Posted by: sgb on Jun 03, 2010
As an increasing number of people use medical inserts, both to cure a problem as well as to enhance performane, the chances of wierd and unwanted reaction to computer viruses increase.
It was reported from University of Reading that a research worker purposely infected himself with a computer virus which was then transmitted to other computers. This was the first known case of a man transmitting a computer virus. Before the alarmists and Luddites start warning about the perils of computers taking over mankind, rest assured that the virus did not 'infect' the researcher - it infected a security chip imbedded in his finger for research purpose. And as it was an RFID chip, the infection was picked up by other computers on the network and transmitted.
Syringe injected RFID microchip (for animals)
While not yet a problem, the possibility of viruses in implants or medical additives is likely to arise in the future. The effects are also likely to be not just 'person neutral' - a virus embedded on an RFID chip transmitting to another computer - but as chips start controlling these implants are likely to effect the person concerned. And if there is any sort of communication to the outside world - eg RFID as above, or a feedback loop to allow doctors to monitor the system then viruses are a distinct possibility.
In 2004 the American FDA approved the use of microchips embedded in a person's arm to allow hospitals to access medical records in an emergency. Medscape reports that that scanners could pick up automatically link to medical records. But what if these chips were virus infected?
Gary I. Rothstein / AP (MSNBC): Demonstrators prepare to march against microchip implants planned for Alzheimer's patients, in front of the Alzheimer's Community Care Headquarters in West Palm Beach, Fla. March organizer Katherine Albrecht, left, said a prayer before starting the march.
Scientists are working on computer chips in the eye, connecting directly to the optic nerve that will help people with retinal damage to see again. A micro camera connected to a pair of glasses will transmit images to these chips. This idea is in it's early stage, just helping people to see. However this system - or the next logical step, the camera embedded in the eye - if infected with a computer virus would have wierd results for the person concerned. A slight change (a virus) and colours couldl be changed - the sky could appear purple, grass blue, people green. An artists delight, a new way to view the world. 'My love is like a blue, blue rose'?
Picture from Wired.com: Gadget Lab
Consider a (heart) pacemaker, designed to provide a steady beat to your heart. A tweak here, a change there, and a virus maker could control the beat. Speed up the beat at opportune moments, slow at down at others. In sport, or times of war it is common to psych people up by playing loud distinct beat martial music. This raises the heart beat and 'changes' the emotions of the people concerned. Imaging if the heart beat can be directly controlled?
A soldiers iPod:Picture from Decibel Magazine
And what about microchips aiding hearing? An auditory brainstem implant is a microchip implanted implanted in the brain of a deaf person whose auditory nerves are lacking or damaged. This helps otherwise deaf people have some hearing.
Now consider chips controlling skeletal parts (leg and arm replacements, etc). Instead of walking, you run. Instead of writing you doodle. Instead of shaking hands, you kill.
The possibilities are endless. It is a brave new (medically enhanced) world out there.