Tuesday, September 18, 2007


RFID devices (the little trackers placed under your skin) have made the big time, getting coverage at Stateline.org. Good intro article for anyone not familiar with the tech, the ethical and social concerns, and the easy (and frankly funny) ways they can be hacked. The story is about the states that are outlawing their use, but I don’t really see how this is different from other techs if you’re keeping of offenders. Maybe people will fear the “camel’s nose under the tent” thing enough to keep this from being extended to offenders, but I’m betting it’s just a matter of time until some guy outside the bars on current surveillance supervision gets on the evening news and freaks enough legislators into listening to the sales pitches for these things. Now, on the pharma and bio side, turns out that genetic differences affect the effectiveness of smoking cessation drugs, and that’s leading scientists to look at tailoring specific treatments for specific abusers of this particular substance. And if that can be done, why not for other substances and abusers? Another case of pharmaceuticals and bioengineering coming together to possibly deal with a corr sent issue. And want proof that brain chemicals that could conceivably be manipulated do affect people’s behavior, and in different ways? Serotonin shortages make women more depressed but men more impulsive. So we need to calculate farther than our usual “one size fits all” in these bioengineered pharmaceutical remedies, don’t we? Both types of research like this move us closer to the day when sending people to prison for offenses that can be remedied by these treatments will only be done to maintain the institutions and actors who have so much invested on their traditional costlier and less effective remedies. They’ll argue “public safety” but it will really be just to protect their jobs and egos.

No comments: