"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Let's Go Ahead and Chip Babies at Birth. It will be a More Efficient Way to Supply Information to the P20 Pipeline. Science Fiction or Real Possibility?

Insert a lifeclock chip or barcode into humans.  What's the difference?

How many of you remember the movie "Logan's Run"?  If you missed it the first time around or were too young, here's a recap:

Logan's Run is a 1976 science fiction film directed by Michael Anderson and starring Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett and Peter Ustinov. The screenplay by David Zelag Goodman was based on the novel of the same name by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. It depicts a dystopian future society in which population and the consumption of resources are managed and maintained in equilibrium by the simple expedient of killing everyone who reaches the age of thirty, preventing overpopulation. The story follows the actions of Logan 5, a "Sandman", as he runs from society's lethal demand.

In the year 2274, the remnants of human civilization live in a sealed domed city, a utopia run by a computer that takes care of all aspects of their life, including reproduction. The citizens live a mostly hedonistic lifestyle but have been told that in order to maintain the city, every resident must undergo the ritual of "Carrousel" at the age of 30, where they are vaporized with the promise of being "Renewed." To track this, the humans are implanted at birth with a Lifeclock crystal in the palm of their hand that changes colors as they approach their "Last Day."

Most residents accept this loose promise of rebirth, but some sense that it is simply execution for the sake of population control, and go into hiding to avoid Carrousel. These fugitives are known as Runners, and the city's computer assigns Sandmen (officially known as DS agents, de facto executioners), who pursue and terminate them.

The character of Michael York becomes a runner via a computer assigning him to find other runners and his Lifeclock crystal advances four years, making him close to that dreaded age 30 level.  He sets out and what does he find?

Once outside, Logan and Jessica notice that their Lifeclocks are now clear and no longer operational. Venturing further, they discover that vegetation has overrun much of the remains of human civilization, and explore the nearby area, once the National Mall in Washington D.C. Within the ruins of the United States Senate chamber, they discover an elderly man, a surprise to them both, neither having ever seen a person this old before. The old man explains what he knows has happened to humanity outside of the city; Logan and Jessica realize Sanctuary is a myth.

The scene of the ruined Senate chamber resonated with me when I saw this movie in 1976.  I thought "oh, this would never happen" but three decades later, I'm wondering if the book's author and the screenwriter were clairvoyants.  Privacy rights and the rule of law protecting citizen information is quickly disappearing.

We are to embrace and accept government tracking our children from birth to the grave via Longitudinal Data Systems connecting various federal agencies to supply our babies as human capital to the workforce.  Arne Duncan demands "data-driven" statistics to make American students globally competitive.  Human personalities are unimportant as hundreds of data sets determine where your child will be placed, either on a career or college track.  Studies of women prior to even becoming pregnant (but planning on becoming mothers) are taking place in the St. Louis area and other parts of the country: 

 Here is some of the information they will gather on children in this study. (For a more detailed report you can access the 76 page brochure here). It seems as if it will indeed ask and answer hundreds of questions about children. Combined with the data sets from the schools, it appears there isn't much varying Federal agencies (over 40 Federal entities in the Children's study alone) won't know about your family or your child. Do you believe this is a positive development? Why do all these federal agencies need to garner information on families and individuals? Is this the role of government?

Whether you think it is a valid role or not, the government is already studying its first baby in the region. Here is an article about the first St. Louis infant born into the National Children's Study: http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/news/2011/03/08/first-baby-born-into-national.html

There have been subsequent attempts to remake "Logan's Run".  Inserting a Lifeclock crystal in a baby's hand to track them from birth to "renewal" was a cutting edge technology thought in 1976 but tracking humans now would be easier and more cost effective.  In 2012, we could just microchip babies at birth or barcode them.  From the nydailynews.com and "Human barcode could make society more organized, but invades privacy, civil liberties":

Science fiction author Elizabeth Moon last week rekindled the debate on whether it's a good idea to "barcode" infants at birth in an interview on a BBC radio program.

“I would insist on every individual having a unique ID permanently attached — a barcode if you will — an implanted chip to provide an easy, fast inexpensive way to identify individuals,” she said on The Forum, a weekly show that features "a global thinking" discussing a "radical, inspiring or controversial idea" for 60 seconds.

Moon believes the tools most commonly used for surveillance and identification — like video cameras and DNA testing — are slow, costly and often ineffective.

In her opinion, human barcoding would save a lot of time and money.

Is the Longitudinal Data System information mandated by Race to the Top and Common Core standards the first step toward a Logan's Run society?   Should the government have the right to track your life from birth to death and make decisions on who has access to this information for workforce (or other) purposes?  Do you exist to supply the workforce?   

I thought "Logan's Run" in 1976 was science fiction.  I'm not so sure now.  I wonder if Roger Ebert and the NY Times would alter their reviews of this movie based on the current push to gather human capital information for the government's use:

Roger Ebert gave the film a three star rating, calling the film a "vast, silly extravaganza", with a plot that's a "cross between Arthur C. Clarke's The City and the Stars and elements of Planet of the Apes," but "that delivers a certain amount of fun."[1]
The New York Times was less positive:[9]
Just why and for what particular purpose Logan makes his run is anything but clear after you've sat through nearly two hours of this stuff. Logan's Run is less interested in logic than in gadgets and spectacle, but these are sometimes jazzily effective and even poetic. Had more attention been paid to the screenplay, the movie might have been a stunner.

What's a stunner is how Americans are evolving from human beings into human capital to be used by the government and its purposes. 

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