In the past few months I have heard more and more stories about how a new, potential fool proof way of identifying who we are will be the next step in personal security. Forget palm prints, forget the iris or even face recognition because the next big thing could be the Germ Cloud.
Each of us has a unique germ cloud containing millions of bugs, which can be more personal than fingerprints. Scientists can now identify individuals from a group just by sampling the microbes and other particles in the air around them. Every ones germ cloud has its own unique signature, which varies from person to person that can be analysed. Our individual microbe rich clouds could soon be used in forensic investigations and it won’t be too long before the technology is available to track our movements or locate someone in a large crowd.
Photo by PhotoComiX
Humans will typically shed more than a million microscopic particles from their skin, breath and hair every hour most of which contain traces of their recent environment and some of the thousands of different types of bacteria, which typically lives in and around us. Lead researcher Dr James Meadow said ‘We expected that we would be able to detect the human microbiome in the air around a person, but we could identify most of the occupants (in a room) just by sampling their microbial cloud.’ The University of Oregon study, published by Peer J also suggests that this technology will soon give us a new insight into the way infectious diseases are spread and how they can take hold in some populations while being resisted in other areas of the world.
All fascinating stuff but perhaps one day they can take it a little further and detect the bugs we are prone to shed typically when we are lying or frightened, or perhaps when we are excited or even depressed. Why stop there – what kind of signature would a mixture of hubris, bullshit and out and out racism smell like to one of these machines? Would the Republican cartoon-candidate Donald Trump perhaps leave a trail of all those microbes that are supposed to live in and on our money. Or would there be an essence of some good old boy red-neck lynching, the soot particles from burning books or now, as he has become the poster boy for every kind of racist up to the Klu Klux Klan, would the machine pick up the essence of gasoline from a burning cross swirling around him?
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However, despite sometimes using the rhetoric and style of Adolf Hitler to press the big red racist button, Donald Trump is not quite in the same war criminal club yet? People like Bashar al-Assad or Joseph Kony, or even Vladimir Putin who would surely have some traces of a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet downed by a Russian SAM missile in his germ cloud or because he has almost single handedly kept the Syrian war going to preserve Russia’s bases in the Mediterranean and deliberately destabilize Europe because of the Migrant Crisis, wouldn’t he also share some of Assad’s swirling cloud of bacterial traces from the death and decay of almost half a million people – 20,000 of them children?
Perhaps the International Criminal Court could eventually use the germ cloud technology to track these war criminals down and bring them to justice. Perhaps not… while the likes of Joseph Kony may be within their grasp I fear the true criminals, the much bigger fish like Putin and the many other state leaders who fight their proxy wars in other people’s counties, will always enjoy implied immunity at the ICC. Even Assad is likely to be spirited away to Iran or some Arab country to enjoy a long retirement, without fear of prosecution, when he is finally forced to let go of his murderous hold on Syria in exchange for some kind of immunity from prosecution. No it isn’t right – but this is what we have allowed our leaders to create on our behalf. So we must live with it until we have the courage and the power to change the ever more outrageous and darkening script of world history.