Biometrics, the End of the World and The Mark of the Beast

Call it too much quarantine during Covid-19 but the end of the world is heavy on my mind, especially after watching a certain YouTube video. Thoughts of the end of the world and the technology that may facilitate it and the tools of the Beast described in the book of Revelations have inspired my weirdest and deepest podcast yet. Tune in to hear it for yourself. | P.S. Click here for my Social Credit Score video.

 

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast!

Happy Easter Monday to some and a belated Happy Easter to others. I hope that all concerned were able to celebrate their risen Lord as best they could. During the Holy Week, I saw a lot of religious articles, videos and memes related to Easter. One video that caught my eye was related to technology and religion and it sent me on a long parade of thoughts and speculation, perhaps inspired also by the quarantine. Here’s a clip from the video that and it went like this. The reference to the “mark of the beast” comes up often in tech forums, especially in relation to biometrics. Yet, there was something that triggered my imagination when I heard this bit. {digital tattoos comment}

I had heard of the possibility of digital tattoos a while ago but did not think we were close to anything resembling the “mark of the beast” mentioned in the book of Revelations, that is, until I did some research and oh, boy! What I discovered made my jaw drop. So much so, I decided to produce this episode commercial free. Stay tuned for what will be streams of conscious thoughts and speculation which I hope will make you think as well.

PART 1: Digital Tattoos are the Future of Healthcare

When I was researching digital tattoos, one of the first few articles I found was from this website – MedicalFuturist.com. Their article, “Digital Tattoos Make Healthcare More Invisible” really opened my eyes to the possibility of the good that could happen from Digital Tattoos. After all, at their core, digital tattoos are tools manipulated for good or evil, depending on the intent behind them. Check out this quote…

With the development in 3D printing as well as circuit printing technologies, flexible electronics and materials, applying the so-called digital tattoos or electronic tattoos on the skin for some days or even weeks became possible. Some researchers use gold nanorods, others graphine or various polymers with rubber backing to apply the tattoo on the skin without causing irritation. Certain experts believe that these skin patches or tattoos are only the beginning, and in the future, other skin techniques such as henna, tanning, and makeup will also be tested.

These flexible, waterproof materials impervious to stretching and twisting coupled with tiny electrodes are able to record and transmit information about the wearer to smartphones or other connected devices. That’s why phantasies about digital tattoos unlocking tablets, opening doors or supporting border crossing took off. In 2014, Motorola Corporation launched the digital tattoo for identification of its Moto X handset. The digital tattoo sticker unlocks the smartphone without the need for any passwords or patterns.

As the tiny patches can measure electrophysiological parameters, they could allow healthcare experts to monitor and diagnose critical health conditions such as heart arrhythmia, heart activities of premature babies, sleep disorders and brain activities noninvasively. Moreover, by tracking vital signs 24 hours a day, without the need for a charger, it is especially suited for following patients with high risks of stroke, for example. The digital tattoo could send alerts to medical systems, it might call the ambulance and transmit pertinent data, too.

In the future, tiny multifaceted patches might as well track muscle movements around speech, when applied to the throat, potentially turning the tattoos into half of a wireless hands-free kit. Since you don’t actually have to speak out loud, it could pick up sub-vocal commands, too. Alternatively, the figurative or non-figurative, well-designed electronic tattoos can even track brain signals with enough accuracy to control a computer. However, that’s still the distant future.

Back in 2015, Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego, developed a temporary tattoo that both extracts and measures the level of glucose in the fluid in between skin cells. Here’s a news report giving further insight into that. (And that report was from 2015.)

MC 10, a company that develops silicon devices thinned to a fraction of the width of a human hair, uses stretchable metallic interconnects, and elastic rubberlike polymers to form complete powered systems that sense, measure, analyze, and communicate information. In 2016MC10 marketed its BioStampRC sensor, a waterproof, band-aid-like patch that sticks to the skin and monitors movement, muscle performance or heart activity. The tiny wearable even has a Bluetooth radio and a miniature battery.

That same year, researchers at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed color-changing digital tattoos within a project entitled Dermal Abyss, a bunch of biosensitive inks changing colors parallel how changes in your body occur. The inks can measure the concentration of glucose, sodium, and pH in the skin’s interstitial fluid, which surrounds cells.  Listen to this audio from 2016 from Harvard University.

And in 2019, Science Times reported that digital tattoos could be made from silk and a substance called Graphene. Here’s a quote from that article.

