Communion Of Dreams

Tag ’em.

A story this morning on Weekend Edition – Saturday about the military’s efforts to recover lost or captured soldiers in Iraq brought up the topic of “tagging” our people with some kind of tracking device. Retired Marine Lt. Col. Gary Anderson was somewhat critical of the current Pentagon leadership that such an application of technology hadn’t been put into more widespread use yet.

His reaction is understandable. The idea of tracking devices of one sort or another has been extremely popular in fiction (everything from spy novels to SF) for decades, and we now have a widespread tech which could be fairly easily adapted for such use: Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID for short. Combine this with the already extant use of battlefield electronics, it should be possible to increase the range of such passive devices without sacrificing size and concealability, allowing for hiding such tags in clothing or even within the body of the soldier. Certainly, this would seem to fit with the current mindset of the military, and would fill the gap until current military tech evolves to have an ‘information-integrated force’ such as I stipulate for Communion.

[Mild spoiler alert.]

In Communion, I apply the tech of the period to have the soldiers ‘wired’ with an array of information-sharing devices, analogous to the type of integrated ‘cyberware’ used by the general population. For military applications, though, the tech is more robust, a little more cutting edge, a bit further advanced in application, to the point of even having “smart guns” which would only function for those using the correct encryption key. This does play a minor part in the plot development at several junctures, and assumes that at all times anyone can be tracked fairly easily.

Anyway, the idea of tagging our people in that kind of war environement seems to be a no-brainer to me.  Yeah, there are privacy issues to be concerned with for the use of such tagging in civilian life, but that is much less an issue for someone in the military.  I expect we’ll see it implemented across the board in the near future…the first step into my predictions about in-body cyberware.

Jim Downey

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