By Robert Zucker
(Note: this futuristic science-fiction story was first written in 2001, but it may soon come true)
Since dollar bills have been found contaminated on the West Coast recently in another terrorist attack, businesses have stopped accepting cash. Now everyone needs a credit card or become “SMART.”
I received my new “SMART ID” card in the mail last week. There’s an amazingly large, 3-D, hologram of my face on the front – almost like Washington on the dollar bill. When I turn the card, I can even see the bald spot growing on the back of my head.
But, I still have to go downtown to one of the government buildings, the post office, bank or the airport to redo my fingerprint smudge on the back side of the card. It looks like my thumb is a butt print. I also notice on the back of a dollar bill my new card has a strange design. But it glows and looks 3-D when I rotate it. Cool!
This new ID replaces my driver’s license when I had to write a check and show ID. The cashier just scans that SMART ID and it automatically deducts from either my savings or credit account. No need to show ID’s that eye scan on the back of the card and face-recognition scan of my head immediately identifies me after a quick blink into the lens. Whenever I buy food, clothes, gas, whatever, I don’t need to reach for change. I am Master of my own MasterCard. Fast!
At work, I slide the card past the time clock and slip into my cubicle. There’s a ton of e-mail messages waiting for my response. Most seem to be daily reports that Homeland Security sends everyone. It’s mandatory to review in order to prevent ID fraud. I could also go online and let those “cookies” do the work for me, but I am still uneasy with someone tracking me while I watch.
Now that the government will issue every American their own smartphone, we can automatically keep tupdated on our personal travels, upcoming appointments, transactions and even have that nifty GIS locator keep track of where I’ve been. That way, I won’t have to type in my nearest intersection coordinates. I really like using my Palm to call home or whoever I want to speak to for free. I don’t want to complain, but I don’t like having to scan that card every time I flush the toilet.
I also don’t like scanning my card every time I get stopped at one of those “surprise” check points. They seem to pop up just after I make a right-hand turn. I knew those cameras perched like silver cones in the intersection were going to be used for something. Even before I turn the corner, the officers know who I am. They scan my car’s front license plate and have my ID ready for me. I hate when they flash that light in my face. It seems someone else also has a similar eye pattern. It has been embarrassing when I scan at the supermarket.
DUI checkpoints have disappeared since that suicide car bomb spree blamed on some new terrorist group. Now, everyone blows their breath into one of those strange plastic tubes at these stops. Luckily, mine always turns blue. Someone once told me their tube turned red, but an on-the-spot chemical analysis only showed extra onions from yesterday’s lunch. Imagine having to go through your smartphones log in front of some strange officer, in the middle of the street, just to prove the onions from Burger King could signal a red. I heard it can detect chemicals from three feet away.
Yesterday, I was stopped during a police “field interview.” It seems I drove by a house yesterday just after a burglar alarm was tripped. That turned out to be a false alarm. But, I still have to scan my card, just in case. This officer doesn’t take VISA.
Other scans seem to speed things up. I can scan in and out quickly when I need to visit the library, the mall and even the ballgame. No more ID checkpoint lines. I’m SMART.
These new SMART ID’s do make life easier. I can quickly get into the movies without going through that annoying background check for people without SMARTS, I am able to buy whatever I want whenever I need it and all those sales receipts are automatically sent to IRS so I never have to do taxes. Finally, I don’t have to pay taxes anymore. The government has direct withdrawal from my accounts. Direct deposit in, direct withdrawal out. Simple. Sorry, Wyatt. It looks like I won’t need an accountant now.
I can pay my bills, my mortgage, even my credit cards easily online by scanning my card into my Palm or computer at home or work. I gaze into that little camera perched above the screen and, wham, everything is paid at once. No more checks, no more postage.
I can get SMART by ordering anything I want online. I just scan my card and pick it up on the way home. The Post Office may still may still deliver it, but then it will have to be scanned again when I take it out of my mail box. Also, when it’s sanitized in the mailbox, it may drip anti-bacterium into the package. Not good for takeout food.
The SMART CARD may be a smart idea when the government soon offers an alternative to the National ID idea. This is a softer way to keep a free society, yet allow the necessary oversee needed to keep it a clean society. And, no more racial profiling. It’s in my Card.
I am even considering a SMART chip. That way, I don’t have it scan my card. It’s in my head.
Robert E. Zucker is publisher of the Entertainment Magazine web site at EMOL.org. The web site has been online since 1995.