Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

February 13, 2010

The Promise and Threat of RFID

Filed under: CyberKill — Frank Fiore @ 11:23 AM

In the Novel CyberKill, I touch on a lot of information technology. One such piece is what’s known as RFID chips.

RFID chips are becoming more and more popular. Invented in 1969 and patented in 1973, RFID tags are essentially microchips – the tinier the better. Some are only 1/3 of a millimeter across. These chips act as transponders (transmitters/responders), always listening for a radio signal sent by transceivers, or RFID readers. When a transponder receives a certain radio query, it responds by transmitting its unique ID code back to the transceiver. Most RFID tags don’t have batteries because most are only 1/3 of a millimeter. Instead, they are powered by the radio signal that wakes them up and requests an answer.

Their invention is a story in itself.

The inventors wanted to improve the technology of artificial intelligence. Their goal was to write AI software that would recognize what it sees. Quite a challenge.

They were not reaching the results they wanted until one developer came up with a simple solution. Instead of writing a program that would recognize what it sees, why not have the object just tell the AI program what it is? Thus, the idea of the RFID chip was born.

So what’s the problem?

Well, information technology is getting very complex – and moving faster every day. Our political leaders upstairs in the Adminisphere can’t keep up with it. They have to talk to geeks, corporate people, beltway advisors, academic elites, and the like, to help them understand what’s going on. In effect, letting the experts set the agenda, even influencing the politician’s decisions on what to do and what policies and laws to enact.

Read – Un-elected advisors. Advisors to our political leaders we didn’t elect to make policy decisions regarding technology. We elected representatives. But they know so little about the effects of all this technology that they concede to the advisors and, more often than not, legislating what they say.

RFID tags are quickly being attached to the products we wear, eat and carry. These ‘chips’ have shrunk to half the size of a grain of sand and soon to nano size and listen for a radio query, then respond by transmitting their unique ID code. In the not so distant future, RFID chips in your fridge at home will tell you when your milk has spoiled or if you’re out of butter. RFID chips will monitor and track your money, your passport, even your medicine intake.

You buy a T-Shirt at the Gap.

The Gap links the T-shirt’s RFID tag with the credit card chip you used to buy it and recognizes you, by name; and when you return, assaults you with flashing ads based on your spending patterns – just like in the movie Minority Report.

It’s easy to imagine a scenario where everything you buy that’s more expensive than a Mars bar will sport RFID tags. That raises the possibility of being tracked though our personal possessions. And the guys who make the decisions in our government are going along with it. Why? Because they don’t fully understand the ramifications of the technology, and more importantly to their constituents, it creates a huge cost savings for business. – At a possible cost to our personal freedoms. All that’s needed to pick up this transmitted information is a passive receiver. And, the police gain a trendy method of constant, cradle-to-grave surveillance.

Technology keeps getting smarter and our leaders seem to be getting stupider.

Big Brother anyone?



  1. […] The Promise and Threat of RFID « Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter […]

    Pingback by Forex News Day Trading Signal – 11 07 07 | — February 13, 2010 @ 11:35 AM | Reply

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by followthenovel: The Promise and Threat of RFID. RFID chips are touched upon in my novel CyberKill -threat or promise?

    Trackback by uberVU - social comments — February 13, 2010 @ 3:13 PM | Reply

  3. If you use a credit card, cell phone and obviously you are using the internet, you have already given up your privacy. What you do, how you do it, where you do it and how much you pay to do it is already available to anyone that really wants to know about you. If people do not like this aspect of the exchange of privacy for convenience, then they should stop using those services. You still have a choice. The consumer will utimately make or kill a technology and it won’t be about “privacy” or “big brother” it will be about convenience and cost.

    Comment by John Baker — February 14, 2010 @ 5:09 PM | Reply

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    Comment by finance personal software — March 2, 2010 @ 10:17 AM | Reply

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