Thursday, 12 February 2015

Writing - Prophesy, writing and human chipping

Perhaps the blog's title should be the other way around - 'Writing and Prophesy'. It is a bit of a chicken and egg question.

Image result for driverless cars uk
Driverless Cars

Yesterday it was announced that driverless cars can be tested in four parts of the UK - Coventry (the furthest north), Milton Keynes, Bristol and London. Authors' imaginations are truly amazing as these vehicles have appeared in a number of works.
Demolition Man starring Silvester Stallone, Sandra Bullock and Wesley Snipes originated around 1993.
I, Robot adapted from Isaac Asimov's story written in 1950 and adapted for the screen in 2004 starring Will Smith.
In both cases the script writers have had the freedom to introduce these vehicles as there has been interest, speculation and experimentation on this technology since the 1920s. 
They say it will be ten years before we can walk into a showroom and purchase such a vehicle for ourselves.

Image result for Robocop

Other futuristic and therefore prophetic subjects that have appeared in literature include time travel and the use of robots. In the film series Robocop there are a couple of issues that may have some momentum. 

Obviously there is the use of robots to maintain law and order, which I don't believe is likely to happen, but the use of replacement limbs that are electronically controlled is on its way. The second issue is the increased sophistication in police surveillance to the point where computer interpretation of the patterns in crowd movement are believed to be able to predict civil unrest. Obviously, the way that is handled is a separate matter but what other purposes could that level of surveillance be used for. If it is possible to look at a computer image of crowd dynamics what about assessing individual human behaviour?

Image result for Human chipping
A human chip

There is a company in Scandinavia that offers its staff a chip which can then allow them access to the building by holding the chip to a reader that allows them to pass - no codes necessary. We chip our dogs and cats in case they get lost or are stolen - how long before humans are chipped for similar purposes? People with Alzheimer's often wander off raising fears for their safety, if they were chipped!!!

Image result for UK chipped Passports
Chip is in the top right corner

An article in the Washington Times published in January 2014 predicts the mandatory use of human chipping within the next ten years. It also gives examples of the use of chips in UK passports and the London Oyster Cards. 

Image result for UK chipped Oyster cards
Chip on the bottom right

If you carry your passport, or more likely an oyster card the chip inside will report your location to ever is running the computer that is monitoring its use. In fact any local authority, including my own, that issues a card that can be 'read' electronically will likely be able to ascertain your whereabouts at any time. Some would say that it is a good thing but if you consider yourself a free person you may want to fight this step in surveillance tooth and nail.

From the writer's point of view what we were writing not so many years ago as SF will seem dated if we don't move forward with the developments that are happening as I write. Keep reading folks!

God Bless