Amal considers himself a guinea-pig for human augmentation, making headlines in the US last week with a prototype of the world’s first implant-activated smart gun.He became one of the world’s first RFID implantees in 2005, and has since founded an online store to sell the “at home” kits to people who want to “upgrade their body”. He’s written a book, spoken at TEDx and appeared in documentaries.
“On a psychological level, this is completely different to a smartphone or a Fitbit, because it goes in you,” he told news.com.au.“Your kidneys are working hard but you’re not thinking about them, it’s not something you have to manage.“It’s given me the ability to communicate with machines. It’s literally integrated into who I am.”He is aware of the ethical and security concerns, but points out that the data is encrypted, and most of your access cards are not secure anyway. This is simply a case of “computing in the body.”Rather than worry about people being forced to be microchipped, he’s now busy advocating for the rights of citizens who use them.He believes the destruction of the chip could in some cases classify as assault (as with a pacemaker) and other dangers might be governments forcibly extracting implants or data from them.“I want to make sure it’s treated as part of the body, like an organ,” he says.
One firm in Sweden has allowed employees to choose chips over a work pass, with 400 taking up the offer, but Amal says he more often hears from interested individuals who want to try it out.“At the moment, it’s mainly access — house, computer motorcycle. But in the future there’s the potential to use it for transit, payment. You could get rid of your keys and maybe your wallet.”Other uses might include children tapping to let parents know they are at school safely, refugees checking in at camps or women at shelters.It can share diet, exercise and sleep information with you and your doctor, and the next generation could even release medicine as and when you need it.
For Shanti, adding an extra dimension to life is a childhood fantasy come true.
“Ever since watching movies like the Terminator, Matrix and Minority Report I wondered if we could actually live like that. I always wondered why we all weren’t living as ‘super-humans’.”