Dangerous Ramifications

The one technology that really caught my eye In Dave Eggers “The Circle” was invention of ChildTrack. In the digital copy of the book on my phone it is first fully described on page 103. We get the description from a character named Francis whom had two of his abducted, raped, and murdered when he was a small child. Dave Eggers does an excellent job of framing this technology as a marvelous boon to prevent such horrors and it is clear from the book that that is how Francis feels his invention will be.

“Sure it’s insane. I mean, some people freak out about chips in our heads, our bodies, but this thing is about as technologically advanced as a walkie-talkie. It doesn’t do anything but tell you where something is. And they’re everywhere already. Every other product you buy has one of these chips. You buy a stereo, it has a chip. You buy a car, it’s got a bunch of chips. Some companies put chips in food packaging, to make sure it’s fresh when it gets to market. It’s just a simple tracker. And if you embed it in the bone, it stays there, and can’t be seen with the naked eye

-not like the wrist ones.”

Even as the character describes his chip as being simply a tracker the book later talks about using that chip to be in identifier for an individual keeping personal information on it. negating the argument that Francis uses above. I find it incredible that even as these chips are described as amazing Eggers prefaces describing them with a story that led to the murders of seven different kids in Denmark.

I think that something that needs to be pointed out is when Galloway talks about computer hackers to the ones that follow protocol the most. In the story of the murders its clear that the abductor knew of the chips since he or she removed them and while it didn’t specify, I would imagine that he or she used the chips to locate the kids.

I imagine that if these chips are implanted they won’t just be a useful tool that only the proper authorities can wield. People who want to achieve their own goals and are intelligent will generally use any tools they have available to them. If I am looking to kidnap a small child then knowing where that kid is at all times would be an incredibly useful tool towards that goal.

Something else to be terrified of is the thought that if the abductors removed the chips from the wrists of the kids after the abductions last time, why wouldn’t they do that again? The suggested solution is to implant the chip in the kid’s bones but that only means that the abductor is required to do more damage in removing them. If the abductor is going to murder the child to begin with, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that the abductor isn’t worried about the child’s health or well-being?

When Childtrack is being suggested of course your first thought is meant to be of kids who need to supervised by their parents for the child’s safety. But what happens when those kid’s grow up? If the chip is implanted into the bone then how would they be removed without injury when the individual is no longer under the authority of his or her parents? Who will have access to that person’s location at all times? Would anyone want that kind of tracker on them without their consent because it has become impossible to remove?

I feel that Eggers realizes that this application of technology has more risks than rewards. He does an excellent job of giving the reader the opportunity to ask how could this technology be used for both good and evil despite the optimism of his characters.

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5 Responses to Dangerous Ramifications

  1. epiratequeen says:

    I really like this post. Eggers ways of subtly hinting at the horrors of the technology he describes is very interesting. Mercer is the only character who is even able to consider the ramifications of these technologies (including the ChildTrack chips), and Mae, the protagonist, clearly sees Mercer as backwards.
    I never thought about people who utilize the Circle’s technology for evil as hackers, but by bringing up Galloway the concept makes a lot of sense.

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  2. thawardasa says:

    Nothing can be perfect in the world of the Circle. Everything must continue improving and strive to perfection, but it’s clear to me that the Circle will never be “complete.” They’re counting the number of sands on a desert, for example. There’s a million useless things like that that can be done, but don’t need to be done. The Circle is filled with tons of OCD people that need information for no good use.

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  3. Once you quoted that section, I also immediately thought “children are being compared to products.” They literally say that “[e]very other product you buy has one of these chips”. How horrifying.

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  4. mjd105 says:

    I really like this post. Right before you started talking about the ramifications and the possible damage I went on a rant in my head about how The Circle is making the world fill up with more extreme people in my view. The more technology that they come out with will only make the opposers take more drastic and extreme actions to prove their point. You did a great job at portraying the possibilities that can come from ChildTrack in a negative light which we should see sometimes due to the fact that Eggers seems to support The Circle to the fullest.

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  5. kalihira says:

    You did a wonderful job with this post. Despite reacting negatively to the idea of “being chipped”, as most people would, the contradiction of tracking kids to keep them safe hadn’t occurred to me. It makes sense, as every time a new sort of technology is released, hackers try to crack and repurpose the new technology for their own ends (jailbroken Apple products and rooted Androids, modded game consoles, flashcarts, etc.), that the chips used to track your kids can be used by pedophiles if the system was cracked (which it probably would be, in a year at most). Follow that logic a bit further, pedophiles can watch kids at any time through SeeChange. Maybe crime rates would decline when there are cameras everywhere, but through constant surveillance, a new, objectively “safer” but no less disturbing form of violation emerges.

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