Microchip in the brain
Privacy at risk
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has assumed, at a planetary level, the connotation of an invading element that pervades life, the customs and the modern society in which we live. The need to be constantly “connected” and to utilize instruments that can guarantee access to data and information of every kind represents, for the more advanced societies, an unavoidable need. The modern technologies, above al, in recent years, has responded to this need, assuring the “users of technologies”, the production of always more powerful and versatile technological equipment and devices, to the point of surpassing those that could seem the normal requirements of connectivity. At the present time, we can dispose of informatics products of the dimensions of a common smart phone, able to guarantee data transmission of any kind and a satisfactory access capacity to the Internet, which already delineates the precocious ageing of the laptops which, until yesterday, were considered a revolutionary product in terms of versatility, spacing saving and transportability. But, by now, it is just as clear that man’s needs go much further than the apparent normal requirements of access to information.
For some time now, a fashionable term in the Anglo-Saxon Countries, better defines the concept of collection of information: information container. The constant and incessant gathering of data; the possibility of being able to dispose of databases on which to effect extrapolations and interrogations, to satisfy the needs of the knowledge of man, representing, according to many authoritative experts, the real business of the third millennium.
But the gathering of data and information necessarily implies the involvement of human resources. The data is usable only if someone produces it and puts it into an informative system. In this sense, Internet represents a formidable instrument of autonomous and unascertained collection of information of various kinds, precisely because it is generated by a data input of the “open source” type. Above all, in the ambit of intelligence operations, the collection of information by means of the “open source” methodology (better known by the acronym OSINT- Open Source INTelligence) indicates the activity of research through the consultations of sources of public access and dominion. The OSINT avails itself of different sources of information, like the newspaper, television, public data, collaboration with scholars and professionals and, not last, also Internet, which has assumed, at a world level, the role of uncontrollable “big brother”. The OSINT represents a valid instrument of data collection, but certainly not the methodology of absolute reference of the third millennium. Furthermore, the information available on the Internet necessitates a solid work of “refining” inasmuch as the available information can be “polluted” by errors and imprecision that can “poison” the efficacy of the information itself.
It is for this very reason that, still today, the best methodology is that which tends to acquire the information at the “source”, that is, directly from man and possibly without involving him directly in the handling of the acquisition of the information. But how is it possible to automatically and directly acquire the information without the direct involvement of the human being? The answer could lie in the technologies of RFID transmission and Wireless.
To better understand the origins that have led to the technological realizations, which will be described ahead, it is, perhaps, opportune to make some clarifications.
If we analyze the significance of the term “brainwashing”, summarily described as “Process by which, with coercive physical and psychic systems, one seeks to deprive a person of his habitual ideological heritage for the purpose of substituting it with new ideas and concepts”. In reality, the idea of looking for a methodology that could “alter and modify” the mind of a man goes back to the 4th Century B.C. and is attributed to the Chinese savant of the time known by the name of Meng K’o ( better known as Mencio in the West). The idea was to look for a methodology that would allow the realization of brainwashing, to permit the “cleansing” of the mind, of the spirit and of the soul.
Over the centuries, the Orientals have devoted considerable time to the science of mind control, but only in the first years of the 1930’s, in the Soviet Union, these methodologies were massively employed, to ease the carrying out of the “Stalinist purges” by means of the mock-trials, during which ex-top executives of the Communist Party, fallen into disgrace, admitted their guilt, denouncing publicly other components of the Party and condemning their own political ideas by making a merciless self-criticism with inexplicable sincerity. The Unites States experienced these forms of anomalous conduct several decades later, during the Korean conflict, in 1950. The cause was the release of certain American prisoners: the CIA was not able to understand the considerably anomalous behaviour of soldiers who had passed a period of captivity in the Korean prisons of “re-education”. Some of the soldiers released from these camps appeared converted to the Communist ideology, fiercely convinced in denying their homeland and denouncing the Capitalist way of life, hoping, in the meantime, for a Maoist regime. It was for just this reason that the CIA started to investigate that which, in the 50’s, Edward Hunter, Official of the CIA, publicly baptized with the term of brainwashing.
