(NaturalNews) British researcher Mark Gasson had a tiny chip injected underneath the skin on his hand in March 2009. The chip, according to reports, was just a bit more advanced than the versions pet owners use to track them, and it turned Gasson into a walking swipe card, essentially.
"With a wave of his wrist," Business Insider (BI) reported, "he could open security doors at the University of Reading laboratory, where his experiment was being conducted, and he could unlock his cell phone just by cradling it."
A year after that initial implant, Gasson infected it with a computer virus, one that he could pass onto other computer systems if the building's computer networks had been programmed to read his chip. As he moved about his workplace, he spread the virus and corrupted computer systems, leaving those areas of the building inaccessible to his colleagues.
At the time of that experiment, Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and author of the book The Future of the Mind, told Fox News that demonstrating the ability to spread the computer virus was an "important point" because "we're going to have more chips in our body and clothing."
An ominous warning, indeed.
'From invasive to pervasive'
Already, thousands of people have implanted medical devices. They include pacemakers and small defibrillators, which are inserted into the chest to treat abnormal heart rhythms, as well as cochlear implants, which help the deaf to hear.
But Gasson says that, in the future, there will be more of a focus on implantable technology for healthy people as well. Part of that is because we are constantly looking for ways to make our lives easier. But the real question is this: What are we willing to do, to accept, in order to do that? Gasson -- and others -- believe that a sizable portion of the population would relinquish control of their bodies for the unknown potential consequences of such technology.
As reported by Business Insider:
Implantable microchips provide a more intimate connection with technology than that of any other portable electronic device, like a cell phone or iPod, because the tag becomes a direct part of us when it's inserted into our body. Implants "have the potential to change the very essence of what it is to be human," Gasson said at a 2012 TEDX Talk.
Gasson says that the susceptibility of implantable computer chips to cyber attacks is one concern, but he says he wanted to explore issues beyond the common worries associated with privacy and security.
That is why he conducted his experiment in two phases: A surgeon initially implanted a clean computer chip into his hand, and the computer virus was placed about a year later. During the interim, Gasson and a team of researchers focused on studying the psychological implications of implanted devices.
'Similar, if not creepier, technology' is already in use
"There's an underlying feeling that [having an implantable device] is an alien phenomenon," Gasson, a cybernetics expert, told BI, adding that the only way to explore the psychological effect of the implant properly was to have one placed in him.
The device he implanted is known as RFID -- radio frequency identification -- and it is not new technology. His did not have its own battery; rather, it is powered as a reader pulls information from it. The reader has the chip's unique ID and cross-references that into a database. RFID chips are found in a number of commonly used items like credit cards.
"Similar, if not creepier, technology is currently at work in things like Disney World's MagicBand, which tracks a wearer's location within the park and connects to that person's accounts," BI reported. "These technologies have been useful not just for the company but for park guests -- it makes their experience seamless."
The technologies are also being used for payment services, like Google Wallet and Tap-To-Pay services, which allow people to pay using their phones at retailers, in cabs and at other locations with the technology, rather than reaching into their wallets for a card.