Against the backdrop of wide-ranging efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, conspiracy theories are proving almost as infectious on the internet, many of which suggest that a cabal of global elites are using the situation to strengthen their control over the population. One of the ways which they allegedly plan to accomplish this is microchipping – inserting microchips into the human body to observe and control all aspects of life. One of the most prominent conspiracies suggests that Bill Gates is involved in these plans, the tech-industry billionaire serving as the main villain seeking to subjugate the population.
No smoke without fire
In early May 2020, Elon Musk announced microchip implants for the human brain were in the works. His medical startup Neuralink is developing an implant that will allow patients with brain dysfunction to recover lost sight, hearing or limb mobility.
On May 4, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement that caused a wave of outrage both in Israel and abroad. The head of the Israeli government announced his intention to equip the country’s citizens with “sensors”, starting with children.
“I spoke with our heads of technology in order to find measures Israel is good at, such as sensors. For instance, every person, every kid – I want it on kids first – would have a sensor that would sound an alarm when you get too close, like the ones on cars,” Netanyahu said.
Many took Netanyahu’s offer as an intention to chip Jewish children. Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak, one of the most popular Israeli Sephardic rabbis, accused Netanyahu of preparing “microchips and sensors to control the population and enslave them”. Another rabbi, Daniel Asor, stated that “Basically, Netanyahu sold the nation of Israel to the Shadow government for lentil soup”.
Why are people so worried?
The fear of microchip implants is deep rooted and has a few prominent sources. Religious Christians and Messianic Jews see the implantation of microchips as the “mark of the beast” on the hand and head mentioned in the apocalyptic texts of the bible. According to the book of Revelations in the New Testament, at the end of the world, one will need this mark to buy or sell anything. Those who accept the seal will be cursed. In some hadiths in Islam also mentioned “marks”:
Abu Umamah recalled the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who said: “The Beast will emerge and strike the people on their noses, then their numbers [i.e., those who have been marked on the nose] will increase among you until a man will buy a camel, and they will say, ‘Who did you buy it from?’ and he will say, ‘I bought it from one of those with a mark on their noses.’”
It is theoretically possible to imagine a situation where a microchip would be proposed as a measure to accelerate the process of buying and selling. All of the talk about the possibility of introducing microchips into the brain or other parts of the human body has led many religious people to believe this interpretation even more deeply.
On the other hand, microchipping plans have been criticized by those with secular and humanist principles as well. They are asking critical questions, such as Where is the line that separates human beings from objects if microchips are introduced which alter the basis of human consciousness and thought? What if such technologies, even if they are harmless today, open up new possibilities for controlling the human mind in the future? Would microchipping offer new ways to control workers in capitalist society?
Bill Gates stated plans are undoubtedly worrisome. The patent for a microchip , code number WO/2020/060606, was registered on March 26, 2020. The patent process was carried out on behalf of MICROSOFT TECHNOLOGY LICENSING, LLC, headed by Gates, as early as June 20, 2019. On April 22, 2020, the patent received international status. The news about the patent caused uproar, given that it was directed at using the human body as a method of payment attached to a digital currency.
Essentially, a chip would be implanted into the body as a supervisory element to ensure that the characteristics of daily activity are consistent. If the conditions are met, the person receives certain monetary bonuses. It goes without saying that the conditions are dictated by those who own the patent. If you don’t want to be chipped, you wouldn’t have to, at least at first, it would simply be promoted as a measure of convenience… However, many think that this technology could potentially be used to control human emotions and enforce obedience.
Microchips are on the horizon
The possibility of using microchips in a related manner has been under discussion for years. The discussion around the possible ethical implications of the technology began long before the coronavirus pandemic, and there is no reason to believe that the technology is only being introduced in response to it. As far back as 1998, British scientist Kevin Warwick was testing such microchips, which are also called Radio Frequency Identification (“RFID”) implants.
In Sweden, voluntary microchipping was widespread even before the coronavirus pandemic, and is already spreading to other parts of Europe.