 During the placement of electronic tattoos or E-tattoos, they are exposed constantly to different types of mechanical inputs such as bending, cutting, pressing and twisting. This may lead to malfunction as it could cause mechanical damage to your electronic tattoo.

“We developed our self-healing, biocompatible and multifunctional e-tattoo by incorporating graphene with silk fibroin/Ca2+ films,” said Yingying Zhang, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Center for Nano and Micro Mechanics at Tsinghua University. “We show that custom-designed and highly flexible e-tattoos can be facilely prepared through screen printing or direct writing of a graphene/silk fibroin/Ca2+ suspension.”

The graphene flakes found on the tattoo are distributed in the matrix form a path that is electrically conductive and it is responsive to all sorts of environmental changes like temperature, variations, humidity and strain. This endows the tattoo with increased sensitivity to multi-stimuli.

What is great about this invention is that the tattoo can be healed immediately, in fact it has an efficiency rate of 100% even after fracturing for 0.3 seconds. The tattoo can be healed immediately by wetting it with a drop of water because the hydrogen on water and the coordination of the tattoo can help reform it and bond the fracture of the interface.

“Based on the superior capabilities of our e-tattoos, we believe that such skin-like devices hold great promise for manufacturing cost-effective artificial skins and wearable electronics,” notes Zhang.

Digital tattoos are able to collect data on our bodies, they are able to transmit that information and, in the event, that they are damaged, they can repair themselves. These are more than interesting developments to those in the financial sector where biometrics (of all sorts) have been implemented to secure financial transactions.

PART 2: Biometrics are the now and future of Commerce

If you watch spy movies or any number of action movies, no doubt you have seen Iris-Scanners. Basically, you look into a view finder, the computer scans your irises and validates your identity. Once your ID has been verified, you are allowed access. What you might not have seen however, is the use of vein verification technology. Barclays said it is the first bank globally to use vein recognition technology for significant account transactions and they have been doing so since 2014. Listen to this quote from The Telegraph.

Barclays is launching a vein scanner for customers as it steps up use of biometric recognition technology to combat banking fraud. The bank has teamed up with Japanese technology firm Hitachi to develop a biometric reader that scans a customer’s finger to access accounts, instead of using a password or PIN.

The biometric reader, which plugs into a customer’s computer at home, uses infrared lights to scan blood flow in a person’s finger. The user must then scan the same finger a second time to confirm a transaction. Each “vein profile” will be stored on a SIM card inside the device. Vein recognition technology is used by some banks in Japan and elsewhere at ATM machines, but Barclays said it is the first bank globally to use it for significant account transactions.

Barclays said it is the start of a ramp-up in its use of biometrics to provide safer verification systems that cut fraud risks from customers sharing or choosing obvious passwords, or forgetting PINs.

That was back in 2014, has vein technology gone away? If this was the pre-Coronavirus era, I would have said “hardly” because In 2019, a company called PanPacific International rolled out a new line of vending machines that will use biometric verification to deliver age restricted products. The SmartPan Pro Beverage Dispenser uses finger vein biometrics to confirm the age of registered customers, allowing for self-service with goods that previously needed to be stocked behind the counter; such as beer.

But in the post-Corona world, the company – FindBiometrics, said that there “are a growing number of examples of organizations moving away from contact-based biometric during the COVID-19 pandemic. Government authorities in India and Pakistan were restricting the use of fingerprint scans for attendance tracking already in February, and in early March the NYPD halted the use of fingerprint scanning for police accessing its headquarters. Meanwhile, a high-tech burger shop in Silicon Valley went so far as to implement face and temperature scanning for customers, signaling the utility of contactless biometrics at a time of social distancing.”

And this is where my speculation begins. Digital Tattoos can collect and transmit data wirelessly. Could it be that before long, people are required to get these tattoos for the sake of public health? It may sound far fetched but, already there are signs of that mindset.

PART 3: Biometrics are the future of Control

I would encourage everyone listening to read a Bloomberg Opinion piece called, “When Tracking the Virus Means Tracking Your Citizens” because it brings up a lot of points that are often overlooked in the mainstream media, during these interesting times.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, some democracies around the world have used technology to avoid having to impose draconian mass quarantines that were common earlier this year in China. That’s reassuring — and it’s also worrying, because the very strategies that can help fight a plague can also be abused once it’s over.

Consider Taiwan, where an “electronic fence” allows local police to make regular phone calls to everyone who is home under quarantine; if the citizen doesn’t answer or the phone is out of power, police come to the home within 15 minutes. In South Korea, the government constantly updates a website that tracks the movements of people who have been infected, and issues alerts to the mobile phones of people in the geographic vicinity of an infected citizen. The Israeli government gained access to an archive of phone data to map the movements of infected people, then alerted those who had been in contact with them to self-isolate.

Again, invoking these powers is reasonable during a pandemic. Once the outbreak is over, however, this kind of power can and probably will be abused. What’s to stop a corrupt (or merely unscrupulous) leader from using such technologies to learn or even publicize the location of political opponents or dissidents?

“This is a genuine emergency and that justifies a lot of things that would not normally be justified,” says Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the ACLU. “But we have to make sure that these temporary powers do not become permanent in a way that hurts everybody else.”

When I read that article and looked more closely at the examples they cited, I shuddered to think of such draconian measures being enacted here in the United States. After 9/11, the FBI was given broad new powers to demand data from private businesses. A dozen years later, both the ACLU and the Justice Department’s inspector general found that the use of that extraordinary power had become routine and unchecked. And because we did not learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat steps towards 1984. Listen to what was reported on April 13, 2020 {play clip}.

So many things ran through my mind when that bit of news caught my attention. I’ll name a few.

  • In a join statement between Apple and Google, they say, “Privacy, transparency and consent are of utmost importance in this effort,” both, pledging to “publish information about our work for others to analyze” and work with “interested stakeholders” to expand the app’s functionality. While both companies repeatedly insisted that the tech will be “opt-in” and respect users’ privacy and security, its eventual integration into the very operating systems that run the phones used by the vast majority of smartphone users is of GREAT concern. No matter how secure data is supposed to be, it can always be hacked. And if not hacked, such data may be too irresistible for both Google and Apple to leverage for marketing purposes later. But don’t take my word for that, head over to DuckDuckGo (my favorite search engine) and search “google privacy breach” and see what you get. And once you’re done with that, search “apple lawsuits privacy violations.”
  • Bluetooth technology is good but, it ain’t perfect! I imagine a lot of false positives with this app and just because your phone came within range of an infected person’s device, that doesn’t necessarily mean you got close enough to catch something. And even then, the success of the app is going to be contingent on how many people are using the opt-in app.
  • And what about when this pandemic passes? Since this contact tracing is in the operating system, that means its permanent and will likely be baked into future upgrades of the technology. How will it be leveraged then? When we get upgrades on our phones, we check a box consenting to the use of the new software. Do you ever read that? I’ll admit that I don’t and I would guess that you don’t either. I think I will going forward.  Tech companies have already been able to track you in order to sell you things, now they will be able to track you in real time and who you hang out with and who they hang out with and so on. What would happen if you had an opinion that was politically incorrect? Or, if due to some past behavior you were not permitted to travel? This may sound crazy, but a system like that is already in place in China and its called Social Credit Score. I did a video about it. Please check it out. I’ll provide a link in the description.

PART 4: What does it all mean?

Digital Tattoos are very advanced and can provide great benefit to our health. Since they can collect and transmit data, they are a logical replacement for the vein technology used by banks like Barclays. Digital Tattoos can be connected to apps on our phone which can offer up more options related to public health. However, despite the good these biometric advances represent, there is a long-term consequence to our privacy being overlooked.

The app being developed by Google and Apple, has the propensity to be a massive surveillance program.  And it is being hidden in plain sight.

The technological pieces for tracking individuals, tracking group interactions and enabling contact free commerce transactions is here today. The potential for massive population control, as described in the book of Revelations – “the mark of the beast” seems to be nearer than you might have suspected, prior to this podcast.

Of course, I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. Only time will tell, for sure.

MUSIC IN THIS PODCAST

Music in this podcast:Day After Day by Joakim Karud http://soundcloud.com/joakimkarud
Music provided by Music for Creators https://youtu.be/FvOaTPNUQ0Y

Chill Day by LAKEY INSPIRED https://soundcloud.com/lakeyinspired
Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b…
Music provided by Music for Creators https://youtu.be/0WQBUiO1-SA

People by G I Z https://soundcloud.com/djgiz Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b…
Music provided by Music for Creators https://youtu.be/-Uq3xthl-nw

Blue Boi by LAKEY INSPIRED https://soundcloud.com/lakeyinspired
Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b…
Music provided by Music for Creators https://youtu.be/HsoKy3ecY7E

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