IBM exec: Get ready to have your biometrics tracked 24/7

Is the singularity even closer than we think? While Glenn was once again out today because of a family emergency, Pat and Stu dove into the potential ramifications of IBM executive Peter Waggett’s recent comments about biometric data. According to Waggett, who is a program leader at IBM’s Emerging Technology Group, it’s time to stop worrying about how to prevent the collection of this data and start looking at how to better utilize it.

Get Glenn Live! On TheBlaze TV

“We’re fighting the wrong battle when we ask should we stop people being observed. That is not going to be feasible. We need to understand how to use that data better,” Waggett said during a Nesta panel debate on what biometrics mean for the future of privacy. “I’ve been working in biometrics for 20 years, and it’s reaching a tipping point where it’s going to be impossible not to understand where people are and what they are doing. Everything will be monitored. It’s part of the reason why when we put together the definition of biometrics it included biological and behavioral characteristics — it can be anything.”

As Waggett further explained, biometric systems are becoming “much more accurate and ubiquitous.” We are reaching a time in which it will be impossible to not be “identifiable by some kind of signal you are leaving behind. As a result, Waggett believes we are fighting the wrong battle:

“[T]rying to stop this would be fighting the wrong battle. The information is out of the bottle already — we have to deal with the issues surrounding it now,” Waggett said. “Embrace the challenge of what we’ve got, embrace understanding it and focus on what we can do with that new data.”

The technological advancements really are a double-edged sword. On one hand, the biometric data Waggett refers to has the ability to save lives via GPS tracking or the reading of vital signs. At the same time, the idea of constant tracking seems to be at odds with the Bill of Rights.

“Don’t even worry about your Bill of Rights. That’s already gone,” Pat joked. “Forget it. The fight now is: How far gone are they.”

When you consider how far technology has come in such a short period of time, Waggett’s argument makes a lot of sense. At the same time, Pat questioned the danger of being so reliant we have become.

“ It’s nice. But if this ever goes away – and it might – then where are we… I mean, look how reliant we are on all of this stuff,” Pat concluded. “I was thinking about this the other day when I was at the airport on the way here. There were still a bank of five pay phones on the wall at the airport at my gate and no one using any of them ever… Why? They’re obsolete… Look how far we’ve come and how quickly. And think about where we’d be if all of this went away. We’re so reliant on all this stuff now. It’s really amazing.”

Front page image courtesy of the AP

  • Deckard426

    So if we put a GPS locator up the German Chancellor’s dress, we’ll always know where Obama’s face is. You gotta love technology.

    • landofaahs

      Right is red. Left is negative and makes sure the balls are wet when you apply the electric cables.

      • melissa


    • melissa


  • landofaahs

    Get ready for the “Great Unplugging”. You evil ba-tards need us more than we need you. Suddenly the day will come when it is all FINI.

  • landofaahs

    What did Timothy Leary say? Tune up turn down turn around turn into a drug infested moron? I don’t remember because I always knew he was retarded. But perhaps today we can say “Tune in, Unplug, and see where their profit comes from for IBM next.

  • Connor

    I do not like this idea.

    • melissa

      Me neither.

    • Anonymous


  • James LaBarre

    All I can say is if IBM is bringing us the “singularity”, we won’t have to worry about it. It will be grossly over-budget, will be barely (if at all) functional, and won’t be ready for the next 200 years.

    • landofaahs

      IBM (Ignorgant Bama mothers)

  • landofaahs

    That’s okay, continue your high tech schizophrenia. I will continue making guillotines for export.

  • Fat Lip

    My death wouldn’t matter and is starting to look like a really damned good way out
    who cares .and it might ah never mind

  • Anonymous

    Stated like a typical progressive. “There is no turning back”.

  • Locked Semaphore

    Because we CAN does not mean we SHOULD. This technology will eventually bring about it’s own demise. It is poorly crafted and can easily be used against its owners. Criminals will be able to generate false alibis, terrorist can generate diversions. Survailence is only valuable if the target doesn’t know, otherwise it’s a tool that can be used against its owners.

    • Anonymous

      The party of “Yes we can” has turned into the party of “Yes we should”.

  • Hitched

    A free country’s rewards serve to communicate how much certain achievements are worth, regardless of the amount of effort expended in their pursuit.

  • Anonymous

    “We’re progressing! We’re progressing! The exhilaration of wind in our hair! We’re heading into something very fast, I don’t know what or where it is and we’re progressing! We won’t stop! We want it now! We’re the masters of our future! We’re pro…..”


    They progressives may know that they’re not “turning back” but what they don’t know is that they’re falling fast.

  • Anonymous

    This data is for the good and well-being of all. Oh, look-ee there the NDC (National Data Collection) monitors indicate that you just had a slice of that illegal pizza. You must not care about your health. One person who does not care about health somewhere, does not care about health everywhere. That makes you, pizza-eater, an enemy of the state. You must be corrected for the good of all because we want you to be a friend of the state as do you. Stand by. Wait for correction please…

The 411 From Glenn

Sign up for Glenn’s newsletter

In five minutes or less, keep track of the most important news of the day.