Eric Larsen, who heads the subsidiary of the Swedish company Biohax in Italy, recently said he is waiting for approval from the medical centers and the Italian Ministry of Health. Larsen also said that the chips would be implanted in approximately 2,500 people in the first 6-8 months in Milan and Rome.
Even without the approval of the Italian Ministry of Health, Biohax Italia has already implanted microchips in several hundred people.
In Italy, according to Larsen, Biohax is negotiating with Vodafone and Paypal to make microchip payments possible. A UK company, BioTeq, is also taking steps to facilitate microchip payments. Steven Northam, director of BioTeq, said that “this is the time for a mass microchipping,” arguing that his company receives daily questions about microchip payments.
Microchips will supposedly make people’s lives easier, replacing keys, bank cards, even passports, keeping all the information about the owner.
Back to 2004 in the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of implantable microchips in humans for medical purposes. The National Law Review compares this to “opening a Pandora’s box of rapid advancement and unsettled use of the technology”. Despite attempts by US states to prohibit the imposition of this technology, no one prohibits the distribution of chips voluntarily, which could easily lead to the point where those who refuse become a despised minority.
The military is also interested in these technologies. In particular, the chips can help to identify missing or murdered persons. Back in 2016, the Sun reported that the US Navy had organized meetings to discuss highly controversial technology which could one day allow the government to track the movements of every single citizen in the country,
“You will get chipped. It’s just a matter of time”, – USA Today told the readers, citing Noelle Chesley, 49, associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“It will happen to everybody,” he said, “But not this year, and not in 2018. Maybe not my generation, but certainly that of my kids.”
DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the US Department of Defense) has been working on projects using brain implants to control machines with the power of thought, for example, the Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program. In order to accomplish this task, the project will employ viruses modified to deliver genetic material into cells and ultimately insert DNA into specific neurons that will make them produce the types of proteins necessary for the systems to combine human brains and machines.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, has also shown interest in such technologies. He expressed interest in “telepathic typing” in 2015.
In 2019, the Royal Society, the UK’s Academy of Sciences predicted that neural interface technologies “pose new risks: the risks of moods or thoughts being accessed by companies, governments or others; the risks to privacy and human rights; and the risks of widening social cohesion”. Governments and large corporations would have direct access to human consciousness.
These kinds of transhumanist ideas appear even in government strategies, for example, in 2007, the Pentagon explored the possibility of introducing microchips into soldiers’ bodies. US biometric data collection projects have also raised questions.
Such projects are not only finding support in the United States. Back in 2004, the European Commission approved the document “Towards a European strategy for nanotechnology”, which discusses the possibility of atom-scale “nano-robots” that can be injected into the human body to “cure diseases”.
In Russia, Moscow’s Smart City strategy involved the “creation of genetic passports”, regulation of devices implanted into the body, twenty-four-hour health monitoring by means of wearable wireless devices- information that will be transmitted to insurance companies. The foresight of the “Childhood-2030” project, which was presented in Russia in 2008, proposed a transition to brain chipping for children “”for communication with the global information – control networks” and genetic modification.
Interestingly, in 2014, a study by the Directorate General for Internal Policy of the European Parliament noted that the introduction of microchips would lead to serious objections and public outcry within the EU, “unless there is seen to be an overwhelming need or demand for the compulsory implementation of implantable RFID chips in the workplace”. If the media is able to create such a “demand”, microchipping could be pushed on the population, if not made mandatory.
The work of the ID2020 Alliance is also worth noting. The Alliance is an umbrella organization which includes Microsoft, the Rockefeller Foundation, Simprints, UC Berkeley’s CITRIS Policy Lab, the UN International Computing Centre and several other institutions, devised to promote global digital identity. In 2019, it was reported that the ID2020 is working with the Government of Bangladesh on a new “program that leverages existing vaccination and birth registration operations to offer newborns a persistent and portable biometrically-linked digital identity”.
The dystopian future of human microchipping is on the horizon, and, although the coronavirus may have been the catalyst, plans to implement these technologies have long been in the works, and may soon become a reality.