That a war can produce strange effects on human beings has been well-known for centuries, but that it could work on the cerebral system in a scientific way, through techniques and direct methodologies, opened scenarios of great importance.
Decades have passed, and the study of the technologies of transmission of cerebral information in interpretable data has always interested research structures and scientists, to understand what the real possibilities were of transmitting the human thought to a device able to interpret and translate the thoughts and sensations of man.
On this very research, just a few months ago, the most recent and, perhaps, the most interesting of the discoveries in the sector of advanced technology occurred. Furthermore, it has been the cause of much discussion in America.
I refer to the development of the radio frequency technologies (RFID – Radio Frequency Transmission), applicable to the human being and utilizable to obtain useful information in real time on the state of the health of an individual. The news reaches us from overseas – from the Department of Defence of the United States – which, for some time now, has been involved in research and experiments in this technology, and in the possible modality of its employment in the Armed Forces. In this respect, the United States governmental structure has decided to allocate the sum of 1.2 million euro to verify the possibility of adopting the RFID technology for a project of particularly audacious experimentation. The idea is that of being able to implant an RFID tag in the cranium of soldiers, in order to observe, in real time, the state of the vital functions of same, by means of tags equipped with biosensors able to register, for example, information on the glucose level, oxygen and other substances present in the blood. The agreement stipulated with the Biosensors, Bioelectronics Centre, and Biochips (C3B) of the University of Clemson, will be developed over a period of five years. The Director of the C3B, Anthony Guiseppi-Elie, Professor of engineering, chemical and molecular bio-engineering, states that the biosensors connected to the RFID chip “…will have the scope of signalling, constantly, the state of health of the soldier and to permit, in the case of accident or injury, an immediate signal on the level of the seriousness of the case. Often, many people do not survive following an internal haemorrhage. Consequently, to know immediately – at the moment of being reached by medical assistance – what the level of oxygen is in the blood, could represent the best possibility of survival. Our objective is solely to improve the quality of the therapy. And this, not only for soldiers, but for all the victims of accidents”.
Nevertheless, from what can be evinced from the information available on the C3B (http://www.clemson.edu/c3b/ portal, the tags can contain information of a vaster spectrum: complete information on the clinical history of the patient, on his family, the surgical operations he has undergone and the pharmacological treatment to which he has been exposed, etc. The management of this information could facilitate enormously the task of the doctors and nurses on the battlefield, but the utilization of this equipment constitutes an element of reflection to define new scenarios of application and the possible (‘more or less’ proper and ‘more or less’ legal ) uses of the information contained within the tag. Notwithstanding, the possibilities offered by the RFID can go far beyond normal imagination. It is opportune, at this point, to clarify the concept of the electromagnetic field. The transmissions in radiofrequency
is based on the respect of the electromagnetic compatibility (ECM). The electromagnetic waves are represented by the oscillatory movement of electric charges due to the variations that the electric fields undergo. The intensity of an electromagnetic signal can be expressed in dbmV or in MVolt. It is important to remember that, as James Clerk Maxwell (1) himself asserted, around the lines of an electric field, in function of time, lines of magnetic force that envelop the electric ones, are manifested. These magnetic fields do not form immediately, but present a progression as far as their stabilization is concerned. Since the field is seat of energy, the same is distributed by the means of the electromagnetic waves that propagate in space up to a speed of 300,000 Km/second. In the United States, the National Security Agency (NSA), in the ambit of the research of the methodologies for the gathering of information based on the SIGINT – Signals Intelligence signals, has activated, for some time now, a programme of research for the encoding of the Electric Magnetic Frequencies (EMF) waves. It should be underlined that the efficacy of the SIGINT system lies in the certainty that every environment is pervaded by electric currents that generate a magnetic field that originates, in consequence, EMF waves. The studies conducted by the NSA, in collaboration with the Department of Defence, have demonstrated that these waves are generated also by the human body and can be intercepted and elaborated scrupulously by specific software, accommodated also by small personal computers. Moreover, especially in recent years, advanced proprietary technologies have been developed, which are able to analyse all the objects or organic elements (man) that are able to generate electric currents. On the basis of recent information, precisely for the SIGINT applications, innovative devices are being experimented like the EMF Brain Stimulation, the Remote Neural Monitoring (RNM) and the Electronic Brain Link (EBL).
