Theory, Culture and Society 26 (2-3):47-72 (2009)

RFID tags, small microchips no bigger than grains of rice, are currently being embedded in product labels, clothing, credit cards, and the environment, among other sites. Activated by the appropriate receiver, they transmit information ranging from product information such as manufacturing date, delivery route, and location where the item was purchased to the name, address, and credit history of the person holding the card. Active RFIDs have the capacity to transmit data without having to be activated by a receiver; they can be linked with embedded sensors to allow continuous monitoring of environmental conditions, applications that interest both environmental groups and the US military. The amount of information accessible through and generated by RFIDs is so huge that it may well overwhelm all existing data sources and become, from the viewpoint of human time limitations, essentially infinite. What to make of these technologies will be interrogated through two contemporary fictions, David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and Philip K. Dick's Ubik. Cloud Atlas focuses on epistemological questions — who knows what about whom, in a futuristic society where all citizens wear embedded RFID tags and are subject to constant surveillance. Resistance takes the form not so much of evasion but rather as a struggle to transmit information to present and future stakeholders in a world on the brink of catastrophe. Ubik, by contrast, focuses on deeper ontological questions about the nature of reality itself. Both texts point to the necessity to reconceptualize information as ethical action embedded in contexts and not merely as a quantitative measure of probabilities.
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DOI 10.1177/0263276409103107
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References found in this work BETA

Cognition in the Wild.Edwin Hutchins - 1998 - Mind 107 (426):486-492.
A Mathematical Theory of Communication.Claude E. Shannon - 1948 - Bell System Technical Journal 27:379–423.

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