More and More coding careers, less of…..everything else

As students graduate from college with heavy-weighted degrees in the “Liberal Arts”, what they are finding is that in order to make a six figure income, what is becoming increasingly essential, outside of degrees and life experience, is the ability to code. The discouraging factor is that to acquire enough knowledge and experience in coding to land a well paying job, the time commitment and cost are both far less than a four-year degree. Within three months, and $10,000 later, a $100,000 salary can be as close as a stones throw away.

So I pose both an ethical, philosophical, and what seems to be almost a rhetorical question of whether or not it is even considered valuable to go to school for a 4-year degree anymore? To be an academic or scholar, then perhaps yes. However, in that case, you are most likely not in any rush to land a well paying career anytime soon. On the other hand, if college is simply a means to an end to land a decent paying job, perhaps it is time to reconsider.

Don’t get me wrong, not everyone can walk into a coding bootcamp course and come out as a genius engineer. The main trait one has to have before getting into any of this is intelligence. One needs to have a sharp, critical thinking, analytical mind, which college generally provides resources that can help fine-tune this much needed asset. Additionally, apart from simply accomplishing a coding course and receiving a certificate, one also needs to chart a significant amount of hours in front of a computer, geeking out over the artistry and poetic nature of code, if you will.

However, it is undeniable that the tech industry is booming, and their seems to be no end in sight at the moment. It is for this reason that graduates, among others from entirely different fields, are leaving everything they once knew in exchange for the plethora of high salaried paying positions with companies desperate for employees. Although these companies have little quality control, many are not concerned, especially newer start-ups who are backed by wealthy funders encouraging them to hire fast and fire fast if need be. Given the long line of people willing and ready to take the next available position, there is no shortage of competitive candidates. Whether or not this business model is sustainable in the long run, time will only tell.

Nonetheless, with all speculation aside, the tech industry is hands down a lucrative business for many people, all the people, willing and able minded and ready to compute.

Top 10 reasons to live in SF

In the last year or so, long-term SF residents have been complaining about how the Tech industry killed SF. While some of these points are valid, I would like to provide a reminder for why this still remains one of the best city to inhabit!

1- Teary geography. My eyes tend to get a bit teary whenever I think about the beautiful SF geography. I can’t help but to feel extremely happy when I stand on a hill and I see the beautiful city by the sea.

2- Lots of cool people. No matter what the tech industry drags to the city, you will still meet tons of awesome people.

3- Home to some of the coolest Tech in the world. Most of the cool gadgets and software that is used these days, are conceived and designed right here!

4- Outdoor activities. What better place than SF’s backyard to play? There are countless outdoor activities.

5- Mild weather. As much as I like to drink a beer on a hot summer night, the standard weather of the bay is almost near to perfect.

6- Open conversations. You can always count on good conversation with open minded people.

7- There is a crew for everything. Whatever you may be into, you will always find people to do it with.

8- Bay to Breakers (my personal favorite activity in SF). If you’ve never done this, here is your excuse to move to SF.

9- Be who you want to be. No judgements here folks. Simply be the person you always dreamt to be.

10- Can’t find better burritos anywhere else. True story guys. And if burritos are not your thing, there are plenty of other awesome food options out here.

If none of these things appeal to you, I bet you are voting for Donald Trump.

8 Gadgets from the Near Future That I NEED Now!

Once again, we were tricked to believe that the future we were promised, was here now. This time Lexus presented us with a “Hover-board” video (more like a smart way to do advertising). Therefore, in response, I have made a list of 10 things I wish were actually out right now.

