Paypal’s ‘Global Head of Developer Evangelism’ Jonathan LeBlanc is pushing implantable brain chips as a replacement for passwords, but insists that such technology must be made to fit inside “cultural norms” before it is accepted by the general public.
In a presentation called ‘Kill All Passwords’, LeBlanc admits that the future of authentication security is “going to get creepy” as traditional passwords are phased out due to their innumerable security flaws.
LeBlanc envisages using brain chips to measure thought patterns so that childhood memories could be invoked by the user to unlock their computer.
LeBlanc also discusses how bio-hacking companies are already using embedded NFC and RFID tags to unlock doors. In January, the BBC reported on a company in Sweden that was implanting its workers with computer chips under the skin in order for them to access the building.
“Daily ID chips” with wi-fi sensors could also be swallowed by employees to provide secure authentication, says LeBlanc.
Paypal is currently working with partners to get the ball rolling on such technology, a process LeBlanc says is part of the payment processor becoming a “thought leader” on the transition.
“I can’t speculate as to what PayPal will do in the future, but we’re looking at new techniques – we do have fingerprint scanning that is being worked on right now – so we’re definitely looking at the identity field,” LeBlanc told the Wall Street Journal.
“Realistically the ones that will succeed, whether it’s embeddable, ingestible, injectible or what have you, are the ones that are going to play into cultural norms, the ones that are going to meet the demands of the populace overall….and not be creepy, so even though they seem creepy at the current time, the future are gonna be the ones that hit those cultural norms,” said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc’s identification of “cultural norms” as a major hurdle to be overcome before the public becomes comfortable with wearable ID technology or implantable chips echoes similar sentiments made by Google executive Regina Dugan.
During a 2013 D11 conference, Dugan said that Google was working on an ingestible microchip that would turn a user’s entire body into a biological authentication system for cellphones, cars, doors and other devices. The company is also developing a wearable e-tattoo that can decipher a user’s thoughts by detecting the unvocalized words in their throat.
Dugan predicted that young people would want to adopt the e-tattoo if it was made to look cool and was seen as a form of rebellion against their parents.
Dugan’s role in developing such technology can be placed in a somewhat sinister context given that she is the former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency of the US Department of Defense, which many see as a pioneer of a dystopian big brother surveillance society.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt even suggested earlier this year that the Internet itself could one day disappear as an external concept, greasing the skids for the world wide web to exist inside people’s brains. In December 2013, Google engineering director Scott Huffman also predicted that within five years web users would have microphones attached to their ceilings and microchips embedded in their brains in order to perform quicker internet searches.
Would you swallow an identification pill or have one embedded in your brain for greater password security and convenience? How could such technology be abused by governments and corporations? Let us know in the comments below.