Saudis Develop Trackable Cash (and lifehacking: a scientific basis for the faraday cage?)

Classic quote:
“[Interviewer]: I mean, it could be used by a government for any reason, right? I mean, if a government wants to track who’s purchasing alcohol or something.

[Scientist]: Yeah, I think actually you’re bringing up some ideas we didn’t entirely think about, all of those.”

Note that they’ve made durability of electronics a huge priority (making the electronics out of all-organic materials so they’re totally flexible), so “I guess it died in the washing machine that happens to look like my microwave set to defrost” may not work so well as an excuse.

Lifehacking, and another reason to kill your cell phone: Though it carries a rather sensationalist headline, this piece in Scientific American may suggest one mechanism by which the Faraday cage measurably improved sleep for me. I should add that when I stopped carrying a powered-on cell phone all the time long ago, I did note a correlation to feeling subjectively better (‘more alive’) but saw no basis for causation.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=mind-control-by-cell&page=2
“Electromagnetic signals from cell phones can change your brainwaves and behavior.[…]
“This was a completely unexpected finding,” Horne told me. “We didn’t suspect any effect on EEG [after switching off the phone]. We were interested in studying the effect of mobile phone signals on sleep itself.” But it quickly became obvious to Horne and colleagues in preparing for the sleep-research experiments that some of the test subjects had difficulty falling asleep.”

http://spectrum.ieee.org/podcast/computing/embedded-systems/trackable-banknotes-at-last

“So, this project actually is quite ambitious because, as you mentioned, the banknote gets a lot of bending, a lot of folding, and it is necessary to get the right materials to actually be able to handle all kinds of bending and flexibility in these banknotes, as you know. […]

these materials, to be maximally flexible, actually, were all organic. So, what we set out to do is an all-organic…including the contacts, including the transistors, the capacitors, all these circuit components had to be organic to withstand the significant amount of flexibility that is needed for handling a banknote.[…]

Steven Cherry: Once there are enough bills and scanners out there, and bills routinely have this embedded in it and are scanned at every transaction—which is in principle possible—there’s the potential for quite a database for how money changes hands. Would this let a government go after drug traffickers, for example?

Husam Alshareef: Absolutely, especially in large denominations. I think the circuit can become as complex as you want it to be, right? I mean, in its simplest form, the circuit is not very expensive, and it can be quite simple to implement, actually, but if you want inventory and tracking and positioning like this, you could basically add functionality to the circuit. And this could also again be done with organic materials and go beyond knowing [whether] this is just a bona fide, government-issued banknote or not. You could go into tracking and locating banknotes and so forth; it’s just you design the circuit you want to appear on the banknote.

Steven Cherry: And so it could also help a government go after the so-called “gray economy,” like waiters and cab drivers and everybody else who works mainly in cash and might be underreporting their income.

Husam Alshareef: It could, but that was not our intention. [laughs]

Steven Cherry: I mean, it could be used by a government for any reason, right? I mean, if a government wants to track who’s purchasing alcohol or something.

Husam Alshareef: Yeah, I think actually you’re bringing up some ideas we didn’t entirely think about, all of those.”

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