By: Steve Watson
Wednesday, Feb 2nd, 2011
Expiring technology patent insures that you will soon have your eyes scanned everywhere you go
The impending expiration of a key technology patent is paving the way for a scramble amongst scores of biometrics research and development companies, all desperate to make their own brand of iris scanning technology commonplace, effectively creating a real life Minority Report society, where everyone is linked into an identification database.
As detailed in a Bloomberg News report today, the patent for recording the unique characteristics of the Iris as a form of identification was granted to two eye doctors in 1987, who then approached a Cambridge University professor to develop a way of automating iris identification. That further patent was granted in 1994, but it expires this year, opening a door for a slew of technological nightmares to come pouring through.
Leading marketing companies believe that within the next five years, iris recognition technology will create over $2 billion in revenue by becoming a routine part of everyday life.
The technology is already being used for screening employees of Bank of America, travelers at London’s Heathrow Airport and New York City prisoners.
The Department of Homeland Security has tested iris scanners at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, while the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is developing standards for the technology’s use.
One company, Hoyos Corp., “wants to make the technology ubiquitous,” according to the Bloomberg report. Chief Development Officer Jeff Carter says the company foresees iris scanners on mobile phones and computers, and even on ATMs, to be used as a replacement for bank cards.
Last year the company, then known as Global Rainmakers Inc. (GRI), based out of headquarters in New York, announced that it was using the technology to create what it claims will be “the most secure city in the world” in Leon, one of Mexico’s largest cities.
So called “eye swipe” machines, which come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, are to be hooked up to a huge iris database created in conjunction with Leon law enforcement authorities.
Leon is effectively a testing ground for the mass rollout of the technology.
“In the future, whether it’s entering your home, opening your car, entering your workspace, getting a pharmacy prescription refilled, or having your medical records pulled up, everything will come off that unique key that is your iris,” Carter explained to tech website FastCompany.com.
According to the article, “Criminals will automatically be enrolled, their irises scanned once convicted. Law-abiding citizens will have the option to opt-in.”
Yet Carter seems confident that everyone, whether a criminal or not will soon be hooked into the database:
“Every person, place, and thing on this planet will be connected [to the iris system] within the next 10 years,” he says.
In Carter’s hideous control freak vision of the future, anyone withdrawing cash, paying for items in a store or simply catching a bus will have to stare directly into the beast system while “Police officers will monitor these scans and track the movements of watch-listed individuals.”
Carter even alludes to Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report, noting that the system will operate to a degree even more controlling than in the cult classic dystopian story.
Not even the “dead eyeballs” seen in Minority Report could trick the system, he says. “If you’ve been convicted of a crime, in essence, this will act as a digital scarlet letter. If you’re a known shoplifter, for example, you won’t be able to go into a store without being flagged. For others, boarding a plane will be impossible.”
The technology is also evolving rapidly. Newer scanners are able to capture the Iris from a distance of ten feet. “Future devices might read irises from more than 30 feet, said Tim Meyerhoff, North American business development director for Iris ID Systems Inc.,”, another of the 20 or so companies set to push iris scanning into everyday life.
The newest machines are also able to process hundreds of iris scans per minute, meaning they can be used effectively in crowded public places.
One of the Hoyos mobile iris scanners is demonstrated in the video below:
There isn’t even any pretence of a benign agenda behind this – it is a bold in your face admission of a plan to force every human being into a big brother system by hooking it up to the essential amenities and infrastructure of the city. The stated aim is to monitor everyone, everywhere, all the time – the perfect technological matrix-like prison system.
This system is the ultimate perversion of humanity, taking what makes us all unique and using it to catalogue every one of us as if we are sheep or cattle on a plantation. It represents the screaming death knell of freedom.
Mr Carter and Hoyos Corp. don’t care about that though, they would like you to believe that your privacy and your basic freedoms were long ago completely extinguished , so resistance is futile:
“The banks already know more about what we do in our daily life–they know what we eat, where we go, what we purchase–our deepest secrets,” he says. “We’re not talking about anything different here–just a system that’s good for all of us.”
Hoyos CEO and founder, Hector Hoyos, echoes Carter’s pronouncement, noting “You really can’t control technology. Oppenheimer and Einstein said it. The cat’s out of the bag. You can try to put certain protocols in place and hope that people who get their hands on technology abide by your protocols. That’s all you can do.”
Essentially, Hoyos is saying that if the bad guys get their hands on the technology, tough luck. Of course, it’s easier to live with that potential scenario if you’re sitting on a sizeable chunk of the $2 billion a year and rising revenue than if you’re one of the slaves in the database having their eyes scanned everywhere they go.
Carter also has a warning for any sheep who think they can stray from the flock:
“When you get masses of people opting-in, opting out does not help. Opting out actually puts more of a flag on you than just being part of the system. We believe everyone will opt-in.”
Carter even speaks of tailoring the technology to “enable advertisers to track behavior and emotion” by scanning people’s eyes from when they look at a billboard to when they enter a store and purchase the product.
The Minority Report was written as a stark warning of what may happen in the future should society be engulfed by invasive technology and begin to regard privacy and civil liberties as antiquated. Yet increasingly it, and other works like it, have become the handbooks for those who would gladly see the planet fully transformed into a giant fascist control grid if it means they can swim in the filthy meaningless lucre and revel in the pathetic soulless power trip it will generate for them.
This technology is here now – it is not some paranoid geek’s frightening description of a distant future. it is time to wake up, take note of what our society is being transformed into and ensure our freedoms are not completely wiped out before it is too late.