The EMF Brain Stimulation is a device projected for the research in the neurological sector, above all, in the development of the “bioelectric radiations” (non-ionized EMF). The results obtained in these (secret) technologies have been catalogued by the NSA as “Intelligent Radiations”, better identified as “involuntary electromagnetic information diffused in the non-radioactive or nuclear environment”. The EMF device, therefore, seems that it can operate on a frequency band able “to converse” with man’s central nervous system. Furthermore, it seems that this system has already been utilized for applications of the “bring-to-computer-links” type, with aircrafts of the United States Military Aviation. By means of neuronal electro-stimulation, it would be possible to interact directly with the avionics of the combat aircraft and seems that some experiments of “remote cerebral control” have been conducted by the UAVs (2) utilized during the Iraqi campaign for the reconnaissance of battlefields. At this point, it appears clear also the utilization of the Remote Neural Monitoring (RNM). This last device, which would work in synergy with the EMF device, would allow the deciphering of human thought. Considering that a thought generated from the brain uses bioelectric fields, it is possible to activate the analysers of electromagnetic signals that can permit the translation of the thought into verbal language. Not only! The RNM system is able to send encoded signals also to the auditory cortex of the nervous system so as to allow, for example, the audio transmission without the aid of the ear (direct communication with the brain).
The RNM can trace the electric activity of the visual cerebral cortex of a subject transforming it into a visible image, at a three-dimensional level on the monitor of a computer. Furthermore, it seems that such system is also able to translate the impulses sent from the visual apparatus to the visual memory, bypassing the eyes and the relative optic nerves.
Naturally, the communication is bi-directional, consequently, being possible also to transmit to the central nervous system, images generated from a remote device. In addition, the RNM is able to alter the perception of traumas, mood and motor control. Therefore, the RNM is an innovative and evolved “cerebral cortex – auditory cortex” link system in the sphere of man-machine data transmission and the fields of application could defy the imagination.
Let us try now to understand the system from a technical point of view. Depending on the fact that it is possible to register, identify and monitor the bioelectric fields of a person, these devices would seem to be able to register, in non-invasive modality, information generated by man’s nervous system through a digital encoding of the potentials evoked in a range of 30-50Hz., 5 mW of electromagnetic emissions of the brain. In fact, the neuronal activities of the brain create electric displacements that generate a magnetic flow. This flow presents a constant of 30-50 Hz., 5mW of EMF waves. These flows, contained in the EMF, are identified as “evoked potentials”. Each thought, reaction, motor command, auditory or visual event elaborated by the brain, generates an evoked potential. The magnetic fields that are generated are decoded into thoughts, images and sounds converted into digital signals and, consequently, analysed and elaborated by computers.
Therefore, while the EMF Brain Stimulation can be utilized for sending encoded electromagnetic impulses to activate the evoked potentials in a selected subject, a Brain Link can permit the establishment of a permanent link to the subject to effect the monitoring and transmission of information to the cerebral cortex, in order to modify behaviour and actions. Therefore, while the Brain Link represents the system of communication with the selected human subject, the RNM represents the system of surveillance of same. To be able to function, the RNM system requires the encoding of the resonance frequency of each specific area of the brain. These frequencies can vary in function of the different areas of the brain. The cerebral frequencies vary from 3 Hz., to 50 Hz.
“This modulated information can be put into the brain at varying intensities, from the subliminal one to the perceptible one”
Furthermore, each human being has his unique set of resonance frequencies. Consequently, the sending of auditory information to a person who utilizes different frequencies would result in the non-reception of the information.
Naturally, the entire project is wrapped in the most absolute secrecy and the NSA is obviously not available to the public for the divulgation of any information or comment, whatsoever, on the methodology in question.
