The Future is Conveniently Dystopian (Inside the Mind of a Writer)

Pay Pass

Do you use this fabulous new technology to pay for purchases without the time-consuming need to sign your name or push five buttons?

I’m talking, of course, about Mastercard’s payPass and Visa’s payWave.

If you’ve got the payPass/payWave technology on your credit or debit card, you can lightly tap your card at the checkout and your transaction is processed without any mess or fuss. I think it’s incredibly cool, in a “Hey, we’re living in the future!” kind of way, so I generally try to use it as often as possible. Even if that means spending an extra two minutes digging through my purse trying to find my payPass card rather than using my “old fashioned” card.

I was at the liquor store buying my daily weekly supply of booze, when I found myself in exactly that situation: digging around looking for my card so I could quickly and conveniently have my husband’s hard-earned money removed from our bank account instantaneously (rather than just using the cash in my purse).

“These things are great, aren’t they?” said the cashier.

“Yeah,” I said, finally locating my card. I tapped it and waited for the friendly beep that indicated Approval.

“It’s amazing what they come up with,” he added.

“It really is,” I said, already thinking about getting home and opening the first bottle of booze to my family.

“It’s so convenient to be able to wave your card past it, and not have to remember numbers or anything. It makes things so much quicker,” he said.

I looked at him, my brain whirring. “I know. Soon everything will work that way. Our driver’s licences already have chips in them. Then it will seem silly to have multiple cards, so we’ll be able to choose to have all our details put on the one card. Banking, Licenses, Insurance, Medical records, the whole deal. It only makes sense, right?

“That’ll be even more convenient, because we’ll only have to carry around one card.  But why carry a purse or wallet just for one card — because, let’s face it, who uses cash anymore? — and so someone will come up with an idea for a watch or a bracelet that has your details on it so you can just scan your wrist past the chip reader.

“The bracelet will have a fancy name, of course. Some marketing guru will come  up with it. Like… I don’t know… A Personal Identification and Monetisation Passport? Then we’ll be inundated by ads with fresh-faced twenty-somethings visiting exotic locales while wearing their bracelets. The slogans will be: ‘PIMP your life with Visa!’ and ‘A PIMPed life? Priceless.’.

“Of course, that will cause all sorts of trouble. When someone can steal your identity just by taking your PIMP band, people will try to find all kinds of ways to keep them safe. So the magical boffins in lab coats will say, “Hey, we have this great microchip technology that’s getting better every day! Why not really PIMP your life, and have your PIMP card injected under your thumbnail?”

“It has to be the thumbnail. Because that way you’ll need to press your thumb against a pressure pad so your details can be scanned. And everyone knows that’s how the future looks.

“And that will be awesome. Until, of course, the inevitable rise of a corrupt government power who asserts its dominance by wiping the PIMP cards of radical thinkers thus removing them from regular society, and creating a sheep-like population striving for mediocrity and a seething underworld of disenfranchised rebels forced to exist in an antiquated culture using a barter system and tokens or notes to represent wealth.

“But one day, a small band of rebels will rise up against the government’s oppressive rule, and–”

Okay, I didn’t really say any of that. But I thought it. Loudly.

Out loud, I said, “Yeah.”

Then I went out to my car and drove home.

What do you think? Want to PIMP your life?


Filed under Opinion, Random Stuff, The Inner Geek

20 responses to “The Future is Conveniently Dystopian (Inside the Mind of a Writer)

  1. I would really like a fully operational in-built computer dongle (e.g. Neal Asher’s Augs) so have hope that we will get there and it will be good rather than oppressive.

    But I live my life in quite a Luddite fashion for my tech-thusiam because I dislike the period where new tech does not do things well.

    • I can relate. As much as I enjoy new technology, I tend to stick with the older tech that actually works.

      • Exactly.

        Cutting edge technology is also usually less easy to integrate into my life, for example the original “mobile” phones that needed their own briefcase.

      • I remember those. When I was a teenager, I didn’t really appreciate how “cutting edge” my parents were. We had a “mobile phone” before anyone I knew — it was permanently wired into our car, because it was too hard to take it in and out. 😉

  2. I really don’t know what to say about this, because it all would be pretty cool. Either in real life or on the big screen.

  3. I don’t even have a fancy whosiwhatsit card like that… just a regular old sign-em-and-weep credit card. And I still think thoughts like this about every third time I use the card.

  4. Over here in the states, we have those, but primarily for gas stations, and they are far from universal. Oddly, I think the move towards one card or one microchip will never happen here in the US for a couple of reasons. One, we have far too many paranoid conspiracy nuts, and only slightly different, we have a bunch of evangelicals who believe that such a thing will be the “Mark of the Beast” from biblical Revelations, and they’ll never take it.

    We might get it still, but I suspect it will come down to measuring something biometric that’s already on us, something like iris-scans or thumbprints. They’re hard (but not impossible) to counterfeit.

    • Either that, or it would come about as a reaction to some major, world-shaking event.

      It’s interesting that these cards aren’t widespread in the States. I generally assume that we’re way behind when it comes to technology. But the only places that don’t have the card readers here are very small businesses who haven’t upgraded their systems in the last year or so.

  5. I’m reading a serial called “Swing Zone” that I think you’d like. The protag has had the chip taken out of her arm, but now she’s having second thoughts. 🙂

    Me, I like cash.

  6. You are amazing. I laughed and rued the price of technological advances with you. Lovely bit of writing, Jo.

  7. Ha! That should be the title of your next book…PIMP your life….I was in the Army for awhile and our ID cards were microchipped with our medical records and other identifying info….but when you sign up for the army, you kind of know the deal. 🙂 I think the rabbit-hole unexplored possibilities and capabilities of geo-location of mobile devices would be a nice chapter in your PIMP YOUR LIFE book. 🙂

    • If I was in the same vicinity as you in real life, I may have had to race over and hug you and then give you a good frowning. Because the moment I read your comment, I had an awesome idea to turn this into a book — characters, plot, the whole deal (thus the hug), but I don’t have time to write it at the moment, because I’m in the middle of other projects (thus the frowning). 😉

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