histories could far outweigh any problems associated with individual loss of freedom and data protection.
I have often wondered how event managers might benefit enormously from such technology for their delegates. Imagine, if you will, a world where all babies are fitted with such a chip before they leave hospital. Using Wi-Fi, the chip would be updated on an ongoing basis about their illnesses, close relatives, misdemeanours and financial dealings. A constant benefit later on would be to be able to track where they are in the world at any time, just like a Satnav in a car.
Eventually the babies grow up, start careers and before you know it they are attending a business conference. The benefits to the event organiser of access to the human chip could be enormous.
For a start, you would know, using the Satnav function, whether they are just late for the opening plenary session or have simply decided to stay at home. Finding the vegans and vegetarians at lunchtime would be straightforward by virtue of the fact that the chip would show where they are sitting.
Access to breakout sessions would be controlled by the chip with a sensor that would set off an alarm if someone attempted to attend a session for which they had not registered. When the time comes for a member of the audience to ask a question from the floor, the chip sends an identifier to the session chairman, who can see immediately who is talking, with details of their CV updated when they registered for the event.
Later that night delegates attend the networking cocktails and, by using their Google glasses or consulting the big screen tracking device, they can instantly see who is in the room and where they are - and perhaps more tellingly, who is missing!
Sorting out extras on room bills will not be necessary as the bar staff could simply swipe the subcutaneous chip with a reader and the cost could be debited from the cardholder’s account before a glass has even touched their lips.
After the event, synopses of the various sessions are sent to the email accounts of those who were perceived to be in the room together with a request to assess the content. For market research purposes, profiles of similar delegates could be matched with future events, so that guesswork is taken out of the process of finding follow-on events for key technical employees. The possibilities are endless.
However, it’s nothing new. Biblical scholars will be aware that in the ‘Book of Revelations’ something similar to chips in humans had already been predicted. I quote: ‘And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.’
Spooky or what?