UK government prepares to cope with a nation of cyborgs

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The British government has started to plan how it will cope a population of cyborgs within the next decade as our notion of identify is radically transformed by technology.

A new report, The Future of Identify, published by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills lays down the challenge for UK law makers that the huge change technology will create in society.

For the most part, the report is a fairly sensible and comprehensive look at the challenges that the emergence of net natives – those young adults that have grown up with the internet, and regard their virtual identities as every bit as important as their physical ones – will place on society and government.

It examines the impact that a hyper-connected society, awash with persistent data on people's behaviour, will have on crime prevention, healthcare, employment, education.

But there are is also consideration of some of the more esoteric problems that technology will bring.

“Interventions to slow the effects of ageing and improve quality of life for the elderly, drugs to improve memory and cognition, developments in reproductive technologies, cloning, animal/human organ transplants, and genetic modification are also likely to have implications for identities.

“Some of these developments may challenge notions of what it is to be human, as interfaces between humans and machines are also being explored in new ways.”

As medical technology improves, it could even be possible to monitor people's brain activity and understand something about what they are thinking.

“If these technologies become more reliable and accepted in courts as evidence, there are implications for personal identities as thoughts and intentions may no longer be private,” the report notes.

So the government wants to be able to read our minds as evidence in courts. That's a cheery thought for a Monday morning.

21 Jan 2013

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