Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

June 7, 2013

Technology threatens terrifying tactics

By Rebecca Todd

— I am the first to admit I am behind the times when it comes to technology. I remember way back in the olden days of the 1990s when I was actually ahead of the game. Now there are second-graders that are more tech savvy than me. I just decided to stop my forward technological progression a few years back.

Did you ever notice how people do that? They just decide that they are done and don’t want to learn anything new about technology. I remember my father often referred to the rotary dial phone that hung on the wall as that new-fangeldy thing. It was yellow, hung on the wall in the kitchen and was the only one in the house. Guess what decade it was when Dad gave up on technology.

My mother did a little better. She even has a VCR and a flip phone. Sadly, she sometimes tries to use the cell phone to power on the VCR, but at least she’s trying.

However, the more I read and the more I learn about new technologies that are on the horizon, the happier I am that I stopped my forward technological progression about five years ago. Sure, I have an iPhone, but I don’t listen to music or play games or use the multitude of available apps. I use it to make phone calls. I text, albeit slowly and with one finger, which tends to drive my 14-year-old into screaming fits of exasperation. I even use Google on my phone to cheat on crossword puzzles on occasion. I am just that cool.

Cool, yes, but what I’ve been reading lately turns my blood cold.

It seems that at the recent All Things Digital D11 conference, Regina Dugan, the former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), whose mission is to “maintain the technological superiority of the U.S. military and prevent technological surprise from harming our national security,” discussed the future of authentication. According to Dugan, this could possibly include digital tattoos or managing passwords via a daily password “vitamin.” And I quote, “This pill has a small chip inside of it, with a switch. It also has what amounts to an inside-out potato battery,” she said. “When you swallow it, the acids in your stomach serve as the electrolyte, and they power it up and the switch goes on and off and it creates an 18-bit ECG-like signal in your body. Essentially, your entire body becomes your authentication token.”

Believe it or not, the pill already has initial clearance from the FDA.

It sounds like a movie on the SyFy Channel, doesn’t it? A sketchy, (allegedly) government-funded agency develops a technology that has people ingesting or tattooing digital sensors. People believe that it will help them download e-mail and start their cars. Instead, A) the government takes control of your bodies and turns you all into drones B) the government takes control of your bodies and throws you into battle; or C) the government’s evil plot to control you goes wrong and you go all Stephen King on each other. These are not pretty scenarios.

Boy, am I glad I gave up on technological advancement. You guys have fun with that. I’ll just be in a safe bunker somewhere talking about you all on the phone with my other un-tech savvy friends and attempting to watch the VCR with Mom. I’m sure she’ll figure it out sooner or later.

— Rebecca Todd is a freelance writer and the author of the book “What’s the Point?” available at booklocker.com. Contact her at btodd@tds.net.