By Emily Mangiaracina
The World Economic Forum (WEF) published an article proposing that there are “solid, rational reasons” for implanting children with microchips.
The controversial claim came in an opinion piece on human “augmentation” penned by Kathleen Philips, VP of Research and Development at Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (imec), which she opened with a starry-eyed vision of children acquiring “superpowers” via tech aids.
While Philips admitted that human-enhancing technologies such as chip implants can be hacked, opening up the dystopian possibility that our body and mind could be influenced by outer forces, she argued that the implantation of children, for example, is desirable for “safety” reasons, since it allows parents to track their location.
The scope of tech augmentation includes not only aids to restore disabled functions like hearing or walking, but technology that enhances “completely healthy” people as well, such as “night goggles” and “brain-computer interfaces,” Philips explained.
In addition to wearables like visual and hearing aids that could help a student with attention deficit disorder (ADD) “block off excess stimuli,” human augmentation would also include technology implanted into the body, Philips wrote.
Such implants would “seamlessly integrate with the environment” through wireless connection to, for example, “sensors in a chair.”
“As scary as chip implants may sound, they form part of a natural evolution,” the author argued, predicting that such implants will become a “commodity” like hearing aids and glasses.
Chips implanted directly into the brain, such as those developed by Elon Musk’s company Neuralink, would be useful for treating debilitating neurological illness such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease, as well as the more common, “ever-growing problem” of depression, according to Philips.
In fact, brain-computer interface implants to assist those with neurodegenerative disease such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) are already being tested in Australia and the U.S.
Philips attempted to allay widespread concerns about the dangers of such technology, assuring readers that “most applications will remain based on medical necessity rather than a mind reading tool,” adding that “brain implants may not be the first choice in our augmented society.”
However, she went on to argue that such brain implants are the natural next step from medications affecting the brain that we already take “without question,” such as antidepressants or stimulant medication for ADD.
Citing the modification of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s pacemaker to “prevent hacking,” she cautioned that security and ethical concerns remain a feature of augmentation technology.
Philips’ proposed solution is the “guidance” of “overarching or independent institutions” to help create an “ethical framework” surrounding such technology, such as an action plan already launched by the Council of Europe.
Paul Joseph Watson of Summit News remarked that the “support and vision” for such tech called for by Philips would be “provided by your technocratic overlords, the same people who are desperately trying to censor the Internet so they can’t be criticized,” referring to the WEF’s call for the merging of human and artificial intelligence to censor “hate speech” and “misinformation.”
Watson pointed out that the WEF’s founder and chief, Klaus Schwab, wrote in his book “The Great Reset” that the fourth industrial revolution would “lead to a fusion of our physical, digital and biological identity.” According to Watson, Schwab “clarifies” that this means “implantable microchips that can read your thoughts.”
Indeed, in a 2016 interview with Swiss broadcasting group RTS, Schwab said that brain chips would be widely introduced “certainly in the next 10 years.”
“And at first we will implant them in our clothes,” he said. “And then we could imagine that we will implant them in our brains, or in our skin. And in the end, maybe, there will be a direct communication between our brains and the digital world,” Schwab predicted.
Since Schwab’s interview, brain-computer interface technology has made rapid progress. Last year, Facebook revealed a wearable wrist device prototype connected to a “neural interface.” An AI system piloted by Facebook researchers can reportedly convert brain data to text with an error rate as low as 3 percent.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has gone a step farther with his startup Neuralink, which aims to connect brains to digital devices through wireless microchips. Musk has said that he hopes Neuralink will lead to “symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”