The study of the mind and of its potentialities has always constituted the greatest of man’s objectives and these technological systems of inter-action with man’s central nervous system can lead to the configuration of scenarios which could have appeared science-fictional, until a little time ago. At this point, the essential problem of the discovery assumes two ambits of criticality: the correct application of the technology and the guarantee of the privacy of the findings. Even if, apparently, and according to superficial evaluation drugged by emotionality, the application of an RFID tag to the central nervous system of a man could seem to be at the limits of ethics and of the morally legitimate. In reality, the correct application of the discovery can lead to the achievement of optimal objectives as far as, for example, man’s life is concerned. A sensor at radio-frequency can alert us to the alteration of blood values and other parameters ascribable to the health of the human being. Moreover, it would be possible to resolve certain functions of many disabled persons (as already happens) through the means of stimulation of certain nervous glands that control the joints and movements of the human body. But this technology could be used also for applications of an “informative” nature. Let us suppose that we have at our disposal a remote controlled artificial memory which permits the “downloading” of daily information, which otherwise would be lost in the millions of synapses that activate and dis-activate in the arc of our existence. How man times do we stop to think of the importance of forgotten or completely cancelled information from our mind? How many judicial cases are catalogues as “unresolved” for lack of proof connected to the lost memory of witnesses, victims and subjects under investigation? Would not an artificial memory (better identified as an evolved simple hard disc) connected to our brain through systems at radio frequency and protected by coded systems, be of help? Perhaps, the comparison could be thought excessive, but let us pause to reflect on how the “black box” of the aeroplanes has been a crucial contribution towards man’s understanding of the dynamics of plane crashes… therefore, the most important problem is that of the control of the technology, not certainly, of the development of same. Nevertheless, should such a powerful technology fall into the wrong hands, the consequences could be disastrous. For example, the international terrorist groups could utilize it to manage an army of remote controlled “volunteers” in the perpetration of the most abominable acts of revolutionary violence that one can imagine. Or, it could be used to “pilot” the decisions and actions of political leaders, religious movements, or even entire Countries, manoeuvring, at an international level, economies and alliances between political blocks. Consequently, once guaranteed the correct application of the discovery, the remaining important problem is that of the privacy of the implemented technologies. To guarantee the integrality and secrecy of substantial scientific discoveries that could have sizeable impacts on the entire world societies, is a duty of those who have reached these goals. Likewise, it is true that correct information, managed by organizations and institutional and governmental structures, assumes an absolute importance with regard to the correct understanding of the significance and weight of the discoveries and activities conducted by the Central Government. The citizen must feel involved in the protection of the studies and discoveries realized by his own Country. Very often, excessive secrecy, as the history of many Countries has taught us, risks the provocation of dis-information, diffidence and malcontent in the population. The citizen himself must be the instrument of tutelage and safeguard of the economic, political and institutional interests of the Nation in which he lives. Unfortunately, at the present time, few are the Nations that have well understood this concept.
Another fundamental element concerning the control and correct management of the ICT technologies is the protection of the integrality of the digital information. In addition to correct information, it is indispensable to activate formative courses directed to the citizen, to enable them to understand what the risks could be from the utilization of the modern technologies and the correct management of same.
The knowledge of the potentialities (and dangers!) of informatics instruments has assumed a decisive prominence for every society that defines itself civilized and industrialized.
I could cite examples ascribable to the cloning of credit cards, intrusion in the network server, cell phones, smart phones on the part of cyber-criminals who daily try to rob data and information for illegal reasons. But what can be done to fight these informatics crimes? Certainly, the Forces of Law and Order do what is possible, but it is not enough. The citizen must be included and involved in this action of opposition. How? With the formative courses. Instructing the people on how to manage and dominate the informatics technologies utilized, avoiding the risk of assuming the role of the “dominated”.
The example of the study conducted at the Clemson University represents the future, but the risks deriving from the utilization of technological devices available on the market are real and unknown to the majority of the population. Yet another example. Some months ago, a piece of news was published in the New York Times that provoked great perturbation, this time, in the medical-scientific community.