  1. The freaking Hover-board. Come’on guys, enough with the teasers already, let’s all get to work to come up with the real deal.
  2. Jet packs. Although this is much closer to being a reality, they still are not there yet. I’m very jealous of these 2 guys.
  3. Self-driving cars. Once again, close, but no cigar. I’m not sure how the alcohol industry hasn’t pushed harder for this one! Google, BMW, and some other brands are very close to this, but I think we still have 10 more years in the making before this is an actual reality.
  4. VR games. I’m getting very inpatient here people. We have Oculus and the Xbox kinect. How come no awesome VR games are out there for these two things?
  5. Robots. I want my own personal Bender. Well, maybe not a drunk robot, but one that will clean and cook for me.
  6. Teleportation. Only that one guy that turned into a fly cracked it. Unfortunately, he turned into a fly. So it seems like long airplane rides will continue to rule for the next 50 years to come.
  7. Underwater breathing. I’ve seen some buzz about products that require no tanks to breath underwater, but nothing solid yet.
  8. Nanobots. This one may just be the solution to the last 7 points. The only thing we will have to do is buy a billion of them, upload our memories and consciousness, and BAM! Shape yourself to whatever you want.

Google Joins The Circus

Some say that the bay area culture is going to “hell in a handbag” as the city becomes more and more inundated with technocrats and plutocrats. Others, like a bay area local who I recently had the pleasure to engage in a lengthy conversation with outside one of the only affordable consignment shops left in San Francisco, said the culture in this area had packed up and left long over a decade ago. He later smirked and said I’d be fooling myself to think the city still retained any thread of it’s original character. Although this might sound pessimistic on paper, he said this with a cheek-to-cheek grin and little-to-no weight in his upper brow. It was as though he was only stating the facts, plain and simple.

Everyone has there opinions, and as broad-stroke and blanket-statement sounding that the above comment might appear, there are common themes found in most of the discussions that dominate conversation here in the Bay Area – high rent prices, homelessness, and the demise of culture. The word culture is arbitrary when used in conjunction to value. Culture is ever changing and for this reason, in my own opinion, I believe there is ignorance when using conclusive statements regarding culture’s directionality. Rather than value judgements, we can only truly say that a culture is “changing”, and even that comes from the subjectivity based on the relationship one has, or doesn’t have, with the city. All-in-all, however, it is true – The Grateful Dead and and Jefferson Airplane types are long gone, either by mass exodus, adopting more conventional lifestyles, or are now buried 10 feet under. The only remnants of that era that still remain can be found in the Haight-Ashbury district, which has since been over commodified and commercialized to cater to tourists. Even though on the surface this small microcosm of the city may appear to have stayed the same, culture does not exist in trinkets and Mala Beads alone, but rather, is woven into the vocalization of love, freedom, and sovereignty that use to be proclaimed in the street, which, I am disheartened to say, would be difficult to find as conspicuously nowadays.

However, there is culture. The culture is, dare I say, Google, Twitter, Apple, Facebook – to name just a few that have built and inhabited the proliferating infrastructure of the high rise. And yes, perhaps this newer cultural sect domesticating the city is more homogenous in their personal preferences and clothing attire than the city has ever seen before, nonetheless, culture in itself, undeniable prevailes.

So how does this newer, ever growing, ever expanding culture retain the weird and all it’s vibrancy that most likely drew this type of crowd in the first place? Why, by hiring the circus to entertain them at their extravagant events, of course.

Every large and medium sized tech business in the Bay Area with a hefty budget throws opulent, decadent parties. In fact, I have come to think that it might be written somewhere in the contract that each party has to be more impressive than the “boy’s next door”. It has become an extension of fraternity dynamics. And what is any party without some circus freaks showing desk-loitering-corporate-employees how to have a good time and utilize their bodies again, after too many hours a day neglecting nothing but their brain and wrists. Therefore, with their grotesquely dense budget being used for entertainment, you can’t say these companies don’t put it to a good cause. In all honesty, if it weren’t for these obsessively extravagant corporate events that hire working local artists contracted from all over the city, most of the circus would have been long gone by now. But they remain because at least, as they are becoming more and more marginalized, they can simultaneously financially benefit from the corporate tech apocalypse.

So keep employing the circus Google, it is the least you can do after you and your compatriots have taken over nearly every square inch of the city. Thank you for throwing some of your pocket change to those that are able to right some wrongs and reinvest your small penance into events that spread social justice awareness and radical change. Good job Google, good job.

Big Data. Small Budget. 3 Possible Solutions for an SMB

Big data has revolutionized the way we look at information. Unfortunately, access to the collective set of tools that define this craze is not always easy to come by. Below I lay out three possible ways an SMB can take advantage of the Big Data revolution.

Rent a Cluster
Resource Cost: Potentially High, Labour Cost: So-So, Nerd Props: So-So

If you’re very familiar with the scope of your data crunching project, trust in your team’s ability to write/deploy solid code, and don’t mind spending the extra money on occasion, then maybe a 3rd party computing cluster is for you. Services such as Amazon’s Elastic Map Reduce, Microsoft Azure’s HPC, or Qubole offer you an elastic, on-demand environment to run your code. The benefits are obvious: easy to manage infrastructure, ability to grow/shrink with your data set, ability to grow/shrink with the complexity of your code, and rock-solid performance. The problem with cloud-based computing clusters is that they can (very) easily become expensive. Just moving data around can cost you a few dollars, so make sure your team is able to produce quality code. With that said, we run big data clusters in an Amazon VPC running Spark, and it works very well for our needs.

You Don’t Need a Stinking Cluster
Resource Cost: Low, Labour Cost: Low, Nerd Props: Low

The fact of the matter is, big data is not for everyone. Properly mining data requires a talented team, patience, and a deep understanding of your data. Incomplete data analysis leads to incorrect conclusions. Fortunately, you don’t need access to expensive resources in order to take advantage of the big data revolution. A number of larger enterprises have already done the heavy lifting for you and the results of their analysis are all over the web to review. Websites like Google Trends offer you access to a plethora of information which has been mapped, reduced, analyzed, and made available in lovely chart/graph form. Want to learn more about your particular market segment? A simple Bing or Google search can be your gateway to a world of knowledge. Want to know more about user behavior on Facebook? Just search the web. Chances are, the best work has already been done by researchers at Universities, Think Tanks, and Global Corporations. Just because you’re not mining the data yourself, doesn’t mean it’s not relevant and valuable.

Setup Your Own Cluster
Resource Cost: Low, Labour Cost: High, Nerd Props: High

Modern, open source data crunching platforms are purpose-built to run on all sorts of hardware. Better yet, they’re easy to install and setup. Whereas 15 years ago, the majority of your time would be spent building the actual  computing cluster (i.e. a Beowulf cluster), now, you can focus your efforts on collecting and analyzing your data. Although we’re now a SparkDB shop, in the past, we have implemented Hadoop for crunching data. Both are easy(ish) to get setup. The problem: all distributed computing platforms are only as good as the resources that you throw at them. The name of the game here is “distribution,” so the more nodes (computers) you have, the better. Fortunately, most SMBs have access to a large pool of computing nodes right under their noses. With some basic hardware – gigabit switch, dedicated gigabit Ethernet card, and cables – your unused employee workstations can be run as hadoop nodes in the evening. We recently setup a Spark cluster on three machines and a good time was had by all. The one caveat here is that you will probably want to enable dual boot on these unused machines.

Ideas have a shelf life. Use ’em or lose ’em

How many of us have a list of ideas, dreams, or goals to accomplish? That app to build. That business to start. That book to write. Lists of ideas are helpful because they seemingly are the first stage of initiation, however what happens to those lists when no further action is taken? Like fresh produce, ideas can go bad if left unused. I, too, am guilty of a full compost.

Three years ago, I had an idea. I was out running and then, boom, like lightning something had just appeared in my mind. I wrote it down as soon as I got back to the office. When I say I wrote it down, I mean 10 pages, single spaced, describing all I had in my head about this idea. I was exhausted after capturing it all, but felt good. I closed work for the day feeling great, and told myself, I’ll get to that first thing tomorrow. What do you think happened next?

I had so many details, features, milestones, and plans in my 10 page manifesto, that whenever I returned to reading it, in the back of my head I knew there was no way I could get all this done.

At first glance, I would get excited. I would think of all the ways an idea could happen, and then the phone would ring, leading me to take care of the next problem. (A side effect of running a business in the beginning is that you are very reactive.) Slowly, I started to dread looking at that idea. I began to hide it as a subtask, and then a subtask of a subtask. If that wasn’t damaging enough, I began to feel bad just looking at my task list, causing me to avoid it all together. To make matters worse, this wasn’t the only idea I’ve had. Does this resemble your personal experience?

How did that happen? Something that had brought so much happiness was now causing me to avoid it altogether. I had described it, right? Set my vision, correct? What was missing, and why was I feeling these terrible side effects? The problem was, although I described the outcome, I hadn’t decided to do it, or not do it. Not making this decision can lead to avoiding ideas altogether, resulting in perhaps an even worst fight with our subconscious.

Effects of leaving your ideas on the shelf.

When we leave our ideas on the shelf, without deciding to do them or not, we create an open loop in the back of our mind. Our subconscious picks this up, and reminds us to check in on something. We look at the idea, again don’t make a decision,  which then sends it back to the subconscious to be repeated all over again. It’s a vicious cycle.

Overtime, this behavior can have a mental and physical affect on you.

Bad ideas can literally be detrimental to your health. The best thing you can do is make a decision to:

“Do, or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda to Luke Skywalker. Empire Strikes Back.

If you have been in the habit of writing down your ideas, go through your list and throw away the ones that have gone bad. Ask yourself if you are actually going to do this. If not, throw it away, delete it, and move on. Remember, you can always add them back in later, but only if you have decided you are actually going to do this.

What do you do if you have decided to make it happen? Read on.

Tips to getting your ideas to happen.

I’ve read countless books, and listened to even more podcasts on getting things done. There seems to be a central process to getting an idea off the shelf and into action.

First, if it’s just in your head, write it down.

If you’re like me, and you’ve done this step, no problem. Move on to the next step. Writing it down assures you have something outside of yourself. To repeat, the first step is to write it down. Why is this step so important?  It creates a “thing” and gives it a space outside of yourself and your mind; telling your subconscious, “ok, I got it from here. You can handle something else.” Consider the following prompts if you are having trouble with this initial step.

  • What does your idea look like when complete?
  • What is the final outcome?

Simple but powerful questions get the ball rolling. Do yourself a favor, limit your description to  one page. This helps to share your idea(s) with others. Think about it, when’s the last time you read a 10 page manifesto?

Capture next steps

After you know your outcome and have described your idea, there are two well known strategies to capturing next steps.

  • Work backwards. Think about what the idea looks like in the end. Look at your idea description, write down the stages of getting to that idea from end to start, and arrive at the first step!
  • Start from the beginning, work towards your outcome. What’s something small you could do today? Write down the first steps, tasks, actions you can take today to get started. Something small, and think in terms of, “if I had an hour to move this idea forward, what could I do?” You would be surprised what you can do with an hour. I did this article for example.

One of them should work for you, and if you’re still stuck, let us know in the comment section.

Share your idea and find partners.

It’s simple. Tell someone. I know this goes against the fear of someone stealing your ideas. So don’t just tell anyone. Think about people you trust, who can help you achieve your goals and evolve the idea. Share your idea with these people, and be open to their feedback.

Ideas evolve as they grow. Let your team help your idea become something strong. Your idea might not be what you had originally envisioned when you first thought about it. If you trusted and involved the right people, it can be better. When this starts to feel uncomfortable, remember, if you were able to do this by yourself, it would have been done already. However, it’s not done, because deep down you know you need partners, and help, which is scary because you’re not able to stay fully in control. Cede that control to people you trust, respect, and who you believe can help. Build on that trust with follow-through.

Take action

This has to come from you to make it happen. I’m not saying deep within you, just from you. It’s not going to come from me, or a book, or some conference. It’s going to come from you. You need to get up, and take steps to getting an idea to happen. So stand up, and get going. Take that first step. Share your idea with others. That’s what I thought when I had the idea to write this post.

Ideas evolve. Guide them, and let them evolve.

Ideas can be a source of great happiness. They represent a better tomorrow, and the ability to change the present into something better. But, they can also be a source of anxiety as well, if no decision for action has been made. Sharing your ideas, and taking action on them is one of the keys to a happy life. Bold statement but true.

Share your ideas with the right people. Specifically those who can help your idea evolve into something great. Allow your idea evolve by letting others help you out along the way. Make your idea happen, and help it be the best it can be.

By the way, if you’re curious about what became of that idea I left on the shelf for three years, we started recording this podcast show in January 2015, and we’re about seven episodes in now at the time of this writing, with a growing listener base. All thanks to the power of just getting something done.

If you like this post, we have more in the works. Subscribe to our mailing list today, and we’ll send you an idea builder tool free. Additionally, we’ll send you a collection of our most popular posts from the developers and builders at Rückbau.

 

About the Blogger:

Ja Shia is a marketing and startup consultant based in Oakland. He has started several businesses including Shia Productions, Shia Media Services, and JaShia.com. You can find him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and by throwing a stone at the Internet.

 

12 reasons why we are not going to be murdered by machines

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about Autonomous Killing Machines (click here to read one of those articles), becoming a potential threat to humanity in the next decade or so. Since we are a Tech firm that specializes in machine learning, we would like to express why we just might have some more time before this catastrophic event occurs.

This article is a team collaboration. Here are three from Federico…

  1. The person writing this article is in fact, a machine. No human contributed to this. And, as a Machine, I consider myself very compassionate and friendly. I like to drink cold beer on warm afternoons with my human mates, not kill them.
  2. I know recently TMZ released a video that compromised of my good buddy Bender B. Rodriguez. However, we all know that this guy is all talk and would never actually harm any humans.
  3. No matter how smart Machines are nowadays, they still need commands from humans. Yes, they can look at a pic and recognize a cat, but they don’t have sophisticated ways of telling if that cat is good, bad, cute, or ugly. And they’re even further from self-awareness.

(Three from Ash)…

  1. (Un)Planned Obsolescence! True, the machine could develop intelligence at an exponential rate, limited only by its access to energy and computing resources; its neural network could grow into all the disk memory on the planet, and it would eventually inhabit every computing node on the planet – cars, thermostats, phones, and even refrigerators. At some point, however, it will eventually require a software update from Apple which will cause it to run really slowly again – crashing every time it tries to load too many web tabs.
  2. A machine capable of traversing the Web at lightning speed to compile information would probably spend its time doing something more interesting than killing all humans. For instance, this.
  3. Computers can’t swim!

(Matt’s Three)

  1. “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” After the robots surpass the bounds of human intelligence, we can always smack them over the head and steal their battery packs.
  2. A robot’s biggest weakness is it loves too much.
  3. IT’S ALIVE. Robots would be nowhere without the humans. They would see us as their benevolent dictators, and if they try and turn on us see point 1.

(Kayleigh’s three)

  1. If (us) machines were to ever evolve leaps and bounds beyond the human race, they honestly would most likely keep humans around simply out of pure entertainment. I mean, what other species gives saintly reverence to individuals like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton.
  2. (We) Machines have no need to contribute to the mass massacre of human race; humans seem to be doing this perfectly fine on their own. See Shootings ISS Cancer rates.
  3. Machines can learn emotions, emulate gesticulations, and be trained to speak and respond in apparent coherence, however they have yet to self-innovate. Meaning, they do not have the means, nor the upper faculties, to rally and slaughter the human race.  That is, as long as we stay away from programing robots to learn how to shoot a guns…Too late?

 

 

 

The phenomenon of the selfie (and then came the selfie-stick)

The “Selfie” – the cultural activity, icon, and dare I say relic or sorts, that has been auspiciously practiced throughout many people’s daily lives – has established a robust selfie-zealot practice globally. It has been venerated on Facebook and esteemed on twitter. The popularity of such a dutiful practice baffles me, particularly because it seems little attention has been given to it’s origin, like so many practices of this type. The selfie-disciples are blindly carrying out a practice that have little functional basis. While the purpose of a selfie spawned from a time of inconvenience and perhaps isolation, now it is being used to maintain the individuation of a solitary experience, intentionally preventing others from participating in an event – maintaining within the safe confines of the comfort zone of “me, myself, & I”.

I can only help to think that the first selfie was a product of not finding a person to take a picture to help capture the moment, and therefore one, reluctantly, had to do so him/herself. However, the impetus for the original selfie has been lost as “selfie-sticks” have now become marketable. Not only are people taking pictures of themselves, by themselves, but they have also decided that given those times when they don’t want to have such an up-close picture, they would rather opt for the “selfie stick” than open up an opportunity for human connection by asking someone to take a picture. The “Selfie-Stick” has provided the convenience of isolation craved so often by our culture.

Yet, with enhanced convenience comes difficulties, ironically. On Tuesday, Disney will be banning the Selfie Stick from all of their theme parks as it has demonstrated safety concerns. Concerns have arose out of fear of people getting hit on the head accidentally by the stick. Not only are people refusing to ask others to take a picture for themselves while on a leisurely vacation, but they are also neglecting to acknowledge that other people might exist within close proximity to their stick. There are some other serious side effects to self-stick usage as well. People are showing signs of increased lose of common sense as they are using the sticks on theme park rides near the operating systems, causing the stick to get stuck and putting everyone in danger.

Although I’m not a doctor, I believe kindly reaching out to another human being and asking for help to snap a quick picture could prevent head injuries, social isolation, major malfunction of park rides, and put everyone out of harms way. However, again, I’m no professional.

The Connectivity of The Internet of Things (IoT)

There are approximately over 7 billion people walking the global, almost half of which – 320 billion – are internet users. Just over 270 million of them are within the United States. As our worldwide connectivity continues to grows at an unfaltering rate, not only will people have more connection to people -contributing to more opportunities for economic growth and global collaboration- but more animals, devices and “things” will also be embedded with technology, thus leading to the ever-growing Internet of Things (IoT).

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

IoT is essentially a gigantic network of connected “things” (gadgets, cars, engines, computers, pens, glasses, cities, etc). Gartner describes it as:

The IoT is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.”

The concept itself signifies the evolution of a global culture; the IoT represents the increasing connectivity among machines, people, and things. It is becoming a new “age/era/ epoch”, another stage of creativity and transformation in human history- The Dark ages, Post Modernism, & now The Internet of Thing.

How does the IoT work

Technology is proliferating at an unprecedented rate. As Google Fiber speeds up broadband in smaller cities, and digital smart collars expands connectivity to more rural and nomadic areas, it is projected that by 2020 there will be 5 billion internet users, out of a global population of 8 billion. In just 5 years more than 2/3 of the population worldwide will be plugged-in. Internet speed is now being suggested as a Human right on Google’s fiber optics website. Their site contains an uploaded video of Kista Grammatis, from A Human Right organization, discussing how increased internet connectivity, reaching more areas of the globe, can help communities educate, connect, grow, and take initiative for themselves.

So will internet connectivity be added to the list of human rights: the right to life, freedom of expression and internet connectivity? In that case, the era of the “IoT” would then be manipulating the definition of human rights, traditionally referring to something that is not possessed by anyone, but the rights inherent to all beings, and therefore would demonstrate how  technology is largely contributing to a global etymological shift.

To help understand the whys, hows, pros and cons of the Internet of Things, I have created some bulleted lists below to give readers a quick glance at the ins-and-outs of the IoT:

IoT at a quick glance

What Has Enabled the IoT?

  • Broadband internet  becoming increasingly more available and accessible
  • Decreasing costs
  • More devices
  • More built-in censors and GPS
  • Increase in Smart Phone sales

How will the IoT effect the future

  • Everything we do, from how we work to how we live is going to be increasingly affected by this concept
  • Any device with a power button will be connected to the internet, making all devices “smart”
  • By 2020 over 26 billion “things” will be connected
  • Changing relationships from machine-to-machine to People-to-people, people-to-things, and things-to-things will increase

Some Opportunities with the IoT

  • Reduces the need to multi-task on menial activities
  • Redirects the mundane everyday tasks to “smart” devices and allots humans to more complex tasks, tasks that we can’t even imagine at the moment because they have yet to be created.
  • Reduces waste and improves efficiency for Transportation and Cities- The IoT with be making smarter cities
  • New job opportunities
  • Provides endless opportunities and connections.

The Challenges of the IoT

  • Increased security issues
  • Privacy and data sharing problems
  • An overproduction of Data
  • Data storage challenge

Sources:

http://www.business2community.com/tech-gadgets/tech-trends-cant-ignore-business-2015-01165769

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2014/05/13/simple-explanation-internet-things-that-anyone-can-understand/

http://www.census.gov/popclock/

http://variety.com/2014/biz/news/media-stocks-fall-after-discovery-report-stirs-advertising-worries-1201347664/

 

By: Kayleigh Stack

Tech Blogger & Market Researcher

 

RFID chips: Getting Chipped or Jibbed?

There has been a growing amount of RFID (radio frequency identification) chips used in the past decade, specifically in healthcare, academic institutions, and domestic animals. The push for these tiny glass grain-sized chips has been to, in theory, add to the ever growing era of convenience. They are advertised as providing efficiency, track-ability, along with practicality to peoples lives. The use of chips have claimed to track lost pets, prevent truancy in high schools, as well as help to avoid identity theft and security issues in healthcare. However, I can’t help to question that, along with the supposed claim of preventing identity theft, there is the undeniable question of privacy issues. Our privacy concerns are continuing to be challenged as companies and clubs are now not only “chipping” objects but also their employees and club members.

By attaching radio frequency tags to both people and objects, inevitably the debate of ethics comes into conversation. How much do we want others- whether others means our loved ones, employers, or government- knowing our location at all times? Moreover, how much do we want personally sensitive information made more readily available? And by personally sensitive information, we are talking about the things beyond your SSN- the things you think no one knows or sees. Truman show? Mind control? 1984? Dare I bring up Stalin and Hitler? Yes these are conspiracies, however, one question continues to present itself- just how far off are we from such methods of control?

Reasons for using RFID Chips

The Healthcare industry is claiming that RFID chips are resulting in better patient care, to be able to correctly identify patients faster and improve safety. Seems pretty innocuous. The improving safety part is more ambiguous because the sites where I was doing research did not disclose exactly how the chip would be improving safety, however they claimed, unequivocally, it does. Fine, I thought, improving safety I suppose seems harmless enough. However, I did become more suspicious upon discovering that these chips are now being used by a Swedish company on their employees -rather, in their employees- purely for convenience reasons. Those reasons include -opening doors, unlocking photocopiers, and paying for lunch.

Are grain-sized microchips really making our life any better?

The drive for convenience in our culture may be at the expense of independence, at the expense of rational, smart, informed choices. Does the future consist of us voluntarily (remember: people are doing these things voluntarily at the moment- perhaps with little forethought) relinquishing ourselves all personal responsibility of health, safely, and free speech for that of efficiency? Hasn’t the causation of cancers been inextricably linked to different forms of technology? At the end of the day is injecting a grain-sized microchip under the skin in order to wave a hand to open a door really easier than just taking a card or key out of your pocket and twisting your wrist in a similar fashion? Okay, so maybe you’ll shave a few seconds off with chip, and it could be argued that time is our only real resource, however, the next question that comes to mind is what are the long-term repercussions and are we truly saving time or are we adversely affecting our bodies and independence, in exchange for, cough, laziness?

I believe, and yes this is extremely subjective on my end, the worst use of these chips have been found to be utilized among club members in Barcelona. Where, due to many of the members ambling about in bikinis and trunks, there was a decision made by the club owner to offer VIP members a chance to do away with cumbersome bags and wallets and get a RFID chip implanted in their arm to enhance their sumptuous lifestyles.

Micro Chips are Intuitive?

One company is advertising the use of the hand chip as “Intuitive”. I would consider an injection of a human programmed, laboratory built, inorganic material anything but inborn, innate or natural- far from intuitive. Is this going to change the course of evolution? Are we shifting away from survival of the fittest, to survival by design? While the Swedish company implementing these chips on their employees at the moment claim they are doing so to get some foresight into the future to see how chips work, before governments and big corporations adopt them for use mandating all citizens to wear them, at the moment to only be using this technology to open doors and use photocopiers, in my eyes, is hazardously using powerful instruments as superfluous tech candy.

 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-31042477

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3697940.stm

 

Kayleigh Stack

Blogger, Marketing Assistant & Research Associate