We are speaking of a device which has, for years, helped millions of people in the world to survive and represents one of the most important discoveries for the treatment of heart patients: the pacemaker. As far as one can understand, it seems that also this has been included in the family of “risk devices”, all those electronic devices that we use every day and which are part of our world of communication with the rest of the planet. “Pacemakers and Implantable Cardiac Defibrillators: software radio attacks and zero-powers our defences”. This is the title of a study conducted by a group of researchers of the Medical Device Security Center, a consortium to which adhere: the University of Washington, the University of Massachusetts and the prestigious Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (the research institute of the famous Harvard Medical School). The mission of the consortium (as is evinced from the portal http://www.secure-medicine.org/) is that of understanding the methods of best use of the modern technologies applied in the health sector and in the assistance to patients, preserving the privacy and integrality of the personal data. The study is based on the analysis of the new generation of pacemakers, better known by the term of Implantable Medical Devices (IMDs) which allow, by means of the adoption of Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs), the constant assumption of general clinical information on the state of health of the patient. The ICD coupled with the pacemaker, is designed to communicate in wireless modality with external software which acts on a frequency spectrum of 175 kHz.
By means of neuro-stimulators connected to a wireless computer, it is possible to monitor the cardiac malfunctions of the subject affected with this pathology, in every instant of the patient’s life. In addition, in case there is need, it is possible to modify the therapies and possible medicines taken by the patient. The major distinctive feature of this device lies in its capacity to be “reprogrammed”, in function of the development of the patient’s pathology, over the course of the years. Furthermore, in the case of heart attacks, the device is able to effect reduced electro-shock to restore the correct heart beat. In the United States alone, from 1990 to 2002, more than 2.6 million pacemakers and ICD devices have been implanted in patients affected with cardiac diseases. Researchers, through a process of ‘engineerization’ of a protocol of communication and, with the use of an oscilloscope – a piece of software that acts on radio waves and a personal computer – have been able enter the pacemaker and re-programme it completely, modifying the structure of the system.
The simulated attack conducted a short distance away from the device, permitted: the identification of the pacemaker, the downloading of the patient’s data, including the cardiac information, the name and personal data. In addition, it was possible to modify the setting of the pacemaker, substitute the information of the therapy typology and, “dulcis in fundo”, activate the defibrillation function. During the experiment, a quarter of an ox carcass, in which the pacemaker was planted, was used to simulate the human organism The costs to conduct the experiment amounted to 30,000 dollars, besides a study, lasting several months, on the frequencies utilized by the devices, conducted by medical doctors and electronics and informatics engineers.
At present, the only difficulty in realizing the experiment seems to lie in the necessity of being a few meters from the subject of the “attack”.
“The weak point of the pacemaker”, the researchers affirm – “is the use of radio frequencies, indispensable to regulate it from the outside, which can be intercepted. The danger will increase when devices that are adjustable via Internet are introduced. Although they will have the great advantage of being controlled by the doctor a long distance away, they will necessitate added measures of security”.
However, the most disconcerting results of the experiment, apart from the violation of privacy and of the possibility of modifying the values and information of the patient, are attributable to the possibility of activating the functions of de-fibrillation, which could put the human being in serious danger, also before the possibility of making use of devices controllable via Internet. To what do I refer? Let us suppose that Mr. Smith suffers from heart problems and uses a pacemaker. One fine morning, our Mr. Smith gets up, shaves, dresses and after having taken breakfast, goes to the office. We are just in the middle of a work meeting with all his colleagues. One of the participants switches on his computer (or his small palmtop) and after some “mouse-clicks”, our Mr. Smith begins to feel strong pain at the centre of the sternum. After a few seconds he falls to the ground, stricken by a heart attack. The participant switches off his computer and is present at the conclusion of his …perfect crime! It might seem like science fiction, but it is not so. It is the greatest danger that must be faced in the third millennium: to guarantee the security of the information and its transmission via space, preserving, at the same time, the privacy and the integrality of the information.
(1) James Clerk Maxwell born in 1831 in Edinburgh, was one of the most famous mathematicians and physicists of history. His studies were focussed on the observation of electromagnetism and on the concept of electromagnetic fields the propagation of which occurs through space.
(2) UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) is an aircraft without pilot which can be autonomous or remote piloted. These aircraft can follow a flight plan in an automatic way or can be remote tele-guided from a fixed or mobile station. Its use has been much appreciated, especially in the Gulf War for missions of tactical and strategic reconnaissance. In addition they are used for Elint (Electronic Intelligence) missions, thanks to the possibility to place in its interior photographic machines and video-cameras for control of terrain.